The college football season is now well under way and with it, our weekly college football picks.
Last week we came up with our third consecutive winning week with the help of a miracle cover from the Florida Gators and an up-and-down performance from Alabama. This week we'll look to keep those winning ways going.
It's another tough week out there — conference play is about to make college football even more stressful for die-hard fans and there are a ton of ranked teams heading out on the road leaving us with many home underdogs that could put together something special in prime time.
We've narrowed it down to our seven best bets of the week and will see if we can come out ahead of the bookies once again.
All lines courtesy of the Westgate Las Vegas Superbook.
Top football coaches' salary
Top football coaches' salary
Coach Ken Niumatalolo has been at Navy since 2007. He made a cool $2 million for 2016. Navy finished 9-3 in the regular season, then went on to lose 48-45 to Louisiana Tech in the Lockheed Martin Armed Forces Bowl.
Matt Rhule has been Temple head coach since 2013, starting out as an assistant coach and then moving up to head coach in 2015. His take-home base salary for 2016 was a little more than $1 million. Temple went 10-3 this season, then lost to Wake Forest in the Military Bowl, 34-26.
Pat Narduzzi will cash out with a nice $2 million base salary for 2016, his second year as a head coach there. Pitt went 8-4 for the season, followed by a 31-24 loss to Northwestern in the New Era Pinstripe Bowl.
It was Justin Fuente’s first year as head coach of the Hokies, and he did pretty well for himself, with a $3.2 million base salary. VA Tech went 9-4 on the year and beat Arkansas 35-24 in the Belk Bowl.
Butch Jones just finished his fourth year as head coach at Tennessee, where he earned a base salary of $4.1 million. The Volunteers were 8-4 in the regular season and beat Nebraska 38-24 in the Franklin American Mortgage Music City Bowl.
Les Miles, the coach since 2005 at Louisiana State University, was making a $4.3 million base salary when he was fired four games into the 2016 season. His replacement, Ed Orgeron, signed on for a little less: a reported $3 million to $4 million. LSU went 7-4 on the year before beating Louisville in the Buffalo Wild Wings Citrus Bowl, 29-9.
Kyle Whittingham has spent his entire head coaching career at Utah. Ten years ago he was making $672,000; for 2016 he earned a base salary of $3.65 million. Utah went 8-4 on the season before beating Indiana 26-24 in the Foster Farms Bowl.
David Shaw has been coaching at Stanford since he started coaching, first as an assistant and then as head coach, just finishing up his sixth year. He nearly doubled his salary from 2015 to 2016, making more than $4 million this past year. Stanford went 9-3 for 2016, then beat North Carolina in the Hyundai Sun Bowl, 25-23.
The Gators have had their fair share of coaches. Finishing up his second year, Jim McElwain pulled in a base salary of more than $4.2 million. The team went 8-4 on the 2016 season, then beat Iowa 30-3 in the Outback Bowl.
Dana Holgorsen has been at West Virginia for six years now, and he made nearly $3 million base salary for 2016. The school had a 10-2 record for the regular season, then lost to Miami in the Russell Athletic Bowl, 31-14.
Hats off to P.J. Fleck, who led the Broncos to a perfect 13-0 season in 2016. Unfortunately, post-season wasn’t as good to the team, as Western Michigan lost to Wisconsin, 24-16, in the Cotton Bowl Classic. Fleck earned a little more than $820,000 this past season, far less than coaches of teams that lost a few games.
After receiving a new seven-year contract with Louisville in 2016, Bobby Petrino took home a nearly $4 million base salary as the head coach of the Cardinals. He led his team to a 9-3 season before falling to LSU, 29-9, in the Citrus Bowl.
Jimbo Fisher is the fifth-highest-paid NCAA head coach, pulling in $5.25 million for the 2016 season. The Seminoles went 9-3 this past year before beating Michigan, 33-32, in the Capital One Orange Bowl.
Clay Helton has been at Southern California for a few years, but last year was his first full season as head coach. As a private school, USC is not required to disclose salary information. Some sites report a $3.6 million payout for last year, but it hasn’t been confirmed. USC went 9-3 this past season and went on to beat Penn State, 52-49, in the Rose Bowl.
