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  • There are several enticing underdogs this week, as six of our eight favorite bets are getting points.
By The SI Staff
October 12, 2018

After going 6-2 with our favorite bets last week, we're looking to continue our October stride with eight more plays in Week 7.

SEC

Ole Miss at Arkansas (+7)

The past three Arkansas-Ole Miss meetings have been decided by a total of six points, and Arkansas has won all of them. The Rebels may break the streak, but the seven-point line favoring Ole Miss feels high. — Andy Staples

Tennessee (+15.5) at Auburn

You’re probably wondering if you read that right but, yes, you did. Auburn has looked bad. Tennessee has looked worse. The Volunteers have covered in just two of their last eight games. Auburn has covered in just one of its last four. Something’s gotta give. — Ross Dellenger

ACC

Pittsburgh at No. 5 Notre Dame: OVER 54 Points

The Irish have put up an average of 46.3 points in their last three games—two of which were against teams with defenses markedly better than Pitt's. And the Panthers will get on the board here, too; they put up 44 last week against Syracuse, and though Notre Dame's defense should hold them to half as many points, at the most, that's enough to edge over Vegas's line. — Joan Niesen

College Football
Washington vs. Oregon Preview: The Huskies Defense Is Tough to Crack

Virginia Tech at North Carolina (+6)

This is the point in the season when the Tar Heels decide whether they want to be the ACC’s worst team for a second consecutive season or circle the wagons around embattled coach Larry Fedora and try to scare some teams still in contention. The first hint at their decision came in a shootout win over Pitt (the Panthers, to be clear, are much worse than Virginia Tech). The previous week's blowout loss at Miami is tricky to learn from, unless you think UNC’s six turnovers will become a recurring plague down the stretch, but the Tar Heels have had ample opportunity to adjust to the mass suspensions that kneecapped their roster to start the season. After backup QB Ryan Willis and the Hokies’ offense was suffocated by Notre Dame at home, Virginia Tech wouldn’t be blamed for coming out of the blocks slowly in Chapel Hill. North Carolina can get this one into the fourth quarter if its offense complies. — Eric Single

Big Ten

No. 15 Wisconsin (+8.5) at No. 12 Michigan

After losing its season opener to Notre Dame—which has since turned out to be a better looking loss on its resume—Michigan has been clicking and quarterback Shea Patterson has been looking like the leader Jim Harbaugh hoped he’d be. The transfer from Ole Miss is completing 68.8% of his passes, becoming the second-most efficient quarterback in the Big Ten behind Ohio State’s Dwayne Haskins. He’ll have the opportunity to make some big plays in this game against a weaker Wisconsin defense, though Michigan will likely look to its rushing attack to get things moving with tailbacks Karan Higdon and Chris Evans, who is expected to return this week after missing the Maryland game with an injury.

Wisconsin isn’t the same unit it was last year, which held quarterbacks to 5.8 yards per passing attempt and snagged 20 interceptions. Last week the Badgers gave up 407 yards through the air against Nebraska, they’re allowing quarterbacks to complete 60% of their throws and are ranked last in the Big Ten in sacks (five). The group is struggling with quite a few injuries, including three cornerbacks, three linebackers and two defensive linemen. Safety D’Cota Dixon (foot injury) said this week he will play against the Wolverines, while Scott Nelson will miss the first half due to a targeting penalty from last week.

Meanwhile, Michigan’s defense has suffered some of its own injuries, despite being the No. 1 unit in the country. Harbaugh hasn’t revealed if Rashan Gary (shoulder) will play, but Chase Winovich, who leads the Big Ten in tackles for loss (10) has been ruthless. They’ll face a tough Badgers offense led by Jonathan Taylor and the rushing attack. Taylor, a sophomore, ranks first in the country averaging 169.8 rushing yards per game and has racked up 849 yards total. Last week he ran over Nebraska for 221 yards and three touchdowns in a 41–24 win. Michigan’s top priority will be to slow him down. Despite Michigan allowing just 96.5 rush yards per game this season, Wisconsin certainly presents the best attack it has faced.

Michigan would have a better shot of covering with a completely healthy team. But with Gary’s status unknown and the fact that this defense hasn’t faced a running back as dynamic as Taylor, this game will be closer than the spread indicates. — Laken Litman

College Football
Georgia vs. LSU Betting Preview: Tigers Look to Bounce Back in Death Valley

Pac-12

No. 19 Colorado at USC: OVER 57 Points

Trust me, I’d love to put Oregon plus the points here, but Mario Cristobal can never be forgiven for ruining the perfect record in this space with the debacle against Stanford. I’m scarred for life.

So instead, we’re rolling with another late-night over after last week’s over in Washington State/Oregon State ended up with a cool 93 points.

Colorado’s defense has not faced an offense that has the talent level of USC’s. The Trojans do have their faults on that side of the ball, but they have one major strength: connecting on the deep ball.

True freshman JT Daniels is fourth in the country with eight completions of 40+ yards. USC’s tailbacks have also broken off big plays on the ground after a slow start, as they’ve had four carries for 20+ yards in the past two games against Washington State and Arizona.

When looking for teams to bet the over on, explosive plays are the name of the game, and USC’s offense will provide them. And the Trojans are facing a Colorado team that allowed completions of 72, 40 and 30 on just 18 Manny Wilkins throws in last week’s win over Arizona State.

The Buffaloes have a machine of their own on offense, highlighted by the dynamic duo of quarterback Steven Montez and wideout Laviska Shenault. Shenault scored all four TDs last week, and he’s racked up the third-most receiving yards in the country in his breakout sophomore campaign. USC’s secondary has struggled handling talented receivers this season, and Shenault seems like the latest in line to have a big game against this group.

USC could also be without its leader on defense, as head coach Clay Helton said after Thursday’s practice that middle linebacker Cameron Smith is “50/50 at best” with a mild hamstring strain.

This Pac-12 South affair kicks off at 10:30 p.m. ET, so we’re looking to finish this college football Saturday on a high note. We just have to hope that there aren’t any third parties that tell the referees for this game to overturn a clear touchdown after a replay review. — Max Meyer

Big 12

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

The anomaly known as Iowa State has been a roller coaster this season. And just like the Cyclones, the line has been in flux all week, going as low as West Virginia -4.5.

In their first four games, the Cyclones did not score more than 27 points, and ranked in the bottom third of scoring offense.

Then last week, they exploded for 49 points in a win on the road against Oklahoma State, behind third-string quarterback Brock Purdy, who came off the pine to complete 18 of 23 passes for 318 yards and four touchdowns.

Now all the coaching staff has to do is figure out which quarterback to start—Purdy or Kyle Kempt.

Of course, one reason to go with West Virginia is that it has the better team, but the Mountaineers are also an impressive 4–1 against the spread and are the only FBS school not to trail this season. Plus, they have won all three games between the two teams that have been played in Ames.

West Virginia is too talented to keep playing the way it has been, turning it over eight times in its last three games. Expect the Mountaineers to clean up the mistakes and keep its undefeated hopes alive. — Scooby Axson

Bonus: Group of Five

Hawaii (+11) at BYU

For a second straight week we’ll be up past bedtime watching the Warriors try to cover. They did it for us last week, storming back to beat Wyoming around 3 a.m. ET and helping us recover from a nasty 2–6 start in our Best Bets (we’re now an even 6–6!). The Cougars got exposed against Washington and Utah State over the last two weeks after a hot start (wins over Arizona and Wisconsin). They’ve scored 27 points in two weeks, and we think Hawaii can hang. — Ross Dellenger

Get informed with our weekly Tip Sheet before placing your bets.

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