Week 7 of the college football season is here, with another Saturday of terrific matchups.
Our handicappers Adam Burke, Tim Murray, Wes Reynolds and Scott Seidenberg are here to give you their best bets for the weekend's card.
Overall record: 26-30-2 ATS
Lines are consensus odds from VSiN's college football lines page, as of Wednesday night.
No. 10 Michigan State Spartans (-5, 49) at Indiana Hoosiers
12:00 p.m. ET
Michigan State is now ranked No. 10 in the nation and is undefeated team, after it began the season unranked. The Spartans had a bit of money bet against them last week but ended up having little problem on the road at Rutgers, winning 31-13. Sparty piled up 588 yards of total offense including three first-half receiving touchdowns of 63, 65 and 63 yards by Jalen Nailor. Wake Forest graduate transfer Kenneth Walker III, who was an under-the-radar Heisman candidate heading into Saturday, is now no longer under the radar as he ripped off a 94-yard touchdown run (29 carries, 232 yards) in the third quarter to put the game out of reach and is currently the nation’s rushing leader.
Now the Spartans will attempt to spoil another team's homecoming as they visit Indiana this weekend. The bye week could not have come at a more opportune time for the Hoosiers. Indiana is off to a disappointing 2-3 start and is once again without starting QB Michael Penix Jr (shoulder) for an indefinite amount of time. Jack Tuttle will get the start. Tuttle went 1-1 as a starter last year leading the Hoosiers to a victory at Wisconsin and coming up short in the Outback Bowl against Ole Miss. Expect Indiana to use more designed quarterback runs with Tuttle and perhaps a quicker tempo.
Quarterback is not the only position that has been bitten by the injury bug for Indiana. The Hoosiers secondary, arguably the best position unit on the team, had several players banged up in the 24-0 defeat at Penn State but have had a week off to heal.
The Hoosiers won the Old Brass Spittoon last year in East Lansing by shutting out the Spartans 24-0. Indiana's victory was even more dominant than the final score indicated as Michigan State's offense only generated 191 total yards, nine first downs, and committed four turnovers. Meanwhile, the Hoosiers accumulated 433 total yards.
The Hoosiers are 2-3; however, all three of those losses have been to teams currently ranked in the Top 10 and all three teams were Top 20 or better to begin the season. Michigan State is getting respect now, but the Spartans may struggle dealing with that hype. Sparty could represent a slight drop in class for Indiana, and you are starting to pay a premium for backing them. Indiana, currently 0-4 ATS vs. FBS teams, was -16.5 in this matchup at DraftKings over the summer.
Pick: Indiana + 5
No. 21 Texas A&M Aggies (-9, 60.5) at Missouri Tigers
12 p.m. ET
Burke: The only justifiable explanation for taking Missouri in this game would be the awful situational spot for Texas A&M. The Tigers defense now ranks 123rd in the nation in yards per play allowed after giving up 6.57 YPP to North Texas last week. That is actually an improvement for a defense that has allowed 6.84 YPP on the season.
Texas A&M ranks 20th in yards per pass attempt and that seems to be a good matchup for them against a Missouri team that does prefer to throw the ball with QB Connor Bazelak. Maybe Mizzou changes it up this week and relies more on the run after a huge performance from Tyler Badie with 209 yards on 17 carries last week, but the Aggies have still allowed less than four yards per carry.
On the flip side, the Tigers rank 128th in the nation in yards per carry allowed. The biggest knock against Texas A&M right now seems to be a distrust of Zach Calzada in the betting market. This week’s game-plan should feature a lot of Isaiah Spiller and Devon Achane, who have combined for over six yards per carry this season.
This will actually be Texas A&M’s first road game of the season, so that should keep them focused, along with what we’ve seen on the national landscape in terms of upsets this season.
Largely, though, this is a straight fade of Missouri. You’d like teams to show you something in those games against overmatched opponents and the Tigers did not. They certainly haven’t shown much in their two SEC games or against Boston College.
Pick: Texas A&M -9
No. 20 Florida Gators (-11.5, 59.5) at LSU Tigers
12 p.m. ET
Seidenberg: The situation at LSU has gone from bad to worse. Look at all the starters who are done with injuries: Derek Stingley, Eli Ricks and Ali Gaye were key defensive starters and WR Kayshon Boutte was their best offensive contributor with nine receiving TDs. All these players are not coming back from their injuries, and why should they? This team has one foot out the door already and it shows. They can’t run the football and the explosive plays are nonexistent. Now they welcome in a Florida team that has a lot to prove.
