• Rick

CFB Week 7 Best Bets

Kansas Jayhawks @ Oklahoma Sooners (12:00 ET)

Favorite: Oklahoma -9

Total: 62.5

It's no secret that Brent Venables' first season in charge of the Sooners has gone south in a hurry. After dismantling Nebraska away from home I was ready to crown them Big 12 champions this year with what seemed to be an improved defense to go along with their ever-impressive offense. That narrative changed when they were upset in Norman by Kansas state, and got much worse after allowing 55 to TCU then 49 to Texas. Suddenly, this Oklahoma team is fighting for a bowl berth rather than a CFP berth.

The Oklahoma offense has some excuses for their unimpressive performances late due to the injury to Dillon Gabriel. Still, scoring just 19.6 points per game over their last three games won't win many games even if you have Georgia's defense. The Sooners aren't afforded that luxury, and if this defense can't show signs of improvement - or even heart and passion - they'll be run over by a well-coached and schemed Jayhawks team.

The feel-good story of the season may have lost their first game, but if you believe in moral victories they definitely had some. Kansas showed they can hang with the best teams in the conference. That their defense is continually improving even if they allowed 38 points to TCU, and that their offense whether lead by Jason Bean or Jalon Daniels will be able to score on most anyone. This game comes down to passion and intensity - something the Jayhawks will have loads of and the Sooners are looking deep inside for. Kansas will be desperate to notch their first win in Oklahoma since 1996. They might not, but I'll take them to cover a massive spread.

Pick: Kansas +9 -110 (2u)

Alabama Crimson Tide @ Tennessee Volunteers (3:30 ET)

Favorite: Alabama -7

Total: 65.5

Tennessee fans are licking their chops, and rightly so, at their chance to finally take down Alabama for the first time since 2006. This is the best Tennessee football team in over a decade, and Alabama hasn't looked this beatable in a number of years. They barely escaped a trip to Texas and were fortunate to beat the Aggies at home last week. Bryce Young should return for this game, but it's still a bit up in the air. The Crimson Tide typically have lockdown defensive backs that allow Bama to blitz and leave them on islands but succeed. That hasn't been the case as much this year, but don't confuse that with thinking I'm slating the Alabama defense. They might not be the best in the nation, but they're still a top 10 defense easily and are coached by the best in the country. The Crimson Tide are allowing less than 300 yards of total offense per game (271.5) and opposing offenses are converting only 22.6% of their 3rd down tries.

Tennessee comes in riding the most hype they've had in a long time at 5-0. They've dispatched every opponent they've faced with relative ease, with their toughest battle coming against Florida at home looking closer than the final score seemed. We all knew just how good the Volunteer offense was going to be coming into this season, but defensive improvement was imperative if they were to compete with Georgia and Alabama for an SEC Championship. They still aren't phenomenal, but they're servicable. That might be all Tennessee needs this season.

Alabama is a completely different team with the best quarterback in the nation at the helm in Bryce Young, and the stats reflect that. Alabama is 6th in the country in rushing (257.5), 9th in total yards (512.8) and 5th in points (44.3). Tennessee's defense might be servicable but it's still allowing over 400 yards per game, including north of 300 passing yards. Bryce Young leading one of the most potent, balanced offenses will exploit Tennessee to the tune of near 40 points, and I expect this Alabama defense to slow down Tennessee enough.

At this moment, 75% of bets on the spread are on Tennessee and 85% of bets on the moneyline are also on the Volunteers, but the books aren't moving the line and have even moved it up to -7.5. That tells me the books are confident in Alabama and want to continue bringing in money on the Tennessee side. If the books are setting a trap this clearly, they typically cash in. I'll go with the Tide and Nick Saban on Saturday.

Pick: Alabama -7 -110 (2u)

Oklahoma State Cowboys @ TCU Horned Frogs (3:30 ET)

Favorite: TCU -4

Total: 68.5

Last week my best bet was Oklahoma State +3 against Baylor, and I'm going right back to the well this week. Both offenses average over 46 points per contest this year, good for 3rd in the country. There's little to seperate the two there. Where the difference will come is on the defensive side of the ball. Neither have dominated this year, but I have a lot more faith in Oklahoma State's to make big stops when needed. This is easily both teams' biggest test of the year, and the winner very well could be the odds on favorite to win the conference.

While the Oklahoma State defense hasn't been phenomenal this year, there are advanced stats that backup my confidence in them to be the better group. Overall, PFF ranks the Cowboys defense 3rd in the Big 12, while they rank TCU's 8th (out of 10). Additionally, Oklahoma State boasts the 2nd best pass rush while TCU wields the worst in the conference. If the Horned Frogs allow Spencer Sanders time and don't disrupt his cadence he'll do as he pleases for 4 quarters. Where the Horned Frogs do have the edge is in tackling, where they lead the conference. Still, that doesn't make up for poor coverage, rush defense, and a pass rush. There's a clear edge for the Cowboys and they'll show that consistently on Saturday afternoon.

Moving to the offenses, that's where the Horned Frogs have a massive advantage on paper. They rank 2nd in offense in the conference only to Kansas, while the Cowboys rank 8th. Neither are particularly phenomenal or horrible in any category, but sit along their team ranking in each position group. A lot of those numbers keeping the Horned Frogs up are from scoring 59 on Tarleton State and 55 on Oklahoma. I'm sure when the Cowboys are afforded their opportunity to play the Sooners they'll take advantage soon.

Cowboys fans and players alike are desperate to make strides after their 12-2 season last year, and this game is pivotal in taking the next step up. Expect them to continue to surprise and pull off an upset win on the road behind Spencer Sanders throwing in a clean pocket to a plethora of quality wideouts.

Pick: Oklahoma State ML +155 (1u)

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