College Football Week 7 Betting Guide: Odds, Picks and Value Bets

Kerry Miller@@kerrancejamesCollege Basketball National AnalystOctober 12, 2018

College Football Week 7 Betting Guide: Odds, Picks and Value Bets

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    Notre Dame head coach Brian Kelly
    Notre Dame head coach Brian KellyPaul Sancya/Associated Press

    If you're looking to put extra cash in your pocket while enjoying yet another exciting weekend of college football, you've come to the right place.

    Whether your sports gambling preferences are in over/unders, spreads or moneyline multipliers, we've got you covered with tips on the best Week 7 bets. Heck, even if you're just looking to throw down a long-term wager on the latest Heisman Trophy odds, there's savvy advice on that front as well.

    Perhaps most importantly, though, we're also recommending a few games that you don't want to touch with a 10-foot pole.

    Notre Dame is hotter than the sun and has become one of the top candidates to reach the College Football Playoff, but should Ian Book and Co. be trusted to cover a three-touchdown spread against Pittsburgh, which has made a habit of ruining undefeated seasons in recent years?

    Texas is also on fire after five consecutive wins, but are the Longhorns a good bet as two-TD favorites against Baylor, or is that a stay-away game?

    Also, has there ever been a more tantalizing moneyline play than the upcoming battle between Hawaii and BYU?

    We cover all that and more in this week's college football betting guide.

Moneyline Picks and Picks Against the Spread for AP Top 25 Games

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    Ohio State QB Dwayne Haskins
    Ohio State QB Dwayne HaskinsJay LaPrete/Associated Press

    Missouri at No. 1 Alabama: Alabama (-28.5 and -7,000)

    No. 2 Georgia at No. 13 LSU: LSU (+8) and Georgia (-300)

    Minnesota at No. 3 Ohio State: Minnesota (+30) and Ohio State (-8,500)

    Pittsburgh at No. 5 Notre Dame: Pittsburgh (+21) and Notre Dame (-1,200)

    No. 6 West Virginia at Iowa State: West Virginia (-6.5 and -250)

    No. 7 Washington at No. 17 Oregon: Washington (-3 and -145)

    Michigan State at No. 8 Penn State: Penn State (-13.5 and -505)

    Baylor at No. 9 Texas: Baylor (+14) and Texas (-549)

    No. 10 UCF at Memphis: UCF (-4.5 and -190)

    No. 15 Wisconsin at No. 12 Michigan: Michigan (-9 and -350)

    No. 14 Florida at Vanderbilt: Florida (-7.5 and -265)

    No. 16 Miami at Virginia: Miami (-6 and -225)

    No. 19 Colorado at USC: Colorado (+7 and +240)

    Tennessee at No. 21 Auburn: Auburn (-15 and -640)

    No. 22 Texas A&M at South Carolina: South Carolina (+2.5 and +115)

    No. 23 South Florida at Tulsa: South Florida (-7.5 and -260)

    For the moneylines, a minus means you need to bet that much in order to win $100, and a plus means a $100 bet would return that much profit. For example, if you just want to bet on Alabama to beat Missouri, you would need to risk $7,000 to win $100. Conversely, if you want to bet on Colorado to beat USC, a $100 bet would fetch $240 (plus the initial $100 wager).

Stay-Away Games

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    Texas head coach Tom Herman
    Texas head coach Tom HermanPeter G. Aiken/Getty Images

    Baylor Bears at Texas Longhorns (-14)

    Fresh off a program-defining win over Oklahoma, Texas is flying higher than the sun. After scoring their third win over a ranked opponent in four weeks, the Longhorns soared from No. 19 to No. 9 in the AP polltheir highest ranking since September 2010. And with their bye week just over the horizon, all they need to do is survive this home game against Baylor before resting up for what they hope is a six-week run to the College Football Playoff.

    But the Bears are a formidable adversary seeking their own "we're back" win, so the Longhorns won't just sleepwalk to victory by a three-score margin.

