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It has taken until the fourth Saturday in October, but the college football season is starting to look like, well, a college football season. With Big Ten and Mountain West games added to the mix, and with the Big 12 returning after a sparse week of action, Saturday’s slate has the look of a good, old-fashioned autumn Saturday.
And from a sports betting perspective, this weekend offers that representative action in a sport bettors love because of the frequency (a lot of games from which to choose) and variance of its plays. Its not the cookie-cutter set of lines, offensive systems, tighter game flow, and smaller continuum of results found on NFL Sundays. And, of course, part of the fun in that bigger betting playground is finding the best underdog plays.
College football underdog predictions: Week 8
Odds via BetMGM; access USA TODAY Sports’ betting odds for a full list. Lines last updated Friday at 11:30 a.m. ET.
Kansas +19.5 (-106) at Kansas State
Kansas has been awful on the surface, but there were some positives in peripheral analytics heading into last week’s game at West Virginia. That game wound up being an against the spread back-door cover for Kansas bettors (on a kickoff return with 1:45 remaining), depending on when wagers were made on the eventual 38-17 Mountaineers victory.
This week, the Jayhawks get 19.5 at No. 19 Kansas State ( Amway Coaches Poll powered by USA TODAY Sports). It’s enough, but the line moved off +20 where it stood early Friday morning. Look to bolster this play with a line-watch. Pounce on +20.
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Middle Tennessee State +4 (-110) at Rice
Middle Tennessee State has 14 starters back from last year when MTSU went into a Nov. 16 game against Rice favored by 13 points. The Owls upset the Blue Raiders, 31-28, in Murfreesboro, Tenn. Rice was a plus-2 in turnovers that day, was outgained in yardage, and put together four scoring drives of fewer-than-55 yards. Middle Tennessee is 1-5 this season, but the Blue Raiders have been playing better in recent weeks. They are taking on a Rice team which hasn’t played yet as a result of having three games postponed.
The Raiders have covered in their last two road games and are 5-1 ATS over their last six Conference USA games. MTSU getting 4 points is an awfully big swing from 11 months ago, especially considering a recruit-talent advantage for the Raiders. Consider backing this one up with some money-line action if you can get Middle Tennessee in the +160 range.
Tulane +19 (-110) at UCF
This is another play teetering in the 19-20-point range, so consider a holdout until the mid-afternoon Saturday kickoff time (2 p.m. ET). This tag has the idea of long-term branding all over it, with Central Florida being tagged as a group-of-five powerhouse (they’re not anymore) and Tulane being pegged as an academic powerhouse and football poorhouse (the latter is no longer true).
The run game in this one is a Green Wave strength against a Knights’ weakness. Tulane has been solid over its last three games, and TU staying within a couple of scores of UCF is a strong enough possibility to make the Green Wave a solid underdog play Saturday.
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