Saturday’s Week 7 college football slate rolls on as we turn our attention from the noons to the afternoons. And let us just say — our staff loves this kickoff window.
They came through with eight best bets for seven different games, ranging from 3:30 p.m. ET to 4 p.m. ET. Whether you’re looking for a high-profile matchup like Oklahoma State vs. TCU or a lower-tier showdown like Louisiana Tech vs. North Texas or Ohio vs. Western Michigan, we have you covered.
Read on for all eight of our afternoon college football best bets, and be sure to check out our 11 other top picks for the noon and evening slates.
Saturday Afternoon College Football Best Bets
The team logos in the table below represent each of the matchups that our college football staff is targeting from today’s slate of games. Click the team logos for one of the matchups below to navigate to a specific bet discussed in this article.
Oklahoma State vs. TCU
By Cody Goggin
I love this spot here for Oklahoma State.
TCU is coming off of a big win against Kansas last weekend with College GameDay in attendance. The Horned Frogs, for the second week in a row, won as the opposing starting quarterback was injured mid-game. This is no slight at TCU, but that fact certainly hasn’t hurt the Horned Frogs.
TCU’s offense ranks 59th in Offensive Success Rate this season. Oklahoma State has been just a bit better, ranking 48th in the same category and 25th in Passing Success Rate. TCU’s offense is ranked ninth by SP+, but the Cowboys’ offense is on a similar level, ranking 17th.
TCU’s defense is where I think that the Frogs will suffer this weekend. The unit ranks 60th in SP+ and has allowed 24 or more points in each of its last three games.
Kansas’ offense was still able to post an 86th-percentile Offensive Success Rate against TCU even with Jalon Daniels being out for a large part of the game.
Oklahoma State’s defense hasn’t been quite as strong since the departure of Jim Knowles in the offseason, but it’s still ranked 32nd by SP+ and is 50th in Defensive Success Rate this season.
This just sets up as the perfect situation to take the Cowboys and fade the recent hype around TCU. Mike Gundy has won plenty of big games in his career, and I’m going to trust him to get it done in Fort Worth this weekend.
Pick: Oklahoma State +4 (Play to +3)
By Kyle Remillard
Get your popcorn ready for this Big 12 matchup that will present fireworks as Oklahoma State travels to TCU.
No one has had an answer to slowing down TCU’s explosive offense that puts up 46 points per game. Even against Big 12 competition, this offense has continued to thrive through the big play.
The Horned Frogs rank 16th in explosiveness on passing downs behind quarterback Max Duggan. The senior signal-caller is averaging over 10 yards per pass attempt and has thrown 14 touchdowns to just one interception in his four starts this season.
The Horned Frogs also boast a top rushing attack behind Kendre Miller, who is averaging 6.9 yards per carry. If a defense doesn’t spy Duggan, he can also crush opponents with his legs, as he’s averaging 6.4 yards per rush attempt.
Oklahoma State’s offense has been equally as impressive, averaging 46 points per game. Spencer Sanders is enjoying the best season of his career, tossing 12 touchdowns to two interceptions while averaging 8.2 yards per attempt.
Sanders has led the offense to the seventh-best explosiveness ranking on passing downs this season. Now, he matches up against a Horned Frogs defense that ranks 130th in allowing big plays when an opposing offense is behind the sticks.
TCU has allowed its last three opponents to average 30 points per game. Meanwhile, Oklahoma State’s defense has been suspect, allowing 28 per game against offenses that don’t compare to TCU’s.
Despite this number approaching 70, this game will be a back-and-forth affair with both teams finding pay dirt in the blink of an eye.
Pick: Over 68.5 (Play to 69.5)
Kent State vs. Toledo
These two teams profile fairly similar in many ways. Both are uptempo, rush-first offenses led by dual-threat quarterbacks,
However, one major difference lies in each team’s strength of schedule. Toledo has four wins over three teams with a combined three wins. Beating UMass, Long Island and two struggling MAC teams in Northern Illinois (with a backup quarterback) and Central Michigan will certainly lead to a favorable statistical profile.
The Rockets also predictably got blown out by Ohio State with the other loss coming on the road at San Diego State. The latter looks worse with each passing week as the Aztecs continue to struggle. In fact, they just beat Hawaii at home by almost the exact final score (16-14 over Hawaii, 17-14 over Toledo).
