Four Bets You Should Make in College Football This Weekend

    Looking to place some bets on college football this weekend? Four games featuring ranked teams carry handicapping trends you may be able to jump on.

    October 19, 2018

    Looking to place some bets on college football this weekend? Four games featuring ranked teams carry handicapping trends you may be able to jump on.


    6 Michigan (-7) at 24 Michigan State

    Michigan has everything to play for, but I’m going to make a case for the underdog here. Michigan came through last week with a dominant performance at home against Wisconsin. The win moved Michigan up from No. 12 to No. 6 in the rankings and was the sixth straight win for the Wolverines.

    With Penn State all but out of the College Football Playoff picture, the table is set perfectly for a Michigan-Ohio State game in Week 13 that would have major implications. However, things usually don’t work out that easily in college football.

    Michigan State hasn’t met expectations this season, with losses to Arizona State and Northwestern plus a few close calls along the way. The Spartans were the team that knocked off Penn State last week after closing as 13.5-point underdogs on the road. Michigan State has another opportunity to play spoiler; beating their in-state rival would completely flip the assessment of their season.

    Relying on historical trends with handicapping college football is a dangerous method, with players only playing for a program for four years. However, it’s worth noting Mark Dantonio is 8-3 against Michigan as the Michigan State head coach. More importantly, they’ve covered the spread in the last 10 contests.

    Why does this trend matter? Because Michigan State prepares as much for Michigan as they do any opponent. Think about the Michigan State players who were overlooked by Michigan when they were recruited in high school — those players are more motivated this week than ever. While Michigan cares the most about the game against Ohio State, the Spartans relish the chance to take down the “big brother” in the state.

    This is my weakest opinion of the four games I’m previewing, but give me the points with the Spartans at a touchdown or more. I’m not sure if they’ll win this game outright but I expect Michigan State to stay within the number.


    Vanderbilt at 14 Kentucky (-11)

    It’s not the best SEC slate of games in Week 8, but it’s one game that interests me on Saturday: Vanderbilt searches for their first conference win of the season as they travel to face a Kentucky squad off the bye week.

    Vanderbilt has been overmatched in conference play dating back to last season. The Commodores are 0-3 straight up and 0-3 against the spread within the SEC this season. They were 1-7 straight up and 1-6-1 against the spread last season. Vanderbilt hasn’t been able to recover from their close loss at Notre Dame early this year. They have lost to South Carolina, Georgia and Florida since then with a four-point win against FCS opponent Tennessee State mixed in.

    Vanderbilt’s loss to Florida was demoralizing and emotional. They led 21-3 at one point before falling 37-27. Head Coach Derek Mason nearly got into a fight with Gators Head Coach Dan Mullen. The Commodores were also worn down physically; their defense was on the field for 92 plays.

    Kentucky lost their first game of the season the last time we saw them on the field. It was a 20-14 overtime loss to Texas A&M in College Station. They were an underdog in that game, so a six-point loss wasn’t much of a loss in our book. There’s no need to downgrade the Wildcats – especially after they were idle last week.

    Kentucky should be fresh after the bye. I really like their defense, led by linebacker Josh Allen. I think Vanderbilt will have a disappointing performance after the Florida game, just like they did after the Notre Dame game. It’s a big point spread and not a high point total at 48, but Kentucky is the right side here.


    12 Oregon at 25 Washington State (-3)

    The Pac-12’s College Football Playoff hopes likely ended last week as Oregon took down Washington. There’s plenty at stake in this game, as the winner will be in pole position to win the Pac-12 North. A Rose Bowl appearance for either program would be considered a success for the season.

    Oregon’s win against Washington was huge for first-year coach Mario Cristobal, but it was a game they were very fortunate to win. Washington outgained Oregon by 1.5 yards per play. A missed Huskies field goal sent the game to overtime before Oregon came out on top and their fans rushed the field. I picked Oregon last week and felt fortunate that they covered as 3.5-point underdogs.

    I’m going to go against the Ducks because this is a letdown game off the big win. The situational angles favor Washington State, as they come off a bye and had extra preparation for their biggest game of the season so far.

    Justin Herbert is the quarterback most people know about in this matchup, but Washington State’s Gardner Minshew leads the nation in passing yards. He even crept onto Brett McMurphy’s Heisman ballot this week. The East Carolina transfer has thrown 11 of his 19 touchdown passes in conference play. Washington State’s only loss this season came when they squandered a 13-point second-half lead at USC and then they responded well with a win against Utah.

    Oregon opened as a small favorite in this game and the line moved quickly towards Washington State. Usually when a line moves early in the week, it means the smart or sharp money is on a certain side. The line move here indicates that Washington State deserves to be a favorite in this game.

    Now the line is at a field goal, which isn’t ideal, but the Cougars are the team to take here. I would consider waiting to see if this goes back to under three, which it may after the causal bettors flock to Oregon after their national TV win last week.


    22 Mississippi State at 5 LSU (-7)

    There hasn’t been a team I have followed and written about more this season than LSU. It’s a team I have been down on all season and have been wrong most of the time.

    However, I picked against them at the right time when they lost to Florida in Week 6 and then supported them as over a touchdown underdog against Georgia last week. I expected them to cover the big number at home against a Georgia team who hadn’t been tested all season, but wasn’t expecting a 20-point outright upset for Ed Orgeron’s team.

    I’m going against LSU this week as they welcome Mississippi State to Baton Rouge. LSU is in a similar spot as Oregon where they are coming off an upset win at home and their fans stormed the field. The difference is that LSU gets to stay at home, but the Tigers had to give a maximum effort against Florida the week before playing Georgia. This is a letdown spot coming off two very intense SEC games for LSU.

    The bet in this game is just as much of a bet on Mississippi State as it is a bet against LSU. Mississippi State had a rough start to the conference schedule with losses to Kentucky and Florida. Their running game was totally shut down and dual-threat quarterback Nick Fitzgerald struggled throwing.

    The Bulldogs bounced back the game before the bye week with a 23-9 win against Auburn. Mississippi State found success running the ball with 349 yards on the ground, and Fitzgerald rushed for 195 yards and two touchdowns. Auburn isn’t as good as we thought, but the strength of their team is the front seven, so it was an impressive showing by Mississippi State’s offense. The bye came at the perfect time for first-year head coach Joe Moorhead, as the team was allowed extra time to prepare for the LSU game.

    Joe Burrow had his best game as a Tiger last week, but I expect Mississippi State’s experienced defense to have success against the LSU offense. The point spread is inflated because of LSU’s win against Georgia – I wouldn’t be surprised if Mississippi State won the game straight up.


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