Who doesn’t love to have an upset as a big part of your weekly college football picks? It’s the ultimate “I told you so” for a bettor to the sportsbooks and their friends. But sometimes, you have to just go with a favorite because they’re just the obvious choice.
Our ATS locks for this week all are favorites that should be able to easily cover the spread on the road.
Michigan State Spartans at Indiana Hoosiers
Odds: Michigan State -4½
The surprise Spartans (6-0, 3-0) are running all over opponents, scoring easily on the ground and through the air. Coach Mel Tucker’s squad features the country’s leading rusher in Kenneth Walker III (913 yards, nine touchdowns), but when teams line up to stop him, the Michigan State passing game has been explosive.
Payton Thorne and Jalen Nailor hooked up on three scoring strikes of over 60 yards last weekend against Rutgers, and Nailor isn’t even the most dangerous receiver on the Spartans. Jayden Reed is eighth in the country in all-purpose yardswith 152.8 per game and is Thorne’s favorite target. The two also played high school football together.
Indiana is uncertain who will start at quarterback this week. Michael Penix sustained a shoulder injury in the Hoosiers’ loss to Penn State on Oct. 2. A bye week may have helped Penix recover, but the starting nod has yet to be given by head coach Tom Allen. Even when he’s played, Penix hasn’t been the most consistent, though, throwing seven interceptions to just four touchdowns.
The argument for Indiana is its three losses have been to current top-10 teams (Penn State, Cincinnati, Iowa). But that just means is the Hoosiers can’t beat a highly ranked team, which is just what the No. 10 Spartans are. Throw in that Michigan State has won its three road games by an average of 18.7 points and you will be inclined to include the Spartans among your picks when you’re betting online.
Pick: Michigan State -4½
Alabama Crimson Tide at Mississippi State Bulldogs
Odds: Alabama -17½
Who wants to play Alabama at any time? Not many teams. Now, who wants to play Alabama and coach Nick Saban when the Crimson Tide are coming off a loss? Yeah, we thought so. Think Alabama is going to want to come out and prove that last week’s 41-38 loss to Texas A&M was a fluke, especially to all those making the decisions for the College Football Playoff. You bet it is.
Quarterback Bryce Young leads an offense that is putting up 44.3 points per game, but it was the defense that let the Crimson Tide down last week. Alabama usually only allows 22.0 points and 304.2 yards per game to opposing offenses, but the Aggies had 379 yards and 41 points. They also forced two Crimson Tide turnovers, which is not a common theme.
Mississippi State will come with some offense of its own and just beat Texas A&M in its last game on Oct. 2. Coach Mike Leach is known for his passing attack, and he’ll be aggressive in going after the Crimson Tide defense. But Leach was also at the helm of the Bulldogs last season when Alabama put a 41-0 blowout on them.
Alabama wants to re-establish itself as the team to beat in the SEC and the country, and it starts with this game. Look for an inspired effort on both sides of the ball for the Crimson Tide, who should win this one going away.
Pick: Alabama -17½
Ole Miss Rebels at Tennessee Volunteers
Odds: Ole Miss -2½
Ole Miss is coming off one of the most exciting games of the season, a 52-51 victory over Arkansas last weekend, and now it gets a shot at the Volunteers on the road. Tennessee is off to a 4-2 start, including a 2-0 mark in the SEC, but a closer look shows the Vols aren’t quite as strong as their record might indicate.
Tennessee’s two conference wins have come over South Carolina and Missouri, who have a combined 0-5 mark in SEC games. Its other two wins were against Bowling Green and Tennessee Tech, who are each 2-4 heading into this weekend. The Vols’ biggest game was at Florida and they lost 38-14.
Meanwhile, the Rebels are looking for an easier time of it after the narrow win over Arkansas and a loss to Alabama in their previous game. Ole Miss is averaging 46.2 points, so it should be able to light it up against the Volunteers.
Speaking of the Volunteers, they have Alabama on their schedule after this one, but they can’t afford to be looking ahead because Ole Miss should have plenty for them to think about in this one. Stick with the NCAA odds and go with the favorite.