    Quarterback Charlie Brewer and Co. have scored at least 26 points in all six games. If that trend continues, that means Texas needs at least 41 to cover.

    Based on QB Sam Ehlinger's stellar performance against Oklahoma, it's possible. However, given the fact that Texas scored just 28.8 pointsnever more than 37in its first five games, it's not worth betting on. This feels like a 38-24 type of game.


    UCF Knights at Memphis Tigers (+4.5)

    UCF might be even better than it was last year. The offense has been at least as potent, if not better, averaging 48.6 points per contest. And on a per-game basis, this year's defense (17.4 points, 356.4 yards) is faring better than last year's (25.3 points, 428.0 yards).

    Here's the rub, though: UCF hasn't played a road game since August, and it has not yet faced an opponent that currently has a winning record. This game at Memphis will be the Knights' biggest test by a country mile.

    And while the defense has strong overall numbers, the Knights did allow 320 rushing yards and 36 points to Florida Atlantic. Memphiswhich leads the nation in yards per carry (7.73) and has scored at least 52 points in four of six gamesshould put up similar numbers (or better) in a back-and-forth battle that will likely be won by whichever team has the ball in the final two minutes.

    And even if you're thinking about betting the over (78), it's probably a stay-away number, too, because they could combine for 11 touchdowns in a 42-35 shootout and still not get there.


    Nebraska Cornhuskers at Northwestern Wildcats (-4.5)

    At first glance, this feels like a misprint. A winless team on the road is only getting 4.5 points against a squad that just beat Michigan State and nearly beat Michigan? What gives?

    Well, since losing Jeremy Larkin to a neck injury after three games, Northwestern has been woefully incapable of running the ball. We're talking 54 carries for 36 yards over the past two weeks. And rush defense has been the biggest problem for Nebraska, so the Huskers might hold their own.

    Moreover, this Nebraska offense has looked infinitely better with a healthy Adrian Martinez back at QB, averaging better than seven yards per play in each of the past two weeks.

    Whether that's enough for them to win this road game is hard to say, but this won't be the type of Northwestern blowout you might expect from watching Nebraska earlier this season.

The Heisman Bet of the Week: Jake Fromm +10000

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    Jake Fromm
    Jake FrommJohn Bazemore/Associated Press

    In the world of NFL betting, one can make any number of prop wagers on how many catches, yards, touchdowns, etc. that an individual player will have in a given week.

    That kind of stuff doesn't exist for college football, but we get weekly odds to win the Heisman.

    OddsShark tweeted updated Heisman odds Monday morning, in which Alabama quarterback Tua Tagovailoa is the runaway favorite. Given his outrageous efficiency and the fact that another Alabama national championship feels like more of an inevitability with each passing week, that's no surprise.

    But with -150 odds and a half season remaining, Tagovailoa isn't the best value bet for the stiff-armed trophy.

    Rather, if you're going to put any money on a Heisman bet, the smart decision would be Georgia QB Jake Fromm at +10,000.

    No, I'm not saying Fromm is more likely than Tagovailoa to win the award. Not even close. However, you would have to bet $150 on Tagovailoa just to win $100. Put that same $150 on Fromm in advance of this weekend's colossal showdown with LSU, and you could win $15,000. And there's no chance you'll get that potential return on investment one week from today if you wait until after he leads the Dawgs to victory over LSU.

    I can't comprehend why Fromm is so far removed from the Heisman conversation.

    Yes, Tagovailoa, Dwayne Haskins, Kyler Murray and Will Grier have more eye-popping numbers. But Fromm has been quietly efficient. He ranks fifth nationally in completion percentage (72.8), fifth in yards per attempt (10.5) and fourth in passer efficiency rating (192.46). And he has done it all for the AP's No 2 team.

    As long as Georgia keeps winningit figures to be favored by at least a touchdown in every remaining regular-season gameFromm will soon become a top-five Heisman candidate. And if the Dawgs get to 13-0 with a win over Tagovailoa and the Crimson Tide in the SEC championship, he might become the favorite.

