College football Week 7 picks against the spread

This is a huge week in college football with a slew of excellent games and another opportunity to win some bets. Last week was a mixed bag. I was spot-on in a few games, dead wrong in a few games and had some tough breaks.

Although things have been trending in the wrong direction the last two weeks, I’m feeling quite confident heading into Week 7. Let’s go.

Last week: 3-5

Overall: 25-21

(Note: All times ET, odds from BetMGM)

Iowa State at No. 22 Texas

Time: Noon | TV: ABC | Line: Texas -17 | Total: 49.5

Texas is riding high after demolishing rival Oklahoma 49-0 last week, but I think this might be a good spot to go against the Longhorns. I really don’t think it can be overstated how bad Oklahoma’s defense has been and the OU offense was completely lifeless without QB Dillon Gabriel. OU had to play Davis Beville at quarterback, and he was a third-stringer at Pitt for multiple seasons before being brought to Norman in a depth role.

Can Texas bring the same level of intensity with Iowa State coming to town for a sleepy 11 am local kickoff? I’m not so sure. Iowa State is desperate for a win after losing three straight, but those three losses are by a combined 11 points. The Cyclones are still a competitive team with a strong defense and are 6-0-1 as a double-digit underdog since 2017. ISU has also beaten Texas in three straight meetings.

There’s also a much bigger matchup on the horizon for Texas with next week’s trip to Stillwater to face undefeated Oklahoma State, meaning this could be a bit of a lookahead situation for the Longhorns. Texas should beat the Cyclones, but this number is too big.

Pick: Iowa State +17

Minnesota at No. 24 Illinois

Time: Noon | TV: BTN Line: Minnesota -6.5 | Total: 39.5

Illinois’ ascendance has been a great story but I don’t like this spot at all for the Illini. Bret Bielema’s team is really banged up after posting wins over Wisconsin and Iowa. Tommy DeVito and Isaiah Williams, the team’s top quarterback and receiver, could be out. Two defensive starters, CB Taz Nicholson and LB Isaac Darkangelo, also got hurt in the Iowa game. Without those players — DeVito in particular — things could be tough for Illinois here. Art Sitkowski did not inspire much confidence in relief of DeVito.

On the other side, Minnesota is coming off a bye and is expected to have star running back Mo Ibrahim back in the lineup. Without Ibrahim, the previously unbeaten Gophers struggled mightily in a 20-10 loss to Purdue. Illinois has a very good defense, but Ibrahim is the best back the Illini will have faced this season. Aside from Ibrahim’s absence, Minnesota just flat-out played poorly in the Purdue loss with an array of self-inflicted mistakes.

This opened at Minnesota -3.5 and was quickly bet up to 6.5, but I still like the Gophers under a touchdown.

Pick: Minnesota -6.5

Minnesota running back Mohamed Ibrahim (24) is expected to return from an ankle injury this week against Illinois. (AP Photo/Stacy Bengs)

Old Dominion at Coastal Carolina

Time: Noon | TV: ESPNU | Line: CCU -12.5 | Total: 56.5

Coastal Carolina is still undefeated at 6-0, but this team is not as good as it has been in the past two seasons. The Chanticleers have played one of the easiest schedules in the country, but they’ve had some close calls. They trailed both Gardner-Webb (an FCS team that is 2-4) and Buffalo in the fourth quarter, needed a last-minute touchdown to beat Georgia Southern and needed two fourth-down stops inside the 15 to hang on and beat UL Monroe last week.

Coastal is just 2-4 ATS this season and its four ATS losses came as a double-digit favorite. In fact, CCU is just 2-7-1 ATS in its last 10 games as a favorite of 10 or more points. Old Dominion is a middle of the road Sun Belt team, but it is coming off a bye and is on par or better than most of the teams CCU has played so far this season. I’m siding with the Monarchs.

Pick: Old Dominion +12.5

Utah State at Colorado State

Time: 7 pm | TV: CBSSN | Line: USU -10.5 | Total: 45.5

Colorado State is one of the worst teams in the country. CSU is coming off a 17-14 win over Nevada, but the offense mustered only three points and 78 passing yards in that game. There were two defensive touchdowns, including a play where a Nevada running back randomly flipped the ball in the air and a CSU defender returned it 50 yards for a score. And then CSU won with a field goal with no time remaining after Nevada got a run into the kicker penalty.

