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CFB best bets: Staying hot with the Saturday 7?

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Don't look now, but we've strung together a pair of winning weeks following a 5-2 Saturday, moving us to 16-11-1 through four weeks of our underdogs-only strategy for this college football season.

Let's see where we can find some value for the first weekend of October.

Duke @ North Carolina (-20, 72.5)

Will Zion go for a double-double here? Oh wait - this is the less-hyped version of the Tobacco Road rivalry. North Carolina took its second upset loss last week as signal-caller Sam Howell did his best Ed Cota impression, dribbling the ball all over the field. Meanwhile, the UNC defense had no answer for Georgia Tech's read-option quarterback runs.

Now comes a Duke team that hasn't played anybody but has a dual-threat passer in Gunnar Holmberg who can burn the Tar Heels. Both teams should be able to score, but after the Yellow Jackets dashed UNC's lofty hopes last week, the program may not be up for this noon kickoff and a three-touchdown win.

Pick: Duke +20

Tennessee @ Missouri (-3, 65)

There are 130 teams in FBS college football. Missouri is 129th against the rush through four games this campaign. The Tigers allowed Boston College to run for over 275 yards, compared to the Eagles' 175 pass yards.

Running the football is what Tennessee does best, with 201 yards per game despite a pair of tough matchups. The Volunteers were an excruciating fourth-down drop away from being in the ball game last week at Florida. Josh Heupel has to be aware of their advantage in the trenches, given the Vols won 35-12 last year and will be live to win outright.

Pick: Tennessee +3

Nevada @ Boise State (-6.5, 58.5)

We walked into a buzzsaw last week against Boise State, so why not test them again, this time on the blue turf? In this case, we can expect to get better quarterback play from Carson Strong than we did from Utah State. I'm still not sold on Hank Bachmeier, and we saw the Broncos defense get picked apart in Week 1 against UCF. If you can find a +7 before Saturday, pounce on the Wolf Pack.

Pick: Nevada +6.5

Tulane @ East Carolina (+4, 64.5)

Someone's going to have to sit me down and explain to me like I'm five years old why Tulane is getting so much respect in the market. We faded the Green Wave last week and got the outright win from UAB. Now 1-3 Tulane rolls into East Carolina to visit quarterback Holton Ahlers, whose squad has knocked off Marshall and lost at the gun to South Carolina. The Green Wave are better than those teams?

We may be getting some value because ECU absolutely phoned one in last week against the FCS' Charleston Southern, barely getting by in a 3-point win. The Pirates will be back up and ready for their conference opener at home.

Pick: East Carolina +4

Louisiana Tech @ No. 23 North Carolina State (-21, 54.5)

Our big score from last Saturday was N.C. State's overtime upset victory over Clemson. Now we're flush with that moneyline cash, but the Wolfpack have to be fat and happy, getting patted on the back all week for positioning themselves in the driver's seat for the ACC's Atlantic Division.

Now a functional Louisiana Tech side shows up looking for a game, having already given Mississippi State - who later beat N.C. State - more than it could handle in the season opener. The Bulldogs peeled themselves off the deck after a Hail Mary loss to SMU to beat North Texas last week and will keep it close with a Wolfpack team looking ahead to the rest of their conference schedule.

Pick: Louisiana Tech +21

Mississippi St. @ No. 15 Texas A&M (-7, 46)

Speaking of the SEC's Bulldogs, they deserved better last week. LSU broke three big plays on offense and did nothing the rest of the day. But that - and a crucial special teams penalty - gave the Tigers the win. Meanwhile, Texas A&M's shaky start to the campaign manifested itself in Dallas, as they got handled by Arkansas.

Beyond the Aggies having their goals for the season crushed, the on-field issue is under center. Texas A&M doesn't have a capable thrower on the roster. While Mike Leach's group has suffered a pair of rough losses the last two weeks, Will Rogers gives us the better quarterback, along with a full touchdown head start.

Pick: Mississippi State +7

Western Kentucky @ No. 17 Michigan St. (-11, 64)

Bailey Zappe and Western Kentucky got the cover for us last week, even if we'd have preferred some more aggressive decision-making in pursuit of a win. At the very least, super-conservative punting will help a team cover a big number.

The Hilltoppers go on the road for their second straight Big Ten matchup against a Michigan State team that somehow survived a revived Nebraska squad a week ago. The Spartans' 4-0 start is somewhat misleading, given the quarterbacks they've played. Zappe will test the MSU secondary, and while we'll shy away from the moneyline, the 11 points are good enough.

Pick: Western Kentucky +11

Matt Russell is a betting writer for theScore. If there’s a bad beat to be had, Matt will find it. Find him on Twitter @mrussauthentic.

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