The debate surrounding the College Football Playoff (CFP) has been heating up after this past week’s unveiling of the committee's first top-25 ranking.
Click here for more PFF tools:
After this weekend, we could see some big shake-ups occur near the top. Below are some of my favorite bets for today’s Week 10 college football slate, where some teams ranked inside the top 10 are highlighted. Please note there is no model involved with these picks, as they are independent of PFF Greenline.
Related content for you: College Football Betting 2021: Week 10 college football over/under value picks via Darin Gardner
NO. 5 OHIO STATE BUCKEYES at NEBRASKA CORNHUSKERS
Saturday, Nov. 6 | 12:00 PM EST | FOX
The Pick: Ohio State -14.5
Ohio State couldn’t cover the -18.5 spread last week at home against Penn State, but they should be able to cover the large spread this week against Nebraska.
The Buckeyes’ offense was out of sync to start the first half last week, as they generated negative expected points (EPA) added per play in the first two quarters before bouncing back into positive territory for the final two. The former hasn't been a common occurrence for the Buckeyes since CJ Stroud returned to the lineup in Week 5 after sitting out a week due to injury. Even with last week’s shaky outing, the Buckeyes still have the most efficient passing offense in the country since Stroud’s return to the lineup.
Most Efficient Passing Offenses in College Football Since CJ Stroud returned in Week 5
|Team||EPA Per Pass|
|1. Ohio State Buckeyes||0.63|
|2. Coastal Carolina Chanticleers||0.60|
|3. Oklahoma Sooners||0.51|
This is a bet that Ohio State’s performance last week was a fluke. The offensive line had its lowest-graded performance of the year while the receiving unit had more tight or closing window targets than in any other game of this season. Ohio State's early-year struggles were a result of suboptimal quarterback play, which we now know was likely caused by a separated AC joint in Stroud’s throwing shoulder, but last week was just an all-around off night.
A bounce-back performance from Ohio State's offense is likely, and Nebraska quarterback Adrian Martinez is going to have a tough time keeping up. Martinez is playing behind the lowest-graded pass-blocking unit in the Power Five, as he has been under pressure on 44% of his dropbacks. Ohio State’s pass-rush — the eighth-highest-graded in the Power Five — is going to have no issue making Martinez’s job much more difficult.
NO. 13 AUBURN TIGERS at NO. 14 TEXAS A&M AGGIES
Saturday, Nov. 6 | 3:30 PM EST | CBS
The Pick: Auburn +4.5
As good as Texas A&M’s run game is, the Aggies are going to need quarterback Zach Calzada to have another Alabama-esque performance in order to cover that spread, but that it is unlikely to occur. Calzada’s historic outing against the Crimson Tide was built on fluky plays made under pressure. His composure was exceptional in those moments, but it’s simply not a sustainable way to win. Calzada has led the Aggies to the second-least efficient passing offense in the SEC when operating from a clean pocket this season.
Say what you will about Auburn quarterback Bo Nix, but he’s been playing arguably the best of his collegiate career lately. He’s earned an 88.1 passing grade over his last four games and has led the Tigers to positive expected points in the passing game in three of those outings (the one Auburn fell to negative territory came against Georgia). Auburn has the edge offensively for that reason and is more than capable of keeping this within a field goal or winning outright.
Saturday, Nov. 6 | 3:30 PM EST | ESPN2
The Pick: Cincinnati -22.5
Tulsa isn’t going to be able to move the ball against this Cincinnati defense. The Golden Hurricane offense has underwhelmed, ranking 96th in the FBS in EPA per play generated this season. And when they’ve had to face a quality level defense — such as Oklahoma State, Ohio State and Houston — Tulsa has collapsed. Their success rate against those three teams is 35.1%, which is a first percentile mark in the FBS. Cincinnati's defense is even better than those three defenses, as the Bearcats own the second-highest-graded defense in college football — behind only the Georgia Bulldogs. There’s a reason why Tulsa’s point total sits at 16.5 points for the game.
