College Football Betting Guide: Saturday 11/20/21
Baylor and Ole Miss each picked up an upset win to give us a winning Saturday last week, and the season is down to the wire with two weeks remaining before championship week. The best matchup this Saturday will be between Michigan State and Ohio State, with the Spartans looking to get back into the playoff picture after a loss to Purdue, but Oregon also has to travel to Salt Lake City to play Utah, who is actually favored against the third-ranked Ducks.
Both of those games are enticing from a fan perspective, but they don’t offer as much betting value as two matchups featuring midwestern contenders. Michigan is on the road again this week to play Maryland while Notre Dame hosts Georgia Tech in South Bend. The Irish have been profitable over the last month and should be able to continue their streak against the spread versus the lowly Yellow Jackets. Maryland is a potential trap game for Michigan, but the Wolverines won’t look past the Terrapins, even with Ohio State looming ahead.
numberFire has built comprehensive algorithms to pinpoint the bets with the highest probability of returning money, whether you are betting on the total, the spread, or the moneyline. For those new to numberFire, we use a five-star system to show which bets you should be targeting for any given game. Stars represent how much you should risk on a wager relative to what you would normally bet.
For example, if you would normally bet $110 to win $100 on a -110-spread wager, if we give a 3-star ranking, we suggest risking three times that amount: $330 to win $300. Here are the best bets for this weekend with guidance from our model.
Please note that lines are subject to change after this article is published. Please check here to make sure you are seeing the most updated information.
Michigan -15.5 (-110): 5-Star Rating out of 5
The Wolverines closed out another tough road game last week, this time against Penn State in Happy Valley. Cade McNamara took all the snaps at quarterback for Michigan after J.J. McCarthy turned the ball over in his limited appearances in each of the last two games. McCarthy still has a ton of talent and is likely Michigan’s quarterback of the future, but McNamara has improved throughout the year and is playing his best football right now. He and Hassan Haskins (and Blake Corum, if he plays) should take care of Maryland’s defense, which is ranked 73rd in ESPN’s SP+ rankings.
Michigan’s best advantage comes on defense, though, in the form of two potential top 10 NFL draft picks. Aidan Hutchinson and David Ojabo are elite pass rushers, and the Terrapins will likely struggle to keep quarterback Taulia Tagovailoa protected, especially on passing downs, where Maryland’s offensive line ranks 66th in sack rate, per Football Outsiders. Tagovailoa has also thrown 10 interceptions this season, so pressure by the Wolverines could create extra opportunities for Michigan's offense.
Ohio State is next up for Michigan after this one, so the Terrapins pose a typical trap game situation for the Wolverines. However, this Michigan team has proven resilient despite a tough loss to their in-state rivals with road wins against Wisconsin, Nebraska, and Penn State. The Wolverines likely believe they’re ready to take the next step in the Jim Harbaugh era, and they need to take care of business in College Park before hosting the Buckeyes. Michigan has far more talent than Maryland, especially up front on defense with Hutchinson and Ojabo.
Our model projects Michigan to cover the spread with a whopping 73.8% probability, which is good for five stars. Bettors can expect Michigan’s best players to exploit a less talented team in what is a crucial late-season game for a conference contender.
Notre Dame -16.5 (-110): 5-Star Rating out of 5
Notre Dame has found its rhythm in recent weeks, blowing out both Navy and Virginia in their two most recent games. After some uncertainty at quarterback earlier in the year, Jack Coan has had his two best performances in the last three weeks, per ESPN’s QBR, against Virginia and North Carolina. Although top NFL prospect Kyle Hamilton hasn’t played since Notre Dame’s win over USC, the Irish defense (ranked 13th in SP+) has played well.
Georgia Tech, on the other hand, is on a four-game losing streak and has struggled to protect its quarterbacks, allowing a 7.0% sack rate. The Jackets have had inconsistent play under center with both Jordan Yates and Jeff Sims; neither has managed to convincingly win the job as Yates started the year until Sims sparked an upset against North Carolina but lost the job back to Yates before last week’s loss to Boston College. Notre Dame is 25th in sack rate (8.3%) and should make the job harder for whomever Georgia Tech decides to throw at them. Hamilton isn’t the only highly regarded prospect on this team; defensive lineman Isaiah Foskey leads the Irish with eight sacks on the year.
The Irish are big favorites for a reason, and winning this game keeps them in the playoff hunt even if they need help from some of the other contenders. Our model projects Notre Dame to cover with a 77.6% likelihood -- good for another five-star bet this weekend.