Coming off the loss to Kentucky, the Gators rolled over Vanderbilt, however, there are still those who have a sour opinion of Dan Mullen and this team, and a win over LSU would satisfy those naysayers. Throw in the fact that there will be no home-field advantage for LSU as this is an 11 a.m. local kickoff and the fans know it’s a lost season. Don’t be surprised to see fewer than 50,000 fans in that stadium Saturday morning. Florida rolls big.
Pick: Florida -11.5
Purdue Boilermakers at No. 2 Iowa Hawkeyes (-12, 43)
12:30 p.m. ET
Reynolds: Iowa took control of the Big Ten West and put itself right into College Football Playoff contention with a comeback victory over No. 4 Penn State, 23-20. The Hawkeyes are now ranked No. 2 in the nation, their highest ranking since 1985. Iowa has beaten three Top 25 teams this season and defeated a top-five team for the first time since beating No. 3 Ohio State in 2017. The Hawkeyes trailed 17-3 before knocking Penn State QB Sean Clifford from the game in the middle of the second quarter.
Once again, Iowa was relatively pedestrian on offense with just 305 yards and only ranks 120th out of 130 FBS teams in total offense. Defense continues to carry the day for the Hawkeyes as they have 20 takeaways (No. 1 in the nation), including 16 interceptions (also No. 1 in the nation), through just six games. Iowa also leads the nation in turnover margin at an astonishing + 15.
The Hawkeyes’ elite defense gets a Purdue offense this week that can move the ball, particularly through the air (325.4 YPG, 10th nationally) but has struggled to put points on the board. The Boilermakers have scored 13 points in each of their last three ball games, which is the average number of points that Iowa allows (fourth nationally in scoring defense) largely due to their continued struggles at running the ball (122nd at 89.4 YPG).
The Boilermakers made a change at QB two weeks ago as Aidan O'Connell took over from Jack Plummer as the starter. O’Connell threw for 371 yards, but had only one touchdown and committed two turnovers in a rainy-day homecoming loss to Minnesota.
Purdue’s defense has shown improvement going back to a 4-3 alignment this season. The Boilermakers stop unit is No. 3 in the conference in total defense (299.6 YPG) and scoring defense (15.4 PPG).
Meanwhile, Iowa must come down from the high of the field-storming that took place last Saturday at Kinnick Stadium after its biggest win in a few years. Purdue has been able to throw the ball on the Hawkeyes in recent years and Jeff Brohm is 3-1 vs. Kirk Ferentz. This is the perfect spot for an Iowa team to be flat against a Purdue squad with two weeks to prepare.
Pick: Purdue + 12
Fresno State Bulldogs (-3, 54) at Wyoming Cowboys
3:30 p.m. ET
Burke: Two well-coached teams will match up in Laramie for this Saturday matinee at the highest elevation in FBS. Fresno State is coming off of the bye. Wyoming had its bye two weeks ago and lost to Air Force last week, so both sides are pretty fresh.
This game comes down to one thing for me: Fresno State has offensive balance and Wyoming does not. The Bulldogs rank 15th in the nation in yards per play; Wyoming ranks 91st. Sean Chambers is an inefficient passer and not a very good runner at the quarterback position for the Cowboys. He has completed just 54 percent of his passes with a 6-3 TD:INT ratio and only has 111 yards on 47 carries.
The Cowboys did score 95 combined points in wins over Northern Illinois and Ball State, but this is also a team that nearly lost to UConn and only managed 19 points against Montana State. With extra time to prepare for the run-heavy scheme, I would expect Kalen DeBoer’s Fresno team to be ready to go.
The bye week came at an ideal time for Fresno State, as QB Jake Haener has been playing hurt since the UCLA game. The Bulldogs played the tight one against the Bruins, another tight one in a bad spot against UNLV and then lost at Hawaii when Haener was intercepted at the 2-yard line.
Wyoming has not faced a good passing offense yet, but it will get one here. The Bulldogs only average 3.8 yards per carry, but Haener scrambles and sacks have held them back. The running backs have been solid on the ground and Ronnie Rivers also contributes as a pass-catcher.
Fresno State badly outgained Hawaii in that game two weeks ago and led 24-10 going into the fourth quarter. The Bulldogs hurt themselves with six turnovers, including four uncharacteristic picks from Haener. This is a bounce-back spot off of the bye for the better offense and a defense that is only 0.1 yards per play worse than Wyoming.
Pick: Fresno State -3
No. 19 BYU Cougars at Baylor Bears (-6, 50)
3:30 p.m. ET
Burke: It feels like we have an inflated line in this game because of what just happened to these two teams. BYU lost 26-17 to Boise State and Baylor won 45-20 over West Virginia. Recency bias can be a thing in the betting market, and I believe that is what we have here.
BYU’s loss at home took the Cougars from the ranks of the unbeaten, but the loss wasn’t nearly as bad as it looked on the surface. A letdown was a reasonable expectation after beating Utah State to sweep the rivalry series with the Aggies and the Utah Utes, but the box score says that wasn’t really the case. The Cougars outgained Boise State by 101 yards. They had 6.45 yards per play to Boise’s 4.22. Four turnovers and two turnovers on downs for the Cougars were the deciding factors in the game.
Baylor did put together a complete game against West Virginia, but it came on the heels of a 10-point loss to Oklahoma State and a misleading win over Iowa State. In Week 4, Iowa State outgained Baylor 479-282. The teams were even in turnovers with one each. Baylor took advantage of Iowa State’s bad special teams with a kick return touchdown, a partially-blocked punt and a 41-yard punt return to set up a field goal drive.
The Bears were also outgained badly by Oklahoma State in Week 5. The Cowboys actually committed the game’s only three turnovers and won by 14 in spite of it.
This is BYU’s first foray outside of the state of Utah since Sept. 4, but that is a mild concern here, as the weather doesn’t look bad in Waco and it isn’t a long trip for the Cougars. Maybe Baylor really is that good, but this line looks too high.
Pick: BYU (+ 6)
No. 11 Kentucky Wildcats at No. 1 Georgia Bulldogs (-23, 44.5)
3:30 p.m. ET
Seidenberg: Georgia is the best team in the country. When the public gravitated towards taking the 17 points with Arkansas, the Bulldogs responded by pitching a 37-0 shutout. So why will this game be any different?
First off, it’s a math equation. With the total in this game at 44.5, the expectation is that Kentucky, at the most, will score 10. While that may be the case against this Georgia defense, a cover would imply a 34-10 final. There’s one problem: I don’t see Georgia scoring 34.
Kentucky has yet to allow an opponent 30 points in a game, and if the Wildcats continue that trend against the Bulldogs, they are a lock for a cover as long as they get into the end zone once. As well as Kentucky QB Will Levis has shown he can play, combined with this rushing attack, I’d be shocked if the Wildcats didn’t score a touchdown. This will be a low-scoring defensive battle as both teams are amongst the tops in the country in defense. With limited scoring, 23 is too many points for Georgia to cover.
The pick: Kentucky + 23
No. 13 Mississippi Rebels (-2.5, 82) at Tennessee Volunteers
7:30 p.m. ET
Murray: In one of the most exciting games of the college football season, Mississippi held on to beat then-No. 13 Arkansas, 52-51 on Saturday. The Rebels, who closed at five-point favorites, stopped the Razorbacks’ two-point conversion attempt with no time left on the clock. Following the victory, Ole Miss head coach Lane Kiffin jokingly told ESPN, “Finally we can have some popcorn.” After back-to-back games against Alabama and Arkansas, Kiffin and Co. better not be snacking too much because Tennessee is playing its best football of the season.
After falling to Florida 38-14 on Sept. 25, the Volunteers have responded with back-to-back dominating victories. Two weeks ago, as a 2.5-point underdog at Missouri, Tennessee destroyed the Tigers 62-24 and outgained Missouri 683-396. Last weekend, the Vols, as 10.5-point favorites, jumped out to a 38-7 halftime lead over South Carolina en route to a 45-20 win. Virginia Tech transfer QB Hendon Hooker has been great since taking over as starting QB. Hooker has a 69.6 percent completion percentage with 13 touchdowns and one interception (he’s also rushed for 282 yards and three scores). Hooker is fifth in the nation in passing efficiency; Ole Miss QB Matt Corral, who is currently the co-favorite to win the Heisman Trophy, is sixth.
Mississippi is a dominant offensive team. The Rebels enter the weekend second in the country in total yards per game (561.6), but defense is a different story. Ole Miss is 100th in the nation in yards allowed per game (430.0) and 106th in rushing defense. Opponents are averaging 4.27 YPC against the Rebels and have scored 13 times on the ground. Arkansas rushed for 350 yards and finished with 676 total yards last weekend at Mississippi. Two weeks ago, Alabama RB Brian Robinson rushed for 171 yards on 36 carries. Tennessee is currently seventh in the nation in rushing yards per game. Vols RB Tiyon Evans is averaging 6.7 YPC (13th in the nation) and has rushed for a combined 275 yards over the last two games.
The Rebels opened as a four-point favorite on Sunday at Circa Sports before dropping to 2.5-point favorites across the market by Wednesday. Coming off two challenging games and now visiting Neyland Stadium for a night game is quite the challenge for Lane Kiffin’s squad. Tennessee seems to be getting things rolling offensively and this looks like a great spot to pull an upset.
Pick: Tennessee + 2.5