College Football Betting Guide: Saturday 9/11/21

Last week delivered for college football fans and bettors alike. This Saturday’s slate doesn’t offer as many marquee matchups, but there are still several games that give us some betting value, including the biggest game in the history of the Iowa-Iowa State rivalry. Michigan and Ohio State both have non-conference games against Pac-12 contenders. Let’s identify what bets our model likes in these games.

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.

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

Washington Huskies vs. Michigan Wolverines

Washington +6.5 (-110): 4-Star Rating out of 5

Saturday night’s matchup features two teams that had the exact opposite weekend last week. Michigan was under pressure to prove that last season was an aberration, and an opening statement game against one of the MAC’s best would quell some offseason questions about changes to their coaching staff, particularly on defense, where they brought in Mike Macdonald to replace Don Brown as defensive coordinator.

Western Michigan scored a touchdown on their first drive of the game, but after that, Michigan kept them out of the end zone until there were under four minutes left in the game. Wolverine quarterback Cade McNamara played a nearly flawless game, but Michigan’s running game stole the show; Blake Corum and Hassan Haskins combined for 181 rushing yards and two touchdowns.

Washington lost to Montana in what was probably the program’s worst loss in history. The Huskies were favored by more than three touchdowns but managed to score just one as quarterback Dylan Morris threw three interceptions and finished with a QBR of 8.4, according to ESPN. Based on what we saw last week, laying less than a touchdown might seem appealing to Michigan bettors, but don’t jump to conclusions about either team with only one game under their belts.

The Huskies’ offense was horrific last week, and they’re going to face a much more talented defense in Ann Arbor. But Michigan isn’t finished answering questions on that side of the ball. The Wolverines are weak at cornerback, even though safety Daxton Hill proved he’s talented enough to make up for that deficiency at times. Washington is more talented on offense than they let on against Montana, but the Huskies played much better on the defensive side of the ball.

Michigan’s best offensive player, wide receiver Ronnie Bell, is out for the rest of the season with a knee injury. Washington will likely focus on containing Corum and Haskins and force McNamara to beat them through the air. If they can execute that plan successfully, the Huskies can keep this one close if Michigan’s other receivers don’t step up to replace Bell’s production.

Even though the spread is on the wrong side of seven for Washington bettors, our model gives the Huskies a 67.4% probability of covering the spread at the Big House.

Iowa Hawkeyes vs. Iowa State Cyclones

Over 46.5 (-110): 3-Star Rating out of 5

The Iowa schools are ranked the highest they’ve been coming into this rivalry game, which has serious implications for both sides for this season. Iowa State is a serious Big 12 contender, and with Wisconsin dropping their opener against Penn State, Iowa is now the favorite in the Big Ten West. The Hawkeyes are coming off a statement win against Indiana, while the Cyclones failed to cover the spread against Northern Iowa. Iowa’s stock is clearly up, and Iowa State is trending in the opposite direction, but the Cyclones deserve to be the favorite in this contest.

Iowa State has a great offense with a backfield consisting of quarterback Brock Purdy and running back Breece Hall. Purdy is a solid NFL prospect and one of the best signal-callers in the Big 12 not named Spencer Rattler. Hall is a preseason All-American first teamer and a longshot Heisman candidate. The Cyclones have another first teamer on the preseason All-American team in tight end Charlie Kolar, who rounds out a solid group of pass catchers for Iowa State. That group includes receiver Xavier Hutchinson, who finished second in the conference in receiving yards last year. Even though they put up only 16 points on Northern Iowa, Iowa State still gained 335 yards in that game.

The Cyclones will likely continue to improve on offense as they get into a rhythm. Iowa has their fair share of offensive weapons, as well. Tyler Goodson is one of the best running backs in the Big Ten, and the Hawkeyes boast a tough offensive line for him to run behind.

Both teams should be able to move the ball against each other, and that’s reflected in our model’s projections. With the total at 46.5, we project the over to hit 63.59% of the time.

Oregon Ducks vs. Ohio State Buckeyes

Ohio State -14.5 (-110): 2-Star Rating out of 5

Oregon struggled against Fresno State before coming out on top, and even though they won by two touchdowns, Ohio State looked shaky at times against Minnesota. This Saturday, the Ducks travel to Columbus in one of the most anticipated non-conference matchups this season.

Oregon might have a difficult time stopping the Buckeyes, who are absolutely loaded on offense. Receivers Chris Olave and Garrett Wilson and tight end Jeremy Ruckert make up the best group of pass catchers in the country. Ohio State has the second ranked pro-style quarterback of the 2020 class, C.J. Stroud, throwing the ball to that group. As if that wasn’t enough, the Buckeyes returned Master Teague and added TreVeyon Henderson at running back. Henderson was the number-one back of the 2021 class.

The Ducks’ best defensive player, Kayvon Thibodeaux, left last week’s game against Fresno State with an injury. Thibodeaux is not only the best edge rusher prospect in the upcoming NFL draft, but he's arguably the best overall prospect. If he isn’t 100% on Saturday, Oregon could have trouble getting pressure on Stroud and ending Buckeye drives.

Oregon has weapons to lead a proficient offense, such as running back C.J. Verdell and receivers Johnny Johnson and Devin Williams, but they might not be able to score enough against Ohio State's defense to cover the spread. The Buckeyes returned just five starters on D, but they're spearheaded by preseason All-American defensive tackle Haskell Garrett, who leads a defensive line rotation that includes two five-star recruits from the 2021 class in J.T. Tuimoloau and Jack Sawyer.

Ohio State has a 60.7% chance to cover 14.5 points, according to our model, but bettors should monitor the line to see if the Buckeyes come down a half-point, since they're on the wrong side of 14 right now. Still, Ohio State should take care of business at home against the Ducks, because their roster is stocked with much more talent than Oregon's.