College Football Week 10 Best Bets: Expert picks for Oklahoma vs. Oklahoma State, UCLA vs. Arizona & More (11/4/23)
Get college football best bets for the Saturday 11/4/23 slate. This article features an analysis of Oklahoma vs. Oklahoma State, UCLA vs. Arizona, LSU vs. Alabama, Missouri vs. Georgia, Notre Dame vs. Clemson and Ohio State vs. Rutgers.
College Football Week 10 Best Bets – Saturday Slate (11/4/23)
We’re onto Week 10 of the college football season, and our staff has you covered with our favorite bets for Saturday. Check out the Lineups YouTube page for further discussion of these games and all of the biggest matchups offered by the Week 10 slate. Let’s get to work.
Jacob Wayne’s Record: 16-22-1 (-6.3 units)
Kody Malstrom’s Record: 9-11 (-3.1 units)
Will Schwartz’s Record: 18-4-1 (+13.6 units)
Jacob Wayne’s Best Bets
Oklahoma at Oklahoma State
It’s the last Bedlam with both Oklahoma and Oklahoma State as members of the Big 12, and it has massive conference championship implications as both teams are 4-1 in conference play. After a brutal start to the year that included an embarrassing 33-7 loss to South Alabama, the Cowboys have turned things around with four straight wins, three coming as home underdogs.
The Cowboys rotated four different quarterbacks to start the season, which severely hampered their offensive metrics. But they’ve found their starter in Alan Bowman. A two-time transfer from Texas Tech and Michigan, Bowman has provided crucial stability at the position.
Oklahoma State has found its identity behind sophomore running back Ollie Gordon II, who leads the country with 1,087 rushing yards at a superb 7.7 YPC clip. Gordon has 31 carries of 10+ yards, the most in the country, and had an absurd 13 missed tackles forced against Cincinnati last week. He’ll be the best player on the field in this game.
This is some next level stuff that makes you contemplate where Ollie Gordon is truly taking this team and his career. pic.twitter.com/yACzjnclin
— Carson Cunningham (@Carson_OKC) October 29, 2023
Oklahoma could struggle to contain Gordon in this game given an injury to linebacker Danny Stutsman, who leads the team with 73 tackles and 11.5 tackles for loss. Stutsman’s status is in doubt after his injury against Kansas. His leadership would be sorely missed against Gordon.
This isn’t the same Oklahoma offense we watched at the beginning of the season, either. Top wide receiver Andrel Anthony was lost for the year with a knee injury, and Dillon Gabriel hasn’t been nearly as efficient passing the ball without him. Last week, Gabriel finished with just 171 passing yards and an interception. He now has more turnover-worthy plays than big-time throws in conference play per PFF.
Meanwhile, Oklahoma running back Tawee Walker, whose 5.1 YPC mark is by far the best on the team, could be out after suffering an injury against Kansas. That’s a big deal for a team whose run game has lagged far behind their passing game in terms of efficiency. Oklahoma State’s biggest weakness defensively is against the run, but Oklahoma isn’t well equipped to take advantage.
In this crucial Big 12 matchup and the last Bedlam with these teams as conference foes, I believe the Pokes are live underdogs and could pull off the outright upset, especially if Oklahoma ends up being without Walker and Stutsman.
Best Bet: Oklahoma State +6
UCLA at Arizona
In the last season of its existence, the Pac-12 is the deepest, most-talented conference in the FBS. Part of that excellent depth is Arizona, a team that had one possession losses to Washington and USC, stomped Washington State 44-6 in Pullman, and last week beat then 16th-ranked Oregon State. They’re now 7-1 ATS this season and 5-0 ATS as an underdog.
The Wildcats have produced despite losing starting quarterback Jayden de Laura. But true freshman Noah Fifita has been a revelation. In four starts, all coming against top 25 teams, he has thrown for nearly 1,200 yards with 11 touchdowns to just three interceptions. His poise and accuracy have been remarkable.
Noah Fifita is awesome pic.twitter.com/jbFu8ksQ6V
— Ensign Gridiron (@EnsignGridiron) October 29, 2023
This week, Fifita faces an elite UCLA defense that ranks third in EPA/play allowed overall. The Bruins feature PFF’s top-ranked pass rush led by likely top-10 NFL draft pick Laiatu Latu. The UCLA defensive line has terrorized opposing passers. But Arizona is well equipped to handle that strength with its top ranked pass-blocking offensive line.
Fifita has only been pressured on 22.7% of dropbacks, the fifth-lowest rate in the Power Five, and has just one turnover-worthy play on those dropbacks. Arizona has some outstanding wide receivers for Fifita to throw to including the star duo of Tetairoa McMillan and Jacob Cowing.
