College Football Betting: Will the underdogs prevail in Week 11?

ByESPN Sports Betting ESPN logo
Thursday, November 9, 2023

Not much changed after the second College Football Playoff Rankings were released Tuesday as the top four teams remained the same. However, odds to make/miss the CFP were released on ESPN BET, causing plenty of interesting questions on how the playoff picture might look in a few weeks when the regular season comes to an end. In Week 11, there are still a number of important matchups that might impact the committee's decisions next week. Among them are No. 2 Michigan vs. No. 11 Penn State and No. 10 Ole Miss vs. No. 2 Georgia.

So how should you approach betting this week as we reach the home stretch?

Jorge Sedano, Matt Miller, Dalen Cuff, Kevin Haswell and Kevin Pulsifer have got you covered on everything you need to know in this week's roundtable.

Odds by ESPN BET

The second College Football Playoff Rankings were released Tuesday and despite being No. 1, Ohio State is +105 to make the CFP at ESPN BET. Which team do you feel offers the best value right now to make the playoff outside of the top four (Ohio State, Georgia, Michigan, Florida State)?

Jorge Sedano:I'm going to sound like a broken record here. It's the Washington Huskies (+150). They pass the eye test and they have the advanced metrics on their side to be a top four team. The rest of their schedule is daunting. They face Utah, Oregon Stateand rival Washington Stateto end the season and then a potential Pac-12 title game against Oregon. If Washington is able to run the table, they should be in. Heck, even if they lose a close rematch against Oregon, I would still consider them a real possibility.

Matt Miller:I'm with Jorge and I have been all season on the Huskies. This is a dang good football team that not enough people are watching. They have a legitimate Heisman candidate at quarterback in Michael Penix Jr. and three electric wide receivers. Washington can score with Ohio State and Michigan. They have the pass rush, led by Bralen Trice, to get after Georgia. I would argue Washington is the best top-to-bottom football team in the nation.

Dalen Cuff:Texas(+125) is the best play. They have no margin for error as they have to win out (although not a daunting schedule) but in doing that they'll be conference champs with multiple top 25 wins including a non-conference win one at Alabama, who the committee clearly value. No. 5 Washington has a tough slate ahead, No. 6 Oregon will have to beat Huskies in a Pac-12 title game and No. 1 Ohio State and No. 3 Michigan both can't be undefeated. Texas' path is straight forward at No. 7.

Kevin Haswell:I have to go with Alabama (+230). Since losing to Texas, the Crimson Tide have outscored opponents by 12.6 points per game. According to the Allstate Playoff Predictor, Alabama would have a 94% chance to make the playoff if they won out, including a win over Georgia in the SEC Championship game. Do I think the Tide can pull it off? Maybe, but the value at +230 makes it worth the play.

Kevin Pulsifer:Washington is probably the most deserving team outside the top four, but with a tough schedule ahead of them and likely needing to win out, I don't know if +150 is good enough value. Give me Alabama at +230. The Tide are just about locked into the SEC title game at this point and would be a favorite over Georgia according to ESPN Analytics. A one-loss SEC champion isn't getting kept out of the Playoff. (Also don't forget about Penn State-- the 20-1 longshot from last week is now 11-1, and probably moves to 3-1 with a win over Michigan Saturday)

Michael Penix Jr. (+140) holds a slight lead over Bo Nix (+200) to win the Heisman Trophy entering Week 11. Who do you like best at this point in the season and is there another candidate that could break out with two weeks left in the regular season?

Jorge Sedano:I've been and remain confident that Michael Penix Jr is the Heisman Trophy winner. He's got the numbers, the team success and the Heisman moment to prove it.

Matt Miller:Penix is my front-runner as well given the shadow hanging over the Michigan program that is tainting J.J. McCarthy's season to some degree. However, Jayden Daniels is a really fun candidate too, if voters are willing to look at a three-loss LSU Tigers team.

Dalen Cuff:If Daniels gets back to full health, I think he's the most dynamic player, but big TV windows matter and LSU doesn't have many left. McCarthy, despite the Michigan scandal, is +850 and they have huge windows left with Penn State this weekend and Ohio State later this month. There's good value there but the smart play is still Penix given their offense and top 25 opponents which are challenging but again provide good TV windows, exposure and maybe another Heisman moment.

Kevin Haswell:Michael Penix Jr. is best positioned to end up the Heisman winner. He's the only player in the country with over 3,000 yards through the air this season and has 127 plays of 10-plus yards, tied with Caleb Williams for the most in the FBS. He has an opportunity to boost his resume in the coming weeks as the Huskies face No. 18 Utah, No. 12 Oregon State and Washington State to close out the regular season.

