Last Updated Aug 30, 2021, 9:56 AM

Saturday's Essentials

Editor's Note: College Football Member and Totals leader Antony Dinero is on a 34-16 (68%) run on totals and is at +2080 this season. Don't miss out on more winners from him through bowl season on Click to win!

Here’s a look at what must be considered before wagering on Saturday's slate in key FBS vs. FBS matchups:

Early Starts

Purdue at Penn State (-28/54), 12 p.m. ET, ESPN: Boilermakers QB Elijah Sindelar and star WR Rondale Moore were injured on the same play in last week’s loss to Minnesota and won’t play here. Sindelar broke his collarbone and Moore injured a knee, so they’ll join a number of Purdue’s top defensive players and projected starting backs Tario Fuller and Richie Worship in missing the team’s Big Ten road opener. It’s homecoming week in Happy Valley, so we’ll see how effectively the Nittany Lions handle business against depleted Purdue will the peril of looking ahead to games against Iowa, Michigan and Michigan State the rest of this month an obstacle in covering such a large spread. Since 2010, the Boilers are 0-10 in games where they’ve been an underdog of 23 points or more but they’ve covered in six of those games. Penn State QB Sean Clifford threw for 398 yards and set a new school record by throwing for 287 in the first half. Despite losing Trace McSorley and Miles Sanders, PSU is averaging 50 points per game after putting up a 55.5 clip through four games last season.

Maryland (-13.5/56) at Rutgers, 12 p.m. ET, BTN: The Scarlet Knights are under new leadership since Chris Ash caught a pink slip after Saturday’s 52-0 loss at Michigan. Offensive coordinator John McNulty was let go too, so Nunzio Campanile, a veteran of the New Jersey high school scene, will get his shot to impress in turning an interim gig into a full-time job by calling his own plays. Sophomore QB Art Sitkowski will redshirt and starter McLane Carter remains still sidelined by a concussion so redshirt freshman Johnny Langan, a Boston College transfer who won a state title under Campanile in ’17, will see his first action. The Terps are looking to rebound from last weekend’s 59-0 home loss against Penn State and play at banged-up Purdue next week, giving them an opportunity to rally after consecutive losses. QB Josh Jackson has developed a case of the yips after a fantastic start and probably can’t afford a third straight opening-drive interception. Tyrell Pegrome and redshirt freshman Tyler DeSue are waiting the turn, but first-year Maryland head coach Mike Locksley would certainly prefer if Jackson rebounds since he gives the team the best chance to win. Between a banged up offensive line and top WR D.J. Turner suspended, the Terps need him to avoid turnovers and serve as a stabilizing force on the road. RB Anthony McFarland was bottled up by Penn State but should get plenty of carries as he looks for his second 100-yard game of the season.

Oklahoma State (-10/63.5) at Texas Tech, 12 p.m. ET, FS1: Alan Bowman remains sidelined with an unfortunate collarbone injury that knocked him out after an excellent start and it looks like Jett Duffey will be the starter until he returns. Rice transfer Jackson Tyner started against Oklahoma but was ineffective while Duffey has more experience in Big 12 play and will look to help prevent Tech’s first 0-2 start in league play since 2015. The Cowboys bounced back from their tough loss at Texas by stifling K-State and look to avoid consecutive losses against the Red Raiders for the first time since 2002, back when Mike Gundy was still Les Miles’ offensive coordinator. Gundy’s latest QB, athletic freshman Spencer Sanders, will be challenged to make throws on the road to beat teams, so this will be another opportunity to demonstrate growth after struggling with consistency since conference play opened.

Iowa at Michigan (-4/47.5), 12 p.m ET, FOX: After destroying Rutgers, the Wolverines are back in a position where Jim Harbaugh’s team can disappoint everyone. It’s Homecoming week in Ann Arbor and a capable Hawkeyes team comes through town for the first time since 2012. That happens to be the only time Michigan has won in the last six meetings between these schools dating back to ’09. Kirk Ferentz is 7-5 against Michigan and beat Harbaugh 14-13 as a 21-point underdog back in ’15 to spoil a 9-0 start. Shea Patterson is on campus to prevent that type of loss and looks to salvage the season after a dreadful opening month. He’s expected to be the healthiest he’s been all season after being limited in September, but the key to a strong outing is going to keep Iowa’s AJ Epenesa, the nation’s top pass rusher, from disrupting his rhythm early. The Hawkeyes haven’t been at full strength but get top tackle Alaric Jackson from a sprained knee and safety Kaevon Merriweather back to help in the secondary.

