College Football Betting Guide: Saturday 10/2/21

The more chaotic this college football season becomes, the better the upcoming weeks set up for bettors looking for action. Last Saturday continued the trend of elite programs having issues. Clemson lost on the road to NC State and dropped 16 spots in the AP Poll. Iowa State was supposed to give Oklahoma a run for their money in the Big 12 this season, but the Cyclones completely dropped from the rankings with a loss to Baylor.

The College Football Playoff usual suspects all have enticing matchups this week, too. Particularly in the SEC, as Alabama and Georgia host surprise conference contenders Ole Miss and Arkansas, respectively. Clemson has another test this week against Boston College, who is undefeated through four games after an overtime victory against Missouri. The theme for this week from a betting perspective is not to sleep on the typical contenders just because of how messy this season has been thus far. Our model likes both Alabama and Clemson to cover large spreads.

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.

Note: Betting lines are subject to change after this article is published. Please check here to make sure you are seeing the most updated information.

Ole Miss Rebels vs. Alabama Crimson Tide

Alabama -14.5 (-110): 5-Star Rating out of 5

After a 3-0 start behind impressive play from Heisman favorite quarterback Matt Corral, the Rebels are up to 12th in the AP Poll. Ole Miss is averaging more passing yards per game than any team in the country, but they’ve allowed 21 points or more against the mediocre offenses of Louisville and Tulane. Alabama hasn’t played as well offensively this season as they have in years past, but quarterback Bryce Young has only played in four games and has shown continuous improvement throughout. Currently, Young is ranked sixth in the country in ESPN’s QBR, only two spots behind Corral in fourth.

Alabama’s defense will set them apart in this contest. The Tide looked shaky against Florida, allowing 245 rushing yards to the Gators in a 31-29 win, but it’s tough to imagine that Nick Saban won’t have that issue buttoned up after the close call. The Rebels will have to outscore Alabama in order to win, so the Tide just needs to get a few timely stops and rely on their own prolific offense. Alabama has the personnel to do so with several defensive players capable of playing on Sundays in the future such as linebacker Christian Harris, who is the top-ranked linebacker in the CBS NFL prospect rankings.

Alabama has a 75.6% likelihood of covering the spread against Ole Miss, which is good for a five-star rating. This game might be a letdown for college football fans enjoying this season’s chaos, but it’s a strong play for bettors looking to bank on a reliable team like the Crimson Tide.

Boston College Eagles vs. Clemson Tigers

Clemson -14.5 (-110): 5-Star Rating out of 5

The Tigers lost last week, falling to 2-2, but the good news for Clemson fans is that NC State was the most difficult remaining matchup on their schedule. Clemson hasn’t found any offensive rhythm with quarterback D.J. Uiagalelei, who hasn’t thrown for over 200 yards once this season. Uiagalelei looked like Clemson’s next star in last year’s regular-season matchup against Notre Dame in Trevor Lawrence’s absence, but he hasn’t been particularly accurate. Last week against the Wolfpack, he completed only 46.2% of his throws.

Obviously, Clemson’s offensive woes don’t bode well for their matchup against the Eagles, but Boston College hasn’t been exactly stout on defense. They allowed 28 points to Massachusetts in Week 2 and 34 points to Missouri last week, so this could be Uiagalelei’s opportunity to right the ship. As with the Alabama game, Clemson’s major advantage is their defense, which ranks second in the country in ESPN’s S&P+ rankings. The Tigers have six players with at least one sack on the season so far, and they’ve allowed the fifth-fewest points of any team in college football.

Clemson’s likelihood of covering the spread is slightly behind Alabama at 74.8%, but they’re a great bounce-back candidate after a disappointing upset. The Tigers have played far below their level of talent this year, and while they’re probably no longer playoff contenders, they still have a great shot at winning the ACC.

Oregon Ducks vs. Stanford Cardinal

Oregon -7.5 (-110): 3-Star Rating out of 5

A few years ago, this would’ve been a marquee matchup between two perennial Pac-12 contenders, but Stanford has already lost twice this year against Kansas State and UCLA. Oregon controls their own destiny when it comes to the playoff since they’re currently undefeated and have a non-conference win against Ohio State. The Ducks have been able to beat teams with one of college football’s best running back duos in C.J. Verdell and Travis Dye. Verdell has 61 carries for 343 yards, and Dye has 41 carries for 286 yards. Those two, along with dual-threat quarterback Anthony Brown, have consistently moved the chains for this offense.

The Ducks shouldn’t face much resistance from Stanford’s defense, which is dead last in the Pac-12 in rushing yards allowed per game. The Cardinal will have a hard time outscoring Oregon to win as they’re second-to-last in the Pac-12 in yards gained per game. Unfortunately for Stanford fans, this current iteration of David Shaw’s program continues the general downward trend for them in recent seasons.

Oregon is better than Stanford on both sides of the ball and our model’s projection concurs. The Ducks have a 64.7% probability of covering the spread on the road and continuing their march for a playoff bid.

Arizona State Sun Devils vs. UCLA Bruins

Arizona State +3.5 (-110): 3-Star Rating out of 5

This week’s premier late-night game features the two teams most likely to win the Pac-12 South, so it’s a crucial matchup for both sides. Both teams have one loss -- the Sun Devils lost to BYU on the road, and the Bruins lost a shootout to Fresno State. UCLA is favored in this contest, but Arizona State is the better team in our model’s rankings. The Bruins have relied on a strong offense led by quarterback Dorian Thompson-Robinson and running back Zach Charbonnet, who transferred to UCLA from Michigan over the offseason. Arizona State is more balanced; they have a strong offense as well behind quarterback Jayden Daniels, but they have a couple of top NFL prospects on defense in linebackers Merlin Robertson and Jack Jones.

In UCLA’s loss to Fresno State, the Bruins forced three turnovers but still allowed 455 passing yards to the Bulldogs, which ultimately decided the game. Jayden Daniels has been accurate in the Sun Devils’ four games, completing 72.6% of his passes, and he doubles as a threat on the ground (6.9 yards per rush). If UCLA wants to remain the frontrunner in their division, they can’t have a repeat performance of the Fresno State game this Saturday.

Arizona State had four turnovers against BYU and, if they were more careful with the ball, that game may have turned out differently. An examination of each team’s loss shows that Arizona State is likely the better team and our model agrees, projecting the Sun Devils win on the road 55.6% of the time. However, it’s the spread that is key, and Arizona State is projected to cover with a robust likelihood of 66.3% -- good for a three-star rating.