Meanwhile, Kent State had one of the toughest nonconference schedules in the country with three road games against Power Five opponents Washington, Georgia and Oklahoma. The Golden Flashes lost all three as expected but actually received upgrades in my power ratings after each one.
I was particularly impressed with their effort against a full-strength Oklahoma, holding the Sooners scoreless for most of the first half. They then followed that game up with a very respectable 39-22 loss on the road against the defending national champions.
For the season to date, I have Kent State with a top-30 strength of schedule, while Toledo wouldn’t even crack the top 130 if I include FCS teams. As a result, I think the statistical profiles and perceptions of these two clubs are artificially too far apart.
Ultimately, I don’t think there’s that much of a difference between these two teams.
Kent State’s defense obviously rates out poorly after playing such a brutal nonconference schedule, but I think it may be significantly improved, especially against the run. That’s key in this particular matchup. I also think its offense can have success through the air against a Toledo secondary that has a few exploitable areas.
Lastly, home-field advantage has very little impact in the MAC. I’ll happily take over a touchdown with what I believe is the undervalued road pup.
Pick: Kent State +7.5 or Better
Northern Illinois vs. Eastern Michigan
By Mike Ianniello
Anybody who bet on — or more likely against — Northern Illinois last year knows it needed a lot of luck and good fortune on its run to a MAC Championship.
Well, the negative regression has finally set in, and the luck has run out in DeKalb.
The Huskies have lost five straight games, three of them without quarterback Rocky Lombardi. Backup Ethan Hampton is averaging just six yards per attempt with seven touchdowns and six interceptions.
Eastern Michigan also dealt with a quarterback injury, but Taylor Powell is back healthy, and this team is just different when he is under center. The Eagles are 3-1 with him starting and have averaged 406.8 total yards per game with him and just 333 yards in the two games without him. He has tossed seven touchdowns in his three full games.
After rolling out one of the worst rushing attacks in the conference over the last few years, EMU finally has things going on the ground with Samson Evans. He leads the MAC with 105 yards per game and six touchdowns.
This is a great matchup for the Eastern Michigan offense against a Northern Illinois defense that is horrendous. It sits in the bottom 15 in the country in Success Rate Allowed, explosiveness allowed, Finishing Drives and Havoc.
The Huskies have especially been torched by the pass. They’ve already given up 22 touchdowns through the air this season — the most of any team in the nation. They’ve allowed at least three passing scores in every game this year despite facing the passing attacks of Eastern Illinois, Tulsa, Vanderbilt, Kentucky, Ball State and Toledo.
When Eastern Michigan gets into scoring territory, it should punch it in. The Eagles rank 18th in the country in Finishing Drives, while Northern Illinois has been the single worst team at preventing points per opportunity.
The Huskies are still getting priced from their run to the title game last year, but Eastern Michigan should have no problem winning this by at least a field goal.
Pick: Eastern Michigan -2.5 (Play to -4)
Western Kentucky vs. Middle Tennessee
By Alex Kolodziej
I’ll buy both the Western Kentucky and MTSU offenses in Week 7.
The Hilltoppers have been held to 28 and 27 points in the last two weeks, respectively. They hadn’t been held to fewer than 31 points since the 2020 bowl game.
They say once is an accident, and twice is a trend. But I’ll give the Hilltoppers one more week.
Troy and UTSA’s defenses will serve as the toughest two-game stretch for Western Kentucky all year. And although the offense couldn’t touch 30 each of the last two weeks, the unit averaged 475.6 total yards – a clip that would rank top-20 nationally.
The same can be said about the Blue Raiders, to an extent. Middle Tennessee is fresh off of a game vs. DF+’s No. 56 defense in UAB – and the Blue Raiders still went over the total in a 41-14 loss, the fourth straight over for the club.
Both offenses are also top-30 in plays per minute. The only thing left to do — other than cash — is rip a drink every time the broadcast says, “These offenses go so fast that if you blink, you might miss something!”
I was hunting for anything better than 70 at open, and I am totally fine green-lighting the total all the way to it.
Pick: Over 68 (Play to 70)
Ohio vs. Western Michigan
By Dan Keegan
This is a midday game that would make for great MACtion, but it’s stuck in the middle of the day on Saturday.
It’s a great candidate to go over the total of 58.5.
