College Football Best Bets

College Football Best Bets for this Weekend:

Umass vs Eastern Michigan
Saturday’s college football schedule includes a game that’s easy to overlook between the UMass Minutemen and the Eastern Michigan Eagles. The Minutemen are making the trip to Ypsilanti as 20-point underdogs. When these teams met last year, Eastern Michigan won 42-28 at Gillette Stadium. However, Umass got a win in 2015 on a previous trip to Ypsilanti, creating hope for a similar result this time around.

Unfortunately for the Minutemen, the 2022 campaign is starting to look a lot like the 2021 season when they finished just 1-11. UMass doesn’t have to worry about going winless after knocking off Stony Brook a couple of weeks ago. However, the Minutemen lost 28-0 against Temple last week and fell 55-10 to Toledo when facing another MAC team earlier this year. Quarterback Gino Campiotti gives them an athletic quarterback who is actually the team’s leading rusher. However, the passing game just isn’t there for the junior quarterback. He’s completed just 49% of his passes this year with one touchdown and four interceptions. In fact, his longest completion was for 18 yards, meaning he’s averaging just 3.4 yards per pass. The UMass defense was a little better last week in the loss to Temple, forcing four turnovers. Plus, the Temple defense scored a touchdown, so the UMass defense only conceded 21 points, which is a positive for the Minutemen heading into this week’s game.

As for the Eagles, they’ve been on the up-and-up in recent years, going to a bowl game in four of the last six seasons. Eastern Michigan also pulled off an upset over Arizona State earlier this season, as the program continues to take forward steps under Chris Creighton. However, the Eagles have also suffered a 49-21 loss to Louisiana and a 50-31 loss to Buffalo, so the defense has been an issue for EMU. On the bright side, the Eagles have scored at least 30 points in three of their four games. Austin Smith also gives Eastern Michigan an athletic quarterback who can move the ball through the air and with his legs. His running ability helped to fuel the win over Arizona State while Smith is also averaging 9.3 yards per pass. That balance on offense should allow the Eagles to find success against UMass, and if the EMU defense can take advantage of playing a struggling UMass offense, there’s no reason why the Eagles can’t win comfortably and cover.

Michigan State vs Maryland

After coming close to pulling off an upset over Michigan last week, the Maryland Terrapins will try to finish the job this week against Michigan’s other Big Ten team, as they host the Michigan State Spartans. While the Terps are 8.5-point home favorites in this game, they have just one win over the Spartans in eight games between these teams since Maryland joined the Big Ten. That includes a convincing 40-21 win for MSU last season.

Naturally, the Terrapins are hoping that this year will be different for them. Prior to last week’s game against Michigan, the Terps started the year 3-0 with wins over Buffalo, Charlotte, and SMU. Outside of his two interceptions last week, Taulia Tagovailoa has put together an impressive season, averaging 9.3 yards per pass and completing nearly 75% of his passes. If you ignore the turnovers, Tagovailoa more than held his own against a quality Michigan defense. The big caveat is that he’s listed as a game-time decision with injuries to both his ribs and knee. It’d be surprising if he didn’t play, but whether Tagovailoa will be 100% is another question. The Maryland rushing attack stumbled a bit in last week’s loss, so they need their quarterback to be at his best. The Terps have also hurt themselves this year with penalties, so there could be more than a few obstacles for Maryland to overcome in this game.

Meanwhile, the Spartans are trying to avoid a third consecutive loss after dropping games to Washington and Minnesota in recent weeks. Last week’s 34-7 home loss against Minnesota in MSU’s conference opener was particularly disheartening. The Spartans were out-gained by more than 250 yards and dominated in all three phases. If not for a garbage-time touchdown, the Spartans would have been shut out. But all is not lost for Michigan State. Despite his uneven start to the season, Payton Thorne gives them an experienced quarterback who can play better than he’s shown, especially with a trio of quality receivers at his disposal. Likewise, running back Jalen Berger is averaging 5.3 yards per carry on the season despite back-to-back weeks in which he’s been held in check. With their backs up against the wall, the Spartans have the motivation and the pieces to get things turned around, especially since Maryland could be a little vulnerable if Tagovailoa isn’t 100%, making this a game that could easily be settled by one score.

