College football is back and with it, college football sports betting. Each week during the NCAA football season, we’ll break down the biggest games of the week from a sports betting perspective and give you a pick or a lean for the games you, and the rest of America, are going to be watching.
Please note we’ll be referencing only legal, regulated sportsbook betting odds and totals here at PlayPicks. A “pick” is a wager that, as of the time of this writing, we feel good about and could end up in our weekly plays. A “lean” is a wager that, as of the time of this writing, we favor over the other side. It could end up in our plays after additional research or information is released.
See our video at the bottom of the article for even more commentary!
- Record on Picks: 15-8
- Record on Leans: 3-4
(19) Texas @ (7) Oklahoma
The Red River Rivalry used to be a major factor in who would get to play for the National Title. While Oklahoma continues to play at a championship level, Texas is trying to find the magic again. Both schools have second-year head coaches, but it’s Tom Herman’s ability to coach his team up as an underdog that you have to pay attention to before this game.
The Longhorns have covered the spread the last five times these teams have played in Dallas. In fact, Texas has won two of the past five meetings outright while being at least nine-point underdogs.
Last year, Oklahoma went up 20-0, but Texas wouldn’t quit. They came back to take a 24-23 lead. Baker Mayfield showed why he was last year’s Heisman Trophy winner by rallying his club to victory, but Texas came through to cover the nine-point spread, losing 29-24.
This year, Oklahoma’s offense is red hot. They are coming off a 66-33 blasting of Baylor. The Sooner offense is led by QB Kyler Murray, who threw for six touchdowns and ran for another a week ago. Murray has thrown for 1,460 yards so far this season and has a ridiculous 17-2 touchdown-to-interception ratio. Texas has not seen an offense like this in 2018 and will be hard-pressed to slow down the potent Sooner attack. Other than the overtime near shocker at home versus Army, Oklahoma has won every game this season by at least 10 points.
For the Longhorns, it’s all about defense. They haven’t given up more than two touchdowns over the past three weeks in defeating USC, TCU, and Kansas State. Their secondary has six interceptions, and the Longhorn run defense has been stout. Texas is for real on that side of the ball.
Quarterback Sam Ehlinger has thrown for nine touchdowns and only two picks this season. Texas lost to Maryland in the opener, and Ehlinger was picked twice in that game. However, he has thrown for eight touchdowns, zero picks, and ran for three scores since UT’s first game. The Longhorns have done enough on offense to take advantage of their stellar defense.
This is really about Tom Herman. The man is simply a wizard when his team is getting points from the sportsbooks. This year, Texas was getting 2.5 from TCU and cruised to a 31-16 outright victory. Last year, Herman was 4-1 ATS as an underdog. In Herman’s last year at Houston in 2016, he beat teams like Louisville and, you guessed it, Oklahoma outright as massive underdogs.
The under has also hit in 16 of Texas’s last 18 Big 12 games.
Pick: Texas +8
(5) LSU vs. at (22) Florida
Is LSU one of the best five teams in the country?
It’s hard to argue against given their resume in 2018. At 5-0, the Tigers have already defeated two top 10 teams in Auburn and Miami. LSU is also coming off a 45-16 blowout of Ole Miss last week. In defeating Auburn on the road, LSU showed they are capable of walking into a tough environment and doing enough to take home a victory. This week will be another big test for the Tigers.
For Florida, this is the biggest game in Gainesville so far this season. After upsetting Mississippi State last week, the Gators have won three games in a row, and fans are starting to buy in. That said, they were 13.5-point favorites when Kentucky walked into the swamp and scored a 27-16 upset win. The Wildcats are still undefeated, however: that outcome might say more about UK than the Gators. Florida is 4-1 ATS so far this season, and the loss to Kentucky is the only game they have not covered.
LSU will face No. 2 Georgia next week. Some are wondering if the Tigers might get caught looking ahead. Given the way LSU has played this season on offense, they better not believe they can sleepwalk and win. The Tigers’ offense is currently ranked 48th in the nation, and QB Joe Burrow in completing less than 55 percent of his passes. Florida’s defense is ranked ninth in the country in points given up. Don’t expect many points from the Tigers offense, but it has shown the ability to do just enough to win big games.
