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College football underdog picks: Best bets for Week 7

Look for spread-covering machine Kansas to get the cash at slumping Oklahoma

Kansas Jayhawks running back Devin Neal (left) avoids the tackle of Duke Blue Devils defender Jaylen Stinson (right) during a game in Lawrence, Kansas. (Photo by Jay Biggerstaff/Getty Images)
Kansas Jayhawks running back Devin Neal (left) avoids the tackle of Duke Blue Devils defender Jaylen Stinson (right) during a game in Lawrence, Kansas. (Photo by Jay Biggerstaff/Getty Images)Read moreJay Biggerstaff / Getty Images

When last we saw the Oklahoma Sooners, they were getting whacked 49-0 by their archrival. So of course this week, the Sooners—who have given up 145 points in three consecutive defeats—are … favored? By more than a touchdown? Against an opponent that’s 5-1 straight-up and 5-0-1 against the spread?

We’re not sure how much room is left on the “Fade Oklahoma” train, but suck in those stomachs, because we’re squeezing in.

Indeed, a play against the free-falling Sooners headlines our top four college football underdog picks for Week 7.

Kansas vs. Oklahoma (BetMGM)

Point spread: Kansas (+9) @ Oklahoma (-9)

Moneyline: Kansas (+255) @ Oklahoma (-325)

Total: 62.5 points

Let’s start with a quick confirmation: The 145 points Oklahoma has surrendered in its last three games? Absolutely not a misprint. Prior to allowing seven touchdowns (and countering with exactly zero of their own) against Texas a week ago, the Sooners got torched for 55 points in a 31-point loss at TCU and 41 points in a 7-point home loss to Kansas State.

Quite the downward spiral after opening with wins over Kent State and Nebraska by a combined tally of 82-17.

Now here comes Kansas, the Big 12′s perennial gridiron doormat … until this season. Although the Jayhawks’ unbeaten dreams were dashed in last week’s 38-31 home loss to TCU, they answered every punch the Horned Frogs landed until simply running out of time.

Most impressively, Kansas held its own against the now 13th-ranked team in the country despite losing star quarterback Jalon Daniels to a season-ending shoulder injury. All backup Jason Bean did was trot on the field in the second half and throw for 262 yards and four touchdowns.

Look for Bean to have similar success against an Oklahoma defense that’s given up an average of 276.6 passing yards and eight touchdowns (versus one interception) the last three weeks.

Yes, Oklahoma starting quarterback Dillon Gabriel is expected to return from a concussion after missing the last 1½ games. But even if the lackluster Sooners offense wakes up, Kansas—which is 8-0-1 ATS in its last nine games (6-0-1 ATS as a ‘dog)—should score enough to cover this number.

» READ MORE: Michigan vs Penn State preview: Are Nittany Lions undervalued as touchdown underdog?

Minnesota vs. Illinois (BetMGM)

Point spread: Minnesota (-6.5) @ Illinois (+6.5)

Moneyline: Minnesota (-250) @ Illinois (+200)

Total: 39.5 points

Tough not to like what Illinois has done over the past month, especially on defense. After opening the season with a last-minute, 23-20 loss at border-rival Indiana as a one-point underdog, the Fighting Illini have ripped off four straight wins (3-1 ATS).

Total points allowed during the winning streak: 19.

It should be noted that one of those victories was a 31-0 rout of FCS outfit Chattanooga. But the other three were legit (24-3 vs. Virginia; 34-10 at Wisconsin; 9-6 vs. Iowa).

Minnesota figures to provide the Illinois defense its toughest test to date Saturday. The Gophers averaged 45.8 points during a season-opening four-game SU and ATS winning streak. Then again, the first three foes were cupcakes (New Mexico State, Western Illinois, Colorado). And the fourth (Michigan State) is having a down season.

Also, Minnesota followed its 34-7 beatdown at Michigan State with a 20-10 home loss to Purdue as a 9-point favorite two weeks ago. That snapped a seven-game SU and ATS run that dated back to last November.

The Gophers do have the situational edge coming off a bye. However, the low total in this game suggests there won’t be a lot of scoring (just like last year, when the Illini went to Minnesota and pulled out a 14-6 upset as a 14.5-point underdog).

We’ll take the free points BetMGM is offering in this one.

Rice vs. Florida Atlantic (BetMGM)

Point spread: Rice (+4) @ Florida Atlantic (-4)

Moneyline: Rice (+145) @ Florida Atlantic (-175)

Total: 55.5 points

It’s a Conference USA battle of Owls, and we’re not sure the correct one is favored.

Rice has cashed in four straight games, winning three of those outright. That includes upsets of Louisiana-Lafayette (33-21 on Sept. 17) and UAB (28-24 on Oct. 1) as a double-digit underdog.

Conversely, Florida Atlantic has lost four consecutive contests against FBS opponents. One was a quality defeat (28-26 at Purdue as a 16.5-point underdog). The other three were not: 41-38 at Ohio as a 6-point chalk; 40-14 vs. Central Florida as a 7.5-point underdog; 45-28 at North Texas as a 3-point favorite.

Since last October, FAU is 0-5 ATS as a favorite against FBS competition, with four outright defeats. Now it is laying points to a Rice squad that’s 5-2 SU and 6-1 ATS since the 2021 season finale, including 4-1 ATS as an underdog (three outright upsets).

Given FAU’s recent defensive struggles (38.5 points per game allowed during the four-game FBS skid) and Rice’s recent offensive uptick (29.3 ppg in its last three against FBS opponents), we’ll fly with the Owls from Texas.

» READ MORE: Temple vs UCF preview: Can Owls keep 23.5-point chalk close Thursday night?

Vanderbilt vs. Georgia (BetMGM)

Point spread: Vanderbilt (+38) @ Georgia (-38)

Moneyline: None

Total: 58.5 points

This is one of those close-your-eyes, plug-your-nose and cover-your-ears plays. Because clearly, Vanderbilt has no business being on the same field as the defending national champs—certainly not with a defense that has given up 45, 55 and 52 points to the only three Power 5 opponents it has faced.

So why back the Commodores in a game they have less-than-zero chance to win? One word: situation.

Top-ranked Georgia, which is 6-0 SU but just 3-3 ATS, is in a double lookahead spot. The Bulldogs follow this game with a bye, then head to Jacksonville for the annual “World’s Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party” throwdown against hated Florida.

So what’s Georgia’s motivation to drub Vandy by 40 points? There is none.

As it is, the Bulldogs haven’t exactly been firing on all cylinders lately. Three weeks ago, they sleepwalked through a 39-22 home win over Kent State as a whopping 44.5-point favorite. Then the Dawgs needed a furious fourth-quarter rally to escape Missouri with a 26-22 win as a 31-point chalk.

Georgia did regroup with last week’s 42-10 win at Auburn as a 27.5-point fave, but it was a 21-3 contest entering the fourth quarter.

Vanderbilt’s offense has proven capable, scoring at least 25 points in every game but one. Of course, that one was a 55-3 loss at Alabama. But if the Commodores can at least reach double digits, that should be enough to get us to the window, as Georgia hasn’t hit 50 points this season.

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