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College football Week 11 betting primer: What's the best play in USC vs. Arizona?

Sam Cooper
·5-min read

College football’s Week 10 was full of high-profile matchups and was highlighted by Notre Dame’s upset over Clemson. Week 11 is going to look a little different. There isn’t a single game between two ranked opponents and three SEC games have already been postponed.

There were 10 games canceled or postponed last week, including two games I included in my picks. I went 2-1 in the three games that remained to improve my record to 25-22 on the year. And despite the lack of marquee games in Week 11, there is still plenty of value to be found on the board at BetMGM.

Here are six games that I’ve got my eye on.

(Note: All times ET, odds from BetMGM)

Iowa at Minnesota

Time: 7 p.m. (Friday) | TV: FS1 | Line: Iowa -3.5 | Total: 57.5

Iowa lost its first two games by a combined five points before destroying Michigan State last week, 49-7. Minnesota allowed a combined 94 points in losses to Michigan and Maryland before rebounding with a 41-14 win over Illinois. Though it held Illinois under 300 yards, this is still the same Minnesota defense that gave up 481 yards to Michigan and 675 yards to Maryland.

Illinois was down to its fourth-string QB, but its running backs still had success against the Gophers, posting 139 yards on just 15 rushes. Iowa shouldn’t have much trouble moving the ball. On the other side, Minnesota’s offense has relied heavily on its ground attack and might have some issues against the Hawkeyes, who are allowing only 2.57 yards per rush so far this year.

There’s also a trend that further pushes me toward Iowa. The Hawkeyes are 14-5-1 against the spread in their last 20 games as a single-digit road favorite.

Pick: Iowa -3.5

East Carolina at No. 7 Cincinnati

Time: 7:30 p.m. (Friday) | TV: ESPN2 | Line: Cincinnati -27.5 | Total: 56.5

I know Cincinnati is really good and East Carolina has a 1-5 record, but 27.5 is just too many points. ECU is a good offensive team and is better than its record may suggest.

ECU has been an underdog of 14 or more points six times under Mike Houston and it has covered the spread five times. In those five games, ECU has covered by an average of 15.2 points. One of those games was last year’s matchup against the Bearcats when UC was favored by 24.5 and won by just three points. Under Luke Fickell, Cincinnati has been favored by at least 21 points six times and is just 2-4 ATS.

Pick: East Carolina +27.5

Vanderbilt at Kentucky

Time: Noon | TV: SECN | Line: Kentucky -17.5 | Total: 42.5

It’s hard to tell when a team is 0-5, but Vanderbilt has been playing better since it returned from its COVID-19 outbreak. The Commodores put up 421 yards of offense against Ole Miss and then went for 478 yards last week against Mississippi State. The problem has been turnovers. In the 24-17 loss to MSU, Vandy turned it over five times and lost despite outgaining MSU by 274 yards.

That all brings me to Vandy’s trip to Kentucky. Kentucky has the worst offense in the SEC by a significant margin. The Wildcats should not be favored by this many points, even against Vanderbilt. Vandy is 8-2 ATS in its last 10 games as a double-digit road underdog and has covered five straight times in those spots.

Pick: Vanderbilt +17.5

Vanderbilt quarterback Ken Seals (8) throws to a receiver during their game against Mississippi, Saturday, Oct. 31, 2020, in Nashville, Tenn. (AP Photo/Wade Payne)
Vanderbilt quarterback Ken Seals has combined for 665 passing yards in his last two games. (AP Photo/Wade Payne)

No. 10 Indiana at Michigan State

Time: Noon | TV: ABC | Line: Indiana -7.5 | Total: 51.5

Indiana is off to a 3-0 start with impressive wins over Penn State and Michigan. IU’s other win came against Rutgers, and it felt like IU’s offense really found a rhythm late in that game and it carried over to the Michigan game. I think the strong offensive play will continue against Michigan State, a team that has losses to Rutgers and Iowa and a win over Michigan.

MSU was able to beat Michigan with deep balls in its only win of the year, but Iowa took away the downfield passing game last week and limited Spartan RBs to only three yards per rush. Indiana has the personnel on defense to do the same thing and should force MSU QB Rocky Lombardi into multiple turnovers.

Pick: Indiana -7.5

No. 20 USC at Arizona

Time: 3:30 p.m. | TV: FOX | Line: USC -14.5 | Total: 67.5

Even though USC put up 556 yards of offense last week in its dramatic one-point victory over Arizona State, I think this total is too high. In the Clay Helton era, the under is 8-17 in games where USC is favored by at least seven points, including a 6-1 mark on the road. On top of that, USC had one of the worst turnover margins in the country last year and started off 2020 by turning it over five times vs. ASU. Turnovers take points off the board.

Arizona has scored a total of 34 points in its two games against USC with Kevin Sumlin as head coach. During Sumlin’s two-year tenure, the under is 6-2 in games where Arizona is an underdog of at least seven points.

Pick: Under 67.5

Southern Miss at Western Kentucky

Time: 3:30 p.m. | TV: CBSSN | Line: WKU -4.5 | Total: 49.5

Western Kentucky has one of the worst offenses in the country, averaging only 15.3 points and 272.8 yards per game. WKU entered the year as one of the Conference USA favorites but is now 2-6 on the year. Saturday’s game against Southern Miss, a team on its third head coach of the season, is a rare opportunity to get a win. Southern Miss is coming off its second win of the year, but it came against North Alabama, an 0-3 FCS team. USM turned it over four times and had just 100 passing yards in the win.

I’d be shocked if this wasn’t a very, very low-scoring game.

Pick: Under 49.5

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