College football odds: Stanford favored over USC to highlight Week 2 slate

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Not only is Heisman Trophy candidate Bryce Love going up against an opponent that is fresh off giving up more than 300 rushing yards to a non-Power Five team, but the betting trends also point toward the Stanford Cardinal this weekend.

Stanford, led by Love, are 3.5-point favorites on the college football odds against the USC Trojans with a 54-point total for their matchup on Saturday, according to sportsbooks monitored by OddsShark.com.

The OddsShark College Football Database shows that Stanford is 9-0 straight-up in its last nine home games and 4-1 against the spread in its last five games against USC. The Trojans, on top of needing to tighten up their rush defense after being gashed for 308 yards during a win against Nevada-Las Vegas last week, also need to get past some early-season travel woes, as they are 3-14 ATS in their last 17 road games in September.

The total has gone UNDER in six of USC’s last eight games on the road with an average combined score of 56.0 points, and the total has also gone UNDER in six of Stanford’s last eight games in Week 2.

Elsewhere, the TCU Horned Frogs are 23-point road betting favorites against the SMU Mustangs with a 61-point total in a Friday matchup. TCU is 6-2 ATS in its last eight games on the road, and the total has gone UNDER in 10 of TCU’s last 12 road games with an average combined score of 46.75.

The Iowa Hawkeyes are 3.5-point favorites against the Iowa State Cyclones with a 49-point total in a Saturday matchup. The total has gone UNDER in 10 of Iowa State’s last 13 games against Iowa (average total: 43.31). Iowa is 5-1 ATS in its last six home games.

The Penn State Nittany Lions are 8.5-point road favorites against the Pittsburgh Panthers with a 58-point total. The total has gone OVER in 10 of Penn State’s last 13 games on the road (average total: 60.92). Pittsburgh is 2-7 ATS in its last nine games at home in September.

The Mississippi State Bulldogs are 9.5-point road favorites against the Kansas State Wildcats with a 53.5-point total. Mississippi State is 14-6 ATS in its last 20 games in September. Kansas State is 9-0 SU in its last nine games at home in September.

The Oklahoma Sooners are heavy 29-point favorites against the UCLA Bruins with a 64-point total. UCLA is 0-10 SU in its last 10 games on the road, with a 14.6-point average margin of defeat. The total has gone OVER in five of Oklahoma’s last six games at home in September.

The Michigan State Spartans are seven-point road favorites against the Arizona State Sun Devils with a 56-point total. The total has gone OVER in five of Michigan State’s last six games against the Pac-12. The total has gone OVER in six of Arizona State’s last seven games (average total: 70.29).

The Notre Dame Fighting Irish are 33.5-point favorites against the Ball State Cardinals with a 61.5-point total. Ball State is 7-1 ATS in its last eight games on the road in September. Notre Dame is 2-9 ATS in its last 11 games in Week 2.

The Clemson Tigers are 12.5-point road favorites against the Texas A&M Aggies with a 54-point total. Clemson is 6-2 ATS in its last eight games in September and the total has gone UNDER in six of Clemson’s last seven road games in September. Texas A&M is 7-19-1 ATS in its last 27 games at home.

And the Georgia Bulldogs are 9.5-point favorites against the South Carolina Gamecocks with a 51-point total. The total has gone UNDER in 14 of Georgia’s last 20 games against South Carolina (average total: 41.1). South Carolina is 7-2-1 ATS in its last 10 games.

For more odds information, betting picks and a breakdown of this week’s top sports betting news check out the OddsShark podcast with Jon Campbell and Andrew Avery. Subscribe on iTunes or listen to it at OddsShark.libsyn.com.

Big Ten Week 5: Previews and Predictions for Michigan, Minnesota, and More

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While No. 3 Ohio State and No. 4 Michigan remain the top teams in the Big Ten conference, Minnesota was the team that made the biggest impact in Week 4, putting on a dominant display on the road at Michigan State to win 34-7. The Golden Gophers entered the AP Top 25 for the first time this season on the heels of that win; they’ll host Purdue this weekend as No. 21, the only ranked team in the Big Ten West.

That game is among the best in the conference in Week 5, which will also see Michigan face a tough test on the road and a contest between Michigan State and Maryland, both of whom are coming off Week 4 losses.

 

Iowa hopes to upset No. 4 Michigan with daunting defense

The Big Ten game of the week is in Iowa City, as the No. 4 Michigan Wolverines travel to face the top defense in the country (by points allowed – 5.75/game) in a rematch of the 2021 Big Ten Championship game, when Iowa took a 42-3 defeat at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis.