Utah State, meanwhile, is getting back on track after a bad start. The Aggies offense was terrible through three games, but started to put things together after a bye week. In their two most recent games, Cooper Legas has provided a big spark at quarterback after Logan Bonner suffered a season-ending injury. With the much more mobile Legas at QB, USU put a scare into BYU two weeks ago and then upset Air Force last week.

Colorado State is significantly worse than BYU and Air Force, so I think this is a chance for Utah State to roll. USU won the Mountain West last year and Blake Anderson is too good of a coach not to get continued improvement as the season progresses.

Pick: Utah State -10.5

Nebraska at Purdue

Time: 7:30 pm | TV: BTN Line: Purdue -14 | Total: 56.5

Purdue is coming off two good road wins over Minnesota and Maryland, but the Boilermakers had some good luck in those victories.

Minnesota was without star running back Mo Ibrahim and had multiple turnovers, including a dropped pass in the end zone that turned into an interception. Minnesota also missed a 28-yard field goal and gifted Purdue points on a fourth-down attempt deep in its own territory. Similarly, Maryland had a bunch of self-inflicted mistakes and didn’t score a single point off three Purdue turnovers.

Now Purdue is a two-touchdown favorite with another road game — at Wisconsin — on the horizon before a bye week. Despite playing at night in front of the home crowd, I think this is a potential flat spot for Purdue, a team dealing with a lot of injuries.

Yes, it’s Nebraska on the other side. But I think the Huskers have enough playmakers on offense — Trey Palmer, Anthony Grant, Travis Vokolek and Casey Thompson — to keep this within 14. Nebraska’s biggest issue has been pass protection and Purdue hasn’t been very good at getting after the QB this season.

The Huskers should have some confidence after finally winning a close game, albeit an ugly one at Rutgers. That was the first true road test of the year and I like the spot for a Huskers team that has covered the spread in four of its five games as a double-digit underdog and is 7-3 ATS in its last 10 games as a road the underdog.

Pick: Nebraska +14

Memphis at East Carolina

Time: 7:30 pm | TV: ESPNU | Line: ECU -4.5 | Total: 58

Memphis is coming off a horrible loss. The Tigers led Houston 32-19 with 4:04 to play, but proceeded to blow that lead in epic fashion. Houston scored two touchdowns in the final 1:17 and won 33-32. Now Memphis has to get up off the mat and play a night game on the road against an East Carolina team that could really use a win.

ECU actually outgained Tulane last week but ended up losing 24-9. Memphis’ defense is much worse than Tulane’s and I think ECU’s defense can generate a ton of pressure against a weak Memphis offensive line.

I’ve had success fading Memphis over the past few seasons. Since Mike Norvell left for Florida State, the Tigers have been mediocre overall and downright bad against the spread. That’s especially true on the road. With Ryan Silverfield as head coach, Memphis is 1-10 ATS as a road team, including an 0-7 mark as a road underdog.

This would probably be a better number if Memphis could have held on and beaten Houston, but I’ll still take it at -4.5.

Pick: East Carolina -4.5

No. 7 USC at No. 20 Utah

Time: 8 pm | TV: Fox | Line: Utah -3.5 | Total: 65

I’ve been eyeing this spot for a while thinking I would get the chance to play Utah as a home underdog, but the Utes opened as a 3-point favorite and that number has since ticked up a half-point to 3.5. I think it should be closer to a pick ’em, so I like USC getting the 3.5.

USC has not been as dominant in recent weeks. I watched the USC-Washington State game and the game was closer than the final score of 30-14 would indicate, but this is more of a fade of Utah.

Utah is still overrated by the oddsmakers. The Utes aren’t anywhere near as strong in the trenches as they’ve been typically in recent seasons and USC has the better quarterback, running back and receivers.

Playing in such a raucous environment in Salt Lake City, I think USC will lean on its running game with Travis Dye, who has topped the 100-yard mark in four of USC’s last five games. If Dye is successful, Caleb Williams will have plenty of chances to make big plays in the passing game. UCLA found a way to do it, and USC has just as much speed as the Bruins.

UCLA made the Utah defense look slow at times, just like Florida did in Week 1. USC can do the same.

Pick: USC +3.5

USC running back Travis Dye has run for 100-plus yards in four of the last five games.  Can he do it again this weekend against Utah?  (AP Photo/Amanda Loman)

USC running back Travis Dye has run for 100-plus yards in four of the last five games. Can he do it again this weekend against Utah? (AP Photo/Amanda Loman)

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