CFB best bets: Short 'dogs that are live for an upset
Do not tell the gambling gods. Another 5-2 week in our seven underdog bets moves us to 21-13-1 overall. Hopefully, we're in for more than a cameo appearance above 60%. Shhhhhhh. Let's quietly search for value in Week 6 for the "Saturday Seven."
Let's start with what'll likely be an unpopular play, but it's a bet that needs to be made. Rutgers got smoked by Ohio State last week, while Michigan State scored enough points early to build a big lead over Western Kentucky to hang on for the cover.
Isn't it odd the No. 11 team in the country is favored by less than a touchdown against the Scarlet Knights?
The Spartans get a ton of credit for beating Miami, but that team isn't good, and D'Eriq King never looked right. The literal road gets tougher for Sparty, and while they may win in Piscataway, it'll be a scrappier fight than most think.
Pick: Rutgers +5.5
This feels like a consolation game for teams that flew too close to the sun. Each lost to an SEC power last week, but it was more disappointing for Lane Kiffin's group after making popcorn-related promises.
Pick: Arkansas +6
If you've gotten more sleep than expected on Saturday nights, you might have missed out on an important fact: Oregon State is good. It's true! The Beavs just beat Washington for their fourth straight win.
The problem for Oregon State is that it's in a tough schedule spot against a dangerous opponent in the Cougars. The Wazzu defense more than acquitted itself in a convincing win at Cal last week, and Jayden de Laura seems healthy enough to cause the Beavers some problems.
Pick: Washington State +3.5
We're not going to overcomplicate this one. On the surface, two 2-3 Sun Belt squads would suggest the home team as a touchdown favorite, especially when things have been super weird for the underdog. It's gotten to the point where you can type "shotgun beer team bus roof" into Google to get the latest news on the Eagles.
The difference is Georgia Southern's losses have come against good teams, while things have gone badly for Troy whenever it played a squad with a pulse. Off-field shenanigans haven't seemed to affect the Eagles as they have Justin Tomlin back to run the triple option, which makes them live to beat the Trojans.
Pick: Georgia Southern +5.5
This is the "Sophie's Choice" of second-tier college football teams, as we've backed both in this space more than once. So why not just take the points and hope our children have a great time playing each other? That's the movie's plot, right?
UTSA is live for yet another road upset against a quality opponent. The Roadrunners were unfazed after going down 21-0 at Memphis two weeks ago, so we'll excuse their workmanlike effort in edging UNLV last week, considering the energy that went into that comeback.
The Hilltoppers are coming off back-to-back games against physical Big Ten opponents - you could see the wear on Bailey Zappe as he hobbled around East Lansing in a failed attempt at a backdoor cover. Give me the fresher of our emotional favorites getting more than a field goal.
Pick: UTSA +3.5
This is borderline cheating our premise of seven underdogs, but getting any points is a deal with the Hokies after their bye week to prepare for another prime-time showcase against a brand-name opponent. The last time that occurred, Virginia Tech played "Enter Sandman," and preseason Heisman hopeful Sam Howell left a sad man with North Carolina losing in Blacksburg.
Notre Dame finally lost last week after dodging defeat all September. Now the Irish head out on the road with quarterback confusion. This is a bigger game for Justin Fuente than it is for Brian Kelly, and I expect the Hokies' effort to reflect that in a matchup that might see the favorite flipped by Saturday.
Pick: Virginia Tech +1
Does Nebraska qualify as a quality opponent? Honestly, yes. Close losses at Oklahoma and Michigan State have proven that for all the hand-wringing in Lincoln, the Cornhuskers have turned things around and can stand up to the Wolverines at home.
Pick: Nebraska +3.5
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.