College Football Week 11 Betting Guide: Odds, Picks and Value Bets

Kerry Miller@@kerrancejamesCollege Basketball National AnalystNovember 9, 2018

College Football Week 11 Betting Guide: Odds, Picks and Value Bets

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    West Virginia QB Will Grier
    West Virginia QB Will GrierMichael Thomas/Associated Press

    If you like to bet on college football games with single-digit spreads, your options are limited this week. Of the 55 games being played on Saturday, 39 have a spread of 10 or more points. Only nine games are expected to be decided by fewer than six points, and only two of those involve a ranked team. Could be a bit of adare we say it?boring weekend.

    But you don't need last-second drama to win money, and there are a bunch of great options where you can turn expected blowouts into a nice payday.

    Whether you prefer over/unders, spreads or moneyline multipliers, we've got you covered with tips on the best Week 11 bets. If you're looking to throw down a wager on the latest national championship odds, there's advice on that front as well.

    We're also recommending a few games that you don't want to touch with a 10-foot pole.

    Is Kentucky good enough to win at Tennessee for the first time in more than three decades? Will there be any defense played between Vanderbilt and Missouri? Could Northwestern all but clinch the Big Ten West Division with a road win at Iowa? And is it seriously a good idea to bet on anyone other than Alabama to win it all?

    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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    Oklahoma QB Kyler Murray
    Oklahoma QB Kyler MurrayBrad Tollefson/Associated Press

    No. 16 Mississippi State at No. 1 Alabama: Mississippi State (+25) and Alabama (-2500)

    No. 2 Clemson at No. 17 Boston College: Boston College (+20.5) and Clemson (-1010)

    Florida State at No. 3 Notre Dame: Florida State (+17) and Notre Dame (-750)

    No. 4 Michigan at Rutgers: Michigan (-39.5 and -54000)

    No. 24 Auburn at No. 5 Georgia: Georgia (-14 and -546)

    Oklahoma State at No. 6 Oklahoma: Oklahoma State (+20.5) and Oklahoma (-1496)

    No. 7 LSU at Arkansas: LSU (-13.5 and -500)

    No. 8 Washington State at Colorado: Washington State (-6.5 and -240)

    TCU at No. 9 West Virginia: West Virginia (-12 and -440)

    No. 10 Ohio State at No. 18 Michigan State: Michigan State (+4 and +160)

    No. 11 Kentucky at Tennessee: Kentucky (-6 and -225)

    Navy at No. 12 UCF: Navy (+25) and UCF (-3000)

    Louisville at No. 13 Syracuse: Syracuse (-21 and -1300)

    South Carolina at No. 15 Florida: Florida (-6 and -225)

    No. 19 Texas at Texas Tech: Texas (-1.5 and -125)

    Wisconsin at No. 20 Penn State: Penn State (-8.5 and -320)

    Northwestern at No. 21 Iowa: Northwestern (+10.5) and Iowa (-405)

    Baylor at No. 22 Iowa State: Baylor (+14.5) and Iowa State (-600)

    No. 23 Fresno State at Boise State: Fresno State (-3 and -135)

    Last Week: 15-5 straight up, 10-9-1 against the spread


    Wake Forest at No. 14 NC State was not included since it was played prior to publishing.

    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.

Spreads to Bet

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    Kentucky RB Benny Snell Jr.
    Kentucky RB Benny Snell Jr.Andy Lyons/Getty Images

    Louisville at Syracuse (-21) (Friday night)

    Were it not for some tough last-minute luck at Clemson and Pittsburgh, Syracuse would be undefeated right now. The Orange have one of the best offenses in the nation with 43.3 points per game, thanks to averages of better than 200 rushing yards and just under 275 passing yards.

    Louisville, on the other hand, is a train wreck. The Cardinals have lost four consecutive games by a margin of at least 18 points, allowing 59.3 points and 413.3 rushing yards per game. In those four losses, they have allowed 8.0 yards per play, including a mark of 11.6 last week against Clemson. Per Sports-Reference, only Connecticut has had a worse yards-per-play defense during that stretch.

