College Football Betting: Alabama on upset watch as SEC title race heats up

ByESPN Sports Betting ESPN logo
Thursday, November 2, 2023

Week 10 of the College Football is season bring new excitement after the first College Football Playoff rankings were released on Tuesday. Many were surprised to see Ohio Stateranked as the top team despite ESPN BET listing Michigan(+225), Georgia(+250) and Florida State(+600) with shorter odds than the Buckeyes (+700) to win the National Championship. Some of those questions might be answered this weekend as No. 5 Washingtonface No. 20 USCand No. 8 Alabamatakes on No. 14 LSU. With plenty of betting decisions to make our panel of Matt Miller, Kevin Haswell and Kevin Pulsifer break down everything you need to know about the weekend in college football.

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The Michiganare currently a +225 favorite at ESPN BET to win the National Championship. With Georgia (+250), Florida State (+600) and Ohio State (+700) rounding out the top four. What are your thoughts on the College Football Playoff race and who do you think has a chance to make a surprise appearance?

Matt Miller: The committee got it right with the top four teams -- even if you want to argue the order -- and that's what matters most for this time of year. We'll ultimately see Michigan vs. Ohio State and have a great chance to see Oregonvs. Washingtonand Texasvs. Oklahomain their respective conference title games. Having said that, I think Oregon (+1200) is the team to watch here. The defense is playing lights out, the Ducks' offense is potent and the experience of quarterback Bo Nix matters when it comes down to it.

Kevin Haswell: I'm going to go with Oregon as well. The Ducks have four games remaining on their regular season schedule and have at least a 78% chance to win each of those games according to ESPN Analytics. If they win out, that will place one game between them and a potential trip to the College Football Playoff, a revenge opportunity against Washington in the Pac-12 Championship. If Oregon wins out, it will be really hard to keep them out of the CFP. For the value, I like Oregon to make the playoff at +160.

Kevin Pulsifer: I'm surprised by sportsbooks' reluctance to give Ohio State (+700) more credit. ESPN Analytics' top-rated team has four wins against the FPI top 30, including Notre Dameand Penn State. Even if you think Michigan is a little better (I think it's close to a wash), the title odds shouldn't be drastically different, yet Michigan is +225 with a tougher remaining schedule. As for a surprise team to reach the CFP, there's only four teams longer than +200 listed: Alabama(+260) and Oklahoma (+300) feel fairly priced, LSU (+550) is extremely unlikely as a two-loss team, so give me the 20-1 longshot with Penn State. If they beat Michigan and Michigan beats Ohio State, a fifth tiebreaker determines who gets the Big Ten title bid.

No. 5 Washington (-3.5, 76.5) (+160 to win Pac-12 at ESPN BET) enters Saturday night's primetime matchup against No. 20USClooking to remain undefeated. Do you think Michael Penix Jr. and the Huskies can put together a complete performance against Caleb Williams and the Trojans or does USC pull off an upset at the Coliseum?

Matt Miller: USC is reeling behind a terrible defense and the fact that Caleb Williams' offense doesn't have the star power of the top teams in the nation when it comes to supporting casts. Williams has been asked to be a hero, and I'm doubtful he'll be able to put up enough points to top Washington's electric offensive playmakers.

Kevin Haswell: This will be arguably the best quarterback matchup we have seen in college football this season. After losing to Notre Dame and Utah and barely escaping California last week, I think wind has been taken out of the Trojan's sails. USC's hopes of reaching the College Football Playoff are almost certainly gone. As for the Huskies, they are looking to continue a magical, undefeated season. In a game that means more for one side than the other, give me Washington (-3.5).

Kevin Pulsifer: USC hasn't covered in six straight games and its last three wins have all come by one score against middling Pac-12 squads as double-digit favorites. Now we're asking the Trojans to win against a top-5 team that still has everything to play for? Only two of Williams' 34 touchdowns have come in his two games against ranked teams. Washington is putting up 40 point almost every night and USC has allowed over 40 PPG since mid-September. I just don't see a path to the Huskies losing unless they don't come prepared, which is unlikely coming off consecutive unranked opponents and this matchup being in primetime.