Kevin Pulsifer:Bo Nix certainly has the chance to pass Penix depending on Washington's play the rest of the season, but as it currently stands Penix has the clear upper hand with numbers, narrative, and the head-to-head win. Their odds are too close to go against the favorite here. Jayden Daniels is the only one that has the pure stats to compare, but he's not even listed at ESPN BET and 26 players have odds up to 300-1. That's a clear sign that it's a 2-horse race.

No. 3 Michigan (-5, 45.5) and No. 11 Penn State will face off a Big Ten East battle. What are your thoughts on this game? Do you like the Nittany Lions to keep things close or will Michigan stay undefeated two weeks away from "The Game"?

Jorge Sedano:Michigan has won 24 straight regular season games and this season they've won by an average margin of 34 points. However, this is the first time they'll actually be tested. Penn State forced Maryland to -49 yards rushing. Yes, you read that correctly. Drew Allar was in his bag last week throwing 4 TDs. I still think Michigan will win, but this will be a real test.

Matt Miller:The numbers say Michigan will get this done, and you might be thinking that the sign-stealing scandal will distract the Wolverines in a tough conference game, but I just haven't seen enough yet from Drew Allar and the Penn State offense to think they can beat Michigan. The Wolverines are simply too dynamic, too versatile, and I do think they will rally around Jim Harbaugh to win this game and stay undefeated heading into Thanksgiving.

Dalen Cuff:I just don't think Penn State has the offense or will play with the requisite aggression to win. Their offense is risk averse, Drew Allar rarely throws picks (0.36% interception rate, No. 1 nation) but their pass yards per attempt, completion and per game are outside the top 50 in the nation. I think the under is in play, but Michigan will have a serious "us vs. the world" mentality in this game and I think they will win by a TD.

Kevin Haswell:I believe the sign-stealing scandal surrounding the Michigan program will galvanize the Wolverines Saturday. While Michigan hasn't played much competition to this point, it is outscoring its opponents by 34 points per game, highest in the FBS. As for Penn State, I saw all I needed to see when they lost to Ohio State. Give me Michigan -5.

Kevin Pulsifer:I'll go out on a limb and take Penn State to cover. I think OSU might be the best of the three teams, and the Nittany Lions were down four in the fourth quarter, with the ball in Buckeye territory, on the road in Columbus just a few weeks ago. They've split the past six meetings with Michigan, and for all the flack James Franklin gets for not winning the big game, he still has had a fourth-quarter lead in four of the past five home games against top-10 teams. Happy Valley will be ready.

What is your upset pick for Week 10?

Matt Miller:Missouri(+1) over Tennessee. I know the Tigers are only +1 in this one, so it's a very close contest, but gimme the fighting Drinkwitz's against Tennessee. Missouri was close against Georgia last week and has the offensive firepower to win this one.

Kevin Haswell:I'm with Matt, I like Missouri at home as a slight underdog against Tennessee. Against teams not named Georgia, the Tigers are 7-1 and outsourcing their opponents by 10.6 points per game. From a betting standpoint, Missouri is 4-1 against the spread against teams with winning records this season. So, for my upset pick this week, give me Missouri to win outright +100.

Do you have any favorite bets for Week 10?

Dalen Cuff:Arizona Wildcats is legit and have produced the last two weeks with outright wins as home dogs. Now they're on the road at Colorado laying 10.5 points. The backdoor cover concerns me. I think they can score easily on a questionable Buffs Defense, but at home Colorado will generate some offense too. I like the over 55 here.

Kevin Haswell:I'm going to one of the biggest stories in college football for my best bet this week. James Madison is 9-0, ranked 21st in the AP poll and more importantly 6-1 against the spread over its last seven games. This week, they host a UConn team that is coming off a deflating 56-point loss to Tennessee. Give me James Madison -24.5 vs UConn.

Kevin Pulsifer:I'll ride with the public here and take the under 28.5 in the game of the year -- Iowa-Rutgers. I watched Iowa and Northwestern go scoreless for over 30 minutes and have no faith in 2 of the run-heaviest teams in football to put together significant scoring drives. Iowa tried to churn out clock as soon as they got a lead last week, running on each of their final five third-down plays (including distances of 7, 8 and 16 to go). The last Iowa game to go over the total only did so because of two D/ST touchdowns (and only one offensive TD)