In case you missed it, we nearly swept the board last week on our College Football picks! North Carolina pulled away from Virginia Tech in the fourth quarter to cover easily despite the line movement against them throughout the week. Kansas State earned an outright road win at TCU as sizable underdogs, and Boston College pulled out a 1-point overtime win over Pittsburgh. That game did not go under the total which was our bonus pick of the week. I guess I have to count that in our overall record since I gave it out. At any rate, it was a 3-1 week and this column is now 9-7 on the season.
We turn the page now to Week 7. Unfortunately, COVID-19 is once again rearing its ugly head. A trio of SEC programs are dealing with the virus infiltrating their teams. Florida has already seen their game against LSU postponed while Ole Miss is still hoping to be able to play against Arkansas. And in the primetime game of the week, Alabama may be without its head coach after Nick Saban tested positive on Wednesday. With so much up in the air, it is critical for College Football bettors to stay on top of the news and headlines. With that said, here are my best College Football picks for the Week 7 card as we attempt to have another winning week.
Week 7 College Football Picks
All odds courtesy of Bovada Sportsbook
We kick things off this week with a narrow 3-point spread separating a top-15 SEC team from an improving conference opponent. 15th-ranked Auburn hasn’t exactly wowed anyone on their way to a 2-1 start, and they will look to get their first road of the season at South Carolina as part of the Week 7 College Football Saturday noon slate.
The main cause for concern regarding Auburn lies with the offense. Sophomore quarterback Bo Nix has been far from stellar in each of the Tigers’ first three contests, coming into Saturday’s game with a completion percentage of just 56.8 and just 6.3 yards per passing attempt. Rumors have begun to swirl around whether or not there is a dispute between the QB and offensive coordinator Chad Morris. The Tigers were able to get the run game going in a big way against Arkansas last week. Tank Bigsby rumbled for 146 yards (7.3 yards per carry), while D.J. Williams added 71 yards in a complementary role. Even with that production, it still took a controversial ruling late for Auburn to get the win.
Despite last week’s rushing success, Auburn has not shown an ability to control the time of possession, something that South Carolina excels at doing, with an average TOP of over 34 minutes per game. Running back Kevin Harris has posted over 100 yards in back-to-back games. While Collin Hill hasn’t necessarily been explosive, he has been consistent. His rapport with star receiver Shi Smith should only continue to grow. The Gamecocks played Tennessee tough and also managed a backdoor cover against Florida, two teams that I rate ahead of Auburn at this juncture.
South Carolina hasn’t beaten Auburn outright since 1933, a streak that could come to an end this week. Looking for a trend to support a play on the college football picks home dog? South Carolina is 9-1 ATS in their last ten home games against teams averaging fewer than 6.5 yards per passing attempt. -120 odds suggest the +3.5 won’t last long at Bovada Sportsbook so grab it quick!
Duke at NC State (-4.5)
North Carolina State comes into its home tilt against Duke as outright winners of two straight games when they were catching points. The Wolfpack now find themselves laying 4.5 to the Blue Devils in a game that opened at an even 5 out in Las Vegas. It’s interesting to see the expert College Football picks shift the line slightly in Duke’s favor given the early-season trajectories that these two teams have taken.
Duke earned its first win of the 2020 campaign last week against Syracuse, bringing their record to 1-4. The Blue Devils have struggled mightily with turnovers in the early portion of the season, coughing the ball up a nation-leading 19 times, including 4 giveaways in their winning effort last week. That’s good for a turnover margin of -11. Fortunately, Syracuse had their own fair share of miscues last week, but Duke will need to protect the football better against an NC State defense whose success is predicated upon its pass rush. On the positive side, the Blue Devils have the backs to wear down the Wolfpack defensive front. Deon Jackson (171) and Mataeo Durant (161) combined for 332 rushing yards last week.
Aside from the turnover issues, another thing North Carolina State has the potential to exploit in this game is Duke’s suspect defense. Despite the Blue Devils having their own success in rushing the passer, they are still giving up 30.6 points per game. Wolfpack quarterback Devin Leary has looked sharp, and tailback Zonovan Knight is averaging 6.4 yards per carry. The NC State defense has forced 5 turnovers on the season and should be able to corral a few more on Saturday. For my money, the Wolfpack (3-1 ATS) are still being disrespected by the betting market. In the first football meeting between the in-state rivals since 2013 (incredible in its own right), I’ll take the short home favorite.
Southern Miss at UTEP (Under 54.5)
A pair of Conference USA West Division foes will tangle in primetime Saturday night when Southern Mississippi travels to take on UTEP. There has been plenty of line movement surrounding this contest already, some of which I agree with and some of which I think has gone too far. The total on this game opened at 62.5 and the under on that number has been a favorite Week 7 College Football picks choice for many sharps. It has been bet down a full 8 points to the current over/under of 54.5.
The Golden Eagles come into the week riding high after their first win of the season, a 41-31 triumph over North Texas in their last game two weeks ago. Winners of five straight in the head-to-head series against the Miners, interim coach Scotty Walden will undoubtedly have his team fired up to earn another W this week. Golden Eagles quarterback Jack Abraham has already surpassed 1,100 yards passing on the season and comes into the game with a 64.4% completion percentage. With Frank Gore Jr. leading the way on the ground, Southern Miss brings an electric offense to the table. On the flip side, the defense is very bad, giving up roughly 40 points per game. Needless to say, Southern Mississippi doesn’t possess many traits of a team one would back to go under the total.
That’s where UTEP comes into play. Defense and special teams are the name of the game in El Paso, Texas. Of the 76 FBS teams who have begun their 2020 seasons thus far, UTEP ranks 70th scoring just 17.0 points per game. Quarterback Gavin Hardison and the passing attack leaving a bit to be desired, expect the Miners to lean on the rushing attack where Deion Hankins should be able to wear down the USM front. What the Miners do well is play defense. I was a bit skeptical of just how good the unit was given that their three wins came against Stephen F. Austin, Abilene Christian, and Louisiana-Monroe. But after they held Louisiana Tech to just 21 points in a narrow defeat last week, I am convinced. The sharp betting market clearly is as well, given the massive movement on the over/under line.
Bonus Pick: UTEP +6.5
And now for the portion of this contest where I think the line movement has gone too far. After the opening spread gave Southern Miss but a single point, the line has not only blown past the key number of 3 but is now closing in on a full touchdown in favor of the Golden Eagles. The Miners will be looking to control the clock and limit the chances that the explosive USM offense gets. With the Golden Eagles defense leaking points in bunches, especially in the second half of games, look for the Miners to get stronger as the game goes on. A solid defensive effort and victories in the tranches on both sides of the ball will keep UTEP within a touchdown and cover as a College Football picks home underdog.