College Football Betting Guide: Saturday 9/17/22

Can USC take care of business against Fresno State on Saturday and stay in College Football Playoff contention?

Texas came so close to upsetting the standard-bearer of college football, Alabama, last Saturday, falling to the Tide by one point. Freshman quarterback Quinn Ewers looked like the real deal in the first quarter before leaving the game with an injury. Backup quarterback Hudson Card managed to keep the Longhorns in the game despite visibly limping throughout the second half of the game.

Alabama played an undisciplined game by their standard, but Bryce Young eventually rose to the moment and willed them to victory. This game may have raised some questions about whether Alabama is a true contender, but this week should get back to dominating their opponents as they play at home against Louisiana-Monroe.

While this week’s slate isn’t exactly loaded, there are many storylines at play this Saturday. Oklahoma travels to Lincoln to play Nebraska in their first game without Scott Frost as he was fired earlier this week.

Penn State travels to Auburn after a strong 2-0 start behind former five-star freshman running back Nick Singleton.

Texas A&M hosts Miami after a disappointing loss to Appalachian State last weekend; the Aggies will look to bounce back while the Hurricanes look to make a statement in their first real test under first year head coach Mario Cristobal.

We’ll start this week’s analysis, though, with a late-night game featuring the high-powered USC Trojans at home in Los Angeles.

Note: All college football odds are from FanDuel Sportsbook. Lines are subject to change throughout the day after this article is published. All ratings are out of five stars. Please check numberFire's model to make sure you're seeing the most updated information.

Fresno State Bulldogs vs. USC Trojans

Fresno State +11.5 (-110) - 5 Stars

The Trojans have had their way with opposing defenses throughout the first two games of Lincoln Riley’s tenure as head coach. Last week, USC put up 41 points against Stanford behind 341 yards and 4 touchdowns from transfer quarterback Caleb Williams. However, there are still questions about their defense; they’ve allowed 5.1 yards per play against Rice and Stanford in their first two games, which are two of the weaker offensive teams on their schedule.

Meanwhile, Fresno State has a strong offense led by veteran quarterback Jake Haener, who has a history of playing well against ranked teams. Last season, the Bulldogs upset both UCLA (ranked 13th at the time) and San Diego State (21st) behind impressive performances from Haener. Fresno State has gained 6.9 yards per play en route to a 1-1 record that includes a loss on a last-second touchdown to Oregon State last week.

Our model sees quite a bit of value in Fresno State this week, projecting the Bulldogs to cover with 72.8% probability. There’s also a possible indication of sharp money on the Bulldogs. Per the Action Network, Fresno State opened as a 16.5-point underdog and the spread has moved down to 11.5 points at the time of writing despite over 70% of bets being placed on the Trojans.

Any time the line moves in the opposite direction as the majority of bets, it could be a signal of sharp money.

Penn State Nittany Lions vs. Auburn Tigers

Over 47.5 (-112): 4 Stars

Penn State is off to a solid start after opening the season with wins over Purdue and Ohio. The Nittany Lions have averaged 6.6 yards per play behind the aforementioned freshman Singleton and the Lions’ veteran quarterback Sean Clifford.

Clifford completed 20 of 37 passes and threw an interception against Purdue, but he also capped off a game-winning drive with under a minute to ensure a victory over the Boilermakers. While Clifford has struggled with inconsistency over his career, he still has had his moments where he’s delivered for this offense.

Additionally, James Franklin has former five-star freshman quarterback Drew Allar in his back pocket if the offense plateaus with Clifford behind center this year. Allar has shown promise in limited playing time this season, throwing for a pair of touchdowns in his first 12 passing attempts.

Auburn has averaged 7.1 yards per play on offense themselves, and while they didn’t quite put away San Jose State last week, the Tigers have a strong rushing attack behind Tank Bigsby. Bigsby was voted to the preseason all-SEC team and is looking to build upon a 1,000-yard rushing season last year.

Auburn will need more consistent play from quarterback T.J. Finley, who has three interceptions and only one touchdown through the team’s first two games, for the Tigers to take the next step as a prolific offense. Still, Auburn could put up points against this Penn State defense if Finley takes care of the ball and Bigsby has a solid performance.

The total for the game is 47.5 and our model projects the score to surpass that total with a 69.1% probability. Both teams have dynamic running backs that can propel their offenses to keep the ball moving and open up their passing attacks. This game might not be the type of high-scoring affair that produces highlights that clog the Twitter feed, but this total is probably too low for a game between two teams that can run the ball as effectively as Penn State and Auburn can.

Connecticut Huskies vs. Michigan Wolverines

Under 60.5 (-110): 3 Stars

Michigan has had an easy schedule so far; they’ve crushed both Colorado State and Hawaii to begin the season. It won't get any harder this week as Connecticut visits Ann Arbor this Saturday.

The Wolverines have only allowed 17 points total and a stingy 3.7 yards per play over their first two games. Many pundits questioned how Michigan would replace the pass rush of Aidan Hutchinson and David Ojabo as both were selected in the most recent NFL Draft. Michigan hasn’t had one particular player step up to be a dominant pass rusher, but the defense has collectively been able to generate pressure on opposing quarterbacks with 8 total sacks on the year.

The Huskies, on the other hand, have one of the worst offenses in the nation, ranking 122nd in Football Outsiders’ FEI metric. They’ll have a hard time moving the football against a cohesive Wolverine defense in a hostile road environment.

Michigan might be able to score 60 points themselves in this game, but Jim Harbaugh will likely remove his starters before running up the score so he can get a look at some of the younger players on the roster.

Our model projects the score to stay under the total with 65.1% probability, and as long as Michigan’s defense takes care of business, this bet shouldn’t be in danger of losing on Saturday.