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College Football Betting Picks for Week Seven (10/16/2021)

The chaos continues! After seeing Alabama, Penn State, BYU and Wyoming fall in Week Six, we are down to 13 remaining undefeated teams. The Alabama loss to unranked Texas A&M, in particular, is certain to shake up the postseason picture as the Crimson Tide now can't afford another loss and will need to likely defeat either Georgia or Kentucky in the SEC Championship.

Last week's picks ended with a 2-1 record. Kentucky's offense unexpectedly erupted, ruining any chance of hitting the under in their 42-21 demolishing of LSU. Meanwhile, in Provo, Utah, the BYU Cougars and Boise State Broncos battled in a 26-17 slugfest that cashed the over and knocked BYU from the ranks of the unbeaten. Lastly, Utah marched into Los Angeles and thwarted USC by 17 points, with the over never in doubt. The season-long record is 12-10.

For Week Seven of the college football season, here are some expert money-line and over/under betting picks.

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Michigan State @ Indiana (+4.5)

O/U: 48.5

Coach Mel Tucker's 2021 Michigan State Spartans are not the typical team from East Lansing. Under Mike Dantonio's leadership, with the assistance of former defensive coordinator and current Pitt head coach Pat Narduzzi, the Spartans were known for their staunch defenses, control of the time of possession, and solid quarterback play. All three of those qualities are not the reasons for Michigan State's 6-0 start this year. Running back Kenneth Walker, a graduate transfer from Wake Forest, has amassed 913 rushing yards and 10 touchdowns, garnering some well-deserved Heisman consideration. Sophomore quarterback Payton Thorne joins Walker in the backfield, and he has played largely mistake-free football throwing 14 touchdowns to only two interceptions. The defense, however, gave up 560 total yards to Western Kentucky of Conference-USA, and has plenty of room for improvement.

Indiana has had a very difficult start to the 2021 campaign. Coach Tom Allen's team was stellar in 2020 - only losing a hard-fought game with Ohio State - but has yet to recapture the magic with a 2-3 start. Quarterback Michael Penix Jr., who was the catalyst for much of the Hoosiers' success a year ago, has struggled mightily throwing seven interceptions, while completing only four touchdown passes. Part of the issue is the lack of a running game, where Stephen Carr and Tim Baldwin combine to average 3.7 yards per carry (Stevie Scott averaged 6.6 yards per carry in 2020). Still, Penix has talented receivers in Ty Fryfogle, tight end Peyton Hendershot, Miles Marshall, and Florida State transfer DJ Matthews. If Penix can find a way to eliminate the interceptions issue, the Hoosiers can start showing the offensive firepower that made them a threat a season ago.

Uncommon for Big Ten football, neither defense jumps off the page in this game. In particular, Indiana's 90th ranked scoring defense is dismal. Expect the Spartans to lean heavily on Walker and Thorne to get on the board. Meanwhile, Penix has had the unpleasant task of facing vaunted defenses such as Iowa, Penn State, and Cincinnati in the early going, and will get a bit of a reprieve this week against a less talented Michigan State lineup.

Pick: Over 48.5

 

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Pittsburgh at Virginia Tech (+5)

O/U: 57.5

The Pitt Panthers, fresh off a bye-week, roll into Blacksburg, Virginia, with their eyes on the ACC Coastal division. Coach Pat Narduzzi's Panthers have been led by their fifth-year senior quarterback and two-time captain Kenny Pickett, who has accounted for 21 touchdowns and only one interceptions in the team's 4-1 start. The Panthers' running game has been a weakness, but in their 52-21 win at Georgia Tech, signs of life between freshman Rodney Hammond Jr. and sophomore Israel "Izzy" Abanikanda, emerged, with the Panthers amassing 181 yards on the ground. Leading the top-ranked scoring offense in the country (52.4 points per game), sophomore receiver Jordan Addison and super-senior tight end Lucas Krull give Pickett two big-time red zone threats, with nine and five touchdown receptions so far, respectively. The defense has not been as good as we are accustomed to, allowing 22.6 points per game, which is good for only 49th in the country, but this is partially by design as the Panthers like to blitz and bring pressure which leaves their young defensive backs on "islands."

If Virginia Tech coach Justin Fuente wasn't feeling the heat before the year, he certainly is now. The Hokies' 3-2 start isn't inspiring much confidence, with the team's defeat of North Carolina looking less-and-less impressive as the Tar Heels continue to lose. Last week's narrow loss to Notre Dame gutted the team after they blew a double digit fourth quarter lead. The Lane Stadium gameday experience is one that everyone should have on their bucket lists, and this week's 3:30pm start will give the Hokies some advantage, but less than last week's night game atmosphere. At quarterback, Braxton Burmeister has only completed 58.8% of his passes, but he really thrives as a runner. Burmeister was knocked out of the game last week, only to return, and is expected to play this week. If Burmeister is unable to go, little-used sophomore Knox Kadum would get the call (2nd string quarterback Connor Blumrick also was hurt last week). Burmeister does have two main threats he uses in the passing game - Tre Turner and Tayvion Robinson - who combine for 53% of the team's catches and 60% of the team's five touchdowns through the air. The offense leaves much to be desired, but the strength of this year's Hokies team lies on the defensive side, where an opponent has yet to eclipse 30 points all year.

In what should be one of the better games of the week, Pitt and Virginia Tech will battle to see who can become the frontrunner in the race for the ACC Coastal division. To date, Pitt has racked up incredible offensive statistics, but the list of opponents doesn't strike fear into many, aside from possibly the Tennessee win. Virginia Tech's defense is legit and could pose problems for Pickett and the Panthers. Pitt has been an impressive 5-0 in hitting overs this year, a number I expect to start falling due to regression and slightly more difficult opponents in the coming weeks.

Pick: Under 57.5

 

Marshall at North Texas (+11)

O/U: 66.5

The Marshall Thundering Herd are 3-3 under first-year head coach Charles Huff, who was most recently the running backs coach at Alabama. The Herd sport an offense with a solid ground threat from Rasheen Ali, who replaced Brenden Knox as Knox departed last year after a successful career in Huntington, West Virginia, for the NFL. The quarterback, sophomore Grant Wells, had a breakout 2020 campaign, but has been uneven in 2021. In six games, Wells has thrown only eight touchdowns against a staggering seven picks. In the passing game, Wells has found seven different receivers for double-digit receptions. The defense ranks 50th in points allowed per game, with disappointing losses to East Carolina and Middle Tennessee skewing the number.

The North Texas Mean Green are rebuilding in 2021 under Seth Littrell, who has led the program for six seasons. Quarterback play has been a big reason for the team's 1-4 start, with Jace Ruder and Austin Aune combining to throw eight touchdowns and seven interceptions. Young running back Deandre Torrey has flashed signs of excellence, and is averaging 5.2 yards per carry so far this year. An issue that the team has run into is the passing game relies so heavily on Roderic Burns, who has caught one of every three completions, that they can fall into dead spells for extended periods if he is neutralized. The defense has largely been poor, allowing 32.2 points per game, which is good for 107th in the nation.

Marshall should roll into Denton, Texas, and garner the victory, the only question might be what the final score is and could they cover the spread. The Mean Green have yet to display much on either side of the ball to excite people, and I expect another flat offensive performance from Coach Littrell's team.

Pick: Under 66.5



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