    This beating won't be quite as biblical as the one Clemson delivered to Louisville last week, but it will be another rough night for Cardinals fans.


    Kentucky (-6) at Tennessee

    I don't normally worry about the ancient history in a matchup, but it is a little scary to back Kentucky as a road favorite against Tennessee, considering the Wildcats haven't won in Knoxville since 1984 and haven't beaten the Volunteers by more than a touchdown in Knoxville since 1924.

    Nevertheless, Tennessee's run defense has been quite bad in conference play. Four of its five SEC opponents have rushed for at least 200 yards, averaged better than five yards per carry and scored multiple touchdowns on the ground. And with Benny Snell Jr. leading the attack, Kentucky is plenty equipped to prey on that weakness.

    Combine that Volunteers defense with an offense that couldn't even manage 200 total yards against Charlotte last week, and it feels easier to pick the 11th-ranked Wildcats. Also, in four chances against currently ranked teams (Alabama, Georgia, Florida and West Virginia), Tennessee has lost each game by a margin of at least 26 points. 


    TCU at West Virginia (-12)

    Home West Virginia and Road West Virginia are polar opposites. Road West Virginia gets crushed by Iowa State, struggles to put away Texas Tech and needs a gutsy two-point conversion to win at Texas. But Home West Virginia averages 45.8 points and blows out opponents by an average margin of 31.0 points.

    Granted, Home West Virginia has faced a much less difficult schedule than Road West Virginia. But if you believe TCU is any better than Kansas, Kansas State and Baylor right now, you're wrong. The Horned Frogs have been held under 300 total yards of offense in three of their last five games and have not scored more than 28 points in a game since Sept. 7. And anything less than 28 points won't be enough to stay within two touchdowns of the Mountaineers in Morgantown.


    Last Week's Picks (0-3)

    Florida International -3 vs. Florida Atlantic (actual: FAU by 35)
    Georgia Southern -7.5 at Louisiana-Monroe (actual: ULM by 19)
    Coastal Carolina +15 vs. Appalachian State (actual: App State by 16)

Stay-Away Games

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    Houston QB D'Eriq King
    Houston QB D'Eriq KingBrandon Wade/Associated Press

    Maryland at Indiana (-1, O/U 55)

    Indiana has lost four straight games, allowing at least 33 points and 417 yards in each of them. Yet, the Hoosiers are a slight favorite because Maryland is the most erratic team in the country. The Terrapins have scored 34, zero, 63 and three in their last four games, in that order. One week after averaging 10.3 yards per play against Illinois, they had a 1.9 mark in that category against Michigan State.

    Is Maryland due for an emphatic win in its seesaw season, or has the firing of DJ Durkin finally broken this team's will to fight? This one could go any number of ways.


    Temple at Houston (-4.5, O/U 69)

    It might be tempting to bang the over in this one. Houston has yet to play in a game with fewer than 62 total points, and its average game has featured 79.3. Meanwhile, Temple just played in a 52-40 game with UCF and has scored at least 24 in eight consecutive contests.

    But Temple has an above-average defense, and Houston is coming off its worst offensive effort of the season in a 45-31 loss to SMU. The Cougars could score a ton, but it's a little tough to trust the offense to cover the spread or hit the over right now.


    California at USC (-5.5, O/U 48)

    It's my professional opinion that you shouldn't bet on any Pac-12 games the rest of this season, but this one, in particular, should be avoided like the plague.

    Both the winner and the loser of USC's last six games has scored at least 20 points, but neither side has hit 20 in either of Cal's last two contests. The Golden Bears should be able to stifle the Trojans offense, but are they good enough to consistently score against USC's average defense? Factor in the mutual desperation for five-win teams trying to become bowl-eligible and this one is a major wild card.

