College Football Week 6 Upset: Razorbacks Snarl, Rebels Brace for Battle

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NCAAF Pick: Arkansas +11.5 (-113) at BetOnline (visit our BetOnline Review)

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Arkansas +11.5 (-113)
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The sportsbooks have released their betting odds for this week’s college football action, and three games interest me: Marshall vs. NC State, Purdue vs. Iowa, and Arkansas vs. Ole Miss.

For your best bets, I recommend wagering on each underdog. I like to invest three quarters of a unit in the underdog ATS and the remaining quarter in the underdog ML.

Marshall Thundering Herd vs. NC State Wolfpack

Saturday, October 7, 2023 – 02:00 PM EDT at Wayne Day Family Field at Carter-Finley Stadium

The Odds

Oddsmakers have NC State posted as six-point favorites. These odds are way off because they imply that the Wolfpack would be favored at a neutral site, as if they were the better team. But they have looked much less convincing against ACC competition and against their toughest opponent, Notre Dame.

We can look past their blowout loss to the highly-ranked Fighting Irish, although Marshall beat them last year. But they required help from avoidable penalties to scrape past Virginia and produced ten points in their last game, a loss to fellow ACC opponent Louisville. On the other side, Marshall beat their ACC opponent, Virginia Tech, by seven.

This comparison of outcomes against ACC opponents and the fact that Marshall is 4-0 suggest that, objectively, Marshall should be no more than three-point underdog. +6 is a steal.

NC State’s New Quarterback

Even if Marshall were a three-point underdog, I would still want to wager on the Thundering Herd because they are the team that is going to have the easiest time scoring in this matchup.

NC State is undergoing a quarterback change because transfer quarterback Brennan Armstrong’s performance thus far has been dissatisfactory.

MJ Morris is going to start in place of Armstrong. While Morris’s numbers from last season look decent, two of his three games came against teams ranked 87th or 121st in pass defense.

His one tougher opponent, Boston College, limited him to 50% passing and 135 passing yards. Moreover, he does not pose the threat that Armstrong does as a runner. On the season, he averaged 1.8 YPC.

NC State’s Rush Attack

The Wolfpack are going to need their rush attack to thrive, because Morris won’t help them much against what is the top-ranked pass defense in the nation.

Marshall’s run defense has been more vulnerable, but Armstrong was easily NC State’s leading rusher.

Wolfpack running backs struggled mightily to be efficient against Louisville and Virginia, even though Virginia’s run defense ranks outside the top 100.

Marshall’s Offense

The Thundering Herd differs from NC State in having a steady option at quarterback, Cam Fancher, who is efficient and capable of exceeding 100 rushing yards in a game.

With multiple reliable pass-catching options, he’ll be effective against NC State’s middling pass defense.

But Marshall’s most valuable source of offense will be running back Rasheen Ali, who boasts various accolades, such as a Preseason All-Sun Belt First Team selection.

NC State’s Deteriorated Front Seven 

While NC State in recent years has been reputed for defending the run well, this reputation was created by linebackers and defensive linemen who are now in the NFL.

The Wolfpack run defense is not what it used to be. This decline is measurable in its drastic drop in run defense ranking relative to last year, a drop which is disturbing because two of their five opponents faced are UConn and VMI and another, Virginia, owns one of the nation’s worst rush attacks. This is a team against which Ali can continue averaging five YPC.

NCAAF Pick: Marshall (+200) at BetOnline

NCAAF Pick: Marshall +6 (+100) at BetOnline

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Marshall +6 (+100)
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Purdue Boilermakers vs. Iowa Hawkeyes

Saturday, October 7, 2023 – 03:30 PM EDT at Kinnick Stadium

Iowa’s New Quarterback 

I dislike Iowa being favored because it underwent a critical change at quarterback. The initial starter, Cade McNamara, incurred a season-ending injury in the beginning of his team’s last game that led to Deacon Hill taking over the starting job.

