Updated: Nov 20, 2020
It's Thursday and you know what that means - it's time to make some college football gambling picks.
And I can't lie people, man does it feel good to be back on top! After a hot start and a couple of grueling, tough weeks in the middle of the year, things are finally back on track, following a solid 4-2 campaign a week ago. Big shouts to Lane Kiffin, who not only threw the final dirt on Will Muschamp's grave, but covered the number to help us get to another winning week.
What a week and it's time to stay hot. So with that, let's get to the picks!
As always, the picks are sponsored by our good friends at MyBookie - if you use the promo code "TORRES" at MyBookie and they will double your first deposit. So you want to bet $50 on Alabama this week, use promo code "TORRES" and MyBookie will give you $100 to play with. It's the best deal going in sports betting.
Now, let's get to the picks:
EDITOR'S NOTE: Since the picks went out Thursday evening, three different games have been hit with different Covid issues - Purdue-Minnesota, LSU-Arkansas and UCLA-Oregon. If I were in Vegas, I'd simply hedge those bets, but they are official now. So proceed cautiously, not just with those games, but with all your bets this weekend.
Again now, again, the picks:
Purdue at Minnesota (OVER 61.5): Friday, 7:30 p.m. ET, Big Ten Network
Earlier in the year I thought there was a ton of value on a couple SEC teams, teams at the time that Vegas hadn't caught up with. Now I kind of feel the same about the Big Ten. So let's start with the Golden Gophers, where PJ Fleck has rowed his boat into a damn iceberg in one of Minnesota's 10,000 lakes.
Like seriously, not only is Minnesota bad, they're worse than anyone realize. The Gophers are giving up close to eight yards per play on defense, which ranks a staggering 125th out of 126 teams that have played FBS football this season. Yikes! And as someone who watched a big chunk of their game against Iowa last week, the Gophers should be thankful Iowa just decided to run the ball and get out with an easy win. The final score was 35-7, but it just as easily could've been 55-7 if Iowa tried to do anything interesting on offense, rather than run the ball straight at them.
Then on the other side is Purdue, which we know can score points, but is quietly pretty bad on defense themselves. Specifically, they can't rush the passer (they have three sacks all season) and are 13th in pass defense in the Big Ten. Therefore, as forgettable as Tanner Morgan's season has been this year, this feels like as good a week as any for him to go off.
Take two of the worst defenses in the conference, put them together on a Friday night and what do you get?
Points and lots of them. Grab this OVER now before it goes up.
No. 9 Indiana (+21 - bought up from +20.5) at No. 3 Ohio State: Saturday, 12:00 p.m. ET, FOX
Ah yes, it's the game of the week in the Big Ten and maybe the game of the week in college football. It's Indiana-Ohio State... the Big Ten rivalry that we never knew was a rivalry until this weekend!!
In all seriousness, I feel like there is no one in America more qualified to talk Indiana football than me, mainly because I've bet against them two weeks in a row and has to watch helplessly as my ticket went up in flames both weeks. And after watching way too much Indiana football, what I can definitively tell you is that in addition to being talented, they do all the little things that it takes to win. They take care of the football, with the best turnover margin in the Big Ten (+8) and they block well for quarterback Michael Pennix, allowing just four sacks total in four games this year.
I bring this up to say that not only are they a disciplined football team that doesn't beat themselves, but they're going up against a secondary that has actually struggled this season for Ohio State. The Buckeyes are allowing opposing quarterbacks to complete 68 percent of their passes, an unusually high number, especially when you factor in that they have faced really bad quarterbacks so far.
How bad are they? Well, two of three quarterbacks who Ohio State has beaten (Sean Clifford and Adrian Martinez) have already been benched. The other plays at Rutgers.
In the end, I do think that Justin Fields and the Ohio State offense do enough to win, but the backdoor will be open for MY Indiana Hoosiers to cover the three touchdowns.
MyBookie currently has this line at +20.5, but go ahead and buy the half point. You won't regret it.
LSU at Arkansas (+2.5): Saturday, 12:00 p.m. ET, SEC Network
I know that Arkansas opened as a slight favorite and this line was quickly bet the other direction - so there's a very real possibility that I just have a bad read on this game. On the flip side, Arkansas is 6-1 ATS this season, so professional gamblers have had a bad read on the Hogs all year.
Woah, Zing!!! GOT YA!
Bad jokes aside though, I actually like this spot a lot for Arkansas. LSU has been limited for two weeks at practice because of Covid, just had their big rivalry game postponed (and maybe not made up) and now they have to go on the road, for an 11 a.m. kickoff against a team that they beat the crap out of the last few years. How could they possibly come out fired up?
On top of that, the one thing Arkansas does well is force turnovers through the air, with a college football best 13 interceptions this season. Now, they get to go against a true freshman quarterback who has made two career starts?
Coming off a tough road loss, Arkansas will want to bounce back, while I'm just not sure how fired up LSU is for this one. I like the Hogs here.
If you're feeling frisky, just take the money line. Otherwise, take them as a slight home underdog.
Iowa (-2.5) at Penn State: Saturday, 3:30 p.m. ET, Big Ten Network
Look, I already know what you're thinking: "AT, at some point, Penn State has to win a game." And you're right, they do, and they will. Thankfully they still have Michigan on the schedule.
Unfortunately for Nittany Lions fans though, that "at some point" isn't this weekend.
