College Football Best Bets: 5 Picks for Friday Night, Featuring New Mexico vs. UNLV & Middle Tennessee vs. UTSA (Sept. 30)
Ethan Miller/Getty Images. Pictured: The UNLV Rebels.
- Friday's Week 5 college football slate is a big one, and our staff of betting experts came prepared.
- They dished out five best bets for Friday's games, including picks for Washington vs. UCLA, New Mexico vs. UNLV and UTSA vs. Middle Tennessee.
- Check out all five best bets for Friday night's college football slate below.
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After a small two-game slate on Thursday, it's time for one more appetizer before the main course comes on Saturday. Friday's college football slate is a big one, featuring five games — and all five are conference matchups.
Our college football crew came through with five bets for Friday night's Week 5 games, including a pair of picks that are aligned on the UTSA vs. Middle Tennessee spread.
Check out all five of our college football best bets for Friday night below. Then, check back tomorrow for our betting coverage of Saturday's monster Week 5 slate.
Friday College Football Best Bets
The team logos in the table below represent each of the matchups that our college football staff is targeting from today's slate of games. Click the team logos for one of the matchups below to navigate to a specific bet discussed in this article.
|Specific bet recommendations come from the sportsbook offering preferred odds as of writing. Always shop for the best price using our NCAAF Odds page, which automatically surfaces the best lines for every game.|
UTSA vs. Middle Tennessee
Middle Tennessee is riding high and will have a quick turnaround coming off of its biggest win in program history. That’s a tough spot to get back up for.
Look what has happened so far this season. Old Dominion upsets Virginia Tech and then loses to ECU. Marshall upsets Notre Dame and then loses to Bowling Green. Georgia Southern upsets Nebraska and then loses to UAB. Tulane upsets Kansas State and then loses to Southern Mississippi.
I still don’t think Middle Tennessee is very good. It got demolished by James Madison in its opener, getting outgained, 548-119. Then, it beat a laughably bad Colorado State team and FCS Tennessee State.
In the Blue Raiders’ win over Miami, they picked up four passing plays of at least 69 yards. While 25 yards per completion is awesome, it’s not sustainable.
Big plays are great, but Middle Tennessee ranks 105th in the country in Success Rate on offense. The Roadrunners defense ranks 15th in Success Rate and 35th at defending passing explosiveness.
The Blue Raiders can’t run the ball, and quarterback Chase Cunningham will have to outplay UTSA’s Frank Harris, who leads the conference with 327.5 yards per game.
Harris has tossed 10 touchdowns and just two interceptions. Wide receivers De’Corian Clark, Joshua Cephus, and Zakhari Franklin rank first, second, and third in Conference USA in receiving, respectively.
UTSA entered the season as the favorite in C-USA, and I still believe it’s the best team. Middle Tennessee is middle-of-the-pack at best and is in a huge letdown spot after the big win.
All-conference safety Rashad Wisdom and the rest of this Roadrunners defense will not give up the big plays that Miami did.
Back Meep Meep for a big win on Friday night.
UTSA is one of my favorite bets not only for Friday but for the entire weekend.
Middle Tennessee is coming off of the biggest victory in program history after upsetting Miami on the road as 25.5-point underdogs.
Below is a look at the five biggest upsets this season. After a monster win, the upsetting team has followed that performance up by going 0-5 and missing the cover by an average of 14 points.
Middle Tennessee will need to refocus quickly as it welcomes in the reigning Conference USA champions.
Meanwhile, UTSA will be well-prepared entering this matchup fresh off of a glorified bye week against an FCS opponent. Frank Harris is one of the top quarterbacks in the Group of Five and is averaging nearly 40 pass attempts per game while averaging 8.5 on such attempts.
He should have a field day against a Middle Tennessee defense that’s allowing over 250 passing yards per game.
The Blue Raider secondary has been suspect all season. Of the 13 touchdowns opponents have scored this season, 11 of them have come through the air.
UTSA will kick off Conference USA play with a decisive victory in search of back-to-back championships.
UTSA vs. MTSU Over 64.5
Middle Tennessee and UTSA have started the season with strong offensive showings.
Both teams rank in the top 50% of FBS programs in scoring offense with the Roadrunners and Blue Raiders ranking 37th and 53rd by hanging 37.0 and 33.8 points per game, respectively.
Middle Tennessee comes into the game after upsetting Miami in a 45-point effort, seemingly erasing any woes associated with the seven-point performance it logged in the opening game against James Madison.
UTSA has been downright consistent on offense with redshirt senior quarterback Frank Harris at the helm through a tough opening schedule.
While both offenses have shown an ability to easily put up 30 or more points, both defenses have a susceptibility to allow points as quickly as their counterparts can put them up. Conversely, both teams rank in the bottom 50% nationally in scoring defense with Middle Tennessee and UTSA ranking 69th and 113th, giving up 25.0 and 35.0 points per game, respectively.
If we exclude FCS competition from both teams’ schedules, the waters become even muddier with