Virginia vs Duke

Longtime ACC rivals meet for their annual matchup this week with the Duke Blue Devils playing host to the Virginia Cavaliers. The Cavs head to Durham winning their last seven games against the Blue Devils, including a 48-0 shellacking last season. However, it’s the Blue Devils who are listed as three-point home favorites in this game.

For Duke, the Mike Elko era is off to a promising start, as he fills the shoes of longtime coach David Cutcliffe, who struggled to produce a competitive team over the last few years. The Blue Devils opened the season with wins over Temple, Northwestern, and NC A&T before losing to Kansas last week. But at 3-1, a bowl game is a possibility for the Blue Devils, especially if they can grab a win this week and regain some of the momentum they had during their 3-0 start. Despite last week's loss, the Duke offense has looked good early in the season and shown good balance. Sophomore Riley Leonard has taken the reins at quarterback and looked sharp, completing 71% of his passes and averaging over 10 yards per pass. Leonard has also rushed for over 200 yards in four games, giving Duke a strong running game behind an experienced offensive line. Not only is Leonard a threat with his legs but Jordan Waters and Jaylen Coleman are both averaging over five yards per carry, so the Duke backfield is loaded and the clear strength of the team right now.

Virginia, meanwhile, is struggling a little under first-year head coach Tony Elliott, a disciple of Dabo Swinney. The Cavaliers have lost to Illinois and Syracuse in their two games against power-conference opponents and barely notched a win over Old Dominion two weeks ago. Despite having a quarterback in Brennan Armstrong who averaged over 400 passing yards per game last year, Elliott has tried to make Virginia’s offense more balanced. It’s been a work in progress with Virginia averaging just 13 points per game in three games against FBS opponents. However, Perris Jones is gaining 5.5 yards per carry, so the running game is getting going. Armstrong is also far better than his subpar numbers indicate. He also has Keytaon Thompson, who is one of the most talented wide receivers in the ACC.  The Cavs also showed a few signs of life in the second half of last week’s loss to Syracuse. With the Virginia defense giving up just 19.3 points per game on the season, the Cavs are poised to keep this game close, especially since their last two games were both decided by just two points.

Colorado vs Arizona

While it’s still early in the season, both teams are hoping to avoid falling to the bottom of the Pac-12 standings this week when the Arizona Wildcats host the Colorado Buffaloes. Both teams are 0-1 in conference play and look like they could be among the worst teams in the Pac-12 this year. Of course, while the Buffaloes have beaten Arizona in back-to-back seasons, Colorado is listed as a 17.5-point underdog in the desert this week.

Clearly, oddsmakers have been a little more impressed with Arizona this season. For what it’s worth, the Wildcats have lost to Mississippi State and Cal on their way to being 2-2, and there’s little shame in those losses. They also opened the season with an impressive win over San Diego State. However, losing two games by a combined 40 points and barely beating North Dakota State does raise some red flags for the Wildcats. They are giving up 34 points per game and don’t necessarily have an offense that can overcome a problematic defense. Washington State transfer Jayden de Laura has surely been an upgrade at quarterback for Arizona. But he’s been far from perfect, throwing six interceptions in four games and struggling against the two power-conference teams Arizona has played. The Wildcats also seem to be a little too reliant on de Laura and wide receiver Jacob Cowing, as they have struggled to find playmakers elsewhere.

On the bright side, at least the Wildcats are still searching for their first win of the season the way Colorado is. The Buffs are 0-4, losing those games by an average of 31.5 points. To be fair, those losses have come against TCU, Air Force, Minnesota, and UCLA. Those teams are a combined 14-1 on the season, so the Buffs have been the victims of a tough schedule, at least to some extent. However, the Buffaloes may have found an answer at quarterback with freshman Owen McCown, the son of Cade McCown, throwing for 258 yards in last week’s loss to UCLA, waking up the Colorado offense just a little. If McCown can build off of that performance, the Buffs might have a chance to play their first competitive game of the season. Even if Colorado doesn’t get a win, given Arizona’s flaws on both sides of the ball, the Buffaloes might be able to do enough to stay within a couple of scores and beat the spread.

