Week 10 of the college football season is here, including the another week of terrific matchups.
Our handicappers Brian Edwards, Tim Murray and Wes Reynolds are here to give you their best bets for eight games on the weekend's card.
Lines are consensus odds from VSiN's college football lines page, as of Thursday afternoon.
No. 23 Michigan Wolverines (-3) at No. 13 Indiana Hoosiers
Fire Jim Harbaugh.
Michigan is overrated.
Those were two big topics of discussion after Michigan lost to Michigan State last weekend as a three-touchdown favorite. Now the Wolverines head to Bloomington to face Indiana, one of the early season darlings of the college football season.
The Hoosiers stunned Penn State in a thrilling overtime win two weeks ago, and the Indiana won and covered against Rutgers last week. But how good is Rutgers? The Scarlet Knights’ season opening win over Michigan State was aided by seven turnovers by the Spartans. Additionally, Indiana only had 211 total yards against Penn State with 75 yards coming on the Hoosiers game-tying drive late in the fourth quarter and 25 more in overtime. Tom Allen has done an excellent job building the Indiana program, but are the Hoosiers ready to beat the big boys every week?
Michigan State exposed a big issue with Michigan: attacking the Wolverines secondary. Freshman Ricky White had eight catches for 196 and a touchdown last weekend against Michigan.
Jim Harbaugh continues to struggle against Michigan State (3-3 against Sparty), but he’s never lost to Indiana, and the Hoosiers have not defeated Michigan since 1987. ESPN’s Chris Fallica sent out an interesting note about Harbaugh prior to the Wolverines season opening 49-24 win against then-No. 21 Minnesota: Harbaugh is just 2-12 against top 10 teams at Michigan but he is now 9-2 against teams ranked 11-25. The Hoosiers are currently ranked 13th.
Lastly, I love this spot for Michigan. Coming off an ugly loss, it is an opportunity to buy low. If the Wolverines beat Michigan State, what would the line be for this game? From top to bottom, Michigan is a more talented team than Indiana. The Hoosiers have been a great story this season and the program is on the rise but this is a good spot for Michigan.
Pick: Michigan -3
Michigan State Spartans at Iowa Hawkeyes (-6.5, 46)
Reynolds: Michigan State comes into this one flying high off an outright 27-24 win as 21.5-point underdogs at Michigan. Mel Tucker’s Spartans rightfully celebrated taking the Paul Bunyan Trophy from the Wolverines. Michigan State was in an absolute “buy low” spot last week after a home opening loss to Rutgers, who had lost 21 Big Ten games in a row. Sparty took care of the ball last week and did not turn it over while posting 449 yards of total offense, which is massive for a group that was one of the more anemic offenses in the conference last season.
Meanwhile, Iowa is off to an 0-2 start in the conference. The Hawkeyes have lost those two games by a combined five points and outgained both opponents (Purdue and Northwestern). Iowa is 10-2 ATS in its last 12 games coming off a loss. On the other hand, Tucker was 1-3 SU and ATS coming off a win in his one season at Colorado.
The number of almost a touchdown probably looks high on the surface, but two touchdowns is a big adjustment off just one game for Michigan State. The Spartans were getting 21 at Michigan and now get less than 7 at Iowa. I would certainly take Iowa 14 on a neutral field vs. Michigan.
Pick: Iowa -6.5
Houston Cougars at No. 6 Cincinnati Bearcats (-13.5, 54.5)
Reynolds: The Bearcats got their double dose of revenge and then some last weekend by defeating their nemesis Memphis 49-10, the same team that beat Cincinnati in back-to-back weeks to end the 2019 season. Cincinnati’s defense held the Tigers to just 321 yards, sacked quarterback Brady White six times and held Memphis to just 36 yards on 20 carries (sacks not included). Offensively, they also piled up 242 yards on the ground and quarterback Desmond Ridder went 21-for-26 and threw for 271 yards and three touchdowns.