Easy Over/Unders

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    Missouri QB Drew Lock
    Missouri QB Drew LockSam Greenwood/Getty Images

    Easy Over: Vanderbilt at Missouri (Over 63)

    Against good defenses, both Vanderbilt and Missouri have struggled to move the ball. They combined for 21 points in two games against Kentucky. Missouri was shut down entirely by Alabama. Similar story for Vanderbilt against Georgia.

    Against just-OK defenses, though, the Commodores and Tigers do work. Mizzou has put up at least 35 points in six of nine games, and Vandy has scored at least 31 in each of its four wins. Both squads had more than 440 yards and at least 38 points in road wins this past Saturday (Missouri at Florida, Vanderbilt at Arkansas).

    Now for the kicker: Both of these defenses are bad. Not "Ole Miss bad" or "Connecticut bad," but pretty bad. Vanderbilt has allowed 31.2 points over its last six games while Missouri is yielding 31.6 in its last seven. Take out the recent games against Kentucky's anemic offense and those numbers balloon to 34.6 and 34.3, respectively.

    Given the mutual state of these offenses and defenses, this ought to be one of the highest-scoring games of the week. It's strange that the line doesn't reflect that.

    Note: This total was at 59 when I got it on Monday evening, back before everyone realized it was far too low. But even with the four-point increase, it's still a good bet.

    Last week's pick: Syracuse at Wake Forest (line: 75.5; actual: 65)


    Easy Under: Bowling Green at Central Michigan (Under 51)

    Normally, if you're going to bet one side of the total in a Bowling Green game, you want the over. This is because the Falcons have one of the worst defenses, allowing at least 35 points and 212 rushing yards in every game this season.

    But Bowling Green has yet to face an offense this dreadfully ineffective.

    Both in terms of yards and points per game, Central Michigan has the second-worst offense in the nation. The Chippewas have yet to score more than 24 points in a game, and they have been held to 10 or fewer in each of their last three contests. In last week's 17-7 loss to Eastern Michigan, CMU had just 138 yards and scored its only points on a fumble returned for a touchdown.

    The Chippewas aren't great on defense, but they aren't terrible, either. As a result, they have only played in two games this season with a total that went over 51 points, and neither of those games against quality opponents (Kentucky and Buffalo) eclipsed 58 points. This one might be a closer call than our last three picks that went under, but it's hard to envision a shootout here.

    Last week's pick: Alabama at LSU (line: 54; actual: 29)

Best Moneyline Value Bets

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    Northwestern QB Clayton Thorson
    Northwestern QB Clayton ThorsonJim Young/Associated Press

    Generally speaking, a 10-point dog that wins outright pays 3-1 on the moneyline and a 17.5-point dog will pay around 6-1, so there's a lot of value in this zone. Here are three significant underdogs who could pull off the upset and put a nice chunk of change in your pocket.


    Northwestern (+360) at Iowa

    Statistically speaking, Iowa should win this game. Northwestern doesn't run the ball well and has been held below 350 yards in each of its last three games, and Iowa's defense is more than capable of keeping the Wildcats below that threshold again. The Hawkeyes also have a solid offense and should be able to pass against this secondary.

    But Northwestern games always seem to come down to the wire. Five have been decided by five points or fewer, and no Wildcats contest has had a final margin greater than 14 points. Whether they're getting up for games against Michigan, Michigan State and Notre Dame or playing down to the level of an Akron or Rutgers, it seems like there's always a chance for them to win in the fourth quarter.

    Meanwhile, Iowa has lost in last-second fashion in each of the last two weeks, and it previously let a game against Wisconsin slip away on a pair of last-minute touchdowns. The Hawkeyes are 1-3 in games decided by fewer than 17 points, and they might fall to 1-4 after this one.


    South Florida (+480) at Cincinnati

    South Florida's season-long struggles were finally brought to light in back-to-back ugly losses. The Bulls can't stop the run, they commit a ton of penalties and they can be easily beaten when they don't win the turnover battle.

