College Football Expert Picks: Our Staff’s 10 Favorite Bets for Week 5
Matt Stamey-USA TODAY Sports. PIctured: Notre Dame quarterback Ian Book
- Our college football experts give their 10 favorite betting picks for Week 5 of the 2018 season.
- We have all types of bets covered with a healthy mix of underdogs, favorites and over/unders.
Like the casual fan, we are excited about a pair of top-10 Week 5 college football matchups on Saturday night. However, as bettors, we know the entire slate deserves attention.
To help you narrow down the games that should make your final cut, we asked several of our staffers to give us their favorite college football Saturday bet for Week 5.
Regardless of your betting style or preferences, you should find something that catches your eye below or at least helps you make more informed betting decisions for Week 5.
Let’s get to it!
Let’s lead off with an early kick large favorite and then get into two afternoon underdogs that look to hold value. We will then finish up with our night card, including two over/unders. We will even hit on those two marquee top-10 primetime matchups.
*All odds for the picks pulled overnight on Sept. 28
Stuckey: Clemson -25.5 (vs. Syracuse)
Noon ET on ABC
On the surface, taking 25.5 points with the 4-0 Orange might look tempting to some, but this matchup between two undefeated ACC teams could get out of hand quickly.
Syracuse’s two most vulnerable position units are its offensive line and secondary. That’s not ideal against the best defensive line in the country and newly crowned starting quarterback Trevor Lawrence. The former 5-star, No. 1 overall recruit will also play behind an offensive line that has looked great this year, which is important against a solid Syracuse defensive front.
Clemson should be highly motivated for this early kick in Death Valley, as the Tigers will look to avenge an upset loss at Syracuse in 2017. I also get the feeling that head coach Dabo Swinney wants to lay the hammer down here after feeling his team isn’t getting as much love as it deserves on a national level.
With Lawrence under center, this team deserves as much respect as Alabama — and I think the Tigers show that to us early Saturday afternoon.
Ken Barkley: South Alabama +25 (at App State)
3:30 p.m. ET on ESPN+
A number that is just WAY too big.
As a football nation, we haven’t really seen or heard much from App State since it scared Penn State in Week 1 — and for good reason. The Mountaineers dominated Charlotte, had a game canceled by weather and beat Gardner Webb by almost 70. Those results don’t really mean much at all, but it’s possible App State’s 3-0 ATS record has helped inflate this line a bit.
There actually is not a significant talent disparity between these teams, and South Alabama’s offense should score after analyzing this particular matchup. South Alabama has played Oklahoma State and Memphis already this season, which means their underlying metrics have not been inflated against poor competition — which you can see this early in the season.
The Jaguars were tied with Memphis at halftime and trailed by only four after three quarters.
In reality, South Alabama is probably a little better than what it’s put on film. In a meaningful conference game, the difference between these teams is being exaggerated. I love the underdog here.
John Ewing: Old Dominion +7 (at ECU)
3:30 p.m. ET on ESPN3
Old Dominion upset No. 13 Virginia Tech as a 28.5-point underdog last Saturday, tallying more than 600 yards of offense en route to a shocking upset win. After a big win such as that one, a contrarian bettor’s first instinct might be to look to fade Old Dominion.
However, per Bet Labs, teams following a big offensive game (600 or more yards of offense) have actually been undervalued in their next game since 2005.
And if that team is a road underdog — such as Old Dominion — the against-the-spread win rate tops 60%.
Collin Wilson: San Jose State +10 (vs. Hawaii)
7 p.m. ET on Spectrum Sports PPV
If you read my weekly column detailing my nine favorite college football bets of the weekend, you already know I love the Spartans this week. I even think they have a shot to pull off this upset.
I talked about the matchup and why I think the line holds value in that piece, but I’ll also mention the Hawaii travel factor. The Rainbow Warriors, who will travel more than 38,000 miles this season (more than any NFL team), played at Army two weeks ago and then traveled back to the Island to play Duquesne. Hawaii will now head back to the mainland to take on an improved SJSU squad that hung at Oregon before enjoying a bye last week.
The Spartans should be the much more focused, prepared and rested team.
PJ Walsh: Duke-Virginia Tech Under 50
7 p.m. ET on ESPN2
This under has been a consistent target of sharp action, which has pushed the number down from 51 to 50 at Pinnacle. I’m on board also as, once again, this game features two teams that run the ball well. When both offenses in a given matchup average at least 215 yards on the ground, the under is 223-173-7 (56.3%) since 2005.
Virginia Tech will also be playing without starting quarterback Josh Jackson, who suffered a broken leg against Old Dominion last week, so it’s certainly reasonable to expect the Hokies to rely on their run game even more.
As always, make sure to shop around and grab the best number available.
Steve Petrella: Notre Dame -5.5 (vs. Stanford)
7:30 p.m. ET on NBC
I don’t love the adjusted number after it opened -3, but I like the team. Or maybe I just don’t like the other team.
Stanford’s offense has no identity other than chucking up jump balls, which cannot possibly be sustainable for another week against a solid defense. The Cardinal can’t run the ball. They can’t move the ball in chunks consistently. On average, they face the longest third downs of any team in the country.
The Stanford defense is much better than many predicted it would be, but quarterback Ian Book should have the Irish offense revved up.
After Stanford’s absurdly fortunate cover against Oregon, I said I’d keep fading the Cardinal. I’m sticking to that statement, especially against a strong Irish defense that can shut down those jump balls.
Look for Notre Dame’s defense to control the pace, and back the Irish at -5.5. I’ll also be looking to play them in the first half at -3 or better.
Sean Newsham: Ohio State-Penn State Over 69
7:30 p.m. ET on ABC
Penn State and Ohio State face off Saturday night in primetime with major implications for the eventual Big Ten College Football Playoff representative.
After opening at 66, the total rose to over 70 before settling at 69 on Friday morning. Both teams rank in the top 20 in yards per game and sit at No. 1 and 2 nationally in points per game.
Penn State’s defense is extremely young and has given up chunks of yards against inferior competition. Quarterback Dwayne Haskins will be the best quarterback PSU has faced thus far and should take that to another level.
On the other side of the ball, Ohio State took a massive blow when it lost defensive end Nick Bosa to injury. Without having to worry about Bosa, Penn State should move the ball with much more ease.
All things considered, this game should be a shootout by two elite offenses facing off against two not-so-elite defenses. I expect a game similar to what we saw last year in Columbus when Ohio State won 39-38 in a thriller.
Danny Donahue: Mississippi +10.5 (at LSU)
9:15 p.m. ET on ESPN
LSU has a résumé that warrants its No. 5 ranking, but let’s not confuse that ranking with being the fifth-best team in the country. A bettor simply fading top-10 teams at home in the first six games of the season (before the top 10 really starts to become the best 10) would have gone 204-167-4 (55%) since 2005.
From a matchup perspective, I think the supreme Ole Miss receivers can have a big day against an LSU secondary that just gave up 10 catches and 181 yards to Louisiana Tech’s Adrian Hardy.
And while I didn’t get the best line — it opened at +13.5 — the good news is that it didn’t pass through any true key numbers, so I’m not too worried about locking in +10.5.
I’ll also be taking a shot on the Rebels to win outright.
Sean Koerner: Kansas +17 (vs. Oklahoma State)
Jason Sobel: Florida State -6.5 (at Louisville)