College Football Odds & Picks: Our Staff’s Best Bets for Saturday’s Mountain West & AAC Championships

Picture Credit: Joe Robbins/Getty Images, William Purnell/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images, Loren Orr/Getty Images & Dustin Satloff/Getty Images. Pictured (L-R, T-D): Cincinnati Bearcats football team, Bershard Glaspie (46), Octavius Evans (1) & Kairee Robinson (32).

Saturday is for more than the SEC and ACC Championships of the world. It’s also for the Group of Five conference championships.

Unfortunately, the Sun Belt Championship between Coastal Carolina and Louisiana-Lafayette was canceled on Thursday, but we still have the AAC and Mountain West title games to get us through.

Our staff made the most of that revelation by picking their eight favorite bets for each of the remaining two games.


Group of Five Championships Staff Best Bets

Our college football staff broke down eight total bets for Saturday’s Mountain West and AAC Championships — three for Boise State vs. San Jose State at 4:15 p.m. ET; and five for Cincinnati vs. Tulsa at 8 p.m. ET.

Click on any of our staff’s picks in the table of contents below to skip to an individual author’s betting analysis.

Bettor Pick Bet Now at:
BJ Cunningham San Jose State +7
Patrick Strollo San Jose State ML (+210)
Collin Wilson Boise State 1H / SJSU 2H
Danny Donahue Tulsa +14.5
Mike Ianniello Cincinnati -14
BJ Cunningham Under 46
Stuckey 1H under 23
Matt Wispe Tulsa +14.5, Under 44.5 (+174)

Mountain West Conference Championship Odds

Boise State Odds -6.5
San Jose State Odds +6.5
Moneyline -227 / +185
Over/Under 55.5 (-115 / -105)
(Photo Credit: Loren Orr/Getty Images.)

Boise State vs. San Jose State | 4:15 p.m. ET on FOX

Our college football staff broke down three bets for Saturday’s Mountain West Conference Championship, including a spread pick, a play on a moneyline underdog, plus bets on both the first-half and second-half point spreads.

Click on any of our staff’s picks in the table of contents below to skip to an individual author’s betting analysis.

Bettor Pick Bet Now at:
BJ Cunningham San Jose State +7
Patrick Strollo San Jose State ML (+210)
Collin Wilson Boise State 1H / SJSU 2H

San Jose State +7 at DraftKings

by BJ Cunningham

I actually have San Jose State projected as a -1.88 favorite, so I think there’s plenty of value on the Spartans at +7.

The Spartans made a drastic switch on offense last season, going to a more pass-heavy attack. So far, it has done wonders. Arkansas transfer Nick Starkel has been fantastic, averaging 9.1 yards per attempt and leading the Spartans to a ranking of 16th in Passing Success, according to College Football Data. San Jose State returned all of its main targets from last season, so this passing attack is legit. 

Boise State has struggled on defense, mainly because it has given up way too many explosive plays. The Broncos are 118th in explosiveness allowed and 124th in explosive passing allowed this season, per College Football Data. That is going to be an issue against the Spartans passing attack, which ranks inside the top 25 in explosive passing. 

The weakness of this Boise State defense can be found against the run. The Broncos are allowing 4.2 yards per rush attempt and are 110th in the country in rushing explosiveness allowed. San Jose State’s run game has come alive in their past few games, gaining 6.8 yards per carry on the ground, so Boise State is going to have trouble keeping the Spartans in check on Saturday.

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San Jose State ML +210 at FanDuel

by Patrick Strollo

Boise State comes into the game with the 86th ranked offense in the country, averaging 368.3 yards per game. They have an offensive PPA per play of 0.19 which ranks 47th in FBS. Defensively, the Broncos are the 33rd-ranked team, allowing 352.5 yards per game. They have a defensive PPA per play of 0.17 which ranks 63rd in the country. So the offense is a little better than you’d think and the defense is a little worse.

San Jose State ranks 22nd in FBS in offensive PPA, and the Spartans are slightly better than Boise in the same category on defense. 

Statistically, San Jose State is the better team. The Spartans have a superior offense and a slightly better defense. My model has San Jose State as 4.5-point favorites in this contest. Given the projection, I find a lot of value in SJSU +210 moneyline. I think that San Jose State is the better team and will win outright.