    But this is still one of the better offenses in the nation, and it is facing a Cincinnati team that has been just OK on defense against average or better teams.

    The Bearcats rank fifth in the nation in total yards allowed per game, but mostly because they suffocated the likes of Alabama A&M, Miami (Ohio) and Navy. Decent teams like Ohio, SMU, Temple and Tulane were able to score against this defense, and South Florida's offense is better than the four just listed. And Cincinnati has only forced multiple turnovers in two of nine games.

    Now that the Bulls have been exposed, it's their turn to show the world that one-loss Cincinnati isn't all that great either.


    Massachusetts (+485) vs. BYU

    UMass has won two in a row and has scored at least 42 points in four of its last six games. BYU has lost four of its last five and has been held below 21 points in all four of those losses.

    Yes, the Minutemen have a horrendous defense, allowing at least 55 points in five games this season. But BYU balances those scales a bit with an offense that ranks 119th in yards per game and 117th in points per game. Ride the offense with at least 390 passing yards in four of its last five games, not the one with fewer than 390 total yards in seven of its last eight.


    Rutgers (+18000) vs. Michigan

    Considering my rationale for suggesting Louisville +16000 last week was that you always want to put a little something on any underdog in a conference game getting at least 150-1, I'm kind of obligated to point out that Rutgers is getting 180-1 at home.

    Do I believe there's any chance Michigan loses this game? Absolutely not. Michigan won this game 78-0 two years ago, for goodness sake. But if you bought tickets for that $1 billion Powerball jackpot a couple weeks ago, you might as well throw a few bucks down on Rutgers. Instead of spending $5.56 on some fancy Starbucks drink, put it on Rutgers for a chance to win $1,000.

Noteworthy Line Movement

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    Michigan head coach Jim Harbaugh
    Michigan head coach Jim HarbaughTony Ding/Associated Press

    Michigan at Rutgers (+36.5 to +40)

    Just like the Louisville-Clemson game last week, Michigan opened as the biggest favorite of the week (by far) and it still won't be enough.

    The most remarkable part about this game is that while the spread has increased, the over/under has dropped from 52 to 48.5. At the current marks, that puts the projected score at 44-5. Considering Michigan has the best defense in the country and Rutgers has the lowest-scoring offense, five points might be too generous.

    The only question here is whether Michigan's offense will be able to score enough against Rutgers' defense. (Or if Michigan's defense will get enough pick-sixes to get to 40 points.) For as bad as the Scarlet Knights have been, they're at least semi-competent on defense. They've held five consecutive opponents to 38 points or fewer. However, not one of those Big Ten opponents has a better scoring average than Michigan, so the Wolverines should be able to find the end zone at least six times.


    UNLV at San Diego State (-18 to -22.5)

    San Diego State has played in seven consecutive games decided by eight points or fewer. That includes impressive wins over Boise State and Arizona State as well as much less-impressive close calls at home against Air Force and San Jose State. The Aztecs just seem determined to play games that aren't decided until the final possession, no matter the opponent.

    And yet, they are now favored by more than a three-touchdown margin against UNLV.

    Without a doubt, this is due to bets against the Rebels. UNLV has given up at least four points in each of its last five games, including last week's 48-3 loss to Fresno State and a mid-October 59-28 loss to Utah State. Good teams destroy the Rebels, and even the not-so-good teams typically handle them easily. Even at 22.5, the enticing play is still SDSU.


    Clemson at Boston College (+17 to +20.5)

    If anything, I thought this line would move in the opposite direction—toward a two-touchdown spread instead of a three.

    Though Clemson has been dominant lately (more on that in the following section), we're still talking about a road game against a team ranked in the CFP Top 20a Boston College squad which has won all five of its home games by a double-digit margin.

    Granted, the Eagles haven't hosted anything close to a Clemson, but they aren't going to just roll over and die in this opportunity to shock the world and move into first place of the ACC Atlantic Division. Clemson will win, but this is going to be more of a fight than the Tigers have faced in the past month.

