College Football Picks - Free Weekly ATS Predictions
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When you’re getting points on a proven winner on a big roll of wins with a great QB who has never lost, it's hard to pass up. And when that team has a better defense, it makes it that much harder. I see the LSU offensive line being under siege, which will disrupt Burrow just enough to keep him from approaching the kind of game he had against Oklahoma. Having been here before and winning as underdogs will show, with the calm and cool Lawrence keeping Clemson right in this game. Clemson is a team the knows how to accumulate the little edges, and their preparedness, experience, attention to detail, and ability to adjust on the fly will serve them well in this spot. I'm taking Clemson.
These teams played one common opponent this season, Texas. Back in September, LSU beat the Longhorns in Austin 45-38, while a month later, Oklahoma topped Texas 34-27 in the Red River Shootout. And both those games played out somewhat similarly, with the Tigers and Sooners taking early leads and hanging on from there. And while that's a small sample size, it seems to indicate these two teams are closer than the spread on this game would have us believe. Oklahoma might not win this one outright, but we like the Sooners and the points.
USC holds the advantage offensively, but Iowa owns the better defense. And in bowl match-ups like this, we like betting the better defense. We'll take the Hawkeyes here.
This game will have importance for both teams. A&M played a brutal schedule this season, and head coach Jimbo Fisher would like to end on a positive note. I would have liked to see more fight from the Aggies heading into this game. Offensive personnel issues notwithstanding, Oklahoma State was better later in the season, and there were some subtle improvements made on defense, giving up a respectable 34 to the high-powered Sooners and allowing a total of just 26 points in their two wins leading up to that. I see some of that carrying over here as the Cowboys hang in there for the cover.
SMU owns an edge on offense, but FAU holds the better defense, and we prefer betting on the better defense in bowl match-ups like this. Also, the Owls ride a six-game winning streak into this contest, while the Mustangs are only 2-2 over their last four. Also, the previous time FAU played this bowl on its home field, two seasons ago, it beat Akron 50-3. And finally, while Kiffin is gone, that's not necessarily a harbinger of failure in games like this. Sometimes teams respond well under interim coaches. We're taking the Owls here, plus the points.
Utah State is the better team here and should win this game and cover this spread, especially if the number if less than a touchdown. We're giving the points here with the Aggies.
As is the case in bowl season, these teams enter this game with a long break, and it might hurt Boise more, even if they've played more recently by a week. The defense might deliver more in this spot at first, and it could be a bit of a grind for the Broncos against one of the better defenses they've seen all season, if not the best. I just don't envision a near-peak Washington team delivering 60 minutes appearing here and getting much separation against a Boise team that has been more-bankable in difficult spots this season than the Huskies. I see Boise making a late move and getting the cover in the Las Vegas Bowl.
Navy is one of the more pleasant surprises of this college football season, winning nine games (so far) after going 3-10 last year. Army, meanwhile, is finishing off a disappointing season, after going 11-2 last year. But these teams are closer than the spread on this game would indicate. Army played well against its toughest opponent this season (Michigan), while Navy played poorly against probably its toughest foe (Notre Dame). Also, the Black Knights' QB situation is a bit up in the air at the moment, but the back-ups have looked good in spots. Finally, seven of the last eight meetings in this series have been decided by seven points or less. We're taking Army plus the points.
Ohio State is very likely to win this game and move on to the CFP. However, during the Buckeyes' seven-game winning streak against Wisconsin, five of those games were decided by seven points or less. And the meeting earlier this season was close well into the third quarter before OSU pulled away. They might not win this one outright, but we're backing the Badgers plus the points.
Barring a minor miracle, Clemson is going to win this game; the only unknown is the margin of victory. We expect the Tigers to put up between 40 and 45 points, but we can also see Perkins leading Virginia to 21-24 points, which would put the Wahoos seven points inside the cover. We'll take UVA and the points here.