    Granted, a perfect record is unlikely. FiveThirtyEight's predictive model gives Georgia a 17 percent chance of running the table. ESPN's FPI metrics are a bit less optimistic at 16.1 percent. But either way, that's roughly a 1-in-6 shot at perfection for an efficient QB who is getting 100-1 odds at the Heisman.

    That doesn't add up, and you should try to profit from it while you can.

Spreads to Bet

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    Penn State QB Trace McSorley
    Penn State QB Trace McSorleyJustin K. Aller/Getty Images

    Michigan State at Penn State (-13.5)

    It took a while for everyone to catch on, but Michigan State isn't good.

    The Spartans barely survived the home opener against Utah State before they lost to both Arizona State and Northwestern. Four-year running back LJ Scott's leg has been banged up, and he might not play. QB Brian Lewerke hasn't been anywhere near as effective as he was last year. And the secondary has allowed more than 300 passing yards per game, which is good for 123rd in the nation.

    Meanwhile, the Nittany Lions had this past week off to mull the tough loss to Ohio State and turn that frustration into motivation. And head coach James Franklin has worked wonders with that extra week in the recent past. Last year, Penn State blew out No. 19 Michigan 42-13 after its bye week. The year before that, the Nittany Lions upset No. 2 Ohio State.

    Expect the type of performance that reminds everyone QB Trace McSorley is still a Heisman candidate. He could throw for 350 yards and four touchdowns in a 28-point win.


    Ole Miss (-7) at Arkansas

    Arkansas is winless against FBS opponents, and the Razorbacks lost three of those five games by at least a four-score margin. Even before Alabama dropped 65 points on the Hogs last week, they were allowing 34.0 points per FBS game.

    Enter: Ole Miss.

    The Rebels have one of the country's most lethal passing attacks, averaging 10.5 yards per attempt and 347.5 yards per game. Jordan Ta'amu, A.J. Brown and D.K. Metcalf will have a field day, scoring more than enough to make up for the fact that Ole Miss has one of the nation's worst defenses.


    Pittsburgh (+21) at Notre Dame

    Statistically speaking, this is probably a bad recommendation. Pittsburgh runs the ball relatively well, but Notre Dame's rush defense is among the nation's best. And if the Fighting Irish can stifle the run early, open up a bit of a lead and force QB Kenny Pickett to throw the ball, this could get ugly.

    Also, Pittsburgh already lost to Penn State and UCF by a combined score of 96-20.

    However, the Panthers have been the giant killers in recent years, knocking off Clemson in 2016 before ending Miami's quest for perfection at the end of the 2017 regular season. And we've all heard a little too much about how Notre Dame's weak schedule will result in a cakewalk to the College Football Playoff.

    The Fighting Irish will win, but Book will struggle early to keep this game interesting for a lot longer than it should be.

Line Movement

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    Auburn head coach Gus Malzahn
    Auburn head coach Gus MalzahnRogelio V. Solis/Associated Press

    Nebraska at Northwestern (-8.5 to -3.5 to -4.5)

    You were previously instructed to stay away from this game at the current odds, but the line has been all over the place this week. After opening as an 8.5-point dog, Nebraska was bet all the way down to a 3.5-point spread before things began trickling back in Northwestern's favor.

    There aren't often great opportunities to cash both sides of a game, but if you got Nebraska +8.5 when the line first posted on Sunday evening and jumped on Northwestern -3.5 on Tuesday afternoon, that's a fantastic investment. Assuming each bet was $110 to win $100, what you risked is $10 to win $200 if Northwestern wins by four to eight points. Hard to argue with that.


    UNLV at Utah State (-23.5 to -27.5)

    Utah State's high-octane offense has been flying under the national radar as a gambler's best friend. The Aggies have both covered the spread and hit the over in all five games, including last week's 45-20 road beatdown of BYU.