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Boise State 1H -3.5 & San Jose State 2H at DraftKings

by Collin Wilson

Las Vegas will host two teams that play on completely different rhythms. San Jose State has had a tremendous program turnaround over the past 15 months and reached its first-ever Mountain West Conference championship. 

The Spartans have played improved defense with a sack rate and pass coverage rank in the top 35. 

They’ve posted a positive point and drive efficiency differential in every quarter except the second. San Jose State tends to get going in the third quarter after adjustments, which is in complete contrast of its opponent.

Boise State has dealt with COVID-19 and scheduling issues all season long. Those issues seem to take a toll on the Broncos in the second half. The Broncos are top 10 in first-half scoring differential and over 10 points better than their opponents in the second quarter. The only teams better than the Broncos in scoring differential during the second quarter are elite teams such as Ohio State, Alabama and Notre Dame. 

Coach Bryan Harsin has dealt with depth concerns all season, an item that translates to a negative point differential in the second half.

These teams are on completely different rhythms from a scoring perspective. Expect Boise State to take advantage of San Jose State through the first half, but I’m going to target a live number or second half like on San Jose State.

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AAC Championship Odds

Cincinnati Odds -14.5 (-105)
Tulsa Odds +14.5 (-115)
Moneyline -620 / +450
Over/Under 45
(Photo Credit: Joe Robbins/Getty Images.)

Cincinnati vs. Tulsa | 8 p.m. ET on ABC

Our college football staff broke down five bets for Saturday’s AAC Championship, including picks on either side of the point spread, one full-game under, a first-half under, and a spread-and-total double result.

Click on any of our staff’s picks in the table of contents below to skip to an individual author’s betting analysis.

Bettor Pick Bet Now at:
Danny Donahue Tulsa +14.5
Mike Ianniello Cincinnati -14
BJ Cunningham Under 46
Stuckey 1H under 23
Matt Wispe Tulsa +14.5, Under 44.5 (+174)

Tulsa +14.5 at PointsBet

by Danny Donahue

Though it may not appear this way on the surface, Tulsa has quite a bit going for itself entering Saturday’s AAC Championship — at least from a betting standpoint.

Two Sports Insights Bet Signals have confirmed that sharp bettors have taken the points with Tulsa, though they’ve both come at lines over two touchdowns, indicating the importance in getting a line of +14.5 or better.

Tulsa’s 63% backing (as of writing) has also generated 80% of the money hitting this spread, providing further evidence of the sharp side, since pros are the ones more likely to be making bigger bets.

And lastly, Tulsa fits as a match for three of our PRO Betting Systems:

PICK: Tulsa +14.5

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Cincinnati -14 at DraftKings

by Mike Ianniello

I don’t want to take anything away from this Tulsa team. The Golden Hurricanes have had an incredible season and their defense is legit. They are great against the pass and the run and linebacker Zaven Collins is one of the best defensive players in the entire country.

But their 6-1 record has been built on an incredible amount of luck and a couple flukey plays. They’ve have made a habit of falling behind early, and coming back to win late.

In its six wins, Tulsa has had to come from behind to win four of them. They trailed by 18 to UCF, benefitted from two missed calls on a last minute touchdown drive to beat ECU, trailed 21-0 to SMU, and needed a miracle Hail Mary to beat Tulane.

The Tulsa offense ranks 80th in Success Rate and 70th in Explosiveness. If they fall down early again, good luck trying to come back against this Cincinnati defense.

The Bearcats defense ranks sixth in the country in Success Rate and Luke Fickell’s squad has been dominant all year, allowing just 15 points per game.

Don’t sleep on Desmond Ridder and this Cincy offense, though. It ranks 21st in the country in Success Rate, including 10th in passing Success Rate. The Bearcats average 40.9 points per game.

Cincinnati has won each game this year by an average of more than 27 points. Tulsa has had a great season but the Hurricanes just don’t have the firepower to keep up with the Bearcats and this defense won’t allow any sort of comeback like Tulsa might need.

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Under 46 at DraftKings

by BJ Cunningham

I think we will see a defensive slugfest in the AAC Championship Game between the two best defenses in the conference. I only have 41.69 points projected for this game, so I think there is a little bit of value on under 46 points. 