Oklahoma is just the better team here, with the more explosive offense and even the better defense. And the Sooners probably won't have to rally from 28 down to win this one. So despite the recent slump ATS, we're giving the points here with OU.
This game will be a back and forth affair that will have plenty of scoring. However, an offensive-oriented environment plays right into the hands of the Rainbow Warriors. While I will not advocate the possibility of an outright upset, stranger things have happened. Be that as it may, Hawaii will give Boise State a fight at the minimum, and I cannot see them losing this game by more than 10 points if that. Tremendous value here in taking Hawaii at their present number.
Will there be an upset? I think there can be. In their regular-season meeting in October, App State and ULL were engaged in a battle for all four quarters, and the Mountaineers did not take a double-digit lead until the final two minutes of regulation. The Cajuns know this, and they know they can play with this team. I would venture to say that last week's scare against the Warhawks of UL Monroe was this team looking ahead to this game because it knows it has a true chance of winning this game outright and dethroning App State as Sun Belt champ. Louisiana-Lafayette will take it to Appalachian State again, but this time the Cajuns will dig deep and may just find a wrinkle to get themselves over the hump against the Mountaineers. We’ll take the points here because this game has all the makings of one that will be settled by a late field goal in either direction.
It'd be foolish to not acknowledge some apparent pitfalls with Utah as a pick this week. Oregon is a good team and reserves the right to come up with a good performance in this game. Against the more-dangerous offenses Utah has faced this season in the conference, their defense wasn't what we saw when smashing some of the more-suffering conference offenses. And urgency isn't always a reliable gauge on what we'll see on the field. Herbert could have a good game in this spot and make it hard on the Utes to cover the number. I just don't sense a bad match from Utah after what they had to go through to get here and with what's on the line. I see them finding away, as their character and wherewithal might be the best parts of their makeup. I like Utah this week.
The American Athletic Conference will probably itself in terms of the New Year’s Six race as I firmly believe Cincinnati can win the re-match outright this time around. Be that as it may, there are plenty of points on the table and I recommend taking advantage of them accordingly.
LSU's explosive offense gets most of the ink, and deservedly so, but that Tigers defense can give up a few points. Ole Miss put up 37 on them a couple of weeks ago. A&M could put up 27-30, and its already covered at +16 against Clemson and +12 against Georgia. They probably won't win the game, but we'll take the Aggies and the points.
Jones is putting up some nice numbers for Alabama, but we all know that Tide offense isn't as explosive without Tagovailoa behind center. Meanwhile, Auburn can run the ball, and it might own the better defense in this match-up. Also, while 'Bama plays for a shot at the CFP, this game is the Super Bowl for the Tigers. We'll take Auburn and the points for our free college football pick.
Oklahoma has failed to cover in their last four games, which have all been close. However, I don't see this game being close at all. Hurts will have a big game lighting up the suspect Oklahoma State secondary, and while Hubbard will get his yards, the OU run defense will keep him from having a huge game. The Sooners will win and cover ending their regular season with a W, as they head to the Big 12 Championship Game.
ULL will not be looking past ULM as it prepares for a re-match with Appalachian State. The Cajuns know what they are in for against their old foes. Though Louisiana-Lafayette will be prepared for Louisiana-Monroe, they won't win this game by three scores, either. Monroe will hang around long enough until Lafayette finally pulls away. However, I don't see the Cajuns extending their lead by more than 14 and thus recommend taking the likely inflated points.
There is one other intangible that Cincinnati has to complement its running game: its defense. The Bearcats give up just 19.9 points per match (23rd in the FBS), which is another excellent parry to Memphis' explosive offense. Cincinnati will limit Memphis' opportunities to score, and when the Tigers have the rock, I anticipate there will be fewer touchdowns and more field goals. Make no mistake, this game is going to be a close one throughout, but no one should be taking back more than a touchdown on either side. Cincy can win this one outright, but be that as it may, I like them to come in under the number.