Arizona is well equipped to stop the strength of the UCLA offense, as well, which is its rushing attack. Carson Steele and TJ Harden will be running into an Arizona defense that ranks fourth in rushing EPA allowed. Meanwhile, I don’t trust Ethan Garbers, who replaced true freshman Dante Moore as the starter, to consistently beat Arizona’s pass defense that limited Caleb Williams and Michael Penix Jr. to one combined touchdown.
The Wildcats continue to be undervalued in the market, and they’re only a few bounces away from an undefeated record. Their three losses have come by an average of 5.3 points. Jedd Fisch is doing an excellent job in Tucson, and I’ll bet on him to lead his team to bowl eligibility with its sixth win this week.
Best Bet: Arizona +2.5
Kody Malstrom’s Best Bets
LSU at Alabama
It’s a mega SEC showdown with serious conference championship implications on the line as Alabama can pad its lead with a win while LSU can usurp them with a tiebreaker. That makes for an exciting evening main event with the winner most likely punching their ticket toward a date with Georgia in the SEC Championship game.
Both units are not without major flaws heading into this contest, a rarity for two powerhouse programs who had serious championship aspirations. Those flaws directly go against each other as offense has been an issue for the Crimson Tide, while LSU’s defense can not stop a nosebleed.
The LSU Tigers defensive struggles are startling. They rank near dead last in some advanced metrics. LSU’s defense ranks 117th in both Def Explosiveness and Points per Opportunity. The Tigers also struggle in the mid field, clocking in at 82nd in Def Success Rate.
It’s not as if LSU just struggles at defending one area of the offense. They grade well below average at defending both the run and pass. They rank well below average in both pass and rush Success Rate, Explosiveness and PPA. That bodes well for a Alabama offense, which has struggled to generate consistency.
Under Jalen Milroe, the Crimson Tide have yet to look like their former championship selves. They struggle with downfield consistency. Milroe has struggled in the pocket, banking a brunt of his success on the big play but gives a shaky performance when trying to move the sticks with short throws.
Lucky for Milroe and Co., LSU’s defense will provide plenty of wide-open gaps for him to exploit as they severely lack in coverage. They will also benefit from a ground attack as that area of the offense has eluded them as they rank 89th in Rush Success Rate. With Jase McClellan poised for a big game, Milroe will find himself with plenty of open field as linebackers anchor down to help stop the run.
Alabama’s defense has continued to play at an elite rate and is poised to slow down the LSU offense. The Tigers will struggle to stay within scoring pace as Alabama can slow them down while being unable to stop the Crimson Tide’s offense as well.
Best Bet: Alabama -3
Missouri at Georgia
The Missouri Tigers look to keep their dream alive in a mega showdown against the defending national champion Georgia Bulldogs. Missouri has been one of the bigger surprises of the season, ripping off an impressive 7-1 start to the year with their lone loss coming in a shootout against the LSU.
Missouri has a good a shot to pull the upset. Georgia has looked beatable at times. You can argue Georgia has sleep-walked through its schedule. But opposing offenses can move the ball against the once-fearsome defense.
Missouri’s offense is definitely capable of finding the same success.The Tigers feature one of the better quarterbacks in the nation in Brady Coo. He has led Missouri to impressive marks in the pass attack, clocking in at seventh in Pass Success Rate, 12th in Pass PPA and 54th in Pass Explosiveness.
All of his arm talent will be called upon against a Georgia secondary that ranks elite in defending the same metrics. The Bulldogs rank sixth in Def Pass PPA, 11th in Def Pass Success Rate and 21st in Def Pass Explosiveness. While those metrics may spell doom against Missouri and their pass attack, Cook is more than capable of stretching the coverage with an elite play rate.
Missouri lead running back Cody Schrader is starting to get hot in a inconsistent ground game. Schrader may play a key role in helping out the pass attack by commanding the attention of the Georgia second level.
Should Missouri enterscoring territory, punching it in for six will be massive for their part of the over. They are in a good position to do so as keeping teams out of the end zone has been a struggle for the Georgia defense. The Bulldogs currently rank 68th in Def Points per Opportunity while Missorui’s offense clocks in at 24th.
It should be business as usual for Georgia QB Carson Beck and Co.They have been playing at a very high rate. Even without star tight end Brock Bowers, Beck has had no issue with transitioning the offense to a more down-field threat as he gets integrated with his receiving core. Expect Beck to continue to sling it down field against a Missouri defense that ranks 94th in Def Explosiveness.
