College Football Betting Guide: Saturday 10/31/20

After the first week of the Big Ten season, college football finally feels like it’s in full swing (sorry PAC-12) and two of the best Big Ten teams play each other Saturday night. There are a number of interesting matchups betting-wise, but we’ll cover the two best games below.

numberFire has built comprehensive algorithms to pinpoint the bets with the highest probability of returning money, whether you are betting on the total, the spread, or the moneyline. For those new to numberFire, we use a five-star system to show which bets you should be targeting for any given game. Stars represent how much you should risk on a wager relative to what you would normally bet.

For example, if you would normally bet $110 to win $100 on a -110-spread wager, if we give a 3-star ranking, we suggest risking three times that amount: $330 to win $300. Here are the best bets for this weekend with guidance from our model.

Please note that lines are subject to change throughout the day after this article is published. Please check here to make sure you are seeing the most updated information.

Ohio State Buckeyes vs. Penn State Nittany Lions

Penn State +11.5: 2-Star Rating out of 5

Obviously, this game would have been much more exciting going in had Penn State taken care of business against Indiana last week, but it’s still the only ranked matchup of the week. Penn State is still ranked 8th in SP+, according to ESPN, and within the top 15 on both sides of the ball in the same metric. Their defense is without linebacker Micah Parsons, a top NFL prospect who opted out of this season, but the Lions still limited Indiana to 211 total yards last Saturday.

The Hoosiers are a tough opponent, ranking 25th in SP+ themselves, and Penn State outgained them in total yards by over 200 (the Nittany Lions’ offense had 488 total yards), which shows how strange of a game it was. Meanwhile, Ohio State beat Nebraska, 52-17, but outgained them in total yards only 491-370, which is worse than Penn State’s performance against Indiana. And Nebraska is only ranked 42nd in SP+. The scores don’t tell the entire story for these two teams, so bettors should rely on prior expectations, which would mean these teams are closer than the spread indicates.

According to oddsFire, 82% of the bets and 87% of the money are on Ohio State, making Penn State a great contrarian play. Since the public side isn’t profitable in the long run, contrarian bets can be a great strategy when the proper analysis is applied. In this case, Penn State has a probability of 61.03% to cover the 11.5-point spread, per our model.

LSU Tigers vs. Auburn Tigers

Auburn +3.5: 4-Star Rating out of 5

This matchup has lost some of its luster as neither of these teams are ranked anymore and haven’t lived up to preseason expectations. LSU and Auburn have each lost two games this year and look to right the ship on Saturday in Auburn. LSU’s defense lost a lot of talent from their championship squad to the NFL Draft with 10 players selected in the first three rounds. They haven’t looked the same, but their offense as a whole has remained strong, ranking third in total yards and passing yards per game in the SEC.

Auburn pinned many of its hopes on quarterback Bo Nix, who has completed less than 60% of his passes and has thrown 10 interceptions since the start of the 2019 season. Instead, the Tigers have been anchored by their passing defense this season, which is ranked second in the SEC. LSU quarterback Myles Brennan has been worse this year than Nix, according to ESPN’s QBR metric, so despite LSU’s reliance on moving the ball through the air, Auburn seems to be in a good situation with this matchup.

Auburn is a 3.5-point home underdog, so as long as Nix protects the ball, the Tigers (of Auburn) have a good chance of covering. Our model shows a likelihood of an Auburn cover to be 67.34%, and bettors can take advantage of another contrarian play with LSU receiving most of the bets (73%) and the money (78%).