Oklahoma (-33.5/66.5) at Kansas, 12 p.m. ET, ABC: Last year’s game shed the spotlight on what can happen when a team doesn’t respect their competition. Consider that a Heisman Trophy winner and No. 1 pick and a number of future pros had to go up and down the field in order to survive last year’s Jayhawks 55-40. Pooka Williams ran for 252 yards on 15 carries and will therefore have the attention of Sooners defense looking to show continued improvement prior to next week’s Red River Shootout. Oklahoma owns the nation’s most prolific offense with Jalen Hurts at the controls, but covering this number or eclipsing this total will likely hinge on freshman Spencer Rattler, the nation’s top QB recruit. He’s likely to get snaps with the second unit down the stretch and will probably be facing the first-team defense with Les Miles seeking improvement from a group that gave up a season-worst 51 points at TCU last week. .

TCU at Iowa State (-3.5/44), 12 p.m. ET, ESPN2: The Horned Frogs won’t be back in Fort Worth until they host Texas on Oct. 26. In order to have a shot at playing for a Big 12 title, they’ll need to pull off a number of road upsets. While freshman QB Max Duggan has taken over as the starter, K-State transfer Alex Delton has experience playing in Ames and should see time. Duggan is an Iowa native returning home and was recruited by the Cyclones. Top TCU corner Julius Lewis will make his debut opposite fellow senior Jeff Gladney, boosting one of the conference’s top secondaries. WR TreVontae Hights is also due back after missing last week’s rout of KU. The Cyclones come off a 23-21 loss at Baylor and have wasted a strong defensive effort in losing tight games against rival Iowa and the Bears in last week’s Big 12 opener. Iowa State DE JaQuan Bailey and center Colin Newell could miss this contest. The Frogs have won eight of 10 meetings in this series, last falling in Ames 14-7 in 2017. Rain could play a significant role in this contest, so keep an eye on the forecast.

Boston College at Louisville (-5/60.5), 12:30 p.m. ET, ACCN: The loser of this one will take a second conference loss before facing Clemson, which each of these teams is forced to do later this month. It’s likely that whoever drops this game will miss out on a bowl game given their remaining schedules, which would be an easier pill to swallow for Louisville first-year head coach Scott Satterfield on the heels of a 2-10 season than it would be for Steve Addazio in a season where BC has the talent to win eight games for the first time since ’09. Losing to Kansas at home was a wakeup call and last week’s home loss to Wake Forest was disappointing, but the wrong team appears favored here. The Cards have to prove this season’s improvement against the run isn’t smoke and mirrors and must do so against standout backs AJ Dillon and David Bailey. Dillon ran for 272 yards and four touchdowns in his first visit to Louisville in leading BC to a 45-42 win. The Eagles won last season’s matchup 38-20. The ‘Ville likely won’t have top QB Puma Pass available due to a foot injury, but backup Malik Cunningham looks to be over an ankle issue and should start.

Afternoon Delights

Texas (-14/53.5) at West Virginia, 3:30 p.m. ET, ABC: Sam Ehlinger has dealt with sore ribs but is going to be out there in Morgantown, looking to help keep the Longhorns from being caught looking ahead to next week’s showdown vs. Oklahoma. The standout junior QB has a 15-to-1 touchdown-to-interception ratio and could get back WR Collin Johnson, who has missed multiple games with a hamstring injury but traveled with the team and is a game-time call. Ehlinger has done an excellent job spreading the ball around and Devin Duvernay has emerged as the No. 1 receiver, so the Mountaineers will have their work cut out for them against the top passing attack they’ve run into this season. Oklahoma transfer QB Austin Kendall had a rocky opening month at the helm for West Virginia but will be coming off a bye and has shown a better grasp of the offense, capitalizing on his stable of running backs with heavy use of RPOs. The Mountaineers’ defense will be missing senior safety JoVanni Stewart and DE Taijh Alston but gets Alabama transfer Vandarius Cowan in the mix. They’ve won three of the last four matchups with Texas including last season’s 42-41 win on Will Grier’s last-minute scamper.