The Golden Hurricanes have really struggled on offense. Tulsa ranks 80th in success rate and 70th in explosive plays, per College Football Data. The passing game has been average for Tulsa, ranking 66th in passing success, but the rushing attack has really struggled. Tulsa utilizes a three-man running back platoon, but hasn’t been very successful with it, ranking 90th in rushing success and 98th in rushing explosiveness. That’s going to be a problem, since they are going up against one of the best defenses in the country. 


Cincinnati is No. 6 in defensive Success Rate and leads college football in yards per play allowed at only 4.0. The Bearcats have only allowed over 20 points one time this season. They are top 25 in both defensive rushing and passing success, so Tulsa is going to have a tough time moving the ball on Saturday night. 

Although they do not put up the amount of points like some of the nation’s elite offenses, Cincinnati is incredibly efficient. The Bearcats rank 21st in offensive success rate, fifth in explosive plays, and are gaining 6.7 yards per play, per College Football Data. However, their running game hasn’t been that efficient as their main back Gerrid Doaks, is only gaining 4.8 yards per play. He’s struggled in their last two outings, only mustering 149 yards on 41 attempts. 

The Golden Hurricanes also boast an elite defense, ranking No. 5 in yards per play allowed. The reason for that is they rank inside the top 25 in both rushing and passing success rates. They are also fantastic at creating negative plays and turning their opponents over, as they rank 26th in Havoc.

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1H Under 23 at DraftKings

by Stuckey

Tulsa is averaging an abysmal eight points per first half, which ranks 121st out of 127 FBS teams. Here are the teams averaging fewer: Arizona, Utah State, UMass, Bowling Green, Vandy, Kansas. A who’s who of the worst offenses in the country. 

Meanwhile, Cincy’s defense is allowing only 9.1, which ranks in the top 15 nationally. Amazingly, Tulsa has scored just one offensive touchdown combined and averaged only four points per half in the first half of their past four games against Tulane, SMU, Navy and ECU — four defenses nowhere close to the level of Cincy. The offense simply isn’t working early on in games.

For what it’s worth, Tulsa is allowing 10.9 per first half, which ranks in the top 30.

Tulsa’s ultra-inefficient offense has mainly done nothing over the first 30 minutes of games all year and then somehow found ways to hit enough explosive plays late to make a number of miracle comebacks. I’m just not sure how they move it against Cincy, especially early on when they won’t be in desperation mode.

The running game has never worked this year, partly due to losing projected starting RB Shamari Brooks to an ACL tear prior to the season. Tulsa ranks 90th in rushing success rate, averaging 4.0 yards per carry (79th).  So, I’m not sure how they move the ball on an elite Cincinnati secondary that boasts one of the best pass defenses in the nation.

Cincy’s offense has had more success than Tulsa’s, but this will be the best defense it has faced all season by far. The same can be said for Tulsa. 

I think both defensive fronts control the line of scrimmage and we see plenty of punts in the first half. Also, both offenses could be a bit rusty after such a long layoff, while I think Cincy defensive coordinator Marcus Freeman (who is one of the best in the business) will likely come up with something unique to completely suck the life out of this Tulsa offense.

The first half under allows me to avoid the late Tulsa magic, and the possibility that Cincy runs it up to make a statement.

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Line/Total Double Result: Tulsa +14.5 & Under 44.5 (+174) at PointsBet

by Matt Wispe

A total of 44.5 is kind of gross, but this is the matchup to aim low. Cincinnati has gone under in 10 of their last 14 games and Tulsa has gone under in six of their last nine. Both teams rank inside the top 15 for points allowed per opportunity and success rate allowed. 

Beyond their propensity for unders from their defenses, these two teams prefer the running game on offense so we’ll have a consistently-moving clock. And both Cincinnati and Tulsa rank inside of the top 25 in rushing success rate allowed. 

As for the spread, I was tempted to take the Cincinnati moneyline because I’m expecting them to win and they have a lot to play for, but I’m banking on one of my favorite pro betting systems instead. The road dog with low totals PRO system has a 59% win percentage and since we’re projecting a low scoring game, it will be difficult for Cincinnati to win by more than two touchdowns.

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