    This week, Utah State hosts UNLV, which has no passing game worth mentioning and just lost to New Mexico (at home) by 36 points. Even though it was initially the largest spread of the week that didn't involve Ohio State or Alabama, the sharps knew it wasn't enough and gradually bet it up four points.

    Even at -27.5, it's still an enticing play. Not only does USU have a high-scoring offense, but its defense has limited opponents to 3.37 yards per carry and 1.0 rushing touchdowns per game. It wouldn't be that shocking if this ends up a 52-10 win for the Aggies.


    Tennessee at Auburn (-18 to -15)

    It seems safe to assume this line didn't move because people suddenly decided to buy stock in Tennessee. In an odd bit of symmetry, the Volunteers are 0-3 against power-conference opponents and have lost each of those contests by 26 points.

    Rather, this is a vote of no confidence in Auburn's offense, which has been held to 24 points or fewer in four of six games.

    After averaging more than 250 rushing yards per contest over Gus Malzahn's first five seasons, the Tigers are sitting at a below-the-national-average mark of 163.8 this yearand that number plummets to 110.8 if you take out the 429-yard game against FCS school Alabama State.

    Even though this is a home tilt against a team that has been plain bad, betting on Auburn to win by three scores was so unappealing that the line moved three points in Tennessee's favor.

Easy Over/Unders

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    West Virginia QB Will Grier
    West Virginia QB Will GrierBrad Tollefson/Associated Press

    Easy Over: West Virginia vs. Iowa State (56)

    This point total seems so out of place, it makes you wonder what Vegas knows that we don't.

    West Virginia has scored at least 35 points in all five of its games, as Grier has thrown for at least 330 yards and three touchdowns in each. And Iowa State's secondary has struggled with quality passing attacks, allowing a combined seven passing touchdowns to Oklahoma and Oklahoma State.

    Meanwhile, the Cyclones played a 90-point game against OK State last week, so we know they can be pushed into high-scoring affairs against an opponent that can put up points in bunches.

    If you're worried whether Iowa State's offense will score enough in spite of injury concerns over quarterback Kyle Kempt's knee and ankle, that's fair. However, the spread is only six points, so the oddsmakers are saying this should be a 31-24 type of game.

    That doesn't feel right. Expect something more like 42-34 with the over cashing early in the fourth.


    Easy Under: Army vs. San Jose State (51)

    There aren't many positive things to say about winless San Jose State, but it does have a respectable run defense. Opponents have averaged a meager 3.75 yards per carry against the Spartans, and they held four of five foes below 150 rushing yards.

    Of course, slowing down Army's triple-option is a heck of a lot different from keeping Hawaii and Washington State in check. Don't expect San Jose State to force many punts, but this defense might be good enough to cause the Black Knights to eat a lot of clock (their specialty) while they march down the field.

    And if Army's secondary could limit Oklahoma's Kyler Murray (165 yards) and Buffalo's Tyree Jackson (152 yards) through the air, it might shut out San Jose State. Army will win 28-10 in a game that never comes close to the over.

    By the way, if you're among the many who jumped on this under early in the week, congratulations. It opened at 55.5 on Monday night before bettors realized there might not even be enough possessions in the game to score that many points.

Best Moneyline Value Bets

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    Arizona QB Khalil Tate
    Arizona QB Khalil TateChris Coduto/Associated Press

    There are almost always a couple of double-digit underdogs who win outright. Just last week, we saw Northwestern (+10.5) upset Michigan State, Iowa State (+10) knock off Oklahoma State, and San Diego State (+13.5) shock Boise State.

    Generally speaking, a 10-point dog that wins outright pays 3 to 1 on the moneyline and a 17.5-point dog will pay around 6 to 1, so there's a lot of value to be found in this zone.

    (If you prefer to throw your money away at roulette odds, an outright Missouri win at Alabama is sitting at +3,250 in some books, and Minnesota's moneyline payout at Ohio State is +3,500. We're not in the business of chasing miracles, though.)