No. 8 Alabama (-3, 60.5) welcomes No. 14 LSU to Tuscaloosa on Saturday afternoon for an important SEC matchup. Do you like the Crimson Tide to win this game or will LSU and Jayden Daniels upset the Tide for the second straight year? What are your thoughts on the SEC title race right now?

Matt Miller: Gimme the Tigers! Yes, Nick Saban's team is always tough, but LSU quarterback Jayden Daniels is having a quietly great season and should be in your top three Heisman candidates. Georgia (-160) is of course the team to beat in the SEC -- especially with Carson Beck looking much improved at quarterback -- but LSU (+550) is a sneaky good team that has done nothing but improve since that Week 1 loss to Florida State and the shootout loss to Ole Miss.

Kevin Haswell: Part of me wants to go with the revenge route and pick Alabama Saturday but Jayden Daniels and LSU's offense has been just too good to ignore. Daniels (+400) has the third-shortest odds to win the Heisman, while the offense as a whole leads the FBS in total yards this season. While the moneyline (+135) is enticing, I'd like to have the most points possible against Nick Saban. Give me LSU +3. As for the SEC title race, I still like Georgia to beat whoever comes out of the SEC West.

Kevin Pulsifer: Alabama allowed three touchdowns in the second half of the Texas loss while still trying to decide on a QB. Since committing to Jalen Milroe, the Tide are undefeated and have allowed just three second-half touchdowns in five games (all SEC teams, three with winning records in conference play). Jayden Daniels has been electric, but the Tigers defense has been suspect in key moments. These teams have faced three common opponents, both sneaking past Arkansas and blowing out Mississippi State, but Ole Miss scored 55 on LSU after managing just 10 against Alabama, so give me the more complete team in the Tide. That likely sets up another Alabama-Georgia clash of the titans, so grab your popcorn!

What is your upset pick for Week 10?

Matt Miller: Texas A&M(+3) over Ole Miss. After an embarrassing pick of Florida as my upset special last week, I'm staying in the SEC and looking for the Aggies to stay on track with an underdog win on the road against Ole Miss. The Rebels have won four straight games with at least 27 points scored in each victory, but A&M is getting hot at the right time and has the offensive playmakers and horses on defense to stifle Ole Miss.

Kevin Haswell: In a battle of teams that took down North Carolina this season, Virginiais somehow two-point favorites at home against Georgia Tech. The Yellow Jackets have won multiple games against ranked opponents over the past three weeks and have looked very impressive. In a tightly contested game, give me Georgia Tech to win outright (+110).

Kevin Pulsifer: I'll ride with Arkansasover Florida, currently +195 on the moneyline and 6-point underdogs. Ignore the 0-5 SEC record for a second -- the Hogs have played three top-10 teams on the road and kept them all within one score. KJ Jefferson is a dynamic playmaker with 3 years of SEC experience and the Gators are down their leading tackler in Shemar James. Florida needs that elusive 6th win soon though -- after Arkansas, they face LSU, Missouri Tigers and Florida State Seminoles.

Do you have any favorite bets for Week 10?

Matt Miller: Notre Dame (-3) over Clemsonfeels light. I would hammer that over given the poor play of Dabo's offense and the fact that Notre Dame is a more complete football team. Maybe the infamous press conference this week from Dabo will light a fire under his team, but this feels like a game Notre Dame runs away with.

Kevin Haswell: On Saturday, I see LSU beating Alabama by doing what they do best, score. The Tigers have gone over the total in 12 consecutive games dating back to last season, an active streak that is seven games longer than any other team in the FBS. Alabama's offense on the other hand, is averaging 31 points per game over its last four games. Give me the over 60.5 in LSU-Alabama Saturday.

Kevin Pulsifer: The Iowa-Northwesterngame has a chance to set records with an over/under hovering around 30 (currently 30.5). But I'm looking to the spread for my pick here and taking the Hawkeyes -5. They've covered this number in all but two games this season -- one being a loss to Penn State and the other coming last week when an incorrect call negated a go-ahead TD that would have pushed at -5. Northwestern's four losses this season have all come by multiple scores. I don't know that I recommend watching the game, but I will recommend betting on it.