College Football Group of 5 Picks: Week 6’s Parlay, Featuring UNLV vs. San Jose State & Western Kentucky vs. UTSA
Ronald Cortes/Getty Images. Pictured: UTSA’s Brenden Brady (5) and Frank Harris (0).
- Another week of college football means another week of Group of Five action.
- We see betting value on a parlay with three games, including UNLV vs. San Jose State and Western Kentucky vs. UTSA.
- Check out Mike Calabrese's full Group of Five parlay for Week 6 below.
Each week, to coincide with the release of the “Group of Five Deep Dive” under the Big Bets On Campus podcast banner, I’ll be sharing my Group of Five parlay of the week.
Here’s a quick recap of how Week 5 played out for our wagers.
Tulane came through in the clutch in its upset win over Houston, and depending on the number you got in Georgia Southern-Coastal Carolina, CJ Beasley’s insane last-minute hurdle either pushed the total or helped cash an over. The Eagles and Chants combined for 33 fourth-quarter points in a high-scoring game that screamed “Fun Belt.”
But it wasn’t all sunshine and dramatic wins at the window for this column. Kent State failed to cover -11, shooting itself in the foot with six fumbles. It also stalled out in the red zone twice against Ohio, taking sacks, penalties and putting the ball on the carpet.
But a new week means new life and a chance for me to put my faith in a MAC favorite once again. I’m also counting on a high-scoring affair in the Alamo Dome and an upset out west in what’s turning out to be a truly unpredictable Mountain West Conference.
Reported odds and specific bet recommendations come from the sportsbook offering preferred odds as of writing.
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UNLV vs. San Jose State
Let’s get things started with my spiciest take of the week.
The UNLV Rebels and their surprise start to the 2022 season are to be believed. They’ve won high-scoring games (58-27 over North Texas) and grinded out low-scoring affairs (31-20 over New Mexico). They were also within a red-zone conversion of 5-0 start, falling just short at Cal, 20-14.
Doug Brumfield held off Harrison Bailey in fall camp, and most of the media assumed that was bad news for UNLV. Bailey was supposed to provide the spark to turn around a program that had appeared in just one bowl game since 2001.
But as it turns out, Brumfield seized the job and has the dual-threat abilities to make this offense shine. He has 13 total touchdowns against just two turnovers, and the UNLV offense is well-balanced enough to put up 37.8 points per game (26th).
If Kyle Williams is healthy (game-time decision), the Rebels will be able to move the ball through the air against San Jose State. That should open up running lanes for Aidan Robbins, their big, bruising Louisville transfer who has eight touchdowns on the ground already this season.
Yes, the Spartans rank top-five nationally in passing yards allowed, completion percentage and interception rate, but the context matters. San Jose State has faced an FCS opponent and three FBS opponents whose average passing rank checks in at 105th.
UNLV blew a fourth-quarter lead to SJSU last season, but I feel like it has the talent and momentum to close the deal this time around. At +220 in a topsy-turvy Mountain West, this is too much value to pass up. I would play this down to +200.
Pick: UNLV ML +220
Kent State vs. Miami (OH)
Kent State is a wagon on offense. And to continue the metaphor, it’s a wagon with a wobbly wheel. That wheel is its ball security issues. By putting the ball on the turf six times last week, it allowed Ohio to hang around despite the fact that the Golden Flashes outgained them, 736-450.
There’s no stopping Collin Schlee and Marquez Cooper on the ground, and the aggressive playing from Andrew Sowder against the Bobcats resulted in 10.8 yards per attempt for Schlee through the air.
Miami’s secondary hasn’t looked great in games against Cincinnati and Kentucky, but it’s done a decent job bottling up opposing running games. The difference here is that Kent State can beat teams both ways and dropped 47 on the RedHawks last season.
So, can Miami keep up in a high-scoring affair? Not with this quarterback situation.
Miami (OH) simply can’t pass with Aveon Smith at the helm. He’s a dynamic runner, capable of putting up 100-plus on the ground.
Smith shredded the Buffalo defense last week, finishing with 142 yards and two scores. But even against a work-in-progress Buffalo offense, his ground heroics weren’t enough to pull off the win.
As it stands, Smith has a QBR of 36.8, completing just 50% of his attempts. When you add in the fact that he has taken a lot of sacks in the past three games, it’s hard to imagine the Miami staff coaxing an efficient game out of their freshman signal-caller.
This will likely be the last time you get a great number on Kent State, with all of its offensive metrics pointing toward a 40-point performance in this game.
One blowout, and the market will correct on the MAC East’s offensive juggernaut.
Pick: Kent State -6
Western Kentucky vs. UTSA
There are a few stats that pop off the page when previewing this game.
Both teams average over 500 yards per game. And UTSA has a chance to produce the very first trio of 100-yard-per-game receivers in NCAA history. De’Corian Clark and Joshua Cephus are already over the 100-yard-per-game mark, and Zakhari Franklin is knocking on the door at 98.2 yards per contest.
The team profiles scream “over” in this game.
UTSA ranks 10th in total offense and 116th in total defense. Only three teams give up more plays of 30-plus yards than the Roadrunners. Western Kentucky, not to be outdone, checks in 12th in total offense and a respectable 48th in total defense. But its defense is a paper tiger. The Hilltoppers have played an awful slate of offenses, including Austin Peay, Hawaii, Indiana, FIU and Troy.
This is also one of the best G5 quarterback matchups of the entire season. Of Group of Five passers, Frank Harris ranks second in ESPN’s QBR metric, and Austin Reed checks in at eighth.
If both teams pull their weight, we’re likely headed for a repeat of the C-USA title game that saw these two teams pop off for 90 total points.
I would play this total all the way up to 75.5.