Paul Chryst wrapped his second year as head coach of the Badgers with a 10-3 performance from his team. Wisconsin then won 24-16 in the Cotton Bowl over Western Michigan, and Chryst made $2.7 million for the year.
No NCAA head coach makes more money than Jim Harbaugh. The Wolverines’ coach pulled in $9 million during the 2016 season as his team went 10-2 on the year, then followed up with a 33-32 loss to Florida State in the Capital One Orange Bowl.
With a $3.6 million paycheck for the year, Chris Petersen is the 25th-highest-paid head coach. His team, the Washington Huskies, went 12-1 in the regular season this year before losing to Alabama in the Peach Bowl College Football Playoffs semifinal, 24-7.
As the third-highest-paid head coach in college football, Urban Meyer pulled in $6 million this past year. The Buckeyes went 11-1 in the regular season before losing to Clemson, 31-0, in the Fiesta Bowl College Football Playoffs semifinals.
Dabo Swinney, head coach at Clemson since 2008, pulled in more than $4.4 million for 2016 as the Tigers went 12-1 for the regular season, making them one of the best teams in college football. Clemson upset top-ranked Alabama in the National Championship Game, 35-31.
The Crimson Tide went 13-0 in the regular season but lost to Clemson in the National Championship Game, 35-31. Longtime head coach Nick Saban is one of the most successful college football coaches in history, and his salary reflects that. He ends his season with a base salary of nearly $7 million, making him the second-highest-paid college football coach.
Florida did not look impressive offensively last week but they were able to pull out a miracle cover for bettors with the help of a last second Hail Mary being answered by the gambling gods. This line is too low and it smells like a trap game, but Florida is currently sporting a 30-game win streak against the Wildcats dating back to 1986. All streaks have to end at some point, but few trends in gambling go back that far.
Alabama (-18.5) over Vanderbilt
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We've cashed our bets for two consecutive weeks by betting against Alabama covering big numbers against lesser-known schools, and following that trend on a surging, 3-0 Vanderbilt team is a tempting offer. But facing their first SEC opponent on a national stage, this is a good spot to pick Alabama to put it all together and lay the smack down on the Commodores. Nick Saban has only done what he needed to do to win these past couple of weeks, but with murmurs of Clemson jumping Bama in the rankings, expect the Crimson Tide to come out and make a statement.
Penn State (-12.5) over Iowa
Iowa is known throughout the Big Ten for playing spoiler to teams that think of themselves as championship-bound, and most recently accomplished the feat last season against a second-ranked Michigan squad. Penn State also knows this fact all too well, most notably losing in Iowa City in 2008 after coming into town undefeated and ranked third in the nation. While the Nittany Lions beat up on the Hawkeyes last year as a bit of long-awaited revenge, there's still a bit of lingering desire to bury Iowa in their home town. At the very least, they'll know not to take Iowa too lightly.
Oklahoma State is one of the hottest teams in the country. With a high-powered, pedal-to-the-metal offense, the Cowboys have pounced on teams early, having outscored opponents 59-0 in the first quarter just three games into the season and won each of their contests so far by 35 points or more. But the Pittsburgh Panthers are the toughest team they've faced so far, and TCU comes into this one a bit more tested with games against SMU and Arkansas already under their belts. We don't know if the Horned Frogs will be able to stifle the Oklahoma State attack, but with almost two touchdowns of cushion to work with, bettors at least have a bit of breathing room.
Georgia (-5) over Mississippi State
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We cashed in on Mississippi State last week after they gave an absolute shellacking to LSU, but they're about to go up against a Bulldog that is likely in a different pedigree. With fans that were dedicated enough to fly out to South Bend and take over the stadium, look for Georgia to put on a show for the home crowd.
UCLA (+7.5) over Stanford
After fading Josh Rosen on the road last week, we're backing the Bruins in this spot because they don't have a cross-country flight to take before kickoff. Stanford is a solid team, but getting more than a touchdown with a team that can move the ball as effortlessly as UCLA feels like a solid bet.
UNC (+2.5) over Duke
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It's college basketball's biggest rivalry, now in football! This is more a value play than anything else — North Carolina hung with Louisville for most of the game when the Cardinals came to Chapel Hill two weeks ago, and Duke is probably not as perfect a team as their 3-0 record would indicate. Who better to end their undefeated run than their hated Tar Heels?