College football betting: Three Week 2 underdogs to bet outright

·Betting analyst
·6-min read

Week 1 of the college football season was a success as we cashed four of five underdog moneylines. Now, it’s time to protect the profits. Week 2 is always a bit tricky because half the teams are coming off playing FCS opponents, and with the other half we are using 2020 data plus Week 1 information.

How then do you attack Week 2? By being selective. Keep an objective view and be conscious of not overreacting or underreacting to last week’s results.

There were five underdogs on the card last week, but I don’t expect that to happen weekly. I also don’t purposely seek out underdogs, but instead let each week dictate the flow. That being said, here’s what I like for Week 2 in college football.

Buffalo +14, +400 ML at Nebraska

The MAC’s run-heavy team opened as a 12-point underdog and has since seen the line move to two TDs. Scott Frost and his team are getting love … why? What are the Cornhuskers horrible at? Defending the run. What are the Bulls absolutely great at doing? Running the ball. Sure, Buffalo no longer has dangerous runner Jaret Patterson, who is in the NFL, but it does still have three capable backs who each had 13-plus carries last week, including Kevin Marks, who looked a lot like Patterson at times.

Plus, Buffalo also has a quarterback who can sling it in Kyle Vantrease. Nebraska has … quarterback Adrian Martinez and still no one else. Martinez was the team’s leading rusher last season, he’s the leading rusher now, and has been sacked six times in two games. Buffalo was top 25 in quarterback pressure and had five sacks last week, though, it was against an outmatched FCS squad.

Still, Nebraska is a big fade until proven otherwise. Can this MAC team beat a Big Ten team? It’s happened before. Buffalo has defeated Rutgers twice, the last time in 2018, and Nebraska lost to Northern Illinois in 2017. It’s not out of the realm of possibilities.

STARKVILLE, MISSISSIPPI - APRIL 17: Head coach Mike Leach of the Mississippi State Bulldogs and quarterback Will Rogers #2 speak during the first half of the Maroon and White spring game at Davis Wade Stadium on April 17, 2021 in Starkville, Mississippi. (Photo by Justin Ford/Getty Images)
Mike Leach and Mississippi State are in a good spot this week. (Photo by Justin Ford/Getty Images)

North Carolina State at Mississippi State +2, +100 ML

The Bulldogs are barely a dog, but still a dog. The Wolfpack looked awesome last week but that was against USF, ranked 94th last year in total offense and 100th in total defense. N.C. State was supposed to dominate.

Mississippi State did face a tougher opponent in Louisiana Tech and squeaked out a 35-34 comeback win after being down 34-14 entering the fourth quarter. The Bulldogs are a pass-heavy team just like they were last year. N.C. State is vulnerable with a secondary that ranked 76th in opponent yards per game last season.

The Wolfpack were a pass-heavy team last year, but based off last week’s performance they flipped the script to run-heavy. If that continues, it's worth noting the Bulldogs best defense is against the run. This will force N.C. State into throwing situations. It was 83rd in giveaways last year and is now facing a team that was top 50 in takeaways and had four interceptions in Week 1.

Fun stat to correlate: N.C. State is 1-7 SU and ATS against SEC schools since 2008. Give me the home dog.

Iowa +4, +150 ML at Iowa State

The Cyclones had a narrow 16-10 win last week to FCS opponent Northern Iowa and played all their starters the entire game. It’s a bit of a pattern that Iowa State keeps things close to the Panthers. You know what’s another pattern? The Cyclones losing to the Hawkeyes, dropping five straight, though of course the last meeting was in 2019. (The 2020 game was canceled because of COVID-19.) Play a competitive game against Northern Iowa, lose to Iowa the next game. Rinse. Repeat.

What concerns me about last week’s ISU game against Northern Iowa is that star RB Breece Hall averaged three yards rushing on 23 attempts. And two red-zone trips resulted in field goals instead of touchdowns.

Here’s the thing with that. The Hawkeyes last year were top eight in both opponent rushing yards per game and opponent yards per rush attempt. If Hall couldn’t make an impact last week, I expect much of the same this week.

Iowa quarterback Spencer Petras may not have the abilities of ISU’s Brock Purdy, but Iowa is a defense-first squad. After holding Michael Penix Jr. of Indiana last week to zero touchdowns, a 45 percent completion rate and five-yard passing average, while forcing three interceptions, I think Purdy will have to play perfect football to beat this defense.

It’s worth noting that I also like the under in this game. 

These are three underdogs I like to not just cover the spread but could possibly win outright. If you are looking to bet these, make the spread bet your regular-sized one-unit bet and lay only about 10-20 percent on the underdog moneyline. The greater the plus-odds, the smaller the risk should be as these are definitely tougher to hit.

For example, if you put $100 on a +3 ATS wager and want to take the +130 moneyline, then the bet size for the plus moneyline should be no more than $20. Protect the bankroll. Remember: It’s about cashing tickets.

Betting recap

Buffalo +14, +400 ML

Mississippi State +2, +100 ML

Iowa +4, +150 ML

Iowa under 46.5

Pitt -3.5

One more game I like

Cal at TCU -11.5

Cal was 114th in total offense last year and is 64th out of 94 teams this year. This is a team that heavily relies on its defense. Well, what happens when your defense is facing another team with a good defense that has offensive abilities?

What I like about the Horned Frogs is that we are potentially seeing a shift in their offense. Last year, quarterback Max Duggan was the team’s leading rusher. Though they faced an FCS team last week, TCU used five different running backs and Duggan had just two carries. Instead, he threw for over 200 yards.

If TCU keeps this same style of offense, this team can go far.

Why I’m deciding to lay off: this line opened at 9.5 and is now up two points. TCU could definitely still win and perhaps even blow Cal out of the water, but you’ve lost value. The number to grab was 9.5. Missed out? Too bad. So sad. It’s no longer an option at a worse number. Bet smart. Football is here every week.

Hit me up on Twitter to discuss these picks.

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