On the other hand, Houston was just pasted at home by UCF, 44-21, and gave up 681 yards. Houston’s leading receiver Marquez Stevenson is also expected to miss this weekend’s affair with an ankle injury.
Cincinnati is currently ranked No. 6 in the AP poll and some national media are beginning to talk them up as legitimate College Football Playoff contenders. The Bearcats won at Houston last season, 38-23, as seven-point favorites.
So, the Bearcats should be easy money for this one right? Cincinnati is off two monster efforts with a 42-13 win at SMU even in the aftermath of dealing with COVID-19 issues within the team and of course paying back Memphis for last year’s defeats. The line opened -10 on Sunday at Circa Sports and immediately moved to the current price of -13.5 within 24 hours. It has not moved since. While a 14 could potentially show, but Houston’s worth a take here at + 13.5 because this looks to be the come-down spot for a Cincinnati club that’s getting patted on the back and hyped to the moon right now.
Pick: Houston + 13.5
Washington State Cougars at Oregon State Beavers (-1.5, 65.5)
Reynolds: Jonathan Smith was a four-year starter at quarterback for Oregon State during the Dennis Erickson era in 1998-2001. He took over a 1-11 team after the 2017 and has gradually improved the program. The Beavers went just 5-7 last year, but they were :02 away from getting bowl eligible. The team that kept them from that bowl eligibility? You guessed it, Washington State. The Cougars scored a touchdown with :02 remaining to defeat Oregon State, 54-53, late in the season.
Oregon State loses its starting quarterback Jake Luton, who will make his first NFL start for the Jacksonville Jaguars this weekend, and its top rusher and receiver, but does return nine starters on defense. Tristian Gebbia, a one-time Nebraska transfer, started the finale last year in place of an injured Luton and was a highly-touted recruit so there may not be much of a drop off.
Meanwhile, Washington State is learning new systems on both sides of the ball now that Mike Leach has departed. It is an entirely new coaching staff as well with Nick Rolovich bringing most of his crew in from Hawaii to take over in Pullman. True freshman Jayden de Laura will start at quarterback. Oregon State should be at least somewhat prepared for the Run N’ Shoot offense considering they traveled to Hawaii last year, where they were upset 31-28.
This may be a case of one rebuilding program that is just a little farther along than the other.
Pick: Oregon State -1.5
No. 8 Florida Gators vs. No. 5 Georgia Bulldogs (-3, 52.5)
Edwards: Georgia is seeking its first four-game winning streak in this rivalry since the 1980s. The difference this Saturday compared to the last three meetings will be that Florida has the edge -- and a rather healthy one -- at the quarterback position.
Florida senior QB Kyle Trask has connected on 95-of-139 passes (68.3%) for 1,341 yards with a stellar 18-2 touchdown-to-interception ratio in only four games. Meanwhile, Georgia QB Stetson Bennett has been intercepted five times in his team’s last two games.
Florida junior tight end Kyle Pitts is a matchup nightmare for every opponent, especially one that’s going to be without multiple defensive starters. Pitts has 22 receptions for 355 yards and seven TDs, while WR Kadarius Toney has 22 catches for 297 yards and six TDs.
Since Dan Mullen arrived in Gainesville in 2018, the Gators have compiled a 4-1-2 spread record with four outright wins in seven games as underdogs. The Bulldogs have played twice at home and three times on the road this year. Although this is a neutral-site game in Jacksonville, we’ll nonetheless note that they’re 0-3 ATS outside of Athens.
Another major factor in this pick is injuries. Georgia is going to be without senior safety Richard LeCounte, (first-team All-SEC selection in 2019) and starting DT Julian Rochester. Starting junior DT Jordan Davis fractured his elbow in Lexington, although Kirby Smart didn’t rule out him attempting to play with some sort of cast.
