College Football Week 7 Picks

Kansas State at #19 Oklahoma -10.5, 11:00 ESPN:

The computers see this spread as being roughly fair, with the FPI/ Sagarin average coming in around 11. The Wildcats have been sneaky tough defensively, ranking 15th nationally in scoring defense and 3rd in rushing defense. Where the Sooners may be able to exploit them is in the passing game, where KSU ranks just 66th defensively. They may be able to keep OU off balance but the feeling is that this is an offense that has started to click, and that would have covered easily last week if not four careless turnovers. If they can take care of the football, a two touchdown victory seems very reachable.

NC State at #3 Clemson -17.5, 11:00 ABC:

Clemson is the strongest publicly backed side on the card, with 84% of bets falling with the Tigers. That isn’t an in incredibly attractive situation in most cases to support the favorite, especially as the line has hardly budged off the action (opened at 17). However, in this case, it is hard to argue against it. The FPI/ Sagarin average spread of 20.5 indicates a fair amount of edge at this number, and Clemson seems to be gaining momentum currently.

#1 Alabama -12.5 at #9 Tennessee, 2:30, CBS:

Nick Saban is often furious with his team after victories, and such was the case last week after his defense gave up 30 points in a road win at Arkansas. This Vols offense is better balanced and has more weapons than the Razorbacks do, and one would have to think that this is the game that Tennessee has had circled on its calendar for a long time. The FPI/ Sagarin computers see the average fair spread here to be 9, so there is a good amount of edge in siding with the home team here. 67% of the public is supporting the Tide in this spot, which has moved the line a point and provided some extra edge for those on the Tennessee side, as this seems like a lot of points on the road.

USC -8.5 at Arizona, 2:30 FOX:

We don’t have a strong read on this game, but while the computers seem to indicate some small edge in taking the home underdog (average fair spread = 6.5), it is hard to shake the notion that Arizona simply isn’t a team with identity. What do they do well? Meanwhile USC has come on in its last two games and still doesn’t have a truly bad loss on the resume. Maybe Arizona’s 88th ranked scoring defense will give the Trojans an opportunity to improve upon an offense that has underperformed to this point, ranking just 93rd in scoring. In any case, this is a game that Clay Helton and crew absolutely cannot lose.

North Carolina at #16 Miami -7.5, 2:30 ABC:

North Carolina 37- Florida State 35. Florida State 20- Miami 19. So, North Carolina wins by 3 via transitive property. The FPI/ Sagarin computers see this spread as roughly fair, so it is a matter of weighing the angles. North Carolina certainly had some excuses in its blowout home loss last week to Virginia Tech, as the field conditions played away from their game plan. Still, the somewhat surprisingly large point spread here has the public supporting the Tarheels to the tune of 61%, which makes them the trendiest underdog on the card. While the transitive property is far from an exact science for betting purposes, it is hard to go against it when it indicates a different winner than the spread does, especially when the spread is this large.

#10 Nebraska -3.5 at Indiana, 2:30 ESPN 2:

A 5-0 start has the Huskers back in the Top 10, but who have they really beaten? A 3 point home win over Oregon (in a game the Ducks went for 2-point conversions four times and missed) doesn’t hold up very well after the subsequent efforts by the Ducks. The computers see the fair line here as 8.5, which makes this the spread largest divergence for a favorite on the card. Angles are in contrast though which makes this look like a trap, as for the third straight week, we see reverse line movement with sharp money on the Hoosiers, as the spread opened at 6.5 but has fallen despite only 32% of public bets backing the underdog. They’ve covered the last two games when this has been observed. This trend has been the most successful play of the year so far and this looks like a great spot to money line the Hoosiers at home on homecoming weekend.

#12 Ole Miss -7.5 at #22 Arkansas, 6:00 ESPN:

With 58% of the public on the home team here, Arkansas is one of just two publicly supported underdogs on the card this week. The teams have one common opponent in Alabama, but the scores aren’t very comparable as Ole Miss benefited from some late game luck to backdoor cover in their game. The computers see this line to be roughly fair. The hook is a tricky one in this spot but Ole Miss seems like the more well-rounded team so we will continue to fade the public underdog. The Landshark D has been highly effective on third down passing situations, limiting opponents to just a 22% conversion rate, and the passing game appears to be the Razorbacks’ bread and butter considering the extreme weakness of their offensive line.

Stanford at Notre Dame -2.5, 6:30 NBC:

Two teams that have vastly underachieved this season meet, and this looks like a strange spread. Christian McCaffery is listed as questionable, but outside of that, it is hard to imagine why Notre Dame would be giving points to anyone coming off losses to mediocre ACC teams like Duke and NC State, while the pounding they took at the hands of Michigan State continues to look worse and worse as the Spartans falter. The FPI/ Sagarin fair spread average favors Stanford by 3, and that’s enough leeway to take the points here whether McCaffery plays or not.

#2 Ohio State -10.5 at #8 Wisconsin, 7:00 ABC:

The Badger offense is still a work in progress, and it didn’t answer many questions when scoring only 7 points in a loss to Michigan. The Buckeye defense poses a similar challenge as the Wolverines did, ranking 2nd nationally in scoring. Wisconsin’s defense is no slouch itself, ranking 4th, but Ohio State’s high-powered scoring attack ranks 3rd on the offensive side of the ball. This is a tricky hook with the computers seeing the fair line around 10, with the underdog at home and coming off the bye. But, statistically speaking, it seems fair to estimate Wisconsin will score about 3-7 points in this game. Can they keep the Buckeyes under 20 points? That seems to be asking a lot…

UCLA at Washington State -5.5, 9:30, ESPN:

Washington State 42- Stanford 16. Stanford 22- UCLA 13. So Washington State wins by 35 via transitive property. The computers see WSU as just a 3 point favorite on average, but that’s assuming Josh Rosen plays at QB for the Bruins, and he’s currently listed as questionable. Even if he does play, he figures to be banged up, and the Cougars seem to have figured things out following two close losses to start the season and head home fresh off the aforementioned walloping of Stanford on the road. 84% of public bets on the home team have driven the spread higher from its opening line of 4.

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