National Championship Bet of the Week: Clemson Tigers (+300)

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    Clemson RB Travis Etienne
    Clemson RB Travis EtienneRichard Shiro/Associated Press

    This section used to be reserved for the Heisman Bet of the Week. However, as predicted last week in recommending a bet on Tua Tagovailoa at -275, the race is just about over. Following a solid performance in a win over LSU, Tagovailoa has vaulted to -1,000, and he's going to win unless his knee (or another injury) knocks him out of the next few games.

    Thus, we're switching to championship odds. And even though my pick to win it all is Alabama, let me explain why the smart money this week is on Clemson +300.

    For starters, the Tigers are hotter than the sun right now. They have outscored their last four opponents by a combined score of 240-36, reinforcing the preseason notion that they are the top challengers to Alabama. Their four-head rushing attack, led by Travis Etienne, is stomping a mudhole through the ACC. Clemson leads the nation in yards per carry.

    If that red-hot team wins at Boston College this Saturday, it is all but a lock for the College Football Playoff. Per FiveThirtyEight, the Tigers currently have an 87 percent chance of finishing in the top fourwhich is already best in the nation (Alabama is second at 77 percent). But even if every other CFP Top 11 team wins this week, the Tigers' odds would climb to 92 percent with a win over Boston College.

    With those improved odds to make the playoff, Clemson's odds of winning it all should improve, too. And if Clemson moves from +300 to +250 or better, it may even result in Alabama dipping from -200 to -175.

    At any rate, Alabama's odds of winning it all shouldn't improve between now and the SEC Championship Game unless Clemson loses. No sense in betting on the Tide at -200 when you might be able to get a better return on that investment next week.

Lock of the Week: Pittsburgh (-3) vs. Virginia Tech

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    Pittsburgh RB Darrin Hall
    Pittsburgh RB Darrin HallRyan M. Kelly/Getty Images

    Virginia Tech at Pittsburgh (-3)

    If this had been a Week 1 game instead of a Week 11 one, what do you suppose the line would have been? Virginia Tech was No. 20 in the preseason AP poll, and everyone was projecting Pitt for a 6-6 type of year. Playing in similar situations, both West Virginia (at Tennessee) and Texas (at Maryland) were favored by double-digit margins.

    Even if it had been a Week 6 game, Virginia Tech would have been a heavy favorite. At that time, the Panthers were 2-3 coming off back-to-back losses to North Carolina and UCFthe latter in blowout fashion. And despite the earth-shattering loss to Old Dominion in Week 4, the Hokies were 3-1 and appeared to be on the up and up after a convincing road win over Duke.

    But it's neither a Week 1 nor Week 6 game. It's a Week 11 game between teams heading in opposite directionswith a line that neither gives Pitt enough credit for a job well done, nor gives Virginia Tech enough recognition for devolving into a dumpster fire.

    The Panthers have knocked off Syracuse, Duke and Virginia in their last four games. They almost stunned Notre Dame on the road, too. The Qadree Ellison and Darrin Hall backfield tandem has emerged as an unstoppable force, combining for 866 yards (216.5 per game) and eight rushing touchdowns during that stretch.

    That duo now gets to rip into a Virginia Tech defense that has allowed 271.5 rushing yards and 13 rushing touchdowns over its last four games.

    There are still legitimate, major concerns about Pitt's defense, which has allowed at least 37 points in five of nine games. However, the Panthers are facing a Virginia Tech offense that hasn't scored 30 points in a game since September.

    Look for the Panthers to become the fourth team this season to score at least 40 points against Virginia Tech, and don't count on Ryan Willis doing enough at quarterback to keep the Hokies in that type of high-scoring affair.

    Last week's lock: Memphis -13 at East Carolina (Actual: Memphis gutted out an 18-point win thanks to a red-zone stop with less than one minute remaining. Never a doubt?)


    All moneylines, spreads and over/under totals are via OddsShark and are current through 10 a.m. ET on Thursday. 

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