Michigan faced its first conference opponent of 2022 last weekend, when Maryland visited Ann Arbor and made the Big House nervous with a much closer game than expected (Michigan took the 34-27 win). The Terps hung with the Wolverines all four quarters as Michigan QB J.J. McCarthy had a sloppier game than he can afford against the Iowa Hawkeyes.

McCarthy, a sophomore, went 18/26 in a 220-yard, 2-touchdown effort, tallying two fumbles. “That’s two plays I really want back,” he said after the game on Saturday, adding: “I take full responsibility for the throws I missed.”

Michigan head coach Jim Harbaugh knows he’ll need more accuracy against Iowa, who’s coming off a 27-10 win at Rutgers that included two defensive touchdowns. “If you’re not as sound as you can possibly be, you’re in for a rough one,” Harbaugh said Monday.

Iowa coach Kirk Ferentz echoed that sentiment for his squad: “It’s going to take our best team effort to have a chance in this ball game,” he said on Tuesday. Ferentz said he’s not considering this a revenge spot for the last time they faced Michigan, “but [that game] is a reminder…If you aren’t on top of things and you give up a couple big plays, all of a sudden the hill gets pretty steep.”

Expect this to be a close game, especially if Iowa limits Michigan RB Blake Corum, who went for 2 TDs and 243 yards against Maryland last week. If Iowa’s offense was less inept, predicting the Hawkeyes to win this one outright wouldn’t be that farfetched. The story of the game will likely be in Michigan’s turnover numbers – if the Wolverines can take care of the ball, they should be positioned to pull this one out even in a tight contest.

 

No. 21 Minnesota (4-0) looks to keep momentum against unpredictable Purdue (2-2)

Entering Week 4, it seemed like Minnesota was in for a close game in East Lansing at Michigan State, but the Gophers shut down the Spartans almost immediately and didn’t let them up for air (Michigan State’s only score in the 34-7 loss came with 17 seconds left). Minnesota QB Tanner Morgan went 23/26 in a game where he needed to find new targets with top receiver Chris Autman-Bell out (Autman-Bell had season-ending surgery leg surgery earlier this month).. Morgan found help all over the field – four receivers had at least 3 touches and 40+ yards, while running back Mo Ibrahim added 103 and a touchdown on the ground. Ibrahim enters Week 5 second in FBS rushing yards with 567 on the season.

“They make you bleed,” Purdue coach Jeff Brohm said on Monday. “And if you don’t find a way to bandage it up or do something to strike back, it can be a long death.”

Minnesota should have an easy time against Purdue on Saturday. But the Boilermakers have a reputation as an upset team – remember when they put 49 points on third-ranked Ohio State in 2018? Or last year, when they upset No. 2 Iowa in October and No. 3 Michigan State in November?

“The key is: can we find a way to get a lead and take them out of what they really want to do?” Brohm said.

Purdue is coming off two close games: a 32-29 loss at Syracuse in Week 3 and a 28-26 win against Florida Atlantic in Week 4. The Boilermakers had a close match in Week 1 as well, losing 35-31 to the now-11th-ranked Nittany Lions of Penn State.

The health of QB Aidan O’Connell – who the team says will be a game-time decision – is likely to be a big factor for Purdue; O’Connell was injured during the game in Week 3 and missed Week 4. He played remarkably through three weeks with 1,000 yards and only one interception, bolstering Purdue to the second-best pass offense in the conference behind Ohio State. Austin Butler played in O’Connell’s place last week and is expected to start at Minnesota if O’Connell can’t.

The Gophers have all the momentum, but know they have to stay focused for a win this week, which is Homecoming at Minnesota. “I always get a little worried when I see strength and twitch together,” Gophers offensive coordinator Kirk Ciarrocca said of the Purdue front. On the passing game, he said, “Their corners are big and physical… They don’t give you any free throws.”

All signs point to a win for Minnesota at home this week, if the team keeps playing efficiently and outruns the curse of the Purdue upset.

 

Other Games to Watch in Week 5: Ohio State and Penn State at home, Michigan State hoping to turn things around

No. 3 Ohio State and No. 11 Penn State both host conference opponents at home this week. Ohio State (4-0) had an impressive showing against Wisconsin last week, winning 52-21 – and the game wasn’t as close as that score makes it seem. C.J. Stroud added 281 yards and 5 TDs to his case for the Heisman Trophy in an offensive effort that head coach Ryan Day said was “what we’re looking for.”

