Last week we had a good slate, but the column was middling with just a 3-3 week. Not the worst, but feels like a lost opportunity. Better than 0-6 though! Overall, the betting column is 27-12 on the season so we are still sitting great as we head into the best slate of the season thus far. Let’s get into it!
(Odds/lines subject to change. T&Cs apply. See draftkings.com/sportsbook for details.)
Minnesota @ Illinois Under 39.5
This one has a chance to be UGLY. Last week, the Big Ten West was on full display as the Iowa Hawkeyes and Illinois Fighting Illini played a game that set college football back three decades. This week, a similar contest could unfold as the Gophers travel in to take on Illinois.
Both defensive units here have looked rather strong. Coming into this week Illinois ranks 2nd in the nation in standard down success rate on defense while Minnesota ranks 29th in that same category. Illinois has been especially stout against the run as they rank 1st when it comes to defensive rushing success rate. Minnesota has not been bad either, coming in at 5th.
On offense, both teams have to keep the ball on the ground to have any success but both teams will be trying to do that against the strengths of these defenses. Additionally, these quarterbacks stink. Look, Tanner Morgan’s numbers might not show it but the dude is bad and has been bad for the last decade. On the other side though, Art Sitkowski looks like he might be in again as Tommy Devito works back from an ankle injury for Illinois. Sitkowski is... well... bad too. He has a career TD/INT ratio of 14/23. Additionally, his top wideout Isaiah Williams may be out with an injury. I think this one has all the potential to be UGLY.
Penn State @ Michigan Under 52.5
Were we just talking about old bad quarterbacks? Well, that conversation wouldn’t be complete without Sean Clifford! The last time we saw Clifford and Penn State they were giving the ball to Northwestern left and right via turnover. Penn State did find a way to win that game, and it was completely due to their defense.
This season Penn State’s defense has been incredibly solid, especially up front. Coming into this contest the Nittany Lions rank 13th in havoc (formula that measures tackle for loss, sacks, and turnovers) and 2nd in the nation when it comes to stuff rate on defense (stuff rate measures how often a defense is stuffing runs in the backfield). You can’t run on this team and you can’t pass all that much either as the Nittany Lions rank 1st in passes broken up. If Michigan can’t run and has to rely on JJ Mcarthy to win them this game I think they could be in trouble.
All this talk about Penn State’s defense makes me think I should take the points with them, but I just can’t do it when Sean Clifford is at quarterback. Clifford has had some moments this year but I still don’t buy it, especially against a team like Michigan. The Wolverines haven’t been as good as in years past on that side but they still have been getting to the quarterback. Coming into this game the Wolverines rank 6th in the nation in sacks per game, and they’ll be going up against a Penn State unit that has fallen outside of the top 50 in pass-blocking grades via PFF.
With two great defenses and two quarterbacks that struggle when asked to do too much, I think the under is a solid play here. Add in 15.8 MPH crosswinds and I think this one could be a classic Big Ten slugfest.
USC @ Utah Over 63
Last week one of our winners was the over in Utah/UCLA which sailed over despite a very slow start. Well, I am going back to the well here as the Utes once again take on a team from SoCal.
Once again, these offenses are just so efficient it’s hard to see this game not getting to be high scoring. Coming into this game USC ranks 8th in standard down success rate on offense while the Utes rank 14th in that same category. They have two of the best offenses in the country and should be able to score at will against defenses that have not impressed thus far this season.
The Trojans do come into this game undefeated but they feel like the biggest frauds in the country, kinda like last year’s Iowa, as they’ve survived on some lucky turnovers which have masked their defensive inefficiencies. Coming into this week USC ranks 114th in the country in standard down success rate on defense. They’ve been particularly bad against the pass where they rank 96th in passing defense success rate. That is a mismatch Utah should be able to exploit as they bring in the 11th-best passing offense in the country.
Additionally, Utah is known for strong defense but this year’s defense is not quite what I would call a traditional Utah defense. The numbers aren’t glaring, but they have not faced offenses as well as last week and this week. UCLA put up 42 points and I think the Trojans can have just as much success so give me the over here. I got this at 63, but it has moved some. I like it up to 68.
Cal @ Colorado over 48: Colorado ranks dead last in defensive standard down success rate, while Cal ranks 117th. Both of these defenses are so bad that they could help these bad offenses look good. Colorado has been horrendous but they HAVE run the ball ok. They rank 32nd in rushing success rate while Cal ranks 112th in defensive rushing success rate. This could have points!
LSU (+3) @ Florida: LSU ranks 44th in passing success rate while Florida’s defense ranks 100th. I just don’t see why this number is where it is given the metrics so give me the Tigers here. If you can’t find a 3 I would just take LSU ML.
Nebraska (+14) @ Purdue: I have ZERO metrics to back this up. Sometimes you just have a gut feeling and my gut says Purdue is not 14 points better than Nebraska here.
Alabama @ Tennessee: I know people will say “Why no bet on Tennessee/Alabama” I like the under but not enough to play it. I’d throw some couch coins on Tennessee ML for some fun though. GO VOLS!