Furthermore, WR George Pickens is questionable with an upper-body injury. Pickens, who led the Bulldogs in all receiving stats as a true freshman last year, didn’t even make the trip for the Kentucky game. Finally, LB Quay Walker and CB Lewis Cine are both questionable.
Due to COVID-19, Florida was without three starters in the secondary and other key players in a 41-17 win over Missouri. However, those players tested positive two Saturdays ago and are expected to play vs. Georgia. The Gators reported Tuesday that they had no new positive cases this week for the first time since September.
Florida senior DT Kyree Campbell made his season debut vs. Missouri, making a big impact on the Gators’ much-maligned run defense. After being gashed for 205 rushing yards by Texas A&M, Florida limited the Tigers to 40 rushing yards on 23 attempts. Campbell’s presence helped hold Larry Rountree, one of the SEC’s premier RBs, to 36 yards on 14 carries.
Trask and Pitts lead Florida to the outright win as a 135 money-line underdog.
Pick: Florida ML
Mississippi State Bulldogs (-18.5, 46) vs. Vanderbilt Commodores
Edwards: This pick is all about fading Vanderbilt, which is winless and has been outscored 136-35 in three straight home losses vs. LSU, South Carolina and Ole Miss, a trio of foes who have a mediocre 6-10 combined record this year.
Mississippi State’s offense has been stuck in the mud, but Vandy’s defense is exactly what Mike Leach’s team needs to get back into a groove. The Bulldogs have been playing solid defense. In fact, they’re ranked second in the SEC in both total defense and passing defense, and this unit is third at defending the run.
Since 2010, Mississippi State is 30-19 ATS as a home favorite.
Pick: Mississippi State -18.5
Boston College Eagles (-14, 52.5) at Syracuse Orange
Edwards: Even if Boston College comes out flat after last week’s heartbreaker at Clemson, it still shouldn’t have any problem covering this 14-point number. The Eagles have left the Carrier Dome victorious by scores of 58-27 and 42-14 in their last two visits in 2019 and ’17, respectively.
Syracuse has lost four games in a row by margins of 24, 26, 17 and 14 points. Dino Babers’s squad is 1-6 straight up and every defeat has come by at least 11 points. With starting QB Tommy DeVito out with a season-ending injury, backup QB Rex Culpepper has thrown seven interception compared to six TDs.
Boston College is getting elite QB play out of Phil Jurkovec, who has a 14-4 TD-INT ratio and three rushing TDs. He’ll face an Orange defense that’s ranked 14th out of 15 ACC teams in total defense and 15th in run defense.
BC wins by 17-24 points.
Pick: Boston College -14
- Kansas State is an incredible 16-4 ATS in 20 games as a home underdog since 2011. The Wildcats are 12.5-home underdogs Saturday vs. Oklahoma State. The Cowboys are 12-14-2 ATS in 28 games as road favorites going back to 2012.
- Since 1994 against AP Top-10 opponents, Notre Dame has limped to a 4-40 SU record and an 11-32-1 ATS mark. (H/T, Brad Powers)
- Arizona State, an 11-point underdog Saturday at USC, is 5-2 ATS in seven games on Herm Edwards’s watch, including a 38-35 win over the Trojans in its last trip to The Coliseum. USC is 6-10 ATS in its last 16 contests as a home favorite.
- Texas A&M, a 10-point favorite at South Carolina, is 3-0 ATS in three games as a road ‘chalk’ during Jimbo Fisher’s tenure. The Gamecocks are 3-1 ATS in four games as underdogs this year.
- Arkansas (5-0 ATS) is the nation’s only team that’s played more than two games and remains undefeated for our purposes. The Razorbacks, who are two-point home underdogs Saturday vs. Tennessee, are 13-8 ATS as home underdogs since 2014. They’re 2-0 ATS with one outright win in a pair of such spots since Sam Pittman took over. Since taking an eight-game winning streak to Athens and leading 21-17 at halftime on Oct. 10, the Volunteers have been outscored 109-24 in the last 10 quarters.