College football Week 11 best underdog bets, picks and predictions: Gators and Sun Devils getting a healthy amount of points
Last week was fun. Not only did all 3 of our underdogs cover the spread, but Army, Kansas and Oklahoma State won outright as well. In hindsight, it would have been fun to cash a moneyline parlay on the trio of picks – but it’s always easy to say that in hindsight. Our picks were not the only underdogs to make noise across the college football landscape. Arkansas beat Florida in the Swamp. Clemson defeated Notre Dame. Indiana upset Wisconsin. NC State effectively ended Miami’s season. Stanford won in Pullman. Not to mention the Arizona Wildcats, who continued their impressive run with an outright win over UCLA, improved their ATS record to 8-1.
After a 3-0 week, we are 19-10-1 on our weekly underdog picks. Just 3 weeks remain in the 2023 regular season, so let’s finish strong before conference championships and bowls arrive. Let’s dive in!
Wake Forest Demon Deacons +2.5 (-110) over North Carolina State Wolfpack
The NC State offense struggled to find a rhythm early in the season, so coach Dave Doeren made a quarterback change. He benched his veteran transfer quarterback in Brennan Armstrong and inserted a young and inexperienced, yet talented MJ Morris. Morris went 3-1 straight up in 4 starts for the Wolfpack, including wins over Clemson and Miami in their 2 most recent games. Despite his success, Morris will sit the rest of the regular season to preserve his redshirt and intends to return to Raleigh next season as the Wolfpack’s starting quarterback. It’s an odd situation, but all this to say Armstrong is the starter again. In his previous starting stint, Armstrong had 6 turnover-worthy plays in 200 dropbacks, which is a bit concerning given his sub 10-yard ADOT and sub 60% completion percentage. Furthermore, the Wolfpack averaged just 20.5 points per game against FBS opponents with Armstrong at the helm.
Wake Forest hasn’t been particularly inspiring this season, but the Demon Deacons did have a solid showing against Duke last week. They could benefit from a bit of a situational advantage having a few extra nights of rest and preparation following a Thursday game in Week 10. Furthermore, this is Wake Forest’s final home game, and it needs 2 wins in 3 weeks to earn bowl eligibility – which NC State already earned. The Demon Deacons did not show quit last week against Duke, so expect a motivated effort from them against an in-state foe this week.
Florida Gators +14.5 (-105) over LSU Tigers
Outside of the usual bottom-feeders in the power conferences, there are not many teams against which LSU should be laying 2 touchdowns. Yes, their offense is great, but the Tigers have been poor defensively with bottom 5 marks nationally in PPA allowed and success rate allowed since Week 5. Not to mention, they yielded at least 39 points 3 times in their last 5 games.
LSU is 88th nationally in opponent-adjusted defensive efficiency per BCFToys, and the Tigers are 110th or worse in opposing drive efficiency, points per drive, yards per play and touchdown rate. Following their defeat in Alabama last week, the Tigers carry 3 losses – 2 of them in the SEC. That effectively removes LSU not only from the College Football Playoff but from the SEC Championship conversation as well. Without much to play for, I find it hard to trust an already inefficient defense to provide its offense with enough support to win by margin. Take the points with Florida, who has been able to successfully finish drives and sits in the top 35 nationally in offensive PPA since the end of September.
Arizona State Sun Devils +17.5 (-115) over UCLA Bruins
Going back to the “low total, big spread” well this week after we had success with it last week in the Army-Air Force game. The total in this contest is currently listed around 44.5 points depending where you shop, yet the point spread is north of 17 in most places. I’m not quite sure why, either. Obviously UCLA has had much more success than Arizona State from a record perspective, but their efficiency and explosiveness numbers are quite similar since Week 5. The Bruins and the Sun Devils rank 104th and 105th, respectively, in offensive explosiveness since the end of September, while the Bruins sit just 7 spots above the Sun Devils’ 88th rank in offensive PPA over that time. Oddly enough, Arizona State has been better finishing drives in recent weeks, but both offenses are outside the top 90 in points per opportunity since Week 5.
I’m not expecting much from UCLA’s quarterbacks in this matchup. Ethan Garbers accumulated just 143 passing yards on 21 attempts last week with an ADOT of 5.9 yards. Dante Moore and Collin Schlee took snaps as well, which means there’s very little cohesion and continuity at the quarterback position for the Bruins. Given their offensive inefficiencies and their uncertainty at quarterback, I struggle to find a reason to lay this many points with the Bruins against a defense that has been good enough to keep the games close against multiple high-profile Pac-12 offenses. I’m willing to write off Arizona State’s performance last week in Utah against an angry Utes team, and I would not be surprised if the Bruins were looking past the Sun Devils toward their cross-city matchup against the ailing USC Trojans next week. Give me the points with the Sun Devils in this one.