Preview and picks for NCAA Football Week 5
The full schedule of Week 5 college football kicks off October 1, and there are a season-high five Top-25 matchups. There's also a shakeup in the Top 25 and Top 10 after No. 6 Oklahoma was beaten at home by Kansas State 41-34 last Saturday in Week 4 and both teams piled up more than 500 yards offense. The big SEC top 25 match-up was most bet, and Tennessee prevailed over Florida 38-33 with more than 575 yards offense for both the Vols and Gators. We had an Opinion on the Tennessee (-10.5) in our Top 25 betting report, but Florida scored a TD in the closing seconds to get in the back door.
A 1-2 week on Opinions and Leans with no Picks last week leads us into Week 5 with five Top 25 match-ups to break down and bet as interested. Both Tennessee and NC State moved into the Top 10 this week, and the NCST Wolfpack have a big game at Clemson as the late prime time game on ABC. I chip-in top-25 coverage and key match-up picks throughout the season with added insight, picks and odds updates from leading online sportsbooks along with other information you can bet on.
We now go full steam into conference season, and strength of schedule becomes a most important handicapping factor as you as you evaluate the match-ups, odds and compare performances and stats from September contests. Power ratings have significantly adjusted for some teams, and finding value in the adjustment, like we did on our Friday night Lean on Utah State, is part of the process when handicapping college football.
This week we have 3 Picks ATS, along with an Opinion and Lean.
Week 5 Top 25 Match-ups
No. 7 Kentucky at No. 14 Ole Miss | 12:00 p.m. ET on ESPN
Line: Mississippi -6.5 and Total 54.5 at Jazz Sports
Tough call in this one, as Kentucky faces their strongest and most explosive offense to date, and Ole Miss sees its toughest defense in Kentucky. Ole Miss has won 10 straight home games, and does have the superior ground game. Kentucky has star QB Will Levis leading the undefeated Wildcats to their highest AP ranking since 1977. Read more of this top-25 match-up breakdown in my added coverage.
Lean: Ole Miss
No. 9 Oklahoma State at No. 16 Baylor | 3:30 p.m. ET on FOX
Line: Baylor -2.5 and Total 56.5 at reduced juice sportsbook Heritage Sports
Rematch of a pair of meetings last year split by the Cowboys and Bears with Baylor winning a thrilling Big 12 Championship Game, 21-16. Strength of schedule is noted with Baylor playing a pair of solid opponents in a 26-20 OT loss at BYU and last week's 31-24 win at Iowa Stated despite gaining just 238 yards. Oklahoma State is fresher and has played weak ASU and defenseless Central Michigan, but still piled up 58 points and then 63 vs weak FSC Arkansas Pine Bluff last week. Baylor has been a rock against the run with the Bears defense allowing just 77 rushing YPG vs FBS foes at 2.5 yards per rush. The Cowboys counter with their high-scoring passing offense averaging 337 YPG vs a pair of FBS foes.
What gives and weighs more heavily? Take +3 on the Cowboys if/when it pops.
Opinion: Oklahoma State
No. 2 Alabama (-17.5) at No. 20 Arkansas | 3:30 p.m. ET on CBS
Line: Alabama -17.5 and Total 61 at BetOnline
A CFB colleague and respected handicapper and better (not a tout) noted that Alabama is a bigger, stronger, faster, healthier version of Arkansas. Agree, but gladly take the points as we did with Texas (+20'), who nearly and should have pulled the upset over Alabama in the Crimson Tide's 20-19 win and other road game this season.
Arkansas out-rushed and out-passed Texas A&M last week with a 415-343 yard edge overall, but came up short on the road, 23-21. The Hogs return home looking to challenge but beat No. 2 Alabama as well as last year when they lost 42-35 as a +20' road 'Dog. Bob Sports passed along that Nick Saban’s Alabama teams are 20-11 ATS as a road favorite of 14 points or more in SEC play since he became the head coach of the Crimson Tide. However, Alabama has played poorly in 4 of 5 true road games since the beginning of last season including at Texas this month.
Not often we can bet this big of an underdog with some positive stat profiles we like to support. Arkansas runs the ball 54 times per game, 20 more than Alabama, for 256 yards per game. Quarterback KJ Jefferson will need to minimize mistakes, but he's been solid so far this season with 941 passing yards, 9 TDs and just 1 INT while rushing for 274 yards and 4 touchdowns. The Hogs also have the leading SEC pass rush with a the league's top-2 sack leaders, who can put more pressure on Heisman contending QB Bryce Young. The Crimson Tide offense will still have success with their strong running game and passing against a suspect back seven of Arkansas. But perhaps turnovers and home cookin' on the Hogs turns the 'Tide the Razorbacks way. Read more of my Alabama-Arkansas game analysis.
