Exclusive: Here are our best bets for Penn State, Big Ten, college football for bowl week

This year Jon Sauber and Josh Moyer will be doing a weekly betting advice column with their picks and analysis on the world of college football with one Penn State-related pick, one Big Ten-related pick and one NCAA-related pick. The picks will be made at one of four sportsbooks — FanDuel, DraftKings, BetMGM or Caesar’s — with recommendations on bet sizing based on units, along with the analysis.

Overall record

Jon Sauber: 19-17

Josh Moyer: 18-16-1

Penn State best bet

Jon Sauber: First half total points o23.5 (-115 DraftKings)

This is a tricky game because of the opt-outs, but that should also lend to some first half scoring. Penn State will be without defensive end Chop Robinson and could be without starting cornerbacks Kalen King and Johnny Dixon. If that’s the case, the Nittany Lions will have a very young secondary going up against one of the best play callers in the sport in Ole Miss head coach Lane Kiffin. They should be able to put up some points in their own right and that should lead to the first half over. I’d also consider Penn State -2.5 if the line moves at all, but right now it’s at -4.5. (Bet 1 unit to win 0.87 units)

Josh Moyer: Ole Miss +4.5 vs. Penn State (-105 FanDuel)

As Ole Miss coach Lane Kiffin pointed out, it’s difficult to know for sure what Penn State’s going to do — seeing as it has four interim coordinators for now, as OC Andy Kotelnicki and DC Tom Allen are waiting in the wings. What we do know? The Nittany Lions will have at least three key opt-outs (to Ole Miss’ one), and other players like cornerback Kalen King could potentially be on a snap count.

The Rebels have only lost this season to Alabama and Georgia, which seems like the SEC’s answer to Michigan and Ohio State (or Penn State’s only two losses). In other words, I see a closely fought contest — and, with this spread, I’ll take Ole Miss. I still think Penn State wins in the end but, unless this spread drops to under 3 points, I’ll stick with Ole Miss and the program that’s a five-hour drive from the Peach Bowl in Atlanta. (Bet 1 unit to win 0.95 units)

Big Ten best bet

Jon Sauber: Iowa team total u13.5 vs. Tennessee (-102 FanDuel)

Is it even “best bets” if I’m not betting against the Iowa offense? The Hawkeyes aren’t going to magically get better just because it’s bowl season and they’re facing an unfamiliar opponent. This will be offensive coordinator Brian Ferentz’s final game in the role — with his father and head coach Kirk Ferentz yet to name a replacement — and I expect more of what we’ve seen all season from Iowa. Barring some defensive touchdowns, they’ll be lucky to break double digits, and a touchdown and two field goals feels like the sweet spot for this group in its final game of the season. (Bet 1 unit to win 0.98 units)

Josh Moyer: Iowa-Tennessee u35.5 (-115 FanDuel)

Is anyone surprised the over/under has gone down for this game since it was first released? If you answered “yes” to that question, and you’re a bettor, you’ve probably lost a lot of money this season. Know who hasn’t lost money this season? People who’ve repeatedly taken the under with Iowa.

Bowl games are always a little different, and there’s no “sure thing” in the postseason. But QB Joe Milton has opted out for the Vols and, for as talented as freshman Nico Iamaleava is, it’s important to remember he’s just making his first start. And Iowa’s defense might be the best in the nation. Against teams not named Penn State or Michigan, Iowa only once allowed the opposition to score more than 14 points — and that was against Michigan State in a 26-16 win. It’s Iowa; take the under. (Bet 1 unit to win 0.87 units)

NCAA best bet

Jon Sauber: Georgia -19 vs. Florida State (-110 DraftKings)

I honestly don’t know if there’s a line too high on this one. Florida State will be without quarterback Tate Rodemaker, who is entering the transfer portal and not playing, and a host of other players — including DE Jared Verse, WR Johnny Wilson, WR Keon Coleman, and RB Trey Benson — who are off to prepare for the 2024 NFL Draft. Couple that with the fact that Georgia is flat out better than FSU, and this could get ugly early. The Bulldogs should win this one by three scores and could have it in the bag early on, with a backdoor cover being the only real fear here. (Bet 1 unit to win 0.91 units)

Josh Moyer: Auburn -6.5 vs. Maryland (-110 FanDuel)

I was tempted to advocate taking Georgia over Florida State in the Cry Me A River Bowl, but let’s go with the less-obvious pick — and involve another Big Ten bowl. The Big Ten’s all-time leading passer, Maryland QB Taulia Tagovailoa, opted out of the Music City Bowl, which leaves a glaring hole in the Terps’ lineup. That’s a big reason I’m going with Auburn here.

Still, it’s not the only reason. Where else is Maryland supposed to turn? Backup QBs Cameron Edge and Billy Edwards Jr., who combined for 13 passes this season? The running game, which averaged less than 4 yards a carry? The defense, which allowed more than 33 points per game in the final seven contests? This team did not look great down the stretch, as it started 5-0 against lesser competition and then went 2-5 the rest of the way. Take away Tagovailoa and a couple other key opted-out players, like interceptions leader Tarheeb Still, and Auburn could make a statement this game. (Bet 1 unit to win 0.91 units)