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Louisville Cardinals quarterback Malik Cunningham (3). (Photo by Doug Murray/Icon Sportswire)
November 22nd, 2021
The best week of the college football season is here!
Rivalry Week gives us many things: three straight days of games, late-season drama, bad weather, upsets, and an entire year’s worth of bragging rights up for grabs.
Sadly, this fantastic week also marks the end of the regular season, but before we close things out and look ahead to championship season, let’s find a few more outright underdog winners to root for as we gorge ourselves on Thanksgiving leftovers.
Iowa will undoubtedly be one of the most popular underdog picks of the week, but not without good reason. The Nebraska Cornhuskers have now lost as many one-score games as any team in college football history, and with a line of 3.5 points in this one, it only seems logical to take the Hawkeyes at plus odds.
It sounds like a joke, but the Huskers really might be the best eight-loss team ever. They are competitive defensively and move the ball on offense, but when the game is on the line, they have an uncanny knack for making critical mistakes that cost them the game.
If Adrian Martinez continues to carelessly throw the ball in bad spots against this Iowa defense, he will take his team out of the game. With a bad shoulder that had many questioning if he would even finish the season, this seems like a likely outcome.
Nebraska hasn’t defeated Iowa since 2014.
The Kentucky Wildcats have been steadily improving during the tenure of head coach Mark Stoops and will now get their first opportunity in two years to take on their in-state rival, the Louisville Cardinals.
The Wildcats are small underdogs playing on the road, but the overall talent and toughness advantage lies with the visiting team in this matchup.
Kentucky has won two straight in this series, and while 2020 prevented these teams from playing each other, the 2018 and 2019 contests resulted in a combined 101-23 outcome in favor of Kentucky.
Kentucky plays a physical brand of football focused on good defense and a solid running game. Both teams are excellent running teams, with Louisville third in the nation at 5.6 yards per attempt and Kentucky ninth at 5.4 yards per attempt.
Only the 2nd player in NCAA history with 300+ Passing Yds & 200+ Rushing Yds in a game...@MalikMalikc10!!!#GoCards pic.twitter.com/F2xujZZ2qW— Louisville Football (@LouisvilleFB) November 19, 2021
Only the 2nd player in NCAA history with 300+ Passing Yds & 200+ Rushing Yds in a game...@MalikMalikc10!!!#GoCards pic.twitter.com/F2xujZZ2qW
On the other side of the ball, however, Kentucky is 21st in the nation at stopping the run, while Louisville is just 69th.
The road team is 6-1 against the spread in the last seven matchups between these teams, and Kentucky’s tougher defense will earn it the victory here.
Virginia has played the role of little brother in this matchup for decades, as Virginia Tech has won 19 of 21 matchups since the turn of the century.
With the relative downturn in Virginia Tech’s outlook, plus the arrival of Bronco Mendenhall in Charlottesville, things appear more level, with the home team Wahoos favored by eight in this heated in-state rivalry.
For all of their turmoil and disappointment, however, the Hokies are still 5-6 on the year and just a game below Virginia’s 6-5. This is an opportunity to make a bowl game, and motivation will be in full supply.
Virginia Tech falls to Miami 38-26. ’Canes QB Tyler Van Dyke threw for 357 yards and three touchdowns.The #Hokies drop to 5-6 overall and 3-4 in the ACC, needing to win at UVa next week to make a bowl game.— Andy Bitter (@AndyBitterVT) November 21, 2021
Virginia Tech falls to Miami 38-26. ’Canes QB Tyler Van Dyke threw for 357 yards and three touchdowns.The #Hokies drop to 5-6 overall and 3-4 in the ACC, needing to win at UVa next week to make a bowl game.
The Hokies are 4-1 ATS in the last five matchups between these teams and have done a better job recruiting in-state players over the years. They also had significantly better recruiting classes overall from 2017-2019, which tells me their floor is higher than Virginia’s.
Neither defense has looked great in 2021, and this could be a back-and-forth affair.
The Oregon Ducks had their championship dreams crushed last Saturday against Utah, while their rivals, the Beavers, ran all over the Arizona State Sun Devils.
Now they face each other with the top spot in the Pac-12 North up for grabs.
The Ducks’ weakness this year has been Boston College transfer and starting quarterback Anthony Brown, who is an athletic senior but not skilled enough as a passer to really open up the offense in a way we’re used to seeing in Eugene. He has just 13 touchdowns and an average passer rating.
The Beavers have an excellent offensive line that allows for a power-running game, and they come in eighth in the nation in yards per rush attempt. All of the momentum coming into this game sits with the visiting underdogs.
At 5-6 overall, this could be LSU head coach Ed Orgeron’s final game as a Tiger. Between the motivation to win for a departing coach that helped bring a championship to the Bayou and an opportunity to win at home to earn a bowl berth, the Tigers should come out with plenty of energy.
Aggies quarterback Zach Calzada has looked unimpressive to me all season long, and I think the Tigers pass rush can get to him and cause problems.
The Aggies are 0-10 ATS in the last 10 matchups between these two teams.
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