While most of the major college football betting games take place on Saturday, the action you’ll find on Thursday and Friday will serve as a solid appetizer prior to the weekend.
Louisville Cardinals @ Rutgers Scarlet Knights
Odds: Rutgers -3
This de facto Big East title game features two teams that are coming off losses they had no business putting up. The Cardinals have lost two straight and fell in triple overtime to Connecticut, while Rutgers got walloped at Pittsburgh, but someone has to play for this championship, right? The Cardinals have won and covered in three of their last five meetings with Rutgers, but only one of the last three away against the Scarlet Knights, who are fourth in points allowed nationally. Unless Teddy Bridgewater has a big day, the Cardinals will struggle to put up points.
Pick: Rutgers -3
Northern Illinois Huskies @ Kent State Golden Flashes
Odds: Northern Illinois -6
These finalists for the MAC championship probably have more of a shout to play in the Orange Bowl than either of the above Big East teams. This game will feature two of the best ground attacks in the country as #19 Northern Illinois is ranked ninth in the nation in rushing, while #18 Kent State is 11th, but the Huskies are a little more balanced offensively and they have a better defense as well. The Huskies also have a player in QB Jordan Lynch that would be a surefire Heisman candidate if he played in a “bigger” conference, but who is to say he couldn’t compete against the defenses of the SEC? And will one of these teams have a chance to play in a BCS bowl? This is not only a huge game for the two programs, but the MAC in general.
Pick: Northern Illinois -6
UCLA Bruins @ Stanford Cardinal
Odds: Stanford -8.5
The #17 Bruins looked like a team that already had their eye on the Pac-12 title game as they were thrashed 35-17 at home against eighth-ranked Stanford, but losing at home like that to your rival, especially a week after defeating USC, isn’t a good look. UCLA didn’t look focused at all as the Cardinal ran for 221 yards, and the Bruins also took 12 penalties for 135 yards. Stanford also ran a fumble back for a score and quietly, the Cardinal have one of the best defenses in the country as they’re 11th in points against. Stanford has now won four in a row over UCLA and they’ve won eight in a row at home; after two tough road wins at Oregon and UCLA to put themselves in this position, the Cardinal will be ecstatic to get back on their own field, in front of their fans, with the Pac-12 title on the game. Look for Stanford to put the clamps on in the second half. Bet them on the NCAA football betting lines.
Pick: Stanford -8.5