CFB Saturday Best Bets: Targeting some Big Ten 'dogs, and more
Thanksgiving weekend continues with a rivalry-littered schedule. Here are the games I'm most invested in for Saturday, with the biggest game bookending a slate we've been waiting for all season.
The Game has seen the number move to Ohio State -8.5 only to shift closer to -7 as the matchup gets nearer. I'll wait to see if Saturday morning wagers bring this back up to +8 before I go in on Michigan, as I believe they can run the ball on the Buckeyes.
Will that be enough to win the contest outright for once under Jim Harbaugh? Maybe not, but OSU is at its peak perception-wise. However, there's reason to believe the Wolverines can do more to slow down the Buckeyes and keep this close - especially since Michigan's coaching staff should have spent 365 days studying the OSU offense.
Pick: Michigan +8
There are big stakes here as the winner gets to face Northern Illinois in the MAC Championship next week, and I'll be taking Kent State's offensive to outrun Miami. As usual, the Redhawks have had a better campaign under Chuck Martin than the experts predicted, and they may outperform my expectations yet again, but I'm a sucker for a dual-threat senior quarterback playing in his last home game.
In a matchup that should see a ton of scoring and come down to a late big play, I'll take the Golden Flashes to convert the last high-leverage play and punch their ticket to Motown.
Pick: Kent State +1
You have an electric Saturday ahead if you followed the preseason win total plays in this space, with our core plays of NC State and UCLA going 2-0 and our system plays going 6-2. But there are a whopping five more bets that are up in the air! You don't have to be committed to all those bets, though, as a handful of games will decide profitability.
Maryland over 5.5 wins is in the slightest of positive positions as 1.5-point favorites in Piscataway. Three months of season data makes me like this bet a lot less, and the good news is I can get out of it.
Rutgers will run the ball like they've done successfully until running into the wall that was Penn State. Plus, Greg Schiano's defense can shut down Taulia Tagovailoa enough for the Scarlet Knights to punch their ticket to a bowl game. If you have a Terps over ticket, come over the top on Rutgers here, and maybe you win everything if the game lands on Maryland by one.
Pick: Rutgers +1.5
Speaking of preseason win totals, Tennessee will beat us if the team wins against lowly Vanderbilt to go over 6.5, but the Auburn under 6.5 is in good shape barring a monumental upset at Jordan-Hare against Alabama. That's not remotely likely without Bo Nix, but the Tigers can play similarly to LSU and Arkansas, who both hung around with the Tide. We'll wait for +21 in the Iron Bowl, but if that never comes, +20.5 will do.
Pick: Auburn +20.5 (wait to try to get +21)
No need to wait - anything in the double digits is enough to take a swing on the Mean Green, as North Texas finally found some form in November. Meanwhile, this matchup is largely meaningless for UTSA - beyond the program's chase for an undefeated campaign - after a dramatic last-second win put them in the Conference USA title game. The Road Runners can stay perfect without covering, and I think they will.
Pick: North Texas +10.5
Oregon is charged with picking up the pieces after getting obliterated in Salt Lake City last week, while Oregon State cashed for us in a small upset of Arizona State. That combination of games last week made the Civil War more interesting than it has been in years, as both sides are still alive for the Pac-12 title game.
Call me foolish for believing in the Beavers' veteran offensive line since it'll have its hands full with a Kayvon Thibodeaux-led defense, but I think Oregon State is live in this one, so I'm content with taking the full seven points.
Pick: Oregon State +7
Often pretty wild, Bedlam will be as crazy as it has been in years with both teams in play to sneak into the College Football Playoff. If you want an expanded playoff, just tune in this week and next - that's how this sport works.
This line has constantly climbed throughout the week, and I can understand why. The Cowboys have the better coach, defense, and quarterback suited to actually win big games, and they don't try to put up big stats against bad teams. This is a Pokes type of game.
Pick: Oklahoma State -4.5
Matt Russell is a betting writer for theScore. If there's a bad beat to be had, Matt will find it. Find him on Twitter @mrussauthentic.