College Football Point Spreads Explained:

The most popular way to bet on college football is against the spread, which is the number of points the favorite has to win by, and the number of points the underdog can lose by. Before we explain how college football point spreads work it is important to understand why there are point spreads in the first place.

A point spread is a way to make a game more fair. Everyone has a good idea on who will win a given football game, but the sportsbook number one goal is to have even bets on both sides of the game. If Alabama is playing against Montana State then everyone will immediately bet Alabama to win and the sportsbooks don't stand to gain much. To even the playing field they have added in the point spread. The easiest way to understand college football point spreads is to think about them as imaginary points you either add or subtract to the final score depending on which side of the game you bet.

When you look at a sportsbook you will see a number next to a team's name, one of these numbers will be positive and the other will be the same number but negative. The team that is more likely to win the game has the negative number and is called the favorite. For example if we go back to our Alabama vs Montana State example, Alabama may have a (-42) next to their team name, this means they are the favorite and they have to win the game by more than 42 points for you to win your bet. Montana State would have a (+42) next to their team name which means they are the underdog, and they can lose by 41 points and you would win your bet

The easiest way to figure out if you have won your bet against the point spread is to take the final score of the game and subtract the spread from your team's score if you bet the favorite, or add the spread to your team's final score if you bet the underdog. If your team wins the game with the spread added or subtracted that means your bet won!

If you are still confused read an in depth example of betting college football with the point spread below:

College Football Point Spreads Example: Clemson -7 (Clemson Must Win By More Than 7 Points) vs. Notre Dame +7 (ND Can’t Lose By More Than 7 Points)

When betting on the point spread, the favorite will always be indicated with a minus (-) sign in front of their number. In this scenario from a highly-anticipated game from last season, the Clemson Tigers were -7 on the spread line. This simply means that the Tigers must win by at least 8 points for you to win your bet if you bet on them. If the number lands on 7 exactly, your bet will push, and you will simply be refunded your bet back. The underdog will always be identified with a plus (+) sign in front of their number. If you wanted to bet on Notre Dame here at +7, that means that Notre Dame cannot lose the game by more than 7 points. Luckily for people who bet the underdog, if the games ends up being decided by exactly that number, they still win the bet.

In this game, Notre Dame was the underdog by 7 points against the favored Clemson Tigers. In one of the best matchups of the year last season, Clemson came into Notre Dame as the No. 1 team in the country, but missing their star QB Trevor Lawrence. Notre Dame was the No. 4 team in college football, so this was a heavily bet on and anticipated match. Despite not having Lawrence, Clemson was still favored by quite a bit, which is indicated in their -7 spread line odds. Bettors who laid the points were disappointed and went home empty-handed, as the Fighting Irish prevailed in an OT classic to take down the No. 1 team. Clemson had their chance at the end of the game to come through for their backers and potentially tie the game, but failed on a fourth and long attempt. It was clear how much Clemson missed Lawrence, as the Irish focused on stopping star RB Travis Etienne instead, holding him to just 28 yards total in the game on 20 carries. They couldn’t get anything going on the ground, which forced their freshman QB D.J. Uiagalelei to pass all game.

Those who bet the Irish to win were rewarded with a nice payday, as they took home winnings on whatever they bet. Since they won outright, they clearly covered the +7 points. If a team that is plus the points wins, you automatically win that bet because they obviously didn’t lose by more than the number. Meanwhile, Clemson backers were sent home packing nothing after their bet failed to cover the -7 point spread. Since Clemson didn’t win by 8 points, or even push at 7, they lost the bet.

College Football Betting Lines Explained

Lines are very easy to figure out. When someone says “What’s the line?”, they are basically just asking you what the spread is. In the examples from above, you’d just say that the line is seven with Clemson favored, and the odds are -110 both ways.

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