College Football Betting Picks for Saturday 9/23/23
College football's Week 4 is where conference action floods the market.
Of this season's most pleasant surprises, the Pac-12 -- in its final campaign as currently constructed -- has eight schools ranked in the AP Top 25 right now. For this upcoming Saturday, the No. 19 Colorado Buffaloes will visit the No. 10 Oregon Ducks. Expect fireworks on offense in Eugene.
Other noteworthy top-25 clashes around FBS this week include the No. 6 Ohio State Buckeyes making the short trip to South Bend where the No. 9 Notre Dame Fighting Irish await. For a bit of SEC action, the No. 13 Alabama Crimson Tide and No. 15 Mississippi Rebels will meet in Tuscaloosa.
Let's dive into Saturday's slate with an emphasis on scoping out the most valuable of the traditional betting markets.
All college football odds via FanDuel Sportsbook. Lines may change after this article is published.
College Football Betting Picks (9/23/23)
Saturday's Full Slate
Implied Road Total
Implied Home Total
(#19) Colorado Buffaloes at (#10) Oregon Ducks
- Time: 3:30 p.m. EST
- TV: ABC
- Spread: ORE -21 (-106)
- Moneyline: COLO +740/ORE -1250
- Total: 70.5
With a roller coaster 3-0 record, Coach Prime and Colorado have already produced plenty of noteworthy action this season. Still, they have yet to face a football team like the one currently fielded at the University of Oregon. The Ducks -- who also enter conference play at 3-0 -- are led by a dynamic quarterback of their own: Bo Nix. Will Shedeur Sanders be able to keep the Buffaloes up to speed without two-way star Travis Hunter?
Colorado was pushed to the limit by the Colorado State Rams last weekend. The Buffs emerged victorious after an incredible offensive drive to force overtime. In double OT, Colorado stifled the Rams for the 43-35 win, but the Buffs' biggest loss came in the first half when CSU safety Henry Blackburn laid an illegal hit on Hunter. By halftime, it was announced that Hunter was en route to the hospital. With a lacerated liver, Hunter is expected to miss multiple weeks.
If you hadn't noticed by now, Oregon's offense has come out of the gate at full speed. Through three contests in 2023, the Fighting Ducks have produced a staggering 58.0 points per game -- 2nd of 133 FBS institutions. Nix has done well to get four of his receivers over 100 yards already with Troy Franklin leading the way. Franklin has 292 yards and 3 scores so far. Also, tailback tandem Bucky Irving and Jordan James have been fierce, combining for eight touchdowns thus far.
Best Bet: Oregon -21
I see Colorado's first Pac-12 contest as a rude awakening. Through no fault of their own, the Buffaloes are tasked with starting conference play by taking on UO and USC -- arguably the conference's top two football schools -- in consecutive weeks. After their slugfest with CSU, I think Colorado sputters without Hunter against Oregon.
The Ducks are 3-0 against the spread (ATS) so far this season. According to the CFB game projections on numberFire, Oregon is estimated to win by a score of 53.10-17.07 (-36.03), providing a confident cover. Considering this game is in Eugene rather than Boulder, I trust Oregon to pour on the points in their third home contest of the season.
(#18) Duke Blue Devils at UConn Huskies
- Time: 3:30 p.m. EST
- TV: CBSSN
- Spread: DUKE -21.5 (-106)
- Moneyline: DUKE -2500/CONN +1100
- Total: 45.5
When the Duke Blue Devils and Connecticut Huskies get together, most sports fans likely first think of college basketball. Regardless, these two universities have made impressive improvements on the gridiron in the current era. At No. 18, Duke currently has their highest AP Top-25 ranking since 1994. On the other hand, UConn is continuing to grow under head coach Jim Mora.
The Blue Devils are thriving on offense right now with dual-threat quarterback Riley Leonard. They have churned out 36.0 points per game so far in 2023 while Leonard is averaging 8.3 yards per carry. Along with running back Jordan Waters, the two form a dynamic duo in Duke's backfield. As a team, the Dukies are rushing the ball for 242.7 yards each contest. Simply, head coach Mike Elko has the program in a strong position.
UConn football has been a cellar dwellar for majority of the current millennium. Keep in mind that the Huskies have competed in Division I-A since only 2000. To commence the action in 2023, Connecticut showed a resilent effort back in Week 1 before ultimately losing to the North Carolina State Wolfpack, 24-14. Since then, the Huskies have scored at least two touchdowns in every game but still find themselves winless in three tries this year.
Best Bet: Duke -21.5
Looking at ATS records, Duke is 2-1 while UConn is at 1-2. This meeting will be in East Hartford rather than Durham, so the Huskies will have that advantage but not much else. I mentioned the Blue Devils' potent ground game in 2023, but their defense has been equally impressive this season, allowing just 9.3 points per contest. Duke held the Clemson Tigers (then ranked ninth) to only seven points in the opening week, so I am confident they can stifle Connecticut.
In 2023, this week will be Duke's first road test. Additionally, this will be their final "cushy" game for awhile. Next week, the Blue Devils host No. 9 Notre Dame before meeting with conference foe NC State. I think Duke flexes their muscles against UConn before tougher tests ahead.