The big question is: Can Cincinnati’s offense score the points to cover? Tulsa has fared well against the run — outside of facing Treveyon Henderson and the Ohio State Buckeyes — but their coverage unit has left a lot to be desired. Tulsa has allowed 0.18 EPA per pass allowed this year, which ranks 110th in the FBS.
While Cincinnati’s passing offense has been getting off to slow starts, it’s still among the most efficient in the country. They failed to generate positive EPA per pass play in a single game only twice. The Bearcats have a 50.4% success rate this season, which ranks 21st in the FBS. And with Jerome Ford in the backfield, this Cincinnati ground game could have as much success as Ohio State running the ball. After all, Cincinnati does rank fourth nationally in successful run rate this season.
NO. 12 BAYLOR BEARS at TCU HORNED FROGS
Saturday, Nov. 6 | 3:30 PM EST | FOX
The Pick: Baylor -7
Baylor’s offense has improved drastically thanks to new offensive coordinator Jeff Grimes. The Bears have gone from the second-least efficient offense in the Big 12 in 2020 to the second-most efficient one in 2021. The only defense that has held the Bears to negative expected points through the air and on the ground in a single game this year was Oklahoma State, who has the best defense in the conference. TCU, on the otherhand, has the second-worst defense — ahead of only Kansas.
Defensive Comparison with Big-12 Ranks (removing games vs non-FBS schools)
|75.0 (3rd)||Team Defense Grade||46.9 (9th)|
|40.2% (2nd)||Success Rate Against||49.3% (9th)|
|-0.2 (4th)||EPA Per Rush Allowed||+0.08 (9th)|
|-0.05 (3rd)||EPA Per Pass Allowed||+0.27 (9th)|
|66.7 (5th)||Tackling Grade||42.4 (10th)|
Not to mention, TCU is fresh off parting ways with long-time head coach Gary Patterson this past week. In addition, TCU's starting quarterback Max Duggan and star running back Zach Evans have uncertain statuses due to injury. As long as this spread is at or below seven points, I like placing some cheddar on Baylor.
NO. 4 OREGON DUCKS at WASHINGTON HUSKIES
Saturday, Nov. 6 | 7:30 PM EST | ABC
The Pick: Washington +7
Washington is without edge defender Ryan Bowman and linebacker Edefuan Ulofoshio — a PFF Preseason All-American — but its secondary is the best in the conference. Trent McDuffie, Kyler Gordon and Bookie Radley-Hiles are all among the 10 highest-graded defensive backs in the conference when in coverage. That trio has been instrumental in Washington allowing just -0.29 EPA per pass play this season, which is a top-three mark in the Power Five and the best in the Pac-12 by a country mile.
EPA Per Pass Allowed among Pac-12 Defenses
|Team||EPA Per Pass Allowed|
|1. Washington Huskies||-0.29|
|2. Stanford Cardinal||-0.04|
|3. Arizona State Sun Devils||-0.03|
This Washington defense is a different beast than any other Brown has faced this year, including Stanford, who has arguably the No. 2 coverage unit in the conference. Brown earned a 47.1 PFF grade and a loss in that game against Stanford. Washington may be a disappointment this season because of its offense, but the Huskies have the horses on defense to keep this within seven points.
OTHER BETS I LIKE TODAY:
Saturday, Nov. 6 | 11:30 AM EST | CBS
The Pick: Air Force -2.5
MISSOURI TIGERS at NO. 1 GEORGIA BULLDOGS
Saturday, Nov. 6 | 12:00 PM EST | ESPN
The Pick: UNDER 59.5
Saturday, Nov. 6 | 12:00 PM EST | ESPNU
The Pick: SMU -4.5
NAVY MIDSHIPMEN at NO. 8 NOTRE DAME FIGHTING IRISH
Saturday, Nov. 6 | 3:30 PM EST | NBC
The Pick: OVER 47.5
Saturday, Nov. 6 | 3:30 PM EST | CBS Sports Network
The Pick: Colorado State -3
Saturday, Nov. 6 | 3:30 PM EST | ESPN+
The Pick: Troy -4