Our Experts’ 5 Favorite College Football Betting Picks: Washington State-Utah, More
Rob Gray-USA TODAY Sports. Pictured: The Utah Utes enter the field at Rice-Eccles Stadium.
- Our college football betting experts pick out their favorite bets on the Week 5 slate.
- They'll cover their picks and analysis for the following games: Clemson at North Carolina (3:30 p.m. ET), Indiana at Michigan State (3:30 p.m. ET), USC at Washington (3:30 p.m. ET), Iowa State at Baylor (3:30 p.m. ET) and Washington State at Utah (10 p.m. ET)
Week 5 may be lacking in marquee matchups, but there’s plenty of betting opportunities on the board.
Our college football staffers share their favorite betting strategies for Saturday’s games.
Game: Indiana at Michigan State
Spread: Michigan State -14
Time: 3:30 p.m. ET, Big Ten Network
Minus a 34-24 win at Ball State (which is only so useful in its own right), it’s been very tough to gauge this Indiana team based on its four-game sample. Other than that first week, every one of its games has resulted in at least a 35-point final score margin.
Because of that, I’m not too surprised to see a disagreement between Collin Wilson’s projected odds (MSU -9.5) and the listed spread for this game (MSU -14). In fact, I’d imagine there’s quite a variance in terms of projected spreads across the betting world for this matchup, but I’d also guess that the majority are less than that key number of 14.
On top of the power-ratings edge, the historical profitability that comes from taking road dogs in conference games — specifically ones with low totals — is encouraging. In such games where the underdog is of a touchdown or more and the total is below 48, taking the points has resulted in a 59.4% win rate (337-230-13 ATS since 2005).
Throw in an above-.500 team as the underdog (Indiana is 3-1) and you’ve got an even more profitable moneyline opportunity. While the win rate dips way down to just 25.3%, the ROI from the increased payouts goes from 15.3% by taking the spread to 20.3%, so I’ll be saving some change in hopes of the upset.
The Pick: Indiana +14
Game: USC at Washington
Spread: Washington -10.5
Time: 3:30 p.m. ET
USC is back! The Trojans upset No. 10 Utah in Week 4 propelling the Men of Troy to No. 21 in the AP Poll. Casual bettors may be tempted to chase Clay Helton’s team after their impressive victory because the public tends to overvalue ranked teams and recreational gamblers have a habit of falling victim to recency bias.
However, it has been profitable to bet against a ranked team that beat a top 10 opponent the previous week.
According to Bet Labs, bettors fading these teams have gone 137-102-2 (56%) ATS since 2005. Oddsmakers will inflate lines for teams after defeating a top 10 opponent, like USC, in anticipation of overreactions from the public. Smart bettors can profit by going against the grain and this week it means betting Washington -10.
The Pick: Washington -10
Game: Iowa State at Baylor
Spread: Iowa State -3
Time: 3:30 p.m. ET, ESPN
The game I’m most excited for on Saturday might not be a ranked matchup, but we’re going to learn a lot about two dark horse Big 12 contenders. While Iowa State suffered a brutal loss in the CyHawk rivalry game, Baylor hasn’t had to put forth much effort to win their first three games. Still, they’ve looked very impressive and thoroughly dominated the lesser competition put in front of them.
The line units on both teams rank inside the top-25 in line score and both are extremely efficient. The coaching matchup between Matt Campbell and Matt Rhule is going to be really fun to watch as well. Both coaches are highly respected in the coaching community and thought to be future stars. Quarterbacks Brock Pudry and Charlie Brewer seem to be even as well.
This game comes one mismatch for me. Baylor has been extremely explosive on the ground and Iowa State ranks just 88th in stopping chunk running plays. UL-Monroe has a good running game but a Sun Belt team shouldn’t be able to run for as many big plays on Iowa State as they did last week. I make Baylor a very small favorite in this game so I’m taking the points with the Bears at home.
The Pick: Baylor +3
Game: Clemson at North Carolina
Spread: Clemson -27
Time: 3:30 p.m. ET, ABC
Charlotte head coach Will Healy and Clemson head coach Dabo Swinney are friends. The former Austin Peay head coach has looked up to the Tigers for a number of years in ways to build his own program. The respect was mutual, and enough to get Trevor Lawrence, Justyn Ross and Tee Higgins on the sidelines after Clemson gained a 24-0 lead in the first series of the second quarter.
Clemson has yet to surrender a touchdown in the first half, outscoring opponents 90-12 through the first 30 minutes of play. The formula is simple for Clemson, pull the Ferrari out of the garage for a spin around the block, get a few flip scores and have it back in the garage before dusk.
— ACC Network (@accnetwork) September 22, 2019
A first-half point spread of -16 should not be too much for Clemson against a North Carolina team that is 94th in scrimmage yards allowed.
Conversely, the Tar Heels only come to play in the second half, and more specifically, in the fourth quarter.
North Carolina has outscored opponents, 45-9, in the fourth quarter and Quarterback Sam Howell has orchestrated comebacks against South Carolina and Miami, while failing in final drives against Wake Forest and Appalachian State.
Pick: Clemson -16 1H, North Carolina 2H
Game: Washington State at Utah
Spread: Utah -6
Time: 10 p.m. ET, FS1
I think we’re getting a few points of value here after last week’s defensive debacles by both teams. Remember that last year when these two teams met in Salt Lake (with a healthy Moss and Gardner Minshew Under center for Utah), Wazzu won 28-24 with a late 89 yard TD pass. The total for that game was 50.
I think Utah will make some adjustments to the air raid and it will help to see it for a second time in a row. Plus, that secondary has too much talent and pride to not bounce back. And you have to imagine you get Wazzu’s best effort on defense after allowing UCLA to somehow score 50 points in 18 minutes and change to close the game last week.
Utah also will likely be without running back Zac Moss but I still expect them to control the clock with a heavy rushing dose and methodical play in order to keep Wazzu off the field and their defense fresh. And Washington State also plays very slow, it ranked 130th in Adjusted Pace in 2018. People just think the Cougars play fast because they just throw a lot.
The Pick: Under 56.5