Another week of college football is here and let me tell you… it’s a horrible slate. There are three ranked matchups, but two of them are in the Pac-12, No. 17 Arizona St. @ No. 13 Utah, and No. 12 Oregon @ No. 25 Washington. The other ranked matchup is the White-Out in Happy Valley, which I’ll be attending myself, No. 16 Michigan @ No. 7 Penn State.
That being said, there are a ton of games this week that I like the spreads for. It’s a bad week for actual football, but a good week for betting. Here are my picks for this week.
1. No. 9 Florida (-5.5) @ South Carolina
This is a classic overreaction to the results of last week. South Carolina won in Athens over Georgia 20-17, and all of a sudden they’re valued as a legitimate good team. Florida, is an actual good team. The Gators are 6-1 on the season, and that one loss came to No. 2 LSU last by 14 points. However, the game was tied or a seven-point game for almost the entire time, up until the middle of the fourth quarter. They hung with LSU at night in Death Valley. That wasn’t a bad performance for them at all. Florida also handedly beat No. 11 Auburn two weeks ago at home, 24-13. There’s no doubt that this is a really good team.
For South Carolina, I think last week was more of a case of Jake Fromm being really bad than South Carolina being really good. Fromm had three interceptions, one of which was ran back for a touchdown. I don’t expect Florida to have that bad of a game, especially coming off a loss. The Gamecocks look like they will have starting quarterback Ryan Hilinski back this game, after he injured his knee against Georgia. However, it was a knee sprain for Hilinski, so I’m expecting his mobility to be limited if he does play. Florida’s going to send a ton of pressure, and I just don’t see it going well for Hilinski. I think this is a bad line, and the Gators will cover handedly.
2. No. 2 LSU (-18.5) @ Mississippi State
If you had to ask me who I’m picking to go to the College Football Playoff right now, there’s absolutely no way I’m not picking LSU to be there. LSU has the best offense in the country right now as they’re scoring 52.5 points per game (1st in FBS) and 561 yards per game (2nd in the FBS). Joe Burrow might be the best quarterback in the country right now as he has 2,157 passing yards, 25 touchdowns, and just three interceptions on the season. That doesn’t bode well for Mississippi State, who’s allowing 27.2 points per game and 230.7 passing yards per game. Auburn scored 56 points on Mississippi State, and true freshman quarterback had the best game of his career with completing 16 of his 21 passes for 335 yards and two touchdowns. Auburn was only favored by 7.5 in that game, which was in Mississippi State. They won by 33.
I don’t see this game going much differently than that one. I think LSU is going to blowout Mississippi State with that dynamic offense they have. The Bulldogs won’t be able to stop anything all day. In addition, I’m fairly certain Mississippi State won’t be able to score enough points to cover the spread, as they benched starting quarterback Tommy Stevens for true freshman Garrett Shrader last week. Shrader will start this weekend, but his numbers aren’t convincing. Pound LSU.
3. No. 20 Minnesota (-28.5) @ Rutgers
Rutgers has been outscored by Big Ten opponents by an AVERAGE of 39.5 points this year. It’s pretty simple. This team doesn’t belong in the Big Ten right now. Even Maryland, who lost 40-14 to Purdue last week, beat Rutgers 48-7 on the road. I trust Minnesota to do the exact same. Minnesota hasn’t played anyone significant yet this season, and beat South Dakota St., Fresno State, and Georgia Southern by a combined 13 points. However, P.J Fleck & Co. seemed to have figured things out the last two weeks, as they steamrolled Illinois 40-17, and then Nebraska 34-7. I expect them to continue that this week, as they head into Rutgers.
4. No. 7 Penn State (-8.5) vs. No. 16 Michigan
It’s been a down year for Michigan so far. Yes, they’re 5-1, but their one loss was a 35-14 blowout loss at Camp Randall. They also went to overtime with Army, and won by a field goal. Against good defenses (Wisconsin and Iowa), Michigan has struggled to score. They only scored a combined 24 points in those games. The Penn State defense is undoubtedly one of the best defenses in the country, as they haven’t allowed more than 13 points all year. If you’re going to beat Penn State’s defense, it’s going to be through the air. Penn State allowed 286 passing yards to Nate Stanley and Iowa last week. Yes, they only allowed 12 points, but 286 passing yards compared to 70 rushing yards for Iowa is significant.
That being said, Shea Patterson and Michigan haven’t shown that they can beat teams through the air this season. Patterson has only completed 57.1% of his passes this season for 1246 yards and nine touchdowns to go along with three interceptions. He also has six fumbles this season (four of them lost). That doesn’t bode well for Michigan, as the Penn State defense gets after the quarterback quite a bit. They’re tied second in the nation with 27 sacks this season. If Michigan is loose with the football in the game like they have in the past this season, it’s going to be a long night for them. I like Penn State to win 28-13, covering the 8.5-point spread.