Top sportsbooks have released their NCAAF odds for this week’s action. Two games, in particular, interest me as worth investing in: Minnesota vs. Penn State and Mississippi State vs. Alabama.
For reasons that I will explain, you should play the total for the first game and the spread for the second. Feel free to parlay both bets at one of our best sportsbooks in order to maximize your profit.
Minnesota Golden Gophers vs. Penn State Nittany Lions
Saturday, October 22, 2022 – 07:30 PM EDT at Beaver Stadium
Minnesota Is Not Michigan
It is tempting to compare Minnesota and Michigan in a key sense and to conclude from this comparison that Minnesota will replicate the success that Michigan enjoyed against Penn State. The key sense is the ground game.
Last week, Michigan proved that Penn State's solid run defense ranking was a product of having faced weak rush attacks. Similar to Michigan, Minnesota's offensive strength is its ground game.
Both the Wolverines and Golden Gophers are led by an excellent running back. But there are so many reasons why this similarity is superficial. The superficiality, I will argue, is so extensive that Penn State still has the means to stymy the Golden Gopher offense.
Worse Rushing Attack
Film footage demonstrates the supremacy of Michigan's offensive linemen. They ably engaged Penn State defenders and generally created tremendous holes for Blake Corum to hit with his explosive speed and big-play ability.
But Minnesota's offensive line has regressed severely relative to its quality last year. The Golden Gophers lost four starting offensive linemen over the offseason plus a key backup.
Statistically, Minnesota's quarterback has benefitted from facing an FCS school, a New Mexico State team not equipped to compete with Power Five teams, and Michigan State with its repeatedly porous secondary.
But the last two weeks are more reflective of Morgan's abilities: after completing 54.5% of his passes while throwing zero touchdowns and three interceptions against Purdue, he completed 33.3% of his passes for zero touchdowns and an interception against Illinois.
Conversely, Michigan's quarterback has competed, statistically, with the nation's leaders in pass accuracy.
Minnesota is hurting, in terms of quality, at wide receiver. Especially with last year's unequivocal production leader Chris Autman-Bell out for the season, the Golden Gophers lack talent at the position.
Guys are struggling to get open, and they have less time to do so since their team's regressed offensive line gives Morgan less time to throw.
Conversely, Michigan has an explosive wide receiver in Ronnie Bell who can do a lot of different things and has a future in the NFL.
Besides suffering lower quality in its pass attack and offensive line, location is a disadvantage for Minnesota whereas it was an advantage last week for Michigan.
The Wolverines got to play Penn State in the Big House where the Nittany Lions have an awful history, repeatedly getting blown out there in recent years under James Franklin.
Penn State's Defensive Outlook
After getting embarrassed on the ground and well-aware of Minnesota's unequivocal offensive strengths and weaknesses, Penn State is going to sell out to stop the run.
As Michigan's quarterback did, Morgan is going to have to achieve some measure of productivity in order to keep the Nittany Lion defense honest.
But Morgan can't, because Penn State has some excellent defensive backs, and these will limit the best of Minnesota's already lackluster wide receiver group.
Cornerback Joey Porter Jr. was an All-Big Ten third-teamer last year, and safety Ji'Ayir Brown co-led the nation in interceptions.
This season, both Porter Jr. and fellow cornerback Kalen King rank top-four in the Big Ten in passes defended.
So, Penn State easily has the ability to leave its cornerbacks on islands against Golden Gopher wide receivers while selling out to stop the Golden Gophers' ground game with their much weaker run-blocking unit.
Penn State's Offensive Limitation
Whoever starts at quarterback for Penn State (Clifford's shoulder is hurt) might not even achieve more productivity than Tanner Morgan.
Coach Franklin has a troublesome history of having Clifford play injured and paying the price. The most famous example of this is Penn State's famous lost last year against Illinois in which, through nine overtimes, the Nittany Lions mustered 18 points with Clifford passing for 165 yards.
Clifford's backup is a raw talent, freshman Drew Allar, whose track record against Power Five competition is extremely meager.
Held back at quarterback, Penn State will struggle to sustain drives, especially against a Golden Gopher defense that, like Penn State's, is eager to redeem itself after an unusually bad performance last week.
NCAAF Pick: Under 44.5 (-110) at BetOnline (visit our BetOnline Review)
Mississippi State Bulldogs vs. Alabama Crimson Tide
Saturday, October 22, 2022 - 07:00 PM EDT at Bryant-Denny Stadium
Coming off a Loss
Alabama is in a big spot this week because it is coming off a loss.
Last year, Alabama thrashed Mississippi State 49-9 on the road after losing to Texas A&M. In 2019, the Crimson Tide under Nick Saban likewise beat Mississippi State 38-7 on the road after losing to LSU.
Bama has the ability to dominate a lesser team like Mississippi State (Bama already beat Arkansas on the road by 23) and the Crimson Tide are uniquely motivated to do so right now.
Against Arkansas, Alabama ultimately leaned on its ground game as its star quarterback left with an injury.
The Bulldogs are coming off a loss to Kentucky in which they allowed Kentucky's leading running back to amass 198 rushing yards. This bodes promise for the SEC's third-leading rusher, Jahmyr Gibbs.
Heisman winner Bryce Young will easily be the best quarterback that Mississippi State has seen all year.
On the other side, Saban's squad has a great history against Mississippi State's pass-heavy brand of offense, already giving Bulldog quarterback Will Rogers his worst performance of his career, in terms of passer rating.
NCAAF Pick: Alabama -21 (-116) at BetOnline
NCAAF Parlay Verdict
With your NCAAF picks in mind, expect an ugly, low-scoring affair between Minnesota and Penn State and a blowout win from Alabama.
Be sure to use our trusty parlay calculator for your parlay betting needs.
NCAAF Parlay Picks
- Minnesota vs. Penn State: Under 44.5 (-110)
- Mississippi State vs. Alabama: Alabama -21 (-116)
NCAAF Pick: Two-Legged Parlay (+255) at BetOnline
*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.