Hawkeye enthusiasts will tout Hill’s arm strength and willingness to throw downfield. But Hill’s passes aren’t unlikely to arrive to their target. This is partially because he lacks good wide receivers to help him out, but his accuracy is also a problem.

Hence, against Michigan State, he completed 15 of 35 passes for 164 yards, which amounts to 4.7 yards per pass attempt. Especially with Hill at quarterback, Iowa will have trouble moving down the field.

Iowa backers may say that the Hawkeyes still managed to score 26 points, which sufficed to beat lowly Michigan State, but seven of those points came off a punt return touchdown. Six other points came from field goals that concluded short drives.

Iowa’s Defense in Decline 

In order to win and cover the spread, Iowa will require a masterful performance from its defense, but the Hawkeyes are not as good on defense as they were in previous seasons.

Despite two of the three Power Five opponents they faced ranking among the worst-scoring offenses in the nation, they have dropped significantly from last year in total defense.

Among several others, they lost to the NFL two All-Americans, a key cornerback, and some of their best run defenders.

Purdue’s Two-Dimensional Offense

This year’s version of Purdue has the personnel to take advantage of Iowa’s losses in run defense and in pass defense.

Last year, the Boilermakers were very pass-heavy and ranked outside the top 100 in rushing yards per game. This year, they are more balanced and boast a more productive rush attack largely thanks to transfer Tyrone Tracy Jr., who is averaging 6.3 YPC and most recently ran for 112 yards in his team’s win over Illinois.

Tracy’s productivity supports Texas transfer Hudson Card’s efforts at quarterback. Card was a big recruit, the type that Purdue doesn’t expect to land. His versatility, evident in his ability to make plays out of the pocket, and his comfort with tempo motivated him to select Purdue.

This transfer-laden group is gelling, most recently putting up 44 points against the Illini. Scoring is going to come much easier for Purdue’s offense than for an injury-ridden and low-talent Iowa offense that could hardly produce points against Michigan State.

NCAAF Pick: Purdue (+115) at BetOnline

NCAAF Pick: Purdue +2.5 (-115) at BetOnline

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Purdue +2.5 (-115)
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Arkansas Razorbacks vs. Ole Miss Rebels

Saturday, October 7, 2023 – 07:30 PM EDT at Vaught-Hemingway Stadium

Let-Down Spot 

Ole Miss is in a terrible spot, which justifies betting on the underdog.

The Rebels are coming off an exciting and emotional win, an upset over LSU. After such a win, it is going to be hard to avoid a hangover performance. With a bye week looming for them, this game has significant trap potential.

The thing is, recent history has shown that Ole Miss needs to bring its best version of itself in order to handle the Razorbacks. Two years ago, the Rebels beat Arkansas by a point, and last year, Arkansas beat them by fifteen.

Ole Miss’s Vulnerable Defense 

Even looking aside from the hangover spot, Ole Miss’s defense makes it unlikely to cover a double-digit spread given the weapons that Arkansas possesses.

After giving up 49 points to LSU, Ole Miss ranks 114th in total defense.

Vulnerable to the opposing quarterback and running back, the Rebels’ run defense allowed LSU to amass 223 rushing yards.

Arkansas’ Rush Attack

With the efficiency of running back Rashod Dubinion and the mobility of quarterback KJ Jefferson, the Razorbacks can replicate LSU’s success on the ground.

The Razorbacks had to face one of the nation’s toughest run defenses last week, but this Ole Miss defensive line won’t pose the same challenge that Arkansas’ last opponent, Texas A&M, did.

Their ability to use their weapon-laden rush attack plus Jefferson’s passing efficiency to sustain drives allowed them to come very close to beating LSU even though the Tigers were favored by over two touchdowns.

Ole Miss’s offense will be doing a lot of watching on the sidelines as the Razorbacks dominate possession again.

NCAAF Pick: Arkansas +11.5 (-113) at BetOnline

NCAAF Pick: Arkansas (+335) at BetOnline

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Arkansas (+335)
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*The line and/or odds on picks in this article might have moved since the content was commissioned. For updated line movements, visit BMR’s free betting odds product.