College football line moves and best bets for Week 7
Caleb Williams might have given credit to USC’s defense for a triple-overtime win, but the reality is this unit is struggling right now. A week after giving up 564 total yards and 41 points to Colorado, the USC defense allowed 506 total yards and an identical point total to Arizona. The biggest issue for this unit is its rush defense, which now ranks 78th in yards per game allowed (157.0). Most of this stems from poor tackling. Arizona forced 15 missed tackles on Saturday night according to PFF tracking data, and USC is the lowest-graded tackling team via PFF grading.
Poor tackling and a soft run defense are not what you want when hitting the road to take on Notre Dame. The Irish might have their issues with their passing attack, but they are a stout running team. They rank 38th in yards per rush attempt (4.8) and average 162.7 rush yards per game. Audric Estime has forced 37 missed tackles on the season, and he averages 4.37 yards after contact. Notre Dame will look to beat up a front seven which has had trouble against the run all season this weekend, and it won’t be a surprise to see the Irish find some success.
A good way to measure where the expected sharp support is on a side is to gauge what the market does with a game that is around a key number. For this game we see that 2.5 is the number and there is no rush for any shop to get to a full field goal. Notre Dame is in the midst of a brutal stretch – the Irish have been playing since Week 0 – and its coming off a loss that ended any hopes of a playoff berth. If a full field goal ever appears this week, expect it to disappear quickly.
Oregon is one of the four teams that has covered every game it’s played in this season, but the betting market came in against it on Sunday. Circa Sports and DraftKings opened this line -2 and the number went -3 within minutes. Almost every shop on the screen has Washington -3 as of Sunday evening, which makes sense. These two teams are very similar to one another, and on a neutral there is not much – if anything – separating them when it comes to a power rating. It would track that the market would push this to a full field goal for homefield.
If bettors need evidence about how similar these two teams are, look no further than the quarterbacks. Michael Penix Jr. is the highest-graded passer in the Pac-12 via PFF passing grades (93.4), and he is second in both completion percentage (74.9%) and touchdown passes (16). Bo Nix leads the conference in completion percentage (80.0%) and has thrown one fewer touchdown than Penix (15). Both Penix and Nix have led offenses which come into this week ranked first and fourth in yards per play respectively.
The discernable difference between these two comes on defense, but even then it is not a massive gap. Oregon is the statistically better defensive unit that ranks third in opponent yards per play (3.9), sixth in defensive EPA per play (-0.169) and 20th in defensive SP+ (19.9). It will be the best defensive team either has faced this season, but Washington comes into this contest just 56th in defensive EPA per play, giving Oregon an edge in a tight contest.
Jason Bean has started the last two games for Kansas, and the status of Jalon Daniels is in question for this game against Oklahoma State once again. With a week to prepare as the starter Bean proved to be an adequate stand-in for Daniels. The Jayhawks racked up 490 total yard and scored 51 points in a win and cover over UCF. Daniels’ status will be the focus once again this week, but the difference between him and Bean is minimal. Kansas also gets the benefit of catching Oklahoma State in a letdown after a massive upset of Kansas State as an 11.5-point underdog. The market seems to be in on fading the Cowboys as well. Circa Sports opened with Kansas as a slight favorite, and while the initial move was to Oklahoma State the line has since jumped to Kansas -3.5 market wide.
UNLV puts its 5-0 ATS record on the line in a rivalry game against Nevada. Bettors will want to monitor the news for this game as well. Doug Brumfield has not played since being knocked out of the Vanderbilt game, but he is nearing a return and could start this weekend in Reno. Nevada might still be searching for its first win, but it is 3-2 ATS and lost by a single possession to Kansas here just three weeks ago. The betting market bounced around on the line when it opened, but the real move of note happened with the total. Circa Sports opened the number at 51.5 but within an hour it was up to 56 points.
Alabama scored a massive win over Texas A&M on Saturday. The Crimson Tide now own the first place in the SEC West, and their hopes of a spot in the playoffs remain alive. This is possible because of a defense that continues to prove it is one of the best in the country. Alabama limited Texas A&M to 306 total yards and 4.86 yards per play in the win. The Crimson Tide are now 22nd in the country in defensive EPA per play (-0.076), and they prove almost every week why they are one of the best units in the SEC.
It’s likely why the betting market came in and bet this total down to 48.5 on Sunday, but there are still a few spots where this number is still playable. Arkansas has been abysmal on offense this season. The Razorbacks rank 80th in offensive EPA per play and 102nd in rush offense EPA, something that is supposed to be its strength. As a believer in Alabama’s defense I believe that the Crimson Tide will be able to hold down this offense. There are still a few shops at 49 on this total, and I believe that to be a number with some value in it still. Those who do not feel comfortable playing that could hold out for an Arkansas team total to play later this week.
Best Bet: UNDER 49