College football Week 7 best underdog bets, picks and predictions: Underdogs from Iowa among most appealing
If it wasn’t for a last minute Brady Cook pick-6, we would have run the table with a perfect 3-0 record last week. Unfortunately, Missouri lost by 10 because of the late turnover and failed to cover because of it. However, Rutgers came through for us in Madison, and Georgia Tech didn’t even need the points against Miami because of that horrible decision coach Mario Cristobal made in the waning seconds of that game.
Through 6 weeks we carry a 11-6-1 record and look to maintain this run we’re on. Let’s dive in.
Best Week 7 underdog bets
Odds available at Draftkings Sportsbook at the time of publishing.
Iowa State Cyclones +5 (-110) over Cincinnati Bearcats
Cincinnati should be extremely motivated in this game, as the Bearcats have lost 3 straight and will be coming off a bye with extended rest and preparation. However, Iowa State’s defense figures to be the best unit on the field. The Cyclones are top 25 in defensive PPA and top 50 in success rate allowed and they hold opponents to just 3.15 points per trip inside the 40-yard line (referred to as an opportunity) in non-garbage time. Furthermore, they have a top 40 defensive EPA on first and second downs according to CFB-Graphs. Given Iowa State’s success defensively on early downs, Cincinnati could be put into predictable passing situations often. Advantage: Iowa State. The Cyclones have 10 interceptions this season, which is tied for 3rd nationally behind Liberty and Oklahoma. That spells trouble for Emory Jones and the Bearcat offense, as Jones has thrown 6 interceptions this season and has an adjusted completion percentage under 70% – which puts him outside the top 85 of qualified quarterbacks with at least 100 drop-backs.
Cincinnati’s offense gets beyond the opposing 40-yard line at an average rate, but they score less than 4 points per opportunity and rank 110th in touchdown rate per BCFToys. Despite extra preparation, I do not trust the Bearcats to score consistently against a stout Iowa State defense led by coach Matt Campbell – who has been very successful against the spread as an underdog. For what it’s worth, I make Iowa State +1 – but would only play the Cyclones down to +3 given how bad they have been on the road thus far.
Iowa Hawkeyes +10 (-110) over Wisconsin Badgers
Let’s keep the Iowa trend going and take the Hawkeyes catching double-digits. Like I mentioned last week, I always gravitate toward the underdog in games with low totals and double-digit spreads. Given the expected wet, chilly and windy conditions in Madison this weekend, points are likely to be even more valuable in this contest.
The Hawkeyes have the advantage defensively against the Badgers. They rank 7th in adjusted efficiency with top 10 marks in most unadjusted metrics like opposing drive efficiency, points per drive, yards per play and touchdown rate. Furthermore, Iowa tends to hold strong in opposing scoring situations, allowing less than 3 points per opportunity – which ranks 16th nationally in non-garbage time. As far as pace is concerned, Wisconsin and Iowa average over 25 seconds in between plays in games against FBS opponents. In fact, Iowa is 94th in seconds per play and 132nd in plays per game out of 133 FBS teams. This game has all the makings of an ugly, low-scoring Big Ten game – so let’s grab the points with the defensively-oriented underdog. For reference, my number for this game is closer to 7 points than 10.
Auburn Tigers +11.5 (-110) over LSU Tigers
Auburn benefits from an extra week of preparation for this game, while LSU has played every week since its opening game against Florida State on Labor Day Weekend. With the added time, I expect head coach Hugh Freeze to have a few tricks up his sleeve and for Auburn to have success limiting LSU’s high-powered offense.
Per BCFToys, Auburn ranks top 10 in opponent-adjusted defensive efficiency with top 30 marks in unadjusted touchdown rate and yards per play. Auburn also succeeds in limiting its opposition in scoring situations, allowing just 3.12 points per opportunity excluding garbage time. On the other side, LSU’s defense is one of the nation’s worst – ranking outside the top 120 in drive efficiency and points per drive. Furthermore, LSU has not been very good defensively on early downs, so Auburn should be able to maintain extended drives through its reliable rushing attack that averages over 200 yards per game and is top 50 in PPA and success rate. I don’t think Auburn is going to score enough to win this game outright, but I think there is a bit of value on the Tigers and would take them down to +10.