Rutgers (3-1) struggled against Iowa last week and is unlikely to hold off Stroud and the Buckeyes offense. Ohio State, which has yet to go on the road this season, should take this one by four or more touchdowns.

Penn State (4-0) faces a Northwestern (1-3) side that lost by three thanks to a late field goal by Miami-Ohio last week. The Wildcats have lost three straight since their win over Nebraska in Week 1, and that streak is expected to extend to four losses when they travel to State College on Saturday. The only danger for the Nittany Lions is a loss of focus in the look-ahead as they prepare to go to Ann Arbor to face Michigan in Week 6.

Finally, the Michigan State Spartans (2-2) will try to stave off a 3-game losing streak when they go on the road to Maryland (3-1) this weekend. Michigan State has been trounced two weeks in a row, first at Washington, then at home against Minnesota. Both games were expected to be close before they started.

Spartans coach Mel Tucker started his presser on Monday with a laundry list of things he sees as necessary improvements for his team, from basics like tackling and scoring points to other issues like pre-snap alignments and zone coverage.

“Optimistic and determined is how I feel at the moment,” Tucker said heading into Week 5.

Maryland, meanwhile, was impressive last week in a close game at Michigan and should have some confidence coming off that performance, but they’re not taking the coming matchup for granted.

“When you look at their record it’s easy to say they’re struggling,” Terps coach Mike Locksley said of Michigan State, “But when you watch the tape… They’ve [lost to] two really formidable opponents.”

“We expect them to come in here to try to get back on track,” he added, “and we’ve got to do everything we can… to not let that happen.”

Is Michigan State down and out or ready to take out some frustration on the Terps this week? Maryland enters the weekend favored, suggesting it’s the former. But look for the halftime score to tell the story here: if the Spartans can keep it close in the first half, they’ve got a good chance to pull this one out. It’ll probably be a big loss if it gets away from them early.

Big Ten Football Week 4 Storylines: Ohio State, Michigan among teams facing first conference opponents

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In two weeks, the Big Ten has gone from having five ranked teams to three: Wisconsin fell out of the rankings after Week 2 and this week, Michigan State was dropped after a poor showing at Washington (39-28 final).

The three teams that remain in the top 25, though – (3) Ohio State, (4) Michigan, and (14) Penn State – looked great in Week 3 matchups that included Michigan’s 59-0 shutout against UConn and an impressive 41-12 win for Penn State on the road at Auburn.

Fortunately for Michigan State, their loss to a possibly-better-than-we-thought Washington team wasn’t the worst showing in the conference last Saturday; that accolade goes to Nebraska, whose loss to No. 6 Oklahoma wasn’t as close as the 49-14 score makes it sound.

Week 4 features eight Big Ten teams in their first conference matchups of the season, including Michigan and Ohio State, both playing at home.

 

Maryland’s trip to the Big House should be telling for No. 4 Michigan

The Michigan Wolverines (3-0) have won their first three games by a combined score of 166-17, and yet, it’s not clear how good the team is. Its all-home schedule against Colorado State, Hawaii, and UConn hasn’t put Michigan to the test so far – they’re blowing out teams that they should be blowing out, which doesn’t tell us much.

That isn’t to say Michigan is likely to lose to Maryland (3-0) on Saturday; Michigan is better on paper across the board and it’s unlikely they give this game away to the Terps, who are also undefeated (albeit less convincingly) through three non-conference games. But a team worthy of the No. 4 ranking will make a win look easy and shut down the Maryland offense (Michigan is allowing a third-best 194 yards per game), and a team not worthy of that ranking… won’t.

Head coach Jim Harbaugh didn’t give away much when asked about how Michigan has prepared for their first conference test, remarking only on the great work ethic and leadership he’s seen from his players. But he did note that they have their guard up after winning the conference last season: “There’s a big target [on our backs]. Whenever you’re a defending champion, it’s gonna be there.”

Maryland coach Mike Locksley put the Terrapins’ mental approach simply on Tuesday when he said, “We have nothing to lose.” He noted that Michigan has been more disciplined than his team through three games, citing penalty numbers: Michigan is third-best in the FBS in penalty yards given away this season (65); Maryland is third-worst (271). “We always talk about trying to close the gap on teams like that,” Locksley told reporters on Tuesday. “This affords us an opportunity to see how and where we fit.”

“[We’ll] try to play to the best of our ability and keep the game really tight and get it to the fourth quarter. And you never know what can happen.”