The bottom line is that Iowa is actually the worst possible matchup for Penn State, which admittedly is a scary thought since the Nittany Lions are 0-4. Penn State has actually done a reasonably decent job running the ball this year (at least relative to their pass game), but are now going up against the Big Ten's top ranked rushing defense. Meanwhile, Iowa also gets to the quarterback, with 11 total sacks this season. That's bad news for a team which just benched its starting quarterback, and essentially used this week for an open QB competition.
Iowa should get the victory here.
UCLA at No. 11 Oregon (OVER 66.5): Saturday, 3:30 p.m. ET ESPN2
So while you were busy watching the boring, old NFL last Sunday, your boy Torres was watching a little Cal-UCLA at the Rose Bowl, baby. That's right, and while no one else was paying attention, what I can tell you is this: UCLA isn't as bad as you think they are.
Ok, so they're not exactly "good" per se, but the one thing UCLA can do is move the ball. Going back to last season, the Bruins have scored at least 30 points in seven of their last nine games, and they will face an equally explosive Oregon offense that is averaging 38 points per game, on a Pac-12 best 538 yards per game. Did I mention they already have a staggering 35 plays of more than 10 yards, which just sounds like a stupid absurd stat through two games?
It wouldn't surprise me if UCLA scores enough to cover the 13.5, but the OVER seems like the safer bet to me.
No. 14 Oklahoma State at No. 18 Oklahoma (-7): Saturday, 7:30 p.m. ET, ABC
And finally, we have Bedlam!
No, not in real life. I'm just talking about the Oklahoma-Oklahoma State rivalry game which takes place Saturday night.
Let's start with Oklahoma, because when they lost two games in a row in early October, they were basically left for dead. Then a funny thing happened: OU has won four in a row, with each victory by a little bit more than the previous week. They beat Texas by eight, TCU by 19, Texas Tech by 34 and Kansas by 55.
Now admittedly, Oklahoma State isn't Kansas or Texas Tech. But independent of the opponent, it's clear the Sooners are gaining confidence every time they step on the field.
As for Oklahoma State, well, let's just say I have no confidence with them.
For whatever reason, it just hasn't clicked for Oklahoma State this season. An offense which returned 10 starters simply hasn't moved the ball effectively as we expected, as they rank seventh in the Big 12 in yards per game, ahead of only abysmal TCU, Baylor and Kansas. Heck, last game they scored 20 points, and one of their two scores came on a defensive TD.
In the end, I'm not calling Oklahoma's offense the steel curtain here.
But at home, in a night game with the crowd behind them, I like the Sooners to roll to another Bedlam victory.
No. 4 Clemson (-35.5) at Florida State, Saturday, 12:00 p.m. ET, ABC: Clemson had a week to stew on their loss to Notre Dame, and gets Trevor Lawrence back in what was once a great rivalry game. The first half line feels like a pretty safe bet, but otherwise I would stay away. I'm guessing at this point, Dabo Swinney doesn't care about style points, but instead just wants to get to the ACC title game healthy for a rematch with Notre Dame.
No. 6 Florida (-31.5) at Vanderbilt, Saturday,12:00 p.m. ET, ESPN: After two emotional wins, I just don't know how Florida can come out fired up for a noon kick-off against Vandy, who has actually played people tough the last few weeks. Unfortunately however, the alternative is betting on Vanderbilt against the most explosive offense in the country. I'll just stay away, thank you very much.
No. 7 Cincinnati (-6) at UCF, Saturday, 3:30 p.m. ET, ESPN: Cincinnati to me is the most underrated team in football, and legitimately one of the 10 best teams in the country. But if they were ever going to get upset, wouldn't it come against college football's most explosive offense? I'll just enjoy this one from the couch.
No. 10 Wisconsin (-7.5) at No. 19 Northwestern, Saturday, 3:30 p.m. ET ABC: Would you judge me if I said I'm looking forward to this game as much as any this weekend? These are just two, solid, well-coached football teams - so basically the exact opposite of Michigan. At the same time, I see no real edge on either side here.
Kentucky at No. 1 Alabama (-30.5): Saturday, 4:00 p.m. ET, ESPN: I think Kentucky's defense is tough enough to keep this respectable, but am I really going to bet against Nick Saban with three weeks to prepare for a game? No, I'm most certainly not.
Tennessee at No. 22 Auburn (-11): Saturday, 7:30 p.m. ET, ESPN: I don't think Tennessee is "good" per se, but it feels weird to me that everyone has just jumped on the Auburn bandwagon here. We all remember what we thought about Bo Nix, like literally three weeks ago, right? If I trusted any of Tennessee's QB's even one iota, I'd back the Vols here. Unfortunately I don't.
Mississippi State at No. 13 Georgia (-24), Saturday, 7:30 p.m. SEC Network: "Where were you when the JT Daniels era, started at Georgia?" It's a question our grandchildren will be surely asking us 50 years from now. With that said, I just don't know how you can bet either of these teams right now.
Missouri (-6.5) at South Carolina, Saturday, 7:30 p.m. SEC Network +: I've bet Missouri twice, both in their only two road games, and both came up as losses for me. I know South Carolina is down both a coach and a bunch of opt outs, but I am not getting burned for a third time this season.
No. 21 Liberty at NC State (-3.5): Saturday, 7:30 p.m., ESPN3: Just a shameless way to mention that I had Hugh Freeze on my podcast Thursday. Listen below.
Remember, if you're going to wager on these games or any others, make sure to use MyBookie. Put in the promo code "TORRES" at checkout, and you automatically receive a 100 percent sign-up bonus.