However, the same can be said for Florida’s offense. Last year, Feleipe Franks, then a freshman, threw for only 108 yards against LSU. This year, he has taken a step forward under first-year head coach Dan Mullen. Franks has thrown for 12 touchdowns and 961 yards. In the past, turnovers have played a big role in determining the winner of this game, but Franks has only thrown three interceptions this year.
LSU’s defense is giving up just 15 points per game, good enough for 12th best in the country. They held Auburn to just 21 and Miami to only 17 points. Florida is going to have their hands full with an LSU team that feels like they have a chance at a special season.
The under has hit in 13 of these last 20 meetings and in three of the last four games involving the Gators. It’s hard to see these teams combining for many points. Take the under.
Lean: LSU -2.5
(6) Notre Dame at (24) Virginia Tech
The Irish are for real. Now, they aren’t on the same level as Alabama, but this team is special and has a real chance to run the table. If Notre Dame can get past the Hokies, they will have a very easy path to the playoffs. They should be favored in every game remaining on their schedule, and that makes Saturday night a massive opportunity for Brian Kelly’s club.
Most importantly, Notre Dame has found their quarterback in Ian Book. He has thrown for over 600 yards in his three starts this season, and the offense has turned the corner since he took over calling the signals. Book should find plenty of open receivers on Saturday as V-Tech is giving up over 300 yards passing per game. The Irish have scored 94 points the last two weeks, and they aren’t showing any signs of slowing down.
If the Hokies want to pull the upset, they are going to have to find a way for backup QB Ryan Willis to move the football against one of the best defenses in the country. He threw for 332 yards and three touchdowns last week versus Duke, but this is a big step up in competition for the Kansas transfer. The long ball was a big weapon a week ago for Willis, and the Hokies can’t be afraid to go deep on the Irish. Starting QB Josh Jackson is out indefinitely, so this is Willis’ team for the time being.
One positive note for Virginia Tech is that they are 11-4 ATS in their last 15 home games, and the building will be rocking for most of the night. The Hokies must find a way to keep their fans engaged and part of the game for four quarters. The bad news is that Notre Dame is 5-2 over their last seven against the spread and have covered their last two games as favorites.
In a different year, without an injury to the starting quarterback, you could easily pick Virginia Tech to win this game outright. However, Notre Dame isn’t a truck that is slowing down anytime soon. Lay the points with Notre Dame.
Pick: Notre Dame -6.5
Maryland @ (15) Michigan
Michigan fans are restless again. Last week, the Wolverines beat Northwestern 20-17 in one of the most difficult games to watch of the season. The offense was off, and the team was hit with 100 yards in penalties. Nothing was going right, but Michigan did find a way to escape with a win.
This game will be a great opportunity for QB Shea Patterson to put up some big numbers. Maryland’s run defense is giving up only 2.7 yards per carry this season: fifth best in the country. Patterson is averaging 8.2 yards per completion and has hit on over 68 percent of his passes so far this season. Here, Jim Harbaugh has an opportunity to quiet the critics of his offense by putting up a big number in the passing game against a team that surrendered 429 yards of total offense to Temple.
The Terrapins are 3-1 and are coming off a great defensive effort against Minnesota. Maryland has scored at least 34 points in every game they have won this season thanks to an outstanding rushing attack. Still, the Wolverines might have the best defense in the country. Michigan is only giving up 3.4 yards per play — that is the best mark in the country. UM is also eighth in the nation in points given up per game at 14.8. It could be a very long day for QB Kasim Hill if Maryland can’t run the ball against Michigan’s impressive defensive front.
Temple handled Maryland easily two weeks ago 35-14 and totally controlled every aspect of that game. That’s a troubling sign for Maryland, who had been riding high after upsetting Texas in the season opener. Anthony McFarland and Ty Johnson both rushed for over 100 yards against Minnesota. Then, the latter was the only bright spot in the blowout loss to Temple. Finding weapons to move to the ball against the Wolverines will be very difficult — too tall of a task in all likelihood.
It’s a big line, but Michigan took apart Nebraska at home in a similar spot already this season. Michigan by three touchdowns.
Pick: Michigan -17.5