No. 22 Wake Forest at No. 23 Florida State | 3:30 p.m. ET on ABC
Line: Florida State -6 (-113) and Total 66 at BookMaker
Wake Forest QB Sam Hartman continues his strong play with three 300+ yard passing games and 13 TDs after last week's school record 6 TD passes in defeat to Clemson. Hartman is averaging 8.6 yards per pass play (YPPP) against teams that would allow 7.0 YPPP to an average quarterback. But the Demon Deacons don’t run the ball well, and Florida State has also shut down opponents passing attack and has allowed just 5.0 YPPP to 3 FBS teams that would combine to average 6.4 YPPP against an average defense (Dr. Bob Sports added stats).
The advantage for FSU is when they have the ball. FSU runs for 167 yards per game (WF 95), and Noles’ QB Jordan Travis throws downfield more and still has completed 66% of his passes at 9.3 yards per pass against FBS defenses that would combine to allow just 5.7 YPPP to an average quarterback. The Wake Forest pass defense is average, and Florida State’s offense is 1.9 yards per play (YPPL) better than average while the Demon Deacons’ defense is just 0.3 YPPL better than average.
The emotion and energy exerted by Wake Forest players in last week's OT loss to Clemson has to weigh into this weeks match-up, along with the notable stats and situation favoring Florida State. The Seminoles are now 4-0 SU and on a 3-0 ATS their last three games with a better schedule wins away from home over LSU and Louisville as well.
Pick: Florida State
No. 10 NC State at No. 5 Clemson | 7:30 p.m. ET on ABC
Line: Clemson -7 and Total 44 at Bovada, BookMaker and reduced juice 5 Dimes
Did you know the ACC is ditching the divisional setup starting next season? The two top teams from the 14 team league will play for the conference title. With four undefeated 4-0 teams in the Atlantic division this year including NC State and Clemson, you know where the power lies in the final season of ACC division format. Last week ACC Coastal division teams went 1-6 SU and 2-5 ATS in an embarrassing week that saw Miami lose 45-31 to Middle Tennessee State as a 26-point favorite. North Carolina lost to Notre Dame 45-32 as a small favorite. No shame, except the Tar Heels defense allowed 35 first downs and nearly 600 yards offense. I made over the total my best over/under bet of the week. And a Top-25 match-up included Clemson (-7) vs Wake Forest in another back and forth shootout and thrilling finish with the Tigers prevailing in double overtime, 51-45 and Clemson holding a 559-447 yard edge.
That yardage is of note this week, as the total of the Clemson-NC State game is just 44 points, and 43.5 at reduced juice 5 Dimes, which is closed to U.S. customers. I have another full analysis of the NC State-Clemson match-up available for review.
Pick: NC State
Top 25 Schedule
Here's the full top-25 college football schedule, TV times and odds from BetOnline with favorites noted. Added links with some of my other coverage.
No. 1 Georgia (-29) at Missouri | 7:30 p.m. | SEC Network
No. 2 Alabama (-17.5) at No. 20 Arkansas | 3:30 p.m. | CBS
No. 3 Ohio State (-39.5) vs. Rutgers | 3:30 p.m. | Big Ten Network
No. 4 Michigan (-10.5) at Iowa | 12 p.m. | FOX
No. 5 Clemson (-6.5) vs. No. 10 NC State | 7:30 p.m. | ABC
No. 6 USC (-25.5) vs. Arizona State | 10:30 p.m. | ESPN
No. 7 Kentucky at No. 14 Ole Miss (-7) | 12 p.m. | ESPN
No. 8 Tennessee (Bye)
No. 9 Oklahoma State at No. 16 Baylor (-2.5)| 3:30 p.m. | FOX
No. 11 Penn State (-25) vs. Northwestern | 3:30 p.m. | ESPN
No. 12 Utah (-10.5) vs. Oregon State | 2 p.m. | Pac-12 Network
No. 13 Oregon (-17) vs. Stanford | 11 p.m. | FS1
No. 15 Washington (-2.5) at UCLA | 10:30 p.m. | ESPN (Friday)
No. 17 Texas A&M at Mississippi State (-4)| 4 p.m. | SEC Network
No. 18 Oklahoma (-6) at TCU | 12 p.m. | ABC
No. 19 BYU (-23.5) vs Utah State | 8 p.m. | ESPN
No. 21 Minnesota (-12) vs. Purdue | 12 p.m. | ESPN2
No. 22 Wake Forest at No. 23 Florida State (-6.5)| 3:30 p.m. | ABC
No. 24 Pitt (-22) vs. Georgia Tech | 8 p.m. | ACC Network
No. 25 Kansas State (-7.5) vs. Texas Tech | 12 p.m. | Big 12/ESPN+
Watch for our Week 4 NFL Underdog Picks, which are 12-6 ATS this season with 11 outright winners following last week's record card of 8 Picks, going 6-2 ATS with 6 outright winners.
FairwayJay is a proven sports handicapper and is recognized as one of the sports industry's most insightful analysts. He chips in additional sports betting coverage and reporting on industry news and events. Follow FairayJay here at OSGA.com and on Twitter @FairwayJay for more sports and gambling insights.
Preview and picks for NCAA Football Week 5