Best Bet: Over 54.5
Will Schwartz’s Best Bets
Notre Dame at Clemson
If you’ve read this series on a regular basis, you’re probably tired of me saying that I’m not sure how a line exists. But we’ve found a lot of value on these unbelievable numbers. This is another one. This marquee matchup between two of the best defenses in the country and offenses with real issues bears watching.
The divide is more drastic on one side than the other. Clemson’s defense grades extremely well by just about every metric, ranking fifth overall in EPA per play. Its excellent pass defense will be needed to slow down Notre Dame’s Sam Hartman. The secondary has been outstanding, led by top corner Nate Wiggins. The pass rush isn’t the superstar unit it’s been in the past, but it gets the job done.
Conversely, the Tigers’ offense has been perhaps the single most disappointing unit in the country. Cade Klubnik has been far from the heir apparent to the throne vacated by Trevor Lawrence and before him, Deshaun Watson that many thought he would be. Running back Will Shipley has been solid, but he’s been hurt and might miss this game.
The Fighting Irish just might have an even better secondary. They’ve helped the team to the country’s third-best per-play EPA against the pass. And while the run defense is closer to simply “great” than “elite,” it’s more than enough to snuff out Clemson’s ground game if Shipley is out or in but limited.
The offense is talented, led by the backfield of Hartman and star running back Audric Estime. But moving the ball in Death Valley is one of the toughest propositions in all of college football. We’ve already seen them struggle a bit on the road several times.They got dominated in Louisville, and scraped out a low-scoring win at Duke.
Even at home, they were completely stymied by a great Ohio State defense. But the Irish defense flexed its muscles as well, holding that game way under the total. Clemson has been clamped down upon by every good or even competent defense they’ve seen. That included outputs of 17 at NC State, 20 in Miami and a depressing 17 at home against Wake Forest.
In a game that could be decided on the margins, red-zone efficiency could be vital. Clemson’s offense is 126th in the country in turning red-zone trips into touchdowns. Notre Dame is 45th. The defenses are sixth and 38th respectively, so there’s a clear edge in that regard as well.
Notre Dame’s defense should come close to pitching a shutout in this one. Their offense will likely do enough to find the win. But it likely won’t be a pretty one, so cash in on this fascinating matchup by playing the under.
Best Bet: Under 44.5 Points
Ohio State at Rutgers
The fact that this game can be talked about as something other than a boat race for the Buckeyes warms my North Jersey heart. Achieving bowl eligibility before Week 9 bye is an enormous accomplishment. Rutgers, a top-25 squad by EPA and one of the Big Ten’s best few, should be ranked and is not. But that will change after they give the Buckeyes an East Coast welcome and send them out of Piscataway with their first loss of the season.
Jokes aside, Rutgers matches up well with Ohio State, at least on one side of the ball. If you were wondering why we’re going with the under rather than the spread, it’s because even though I do think Rutgers covers, there’s absolutely no way they do so by engaging in a shootout. Their route to staying competitive is limiting the OSU offense, which necessarily means that the under would hit as well. There are plausible scenarios where Rutgers fails to cover, but this bet still hits – for instance, a 24-0 shutout for the Buckeyes.
I don’t think Ohio State makes it to 24, or even 20 on the road. The Scarlet Knights defense is legitimately elite, ranking 14th in the country in EPA. That stacks up pretty well with other teams who have shut down or limited this offense. Wisconsin ranks 17th, and they held Ohio State to 24. Penn State is second and the Buckeyes only scored 20 on them in Columbus. And they put up 17 at Notre Dame, who rank eighth in this metric. They’ll be going up against the fifth-best red -zone defense in the country, while fielding the 19th best unit by the same metric.
The passing game has been spotty with Kyle McCord at the helm, and the rushing attack is an outright joke (104th in the country). That will make it tough for Ryan Day’s squad to take advantage of a relative weakness in the Rutgers defense.
Unfortunately for the Knights and their fans, but great for this bet, they might have no route to scoring even once in this game. The offense grades fine by most metrics, but the matchup is really bad. Almost all of the Scarlet Knights success is ground based. Gavin Wimsatt has really struggled to move the ball downfield through the air. Against Ohio State’s pass defense, which ranks 11th by EPA, he will be completely shut down, making Rutgers one-dimensional and highly predictable.
Rutgers may not have the offensive juice to pull off the upset. But they’ll push Ohio State enough to make the College Football Playoff committee think twice about giving the Buckeyes the top spot again in their next rankings. More importantly, they’ll slow down the pace and scoring enough for our under to cash with ease in yet another gritty, hard-fought Big Ten matchup.
Best Bet: Under 42.5 Points