    Here are two significant underdogs who could pull off the upset and put a nice chunk of change in your pocket.


    Arizona (+435) at Utah

    This line feels like a drastic overreaction to Utah's upset of a Bryce Love-less Stanford last Saturday. Before that, the Utes had a nightmare of a time trying to score, averaging just 16.0 points against Northern Illinois, Washington and Washington State. They probably shouldn't be a two-touchdown favorite against anyone.

    Meanwhile, Arizona has won three of its last four games, rebounding nicely from some ugly early losses to BYU and Houston. Khalil Tate still isn't doing that superhero thing we all loved so dearly in 2017, but he's showing improved mobility in recent weeks and could be poised for a re-breakout.

    Throw in the fact that anything goes when you put #Pac12AfterDark on a Friday night, and there's just too much value to pass up.


    Hawaii (+375) at BYU

    Hawaii QB Cole McDonald missed last week's game against Wyoming with an undisclosed injury. As a result, the Rainbow Warriorswho entered the night averaging 42.0 points per gamecould only manage 17 points.

    Even before it was reported that McDonald will play this week, a Hawaii moneyline bet was a tantalizing one. And now that we know he's playing, it's hard to believe Hawaii is still an underdog against one of the country's most anemic offenses.

    It was fun when the Cougars upset Wisconsin and briefly jumped into the AP poll, but they have been outscored 80-27 in their last two games and have lost the ability to run the ball. Hawaii's defense isn't great, but the Rainbow Warriors have shown against both Duquesne and Wyoming that they can limit offenses that normally struggle.

Lock of the Week: Michigan (-9) vs. Wisconsin

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    Michigan QB Shea Patterson
    Michigan QB Shea PattersonTony Ding/Associated Press

    Wisconsin at Michigan (-9)

    On Monday night, this line favored Michigan by seven. It has been gradually creeping upward since, but all the smart money is still coming in on the Wolverines.

    This is supposed to be the premier prime-time affair for Week 7. After a hectic afternoon of trying to keep up with Georgia at LSU, Washington at Oregon and UCF at Memphis, all eyes will be on this Big Ten clash.

    Unfortunately for advertisers that are paying good money for commercial slots in the fourth quarter, Michigan will win in semi-blowout fashion.

    Wisconsin running back Jonathan Taylor is leading the nation in rushing yards per game, thanks in part to last week's pummeling of Nebraska's helpless defense. But he'll have a hard time accomplishing anything against one of the best rush defenses out there.

    Michigan allows just 2.64 yards per carry and 96.5 rushing yards per game, ranking in the top six nationally in both categories. Take out Maryland's meaningless scoring drive at the end of last week's game, and the Wolverines have allowed 136 yards on 93 carries in the past three weeks.

    And if Taylor can't run like he usually does, things could get even uglier when QB Alex Hornibrook tries to pick apart arguably the country's best secondary. Michigan has allowed just four passing touchdowns all seasonnone through three Big Ten contestsand has not yet had an opposing team complete 56 percent of its pass attempts.

    Meanwhile, Wisconsin's defense is nowhere near as good as it usually is.

    Before the 2017 Big Ten title game against Ohio State, Wisconsin held its nine conference opponents to 233.2 total yards per game. Nebraska (381) was the only foe to gain more than 286 yards.

    This year, the Badgers are sitting at 461.0 yards allowed per Big Ten game after giving up repeated long drives to both Iowa and Nebraska. And if those offenses could move the ball against Wisconsin, you better believe Shea Patterson, Karan Higdon, Nico Collins and the rest of the Wolverines will do the same.

    Michigan has scored at least 42 points in all four games played in the Big House this season. It'll fall a tad shy of that mark in this contest, but it'll still get a statement win, pounding Wisconsin 38-17 to jump back into the AP Top 10.


    All moneylines, spreads and over/under totals are via OddsShark and are current through noon ET on Thursday. 

    Kerry Miller covers college football and men's college basketball for Bleacher Report. You can follow him on Twitter, @kerrancejames.