College Football Betting Guide: Saturday 10/9/21

More chaos ensued last week as Oregon, Florida, and Texas A&M all lost. The Ducks being upset combined with Clemson’s lackadaisical win over Boston College brought our picks to 2-2, and this might be a tough week to rebound with this Saturday's games.

Penn State travels to Iowa City and Oklahoma and Texas square off in Dallas in the two most significant matchups this week for playoff implications. There are two other ranked matchups on the slate, and Michigan, Michigan State, and Notre Dame are on the road in hostile environments. This Saturday has all the makings of another wild day in college football, but the pickings are slimmer in terms of betting value. Let’s take a look at this week’s best matchups to see what our model likes.

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 after this article is published. Please check here to make sure you are seeing the most updated information.

Penn State Nittany Lions vs. Iowa Hawkeyes

Over 41.5 (-102): 2-Star Rating out of 5

Totals can often be set too low in a game that fans will perceive as a defensive matchup, which is exactly what is taking place with this game.

Iowa and Penn State are second and third, respectively, to Georgia in points allowed per game this season. However, a deeper dive reveals that Iowa is only seventh in yards allowed per game, and Penn State isn’t even in the top 25 in the same category. Since yards allowed is a more predictive metric than points allowed, we can surmise that both defenses might be a tad overrated.

Additionally, both teams, but especially Penn State, have skill players who can make explosive plays. Jahan Dotson leads the Big Ten in receiving touchdowns and has been the Nittany Lions’ best offensive player this year. Iowa’s Tyler Goodson has 430 rushing yards with a long of 56 yards.

Neither team has had the most consistent offense this season, but each has the personnel to keep the chains moving even against elite defenses. Penn State likely has the offensive edge, though, due to the ability of Dotson and the experience of quarterback Sean Clifford.

Ultimately, this game will be decided while Penn State has the ball. If the Hawkeyes can keep the Lions in check, they’ll likely pull this one out.

Either way, this game is a good bet to go over the 41.5 total, which is low even for a matchup of this defensive caliber. It’s only a two-star rating, but our model projects the total to go over with a likelihood of 61.6%.

Alabama Crimson Tide vs. Texas A&M Aggies

Texas A&M +17.5 (-106): 2-Star Rating out of 5

This is a tough call after Alabama trounced Ole Miss and the Aggies were upset by Mississippi State at home, but Texas A&M isn’t as bad as they played last week.

The Aggies were dominated in time of possession, as they held the ball for 10 fewer minutes than the Bulldogs. Texas A&M is still working out their woes in their passing game without their starting quarterback Haynes King, who was injured in the Aggies’ victory over Colorado. Backup Zach Calzada has only completed 53.9% of his passes in King’s absence.

As rough as Texas A&M has been moving the ball through the air, Isaiah Spiller has still made the most of his rushing attempts. Spiller is fourth in the SEC in rushing yards and averages 6.5 yards per carry. Alabama’s defense is one of the nation’s best, but Spiller will give the Tide all they can handle; he’s the top NFL prospect at running back according to CBS Sports. The Aggies also boast one of the country’s best defenses, ranked 11th by ESPN’s S&P+ metric.

Texas A&M has lost two games in a row, but they still have all the talent that put them in the preseason top 10, minus the quarterback. If Calzada can limit mistakes and the Aggies can continue to get elite production from Spiller, their defense should be able to contain Alabama enough to cover the spread. The Aggies have a 58.7% probability to cover according to our model.

Arkansas Razorbacks vs. Ole Miss Rebels

Under 66.5 (-105): 2-Star Rating out of 5

Any game that Matt Corral is involved in has a high total it seems and deservedly so. Corral is ninth in ESPN’s QBR and has thrown for 10 touchdowns and no interceptions. That being said, this total is too high for the quality of defense each team possesses, particularly Arkansas.

The Razorbacks are 10th in yards allowed per game and employ one of the best safeties in the country in Jalen Catalon, who is the third-best NFL safety prospect per CBS Sports. Catalon and the Arkansas secondary might be the key to a Razorback victory if they can limit the damage by Corral and the Ole Miss passing attack. Last week’s score against Alabama would’ve put the Rebels short of an over of 66.5 even though the Tide allowed a couple of touchdowns in garbage time.

There won’t likely be garbage time this week, as these two teams are each coming off a devastating loss and are looking to get back on the right track. Arkansas will have a challenge ahead of them with stopping the Ole Miss offense, but if they can execute a similar game plan as Alabama last week, this game is likely to stay under the total. Our model projects the score to fall under 66.5 points with a probability of 57.2%.