Week 7 College Football Predictions: Saturday's Best Bets From Across The Country
College football expert and analyst Brett Ciancia is back, giving us his best bets for Saturday's Week 7 games. Brett breaks down all four of his picks, most of which come to us from marquee games like Alabama vs. Mississippi State and Michigan State vs. Indiana.
Make sure you check back each week to see Brett's Saturday college football picks and best bets throughout the entire season.
Nebraska vs. Minnesota Prediction
Not all 3-win records are created equal. Even though Nebraska has the two additional losses so far (3-4 vs. 3-2), these two teams have performed very differently in the opposite direction.
Nebraska has played three of the eight remaining undefeated Power 5 teams – and played them all within a score. Against Oklahoma, a blocked extra-point return and two missed field goals gave OU a net +9 points in a 7-point final margin. Against Michigan State, Nebraska led by 7 with 3 minutes left but a botched punt was returned for the tying score and eventual overtime loss. Last week, Nebraska was back-and-forth with Michigan.
They are much stronger than their record would suggest.
Meanwhile, Minnesota has one of the worst losses in all of Power 5 by losing to lowly Bowling Green (as a 31-point favorite), and another near MAC loss (31-26 vs. Miami as 19-point favorite). They were outgained by 100+ yards in their Purdue win.
Nebraska is playing great football. Adrian Martinez has cleaned up the turnovers, they are hitting explosive pass plays, and are in the national top 15 in yardage differential per game, and explosive plays.
Prediction Nebraska 31, Minnesota 20
Pick: Nebraska -4 @ -110
Michigan State vs. Indiana Prediction
Speaking of explosive plays, it is shocking to see Michigan State playing this high caliber of offense. During the Dantonio era, this program was defined by the elite defense and not much production on offense. That trend worsened into 2020, as Michigan State running backs went the entire 2020 season without rushing for a single touchdown.
In the 2021 opener, Kenneth Walker ran for four scores alone, and he currently leads all Power 5 running backs with nine rushing touchdowns. Further, they are hitting on long-yardage plays and rank towards the top of Pick Six Previews’ “Explosive Offense” metric.
Indiana is in the Big Ten bottom 3 of my Game Grader formula here halfway through the season.
Michigan State will notch another victory on their surprise undefeated run.
Prediction: Michigan State 30, Indiana 20
Pick: Michigan State -4.5 @ -110
Alabama vs. Mississippi State Prediction
Last season I hit a hot streak with BYU and went something like 7-1 ATS here on my weekly Best Bets feature. It’s early, but the inverse may be happening here with Alabama in 2021. Two weeks ago I called for Ole Miss to hang with Alabama in a shootout (covering the 14.5), and last week picked Alabama to blow out A&M. So yes, it’s an 0-2 cold streak but that trend snaps here.
It is rare for Nick Saban to lose a regular-season game. Since 2008, Alabama has lost just nine regular-season games in 14 seasons. But coming off of those losses Saban gets them refocused and they are 8-1 (with an average margin of victory of 21.5 points/game).
Mississippi State appears to be towards the bottom of the SEC West and has battled through close games with four of five finishing within one score. They lost to a bad LSU team and a non-AQ Memphis.
Look for Alabama to take out frustrations on Mississippi State. Remember, with the regular-season loss, their margin for error is zero, and they feel the pressure to light up the scoreboard to impress the Playoff Committee.
Prediction: Alabama 45, Mississippi State 24
Pick: Alabama -17 @ -110
Iowa State vs. Kansas State Prediction
Iowa State had its highest preseason hype in school history but came out flat with losses to Iowa, Baylor, and a near FCS loss to Northern Iowa. But when you dig deeper than just the final score, you’ll see that Iowa State is stronger than their record (yes, special teams have crushed them).
In Pick Six Previews’ Game Grader formula, Iowa State is ranked #1 in the Big 12 here halfway through the season. They are #2 in Power 5 in yardage differential, and per-play differential, which is some of the valuable metrics I use for predictive purposes.
A late rally against Oklahoma helped get the ATS cover, but otherwise, it has been an underwhelming start to Big 12 play for Kansas State.
Prediction: Iowa State 27, Kansas State 17
Pick: Iowa State -6 (-110)
Rutgers vs. Northwestern Prediction
This line caught my eye right away. Rutgers has shown they are not the old Rutgers of the past five years. They competed with Michigan (20-13 loss) and kept Michigan State close for the first half (before a few explosive plays broke it open). Northwestern has not been competitive at all, and as I forecasted in my annual season preview book, this is the low point of their usual developmental cycle. They lost so many veteran starters, their quarterback, and their long-time ace defensive coordinator. This season had “rebuild” all over it, and I picked Northwestern lower than every other preseason publication out there.
Prediction: Rutgers 23, Northwestern 16
Pick: Rutgers -2 (-110)