Baylor at Kansas State (-1.5/48.5), 3:30 p.m ET, ESPN2: After defeating Iowa State last weekend, Baylor is unbeaten through four games, one of only two Big 12 teams yet to suffer a loss alongside Oklahoma. Since both the Sooners and Longhorns come through Waco in November in back-to-back weeks, we may have to get used to this program being relevant again. Charlie Brewer held up well against an excellent Cyclones defense and still hasn’t been picked off threw his first four games, firing 10 touchdown passes. He’s one of nine Bears with a rushing TD, so Matt Rhule has gotten plenty of production against overmatched competition. K-State is looking to bounce back from its first loss under new head coach Chris Klieman, who hadn’t experienced one of those since 2017 before being stifled by Oklahoma State. Top WR Malik Knowles won’t play due to a foot issue, making QB Skylar Thompson’s job a little tougher as he seeks to bounce back from a disappointing effort where he struggled with pressure after the team’s running game struggled to gain traction.

Virginia Tech at Miami, FL (-14/46.5), 3:30 p.m. ET, ESPN: This would historically be one of Saturday’s top matchups, but both programs are in a state of disarray that makes it likely that the loser here ultimately gets left out in the cold for bowl season. For the Hokies, that would end a run of appearances dating back to 1993 and likely end Justin Fuente’s tenure as Frank Beamer’s successor. After being routed by Duke 45-14 last week, Virginia Tech will look to pick up the pieces and have named sophomore Hendon Hooker to replace Ryan Willis at QB as they seek a spark via dual-threat option. The Hurricanes have won four of the past five games in this series and have outscored Virginia Tech 66-24 over the last two after falling in Fuente’s first season. Miami struggled with Central Michigan prior to its bye week and squandered opportunities to defeat Miami and North Carolina due to inconsistent offense and an inability to get stops on fourth down. Freshman Jarren Williams has three more home games to continue establishing a nice rhythm but he’ll have to solve Bud Foster’s defense to get October off to a strong start.

Auburn at Florida (-2.5/48.5), 3:30 p.m. ET, CBS: The Tigers and Gators don’t get together often, last squaring off in 2011. Auburn has won the last three matchups and is 4-1 since getting blown out in the 2000 SEC Championship game, but they’ve only won in Gainesville once (’07) in the last five meetings over the past 23 years. Florida looks to hold serve on Homecoming in front of a sellout crowd. Both teams owe their unblemished records to excellent defensive play, so this result will likely hinge on what quarterback limits mistakes best against an aggressive front. Auburn freshman Bo Nix has had some growing pains but has proven clutch and will look to improve on his numbers in his lone road start at College Station (12-20, 100 yds, 1 TD) since they aren’t likely to be good enough to get out of Gainesville with a victory. Florida’s Kyle Trask has started consecutive games that his team has won by a combined margin of 72-3, so we’ll see how he deals with a little game pressure. Florida’s stingy defense gets playmakers like DE Jabari Zuniga and CB CJ Henderson back in the fold and should also have key safeties Shawn Davis and Jaewon Taylor in the mix after shoulder injuries.:

Late-night Snack

Washington (-14.5/52) at Stanford, 10:30 p.m. ET, ESPN: The Cardinal hope to avoid becoming the first Pac-12 team to lose three conference games this season by pulling off an upset in their first game being this heavy an underdog since beating then No. 1 Oregon in Eugene as a 20-point underdog in 2012. Unfortunately for Stanford, constant shuffling along on the offensive line is expected to remain an issue. The left side of the line is comprised of freshmen. Junior QB KJ Costello is sidelined by a thumb injury, so sophomore Davis Mills will get another start after helping beat Oregon State last week with his arm in addition to a touchdown reception. The Huskies have looked impressive since losing at home 20-19 to Cal and will have all their remaining games against the league’s top teams in Seattle. We’ll get to see what killer instinct this group has since walking onto the Farm and winning a game by two-plus touchdowns just because you’re expected to is easier said than done. QB Jacob Eason has thrown 10 touchdown passes and completed over 70 percent of his attempts. He went 24-for-28 in his lone start at BYU, finishing with 290 passing yards and three touchdowns. Chris Petersen is 2-3 against David Shaw and Stanford since taking over at U-Dub and is looking for back-to-back wins in the series for the first time.

Follow Tony Mejia on Twitter at @TonyMejiaNBA

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