In Week 4, numberFire's CFB game projections have Duke winning by a score of 36.79-14.81. That estimation presents a cover of 21.89 points, and Duke has won be an average margin of 26.7 points this year. The Blue Devils will be the best side Connecticut has faced thus far in 2023, so give me Duke laying points.
UNLV Rebels at UTEP Miners
- Time: 9 p.m. EST
- TV: ESPN+
- Spread: UNLV -2.5
- Moneyline: UNLV -137/UTEP +114
- Total: 49.5
Quietly, they are making major improvements to the football team out in Sin City. No, I am not referring to the Las Vegas Raiders, but rather, the Nevada-Las Vegas Rebels. UNLV is off to a 2-1 start after defeating the Vanderbilt Commodores last weekend. For the Rebs, that was just their third victory ever against an SEC school. So, what will UNLV look like this Saturday against the Texas-El Paso Miners?
UTEP has had a rough go in the early part of 2023. They are among a few schools that have already completed four football games thus far, losing three of them. Simply, the Miners have defeated only Incarnate Word in 2023, and that is not much to boast about. Back at home, UTEP will look to right the ship against UNLV.
In head coach Barry Odom's inaugural year with the Rebels, the bunch from Vegas seems to be playing with increased pep in their step. For a program that has not notched more than seven wins in a season since 2000, UNLV is trending toward a feature campaign behind 30.3 points per game.
Best Bet: UNLV -2.5
I'm sure not many are aware, but like Oregon, UNLV is 3-0 ATS entering Week 4. By far, their toughest test of the season came in Week 2 against the No. 2 Michigan Wolverines in Ann Arbor. They lost that day 35-7 but were getting 38 points on the spread. Preparing for their second away contest of the season, the Rebs head to El Paso, where the road environment won't be anything like what they saw at "The Big House."
UNLV starting quarterback Doug Brumfield exited last week's game against Vanderbilt after a big hit. If Brumfield can't go on Saturday against UTEP, backup signal-caller Jayden Maiava is more than ready to shoulder the lode. In fill-in work last weekend versus the Commodores, Maiava passed for 261 yards and a touchdown while adding another score with his legs en route to a comeback victory.
On ESPN's most recent SP+ rankings, UNLV sits at 99th out of 133 (-11.3) while the Miners are slotted 117th (-15.7). Whichever quarterback the Rebs send out on Saturday, I believe UNLV can cover less than a field goal in El Paso.
(#5) USC Trojans at Arizona State Sun Devils
- Time: 10:30 p.m. EST
- TV: FOX
- Spread: USC -35.5 (-105)
- Moneyline: USC -10000/ASU +2400
- Total: 61.5
Commencing the 2023 campaign, many had the Stanford Cardinal as the Pac-12's worst football team. Well, I am confident in claiming that title should actually apply to Arizona State instead. As it is now, FanDuel Sportsbook has Stanford and ASU tied for the longest odds to win the conference (+50000).
Of course, incoming Southern Cal is the cream of Pac-12 football. At the moment, the Trojans have propelled to fifth in the AP Top 25. This is USC's highest ranking since prior to 2017 when Sam Darnold was under center. I can buy it, though. With reigning Heisman Trophy winner Caleb Williams at the helm these days, the Trojans have scored 59.3 points per game in 2023. That is currently the highest clip in all of FBS, and don't expect it to stop this weekend in the desert.
Through three games, Williams has outputted a QBR of 91.9 (fourth-best in the nation) behind a dozen touchdown passes with no turnovers. If you're wondering what his chances are of winning back-to-back Heismans, Williams currently leads the Heisman odds market at FanDuel Sportsbook with +350 odds.
For the Sun Devils, there have not been many positives on the gridiron in 2023. At 1-2 straight up, they are 0-3 ATS. When glancing at the power rankings on numberFire, Arizona State is way down at 125th (out of 133) with a -31.88 nERD. Who is ASU's best player this season? At this point, wide receiver Elijhah Badger appears to be their most explosive offensive threat.
Best Bet: USC -35.5 (-105)
I'm not sure if the Trojans can go all the way this season (USC currently shows a +1400 price in the CFP National Championship odds), but that train certainly will not halt Saturday night in Tempe. According to ESPN's 2023 college football power index, Southern Cal has a 23.2 rating (5th) compared to Arizona State's -11.5 (109th). In regards to ASU, that is the very worst score of any Power 5 institution right now.
Coming into 2023, Pro Football Focus had USC's offensive line fifth in the nation at that position group. Three games in, that big offensive line has allowed Williams and the Trojan offense to seemingly operate at will. Sure, a -35.5 spread is rather daunting, but SC has aleady covered 37.5 against the Nevada Wolf Pack this year. In their most recent showing, the Trojans shellacked Stanford 56-10.
Facing a Sun Devils side that was just shutout against the Fresno State Bulldogs last week, I am -- once again -- all over Coach Riley's Trojans. When I remember that ASU football currently has a metaphorical dark cloud looming overhead, my confidence is amplified.
The above author is a FanDuel employee and is not eligible to compete in public daily fantasy contests or place sports betting wagers on FanDuel. The advice provided by the author does not necessarily represent the views of FanDuel. Taking the author's advice will not guarantee a successful outcome. You should use your own judgment when participating in daily fantasy contests or placing sports wagers.