 

No. 3 Ohio State puts offense to first big test against Wisconsin

Third-ranked Ohio State (3-0) faces its first conference test in hosting Wisconsin (2-1), which was ranked 19th before losing in a Week 2 upset to Washington State. Ohio State opened with a big win at home against Notre Dame, a win that lost some of its luster after Notre Dame lost to Marshall in Week 2.

That said, the Buckeyes are the best offensive team in the nation through three weeks with an average 565.3 yards per game, and Wisconsin is expected to be the best defense the team has faced so far. After OSU put 77 points on Toledo in Week 3, offensive coordinator Kevin Wilson said, “As good as the offense might look, the offense is not good until the end of the year and you can see how tough and how consistent it is.”

“Wisconsin epitomizes Big Ten football,” OSU coach Ryan Day said on Thursday, noting the Badgers’ physical style of play and calling Wisconsin QB Graham Mertz and RB Braelon Allen “the best we’ve seen” at both positions.

The Badgers rebounded in Week 3 with a 66-7 win over New Mexico State, but that hasn’t changed their underdog status going into Saturday at The Shoe, where Wisconsin hasn’t won since 2004.

Wisconsin coach Paul Chryst complimented the formidable Buckeyes offense, calling C.J. Stroud “a heck of a quarterback” and remarking on the challenge his defense will face in OSU: “They do a great job of threatening and using the whole field.”

Ohio State will don blackout uniforms for the primetime matchup, which is the team’s fourth straight home game.

 

Michigan State looks for rebound against Minnesota team with momentum

Of all the Big Ten contests in Week 4, this one figures to be the most intriguing. Michigan State (2-1) is unranked for the first time this season after the Spartans struggled to compete at Washington last week, which could make the home game against Minnesota (3-0) a revenge game or a letdown spot.

Head coach Mel Tucker called the Washington result “very disappointing” after the Spartans’ secondary got chewed up by the Huskies, led by QB Michael Penix Jr. Tucker listed the major issues as poor communication and missed assignments rather than schematic problems, and said he took the failures personally: “I’m a horse—t football coach right now.”

“We’re going to be defined by how we respond,” Tucker said. “We have to raise our level of intensity in what we’re doing…You have to learn from adversity.”

Minnesota has earned three solid wins in non-conference play so far, showing balance with great numbers on both sides of the ball: the Golden Gophers are second in the FBS in offensive yards per game (554.7) and second in yards allowed per game (170.3).

“We know it’s going to be a hostile environment… They’re a dangerous football team,” Minnesota coach P.J. Fleck said this week, specifically noting the strength of the Michigan State defensive front, which gave up only 30 rush yards to Washington last Saturday.

Minnesota will need some productivity on the ground, especially after wide receiver Chris Autman-Bell suffered a season-ending leg injury in Week 3 against Colorado, for which he underwent surgery on Wednesday. Autman-Bell was leading the Gophers with 11 receptions and 214 receiving yards.

The Gophers are averaging a second-in-FBS 312.7 rush yards per game so far, but the Spartans present the first big defensive challenge of their season.

As Michigan State adjusts its defensive approach and Minnesota tweaks its offense, this game is expected to be a close one: Minnesota is a slight road favorite entering the weekend.

 

Iowa heads to Rutgers for Defensive Clash

The Iowa Hawkeyes (2-1) and Rutgers Scarlet Knights (3-0) face off Saturday night with Rutgers at home, looking to start the season 4-0 for the first time in a decade (2012).

It won’t be an easy path for the Scarlet Knights, whose quarterback situation leaves plenty to be desired – Evan Simon and Gavin Wimsatt combined for 59 pass yards against Temple in Week 3 – and who likely won’t catch a break against an Iowa defense that’s allowed 13 points across three games this season.

Rutgers coach Greg Schiano said there are “several” offensive things he wants to fix, and also said injured QB Noah Vedral’s status will be a game-time decision on Saturday. The recent passing numbers for the team make a Vedral return all the more appealing to the Rutgers faithful.

Opposite Iowa’s renowned defense, Rutgers boasts strong defensive stats as well – the team is second in FBS in rush yards allowed (less than 33 per game) and Iowa has scored three of its lowly four touchdowns this season on the ground.

Iowa is coming off an easy but long 27-0 win over Nevada in Week 3: with nearly four hours of weather delays, the game lasted almost seven hours.

Head coach Kirk Ferentz acknowledged the parallels between his team and Schiano’s, noting the defense but also the strong punters both teams will bring to the game.

“They don’t do dumb things,” Ferentz said of the Knights. “They make you earn anything you get.”