We should’ve gone 2-0 last week. As I’m sure you remember, our first under-the-radar play for Week 6 was the under 54 points in Cincinnati-Temple. It should’ve hit. But the Bearcats didn’t know when to lay off the poor Owls, putting up 52 points of their own in a 52-3 win. Sometimes, stuff like that happens in sports betting.
Fortunately, the UTSA Roadrunners made up for it with an impressive straight-up victory over Western Kentucky as 4-point road underdogs. So we’ll take the 1-1 week and move onto Week 7.
- Week 6 record: 1-1
- 2021 season record: 12-8
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Clemson Tigers -14 at Syracuse Orange, Total 45.5
It’s rare to feature Clemson in our under-the-radar plays, but with the Tigers unranked, this game officially qualifies.
Both the Tigers and Orange have struggled to throw the ball this season, as the two teams are averaging fewer than 180 passing yards per game this season. The difference is Syracuse can run the ball and averages over 244 yards per game on the ground.
While Syracuse may be one-dimensional, the Tigers’ offense is simply dysfunctional. Clemson ranks outside the top 80 nationally in both passing and rushing offense, and I’m sure fans are wishing Trevor Lawrence had an extra year of eligibility.
The problem is, Lawrence might not be doing much better than D.J. Uiagalelei right now. The Tigers have major issues along the offensive line and have surrendered 10 sacks in five games this season. While the Tigers might’ve fixed some things during their bye week, they’ll face a stiff test against a Syracuse defense that ranks 31st in the country in both rushing and passing defense. And this Clemson offense simply isn’t as talented as past renditions.
Meanwhile, the Orange have found a revelation in freshman tailback Sean Tucker, who’s tied for second in the country with 791 rushing yards. The critical matchup will be whether Syracuse’s offensive line can continue to own the trenches against a formidable Clemson front seven that ranks 21st against the run.
Clemson unders have gone 4-1 this season, and I’m expecting another low-scoring game against a strong Syracuse defense. The Tigers’ offense can’t be trusted right now, and I suspect their defense will dare Syracuse to beat them through the air and load up the box.
All of this adds up to an under bet, but I also like Syracuse at +14 or better.
The picks: Under 45.5 (favorite play), Syracuse +14
UCLA Bruins +1.5 at Washington Huskies, Total 55.5
This is a really interesting PAC 12 crossover game. The Bruins are exceptional at running the football, and the Washington defense is ceding over 182 rushing yards per game. On the flip side, the Huskies passing game could excel against a Bruins pass defense allowing 307.8 yards through the air.
Washington’s pass defense is also exceptional, allowing just 147.8 yards per game. However, I’m taking that with a grain of salt, considering they’ve faced only one team ranked inside the top 50 in passing offense, Arkansas State. It’s even more concerning that the Huskies rank 101st in rushing defense against a pretty weak schedule.
I’m a bigger believer in UCLA, who is more battle-tested with games against LSU, Fresno State, Stanford, and Arizona State. The Huskies, meanwhile, have wins over Cal and Arkansas State and their toughest test of the season came against Michigan.
UCLA is the more well-rounded team, and I expect their strength on the ground to prevail. There may be concerns about looking ahead to next week’s contest at home with Oregon, but the Bruins can’t afford to look past the Huskies.
The pick: UCLA +1.5, play down to a PK
Army Black Knights +14 at Wisconsin Badgers, Total 39.5
This is gonna be ugly, but I have to do it. Which team is exactly scoring points in this one? The Badgers offense averaging 19.5 points per game, or an Army offense that prides itself on staging long drives with a triple option rushing attack?
If Clemson’s offense is a disaster, then Wisconsin’s is a dumpster fire. Quarterback Graham Mertz stinks. He’s thrown two touchdowns and seven interceptions this year. Wisconsin has scored more than 24 points just once this season, and that came against Eastern Michigan.
More importantly, both of these teams have been outstanding against the run. Wisconsin owns the best rushing defense in the nation and should contain the Army rush attack that averages 318 yards on the ground. Meanwhile, Army ranks third in the country in run defense, which means Mertz will have to make things happen through the air to get points on the board. And something tells me that won’t happen.
This is a really strange interruption in Wisconsin’s schedule as they resume Big Ten play at Purdue next week. Meanwhile, this is Army’s biggest game of the season aside from its annual meeting with Navy. I’m expecting a maximum effort from the Black Knights, who are also coming off a bye.
While I will definitely be betting on Army +14 and will probably sprinkle a little on the moneyline, I will only recommend the under for now.
The pick: Under 39.5, play down to 38.
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Matt Barbato is a featured writer at BettingPros. For more from Matt, check out his archive and follow him @RealMattBarbato.