Both defenses are pretty terrible (Ohio is 128th in SP+, Western Michigan is 118th). Neither team has yet to hold an opponent under 31.
Ohio’s offensive numbers are affected by two games against SP+ top-20 defenses – it faced Penn State and Iowa State and scored 10 points apiece in those games.
In their other six contests, the Bobcats have averaged 44.7 points and 545 yards. Quarterback Kurtis Rourke has feasted in these four games, with 408 yards per game, 11 touchdowns and zero picks.
Western Michigan’s defense is decidedly not a top-20 SP+ defense.
Western Michigan does not have a great offense, but its biggest weakness is not a strength of Ohio’s defense. Western Michigan can be prone to negative drives – three-and-outs and turnovers – ranking 130th in Beta_Rank’s measure of that statistic.
But Ohio doesn’t force any negative drives, ranking 126th.
Ohio has consistently allowed opponents to have their best scoring days of the year. The Bobcats have allowed big days to Akron (34 points), FAU (38 points) and even FCS Fordham (52 points).
The Bobcats don’t stop anybody! They will offer little resistance to a Broncos team playing on homecoming.
I wish this game happened on a Tuesday night in November. But it doesn’t, it’s stuck up against some of the biggest games of the year. Either way, it’s going to be points-y, it’s going to be fun and it’s going to go over 58.5.
Pick: Over 58.5 (Play to 60.5)
Louisiana Tech vs. North Texas
By BJ Cunningham
This is a good spot here for North Texas coming off of a bye, and a good sell-high spot for Louisiana Tech after its first win over an FBS opponent this past weekend.
Louisiana Tech’s offense is solely reliant on explosive plays in the passing game. The Bulldogs rank 97th in Passing Success Rate and 77th in EPA/Pass, but ninth in passing explosiveness.
Starting quarterback Parker McNeil is averaging 8.5 yards per attempt, but owns a PFF passing grade of just 70.7. He’s also tossed 10 Big Time Throws compared to seven Turnover Worthy Plays.
The secondary marks the strength of this North Texas defense, and it has responded nicely after the complete catastrophe that took place against UNLV earlier this season.
The Mean Green rank 60th in EPA/Pass, and they’ve held both Memphis and Florida Atlantic under 6.0 yards per attempt in their last two games.
Louisiana Tech has no run game to speak of, as it’s averaging just 1.9 yards per attempt (130th in FBS) while ranking 130th in Offensive Line Yards and 116th in EPA/Rush.
Austin Aune throwing the ball downfield is going to be the key for North Texas in this game. The Mean Green rank 19th in Passing Explosiveness, and Aune has a 91.4 PFF passing grade with 12 Big Time Throws on passes over 20 yards.
Louisiana Tech ranks 107th in Explosive Passing Allowed, so Aune should be able to connect on some deep balls.
The Bulldogs are also having all sorts of trouble stopping the run. They’re allowing 5.9 yards per attempt while ranking 119th in EPA/Rush Allowed and 125th in Defensive Line Yards.
However, the most telling stat of how bad the Louisiana Tech defense has been might be the fact that its PFF tackling grade sits at 33.6, which is the second-worst mark in college football.
I have North Texas projected at -12.4, so I love the value on the Mean Green at -6.5.
Pick: North Texas -6.5 (Play to -7)
James Madison vs. Georgia Southern
By Kyle Remillard
Georgia Southern is coming off of two losses in a row where the defense has been nonexistent. The Eagles have allowed 35 points per game against FBS opponents while allowing 6.6 yards per play, which ranks 120th nationally.
The defense has been horrid against both the run and pass allowing 5.7 yards per carry (125th) and 8.1 yards per pass (103rd).
More importantly, it will be without seventh-year linebacker Todd Bradley-Glenn in this matchup. The defense has been on the field a lot, and that’s set to continue in this matchup without its defensive signal-caller.
The Georgia Southern offense will likely air it out in this matchup. James Madison has been stout against the run, and the Eagles have passed on 60% of their plays this season. Southern is averaging 322 yards per game through the air and 6.8 yards per pass attempt.
James Madison’s offense has been scoring on everyone this season, averaging 44 points per game. The Dukes have scored 32 points or more in every game while exceeding 40 in four of their five matchups.
That trend will continue in this game against a lackluster Georgia Southern defense.