College Football Odds, Picks: Top 3 Afternoon Bets, including Washington State vs. Fresno State, Oregon State vs. Florida

The Bahamas Bowl and Cure Bowl are behind us, which can only mean one thing: Bowl season is starting to heat up. Saturday comes with six FBS matches on the list, starting at 11am ET and running until 9:15pm.

Our staff is ready to blast into action starting this afternoon with the only Power Five vs. Power Five game on the docket at the Las Vegas Bowl.

After that Florida-Oregon State showdown, we turn our attention to the LA Bowl between Fresno State and Washington State, where the Bulldogs enter the five-pack as the shortstop.

Our staff has broken down both games below and shared their best bets for each. Read on to see how we bet on these afternoon games – and be sure to check out our picks for Saturday night’s bowls.

Saturday afternoon college football best bets

The team logos in the table below represent each of the games our college football team is targeting from their Saturday afternoon game roster. Click on the team logos for a match below to go to a specific bet discussed in this article.

Florida vs. Oregon

Written by Thomas Schlarp

Bowl season often boils down to available staff. The cliché, “Who wants to be there more?” exists for a reason. On the way to the Las Vegas Bowl, Oregon State has a clear advantage in this department over Florida.

The Gators need a win to avoid consecutive losing seasons for the first time since 1978-79 and will miss the services of three of their best players. All-American offensive lineman Oakers Torrence, defensive lineman Ventrell Miller, and quarterback Anthony Richardson all dropped out to prepare for the NFL Draft.

Florida’s offense is run by the 16th-ranked running back in the country with over 200 receiving yards per game. Richardson is a big part of the ground game, rushing for 654 yards and nine touchdowns this season.

The Oregon defense ranks just 82nd in Rush Success this weekend, but with Jack Miller making his first career start under the Gators center, and receiver Justin Shorter — Florida’s leading receiver in yards per game — opting to sit out that guy, the Beavers will be able to devote a lot of attention to fullbacks Montrell Johnson and Trevor Etienne.

Then there’s Oregon State, which comes into the game on a high note having won six of its last seven, including an upset win over rival Oregon at the end of the regular season.

The Beavers’ ground game is as effective as the Florida game, but Oregon State will actually field all three of its All-Pac-12 offensive linemen for this game.

The Gator defense ranks 96th in Defensive Rush Success and will be up against Damian Martinez, one of the most explosive linebackers in the country.

Complicating matters, Florida State’s defense takes a huge step backwards without Miller. Florida allows 5.4 yards per carry without Miller, up from 4.1 yards when he played. The Beavers offense is physical, and we’ll see how bad Florida’s defense actually is or just doesn’t want to be there.

The Gators have struggled to move the ball consistently this season with all their star offensive players in place, and I think they’ll struggle staying just one digit short of the Beavers.

Through business analytics

One of the biggest mismatches of the weekend will be Oregon State’s offense against this Florida defense.

To start, the Gators are ranked 97 or worse in every defensive “five factor” category, while the Beavers enter the top 25 in success rate, havoc allowed and points per opportunity on offense.

Of course, potential first-round no-play pick Anthony Richardson would hurt this Florida team, and result in a less explosive, less successful offense.

Keep in mind that this Oregon State defense is good enough to shut down Florida’s offense with Richardson. Without him, I’d expect plenty of quick drives and good field position for Oregon State.

This could also be a classic case of “who wants to be there more,” as the Beavers are wrapping up one of the most successful years in recent memory looking to build momentum for next season.

Meanwhile, with his star QB out, Billy Napier may actually be looking toward the 2023-24 season.

Because of Florida’s quick drives, Oregon’s flat field position and mismatch between the Beavers and Gators when Oregon has the ball, I expect the Beavers to put up a ton of points this weekend.

pluck or pluck: Oregon State team total over 31.5

Fresno State vs. Washington State

by CJ Vogel

Fresno State quarterback Jake Haener has been hugely influential on the Bulldogs’ point spread this season. Since returning from injury and starting six games, Fresno State has averaged 37.2 points per game.

However, the team’s success doesn’t depend solely on Haener’s performance, as running back Jordan Mims has rushed for over 1,000 yards and scored 16 touchdowns, while receiver Jalen Moreno-Cropper also has over 1,000 yards receiving with five scores.

Meanwhile, the Cougars struggled defensively in their final regular season game against Washington by allowing the Huskies to rack up 703 yards of offense, including 485 from quarterback Michael Bennix Jr.

While the Cougars possess a solid offense, the Bulldogs defense has only allowed 30 points in their last three games.

Despite being a Mountain West team facing a Pac-12 opponent in the LA Bowl, Fresno State is not to be underestimated, as it has proven to be competitive against the top teams. I recommend betting on Fresno State no more than -3.

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