College football by the odds: Vegas preview and picks of every Week 7 game

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Texas A&M students pack Kyle Field after Texas A&M upset Alabama 38-41 in an NCAA college football game on Saturday, Oct. 9, 2021, in College Station, Texas.

Wed, Oct 13, 2021 (2 a.m.)

Alabama was unseated, and yet their future odds remain relatively unchanged.

Gone are the days when one loss, like Alabama’s 41-38 defeat at Texas A&M as 18.5-point favorites last week, would cause a seismic shift on betting boards. The creation of the College Football Playoff more or less ended that trend, at least for the nation’s powerhouse programs.

At William Hill sports books, Alabama went into Week 6 at +150 (risking $1 to win $1.50) to win the national championship. They go into Week 7 at +190 to win the national championship.

Granted, that’s the most extreme example available in local sports books but nowhere did Alabama slide from the top of the board. They’re at less than 4-to-1 to win the title at every shop in town. Only Georgia, which William Hill lists at +140, is lower.

College football by the odds took the points with Texas A&M last week, but that was among the few games that went right. The streak of five straight weeks with overall winning records picking every game against the spread to start the season is over after a 22-27-1 mark in Week. That brings the season total to 163-145-3 (34-36 on plays, 60-39-1 on leans and 69-70-2 on guesses).

Read below for picks on every Week 7 game, with write-ups on the biggest contests and some of the strongest positions. Lines are the best currently available in Las Vegas on the chosen side. Picks are labeled in three separate confidence categories — plays, leans and guesses.

Big Games

Auburn +3.5 at Arkansas, over/under: 53.5. This is personal to Arkansas, which feels it was robbed of a victory last year against Auburn with a couple of controversial calls down the stretch. It’s impossible to quantify motivation, and largely foolish to make it the basis of any bet, but this might be the rare instance where it pushes me to take one side. The number looks right otherwise, so there’s not a lot else to go on. Guess: Arkansas -3.5.

UCF +20.5 at Cincinnati, over/under: 56.5. This looked like the Bearcats’ most likely conference stumble spot coming into the season, but the Knights haven’t been the same since losing quarterback Dillon Gabriel to injury. True freshman Mikey Keene came of age a bit last week to bring UCF back to beat East Carolina, and if that growth is sustainable, his team should be able to keep it closer than expected. Guess: UCF +20.5.

Oklahoma State +5.5 at Texas, over/under: 65.5. The Longhorns have been a different team since Casey Thompson took over at quarterback, and despite the instant-classic nature of last week’s loss to Oklahoma, the market still doesn’t appear to have caught up. Oklahoma State’s offense doesn’t have the explosion to survive the type of shootout Texas will be pushing to play in. Play: Texas -5.5

Kentucky +23.5 at Georgia, over/under: 44.5. Only one of these teams is undefeated against the spread in five Football Bowl Subdivision games, and it’s not Georgia. That being said, the Bulldogs look like a nightmare matchup with the Wildcats. They’re not going to let Kentucky push them around and win up front like it’s done to the rest of its schedule. Guess: Georgia -23.5.

TCU +12 at Oklahoma, over/under: 66. Few teams in the nation have played a more difficult slate of opposing offenses than the Horned Frogs, but they could lean on that experience here to be ready for the Sooners’ reinvigorated offense behind freshman quarterback Caleb Williams. Oklahoma’s defense, meanwhile, has shown cracks the last two weeks that TCU’s squadron of running backs can exploit. Lean: TCU +12.

Arizona State at Utah, over/under: 51. Since BYU unfortunately can’t crown itself Pac-12 South champions after beating both teams, this is instead the Game of the Week and highly likely to determine which side will play in the conference championship Game. It’s every bit close enough for that distinction, though there might be slightly more questions with Utah’s up-and-down defense and new quarterback Cameron Rising. Guess: Arizona State +1.

Big Plays

Pittsburgh -4.5 at Virginia Tech, over/under: 57.5. If Pittsburgh’s defense can just show marginal signs of improvement — and defense is supposed to be coach Pat Narduzzi’s speciality — then it’s in a great position to win the ACC. This shouldn’t be a spot to trip up with the Panthers coming off of a bye week while the Hokies endured a physically and emotionally taxing loss to Notre Dame last week. Play: Pittsburgh -4.5.

BYU +4.5 at Baylor, over/under: 49. With a 2.6 net yard per play, Baylor might be among the most underrated teams in the nation. The Bears are rolling under second-year coach Dave Aranda and have too much athleticism all over the field to be pushed around by the Cougars. Play: Baylor -4.5.

Iowa State -6 at Kansas State, over/under: 51.5. I wanted to pick Kansas State in this game — at +10. Yes, this number is a full 4 points off what I made it. The Wildcats will be sparked by the return of quarterback Skylar Thompson for the second straight game, but this number is an overreaction to a pair of Cyclones’ losses where they didn’t really play all that poorly.   Play: Iowa State -6.

Stanford -1.5 at Washington State, over/under: 51.5. Cardinal freshman quarterback Tanner McKee hadn’t thrown an interception until committing three in a loss to Arizona State last week. But he still put up 356 yards and has wildly succeeded most expectations. The Cougars’ defensive backfield makes for a soft bounce-back spot.  Play: Stanford -1.5.

Air Force +5 at Boise State, over/under: 51. This is not a vintage Boise State team, and it’s well past time that the market prices it accordingly. Air Force will have an advantage up front and be able to muddy up and implement their style of game. Play: Air Force +5.

Other Picks

Play: Ohio +10 at Buffalo

Play: Marshall -10.5 at North Texas

Play: Hawaii +14.5 at UNR

Play: South Carolina -18 vs. Vanderbilt

Play: Toledo -4 at Central Michigan

Lean: Mississippi State +17.5 vs. Alabama

Lean: UNLV +6.5 vs. Utah State

Lean: Wisconsin -12.5 vs. Army

Lean: Arizona +7.5 at Colorado

Lean: Michigan State -3 at Indiana

Lean: Rutgers pick’em at Northwestern

Lean: Memphis -8.5 vs. Navy

Lean: Bowling Green +10 at Northern Illinois

Lean: Tulsa -8.5 at South Florida

Lean: UAB -15 at Southern Miss

Lean: Texas Tech -16 at Kansas

Lean: Minnesota +4 vs. Nebraska

Lean: Purdue +12.5 at Iowa

Lean: Duke +11 at Virginia

Lean: Florida -10 at LSU

Lean: Missouri +9 vs. Texas A&M

Lean: New Mexico +10.5 vs. Colorado State

Guess: California +14 at Oregon

Guess: Washington -1.5 vs. UCLA

Guess: North Carolina -7 vs. Miami

Guess: South Alabama -3.5 vs. Georgia Southern

Guess: San Jose State +9 vs. San Diego State

Guess: Syracuse +13.5 vs. Clemson

Guess: Eastern Michigan +3 vs. Ball State

Guess: Troy -7 at Texas State

Guess: Wyoming +3.5 vs. Fresno State

Guess: Akron +20 at Miami (Ohio)

Guess: Ole Miss -3 at Tennessee

Guess: NC State -2.5 at Boston College

Guess: Rice +18.5 at UTSA

Guess: UL-Monroe +32.5 vs. Liberty

Guess: Western Michigan -6 vs. Kent State

Guess: Louisiana Tech -6.5 at UTEP

Guess: Old Dominion +12.5 vs. Western Kentucky

Case Keefer can be reached at 702-948-2790 or [email protected]. Follow Case on Twitter at twitter.com/casekeefer.

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