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NY Post
New York Post
21 Oct 2023

NextImg:College football predictions: Three bets to consider on Saturday

The College Football Playoff race is heating up, with de facto elimination games being held between nationally ranked teams in the ACC, Big Ten, SEC and Pac-12 this weekend. But only one of those pivotal matchups features a home favorite that should be on upset alert.

Penn State moneyline +155

— Ohio State may have the home-field advantage, but the Buckeyes are still walking into an ambush on Saturday.

Penn State leads the nation in defensive havoc and also holds the top stop in terms of success rate on that side of the ball.

Kyle McCord has made meals out of the Buckeyes’ lesser opponents, but he struggled against Notre Dame’s defense. The Fighting Irish defense is good, but a far cry away from what the Nittany Lions have put on tape thus far in 2023.

Penn State leads the nation in sacks by a wide margin, having dropped opposing passers 4.5 times per game.

McCord’s offensive line is ranked just 48th by Pro Football Focus when it comes to pass blocking. He’ll be under duress for much of this game, which should translate to at least one interception.

He has been lucky his turnover total isn’t higher given two fumbles and seven turnover-worthy throws thus far in 2023.

Kyle McCord

Ohio State quarterback Kyle McCord
Getty Images

On offense, Penn State has succeeded in both running and protecting the football. As a team, it averages more than 200 yards per game on the ground (16th) and has just three giveaways all season (second). Drew Allar has lived up to the hype while operating within Mike Yurcich’s system.

Allar is a check-down king, but against an Ohio State defense that excels at limiting big plays, that is actually a bonus. His performance against the Iowa defense last month (four touchdowns, 88.5 QBR) indicates that he’ll be able to lead his team to a pivotal road victory on Saturday.

Given the Penn State defense, it may only require 21 points to get the job done.

Georgia State moneyline +140

While I foresee Penn State grinding out a win, this Sun Belt clash shouldn’t be all that close. Louisiana has feasted on inferior competition.

Georgia State Panthers quarterback Darren Grainger runs upfield during the second quarter of a college football game against the Old Dominion Monarchs.

Georgia State Panthers quarterback Darren Grainger
Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

The Ragin’ Cajuns have faced four opponents outside the Sagarin Top 100. That bolstered their win-loss record and rushing stats. But the Panthers are no paper tigers, nor is their run defense, which ranks top 30 in a few key metrics.

When Georgia State has the ball, it is led by a dynamic backfield of Darren Grainger and Marcus Carroll. That duo has combined for 518 rushing yards and six rushing scores in the Panthers’ three Sun Belt contests.

Its offensive line plays a big part in its success and currently ranks 20th in havoc avoidance.

Toss in Zeon Chriss at quarterback for Louisiana, a redshirt freshman in just his fourth career start, and this game has the makings of a runaway for the underdog.

Over 57.5

Virginia is the exact kind of opponent you want to see when targeting an Over. The Cavaliers are awful defensively (111th in success rate), they can pop the big play when they have the ball, and they’re an awful second-half team (21 ppg allowed in second halves, 129th).

North Carolina, meanwhile, is only getting better on offense now that receiver Tez Walker has joined the fold. The Tar Heels have scored 40-plus points in four of their last five games and Drake Maye has elevated his play to Heisman Trophy levels. During this stretch, he has averaged 358 total yards per game with 14 total touchdowns against just three turnovers.

If Virginia can pitch in just 17 points, the game will cruise past that number.