College Football Betting Guide: Friday 9/3/21

Northwestern is a 3.5-point favorite versus Michigan State. Which side of that line should you be on, according to our algorithm?

numberFire has built comprehensive algorithms to pinpoint the bets with the highest probability of returning money, whether you are betting on the total, the spread, or the moneyline.

For those new to numberFire, we use a five-star system to show which bets you should be targeting for any given game. Stars represent how much you should risk on a wager relative to what you would normally bet.

For example, if you would normally bet $110 to win $100 on a -110 spread wager, if we give a 3-star ranking, we suggest risking three times that amount: $330 to win $300. Here are the best bets for this weekend with guidance from our model. All advanced statistics are courtesy of the S&P individual team statistical profiles, except where noted.

Please note that lines are subject to change throughout the day after this article is published. Please check here to make sure you're seeing the most updated information.

Old Dominion vs. Virginia Tech

Old Dominion +31.5: 1 Star out of 5

Old Dominion is a bit of an unknown this season, as they did not play college football last year due to COVID. In 2019, the Monarchs were 1-11, but even that season they were not bad enough to deserve this betting line. The Monarchs lost only one game by more than 30 and just three games by more than 20.

Old Dominion held their own against two ACC opponents, losing by 14 to Virginia Tech and 11 to Virginia. This is certainly nothing to get too excited about, but given the lopsided betting line, it is relevant to mention that the Monarchs were at least somewhat competent in their last season -- even if it was 2019.

Wake Forest is not a juggernaut, and their biggest win against an FBS opponent last year was a 38-14 victory over Syracuse. Our projections have Wake Forest winning easily, but we give Old Dominion a 56.53% chance to cover the monstrous spread of 31.5.

Duke vs. Charlotte

Charlotte +5.5: 5 Stars out of 5

Duke had a disastrous season last year, going 2-9 overall and giving up at least 48 points in each of their last four games. The Blue Devils are projected to be just as bad -- if not worse -- in 2021. They return only 12 total starters and are picked to finish last in the ACC Coastal Division, according to the preseason coaches poll.

Charlotte had a weird year in 2020, playing just six games that were scattered across three months.The good news for them is they averaged 27 points per game despite not really getting into a rhythm due to their schedule, and they return eight starters on offense.

Our model likes Charlotte to win this game outright. We predict a 30.45-28.92 victory for the 49ers, and we give them a 72.59% chance to cover as 5.5-point 'dogs.

Michigan State vs. Northwestern

Northwestern -3.5: 5 Stars out of 5

Michigan State had a poor year in 2020, finishing 2-5. All of their losses were noncompetitive. The Spartans lost by at least 11 in each of their five defeats and were one of the worst defensive teams in college football, conceding 35.1 points per game.

Northwestern had a great season last year. They finished 7-2, although ironically they did lose to Michigan State (29-20) last November. That result seems to have been something of a fluke, because Northwestern beat several good teams last year, including Wisconsin, Iowa and Auburn, so they certainly proved themselves as a legitimate team.

Our model likes the Wildcats to win this game in a blowout, predicting a 31.04-17.29 victory. We give Pat Fitzgerald's squad a 76.54% chance to cover as 3.5-point favorites, and we have this as a five-star bet.