5 night picks, including Utah vs. USC, Washington vs. Arizona

Week 7 is as juicy as a college football slate as we’ve seen this season. And the evening window is no exception.

Clemson at Florida State. State of Mississippi in Kentucky. Stanford at Notre Dame. USC in Utah. But remember, we bettors don’t need big plays to find value.

Our staff dove into five matchups as part of Saturday night’s slate and put together five best bets. Only one of the games above is featured, but that’s okay as we’re looking for the winners below.

Week 7 Saturday Night Best College Football Bets

The team logos in the table below represent each of the matchups our college football team is targeting from today’s roster. Click on the team logos for any of the matches below to jump to a specific bet covered in this article.

Arizona vs Washington

By Collin Wilson

Washington began to fade from the map as a competitor to the Pac-12. A loss to UCLA in a short week is okay, but a loss to an Arizona State team with an interim coach is a whole different story.

Despite a strong start, the Huskies have struggled to contain fouls this season. Many of their stat categories fall outside of the FBS median range – from Coverage to Havoc to Line Yards.

More importantly, teams that maintain control and go beyond the 40-yard line are successful. Washington’s defense has faced 39 such opponents, giving up an average of 5.3 points per move.

Any offense with a pulse is capable of getting touchdowns on the Huskies with methodical possession.

The question is whether Arizona is capable of doing it on the road. While the defense hasn’t improved for head coach Jedd Fisch, the offense has been explosive. The Wildcats are ninth in pass completion rate, a category in which Washington’s defense struggles.

There may not be a defender for the Huskies who can cover Jacob Cowing from the slot, as the UTEP transfer is averaging 2.6 explosive yards per carry.

Washington will certainly score at home, but stopping an explosive attack from Arizona will be problematic.

Take: Arizona +14

Rice vs. Florida Atlantic

By Patrick Strollo

Two of the worst defenses in Conference USA will face off Saturday night in Boca Raton, Florida.

Both defenses have been porous this season, each entering the game in the bottom third of scoring defenses. Florida Atlantic and Rice are ranked 90th and 101st in scoring defense, allowing 29.3 and 31.0 points per game, respectively.

On the other side of the ball, both teams rank in the top 50% in scoring offenses.

Last week against UAB, Rice had 24 points against the Blazers’ top-20 defense, while Florida Atlantic scored 28 points against a weak North Texas defense. Rice should have no problem putting 30 points on the board, while Florida Atlantic should bounce back from being choked on the road.

Outside of generally mediocre defenses, the keys to coverage are twofold.

First, Rice will be able to tap into a Florida Atlantic secondary that ranks 86th nationally in pass defense, giving up 241.7 yards per game.

Finally, the relative strength of Rice’s pass defense will allow Florida Atlantic to focus on its 26th-ranked rushing offense.

My model has that total going into the 60s for this game. Take over as these two programs with permeable defenses come together for a high-scoring affair in South Florida.

Take: Over 55.5 (Play to 56.5)

North Carolina vs. Duke

By Malstrom Codes

It all comes down to Duke’s ability to keep pace with the Tar Heels while limiting their explosive offense.

While Duke’s defensive pass completion rate and passing rushing are average at best, the Blue Devils excel in one measure that may negate UNC’s success on the field: Generating havoc.

As good and as explosive as the UNC offense is, the Heels are prone to mistakes, losing much-needed offensive positions on the field to negate their horrible defense. UNC is currently 92nd in Offensive Havoc, a worrying metric when not in scoring position.

On the other side, Duke should have no problem moving the ball downfield on the Tar Heels defense. It’s Week 7, and we know exactly what this unit is – it’s one of the worst in college football.

Heels rank 100th or worst in all defensive metrics except Pass Rush.

While backcourt pressure from the defensive line has been their only bright spot, the Heels will face an equally good offensive line. This may put more pressure on the Tar Heels secondary, and I’m not confident the unit can pull through for the duration of a game.

Take Duke and the points to no less than +7 in what will be another fun installment in this legendary rivalry.

Take: Duke +7

USC vs. Utah

By Mike McNamara

Freshman magic for Lincoln Riley and USC ends Saturday night in Salt Lake City. I’m expecting an absolutely raucous atmosphere at Rice-Eccles Stadium for this one – take a look at the helmets the Utes will be wearing.

Utah is the most physical and experienced team in the trenches on both sides of the ball, and I believe the Utes will win the battle up front.

As dynamic as Caleb Williams can be, Cameron Rising has plenty of big-game experience and he has performed very well in most cases, especially at home.

Frankly, I don’t think USC is ready for what it takes on Saturday night, given the schedule the Trojans have played so far.

Utah will rack up saves in this contest, and Rising and the offense should have plenty of opportunities to move the ball downfield.

Give me the Utes to cover the 3.5-point count, in a game that I don’t necessarily think is that close.

Take: Utah -3.5 (Play to -4)

Washington State vs. Oregon State

By Keg

Oregon State picked up a last-second win over Stanford — even more impressively, it did so without its starting quarterback.

The Beavers will now look to fend off a Washington State team that had high hopes against USC but never had much luck, losing 30-14.

Nolan’s chance is still questionable – at best – at the moment, but backup Ben Gulbranson held his own against Stanford, completing 69% of his passes and throwing for 250 yards and two touchdowns.

However, Washington State’s defense will present a much tougher challenge than Gulbranson will face Stanford. The Cougars rank second in the Pac-12 with 19 sacks this season so far.

The Washington State offense, meanwhile, struggled against USC. Cam Ward had his worst performance of the season, and the Cougars now face two of their best offensive weapons probably against Oregon State.

Wide receiver Renard Bell and running back Nakia Watson are both expected to miss the Oregon State game.

Turnovers have been a huge problem for Ward all season, and despite losing to USC, he hasn’t had a single interception in the game. It’s something he’ll have to do again against a Beavers team that’s tied for third in the conference with seven picks this season.

I think Oregon State will struggle against a Cougars defense that will likely pressure the quarterback for most of the game.

Washington State, meanwhile, struggled to perform on the road, and I think that continues in Corvallis. That’s why I’m under in this Pac-12 game. I would feel comfortable at any number 50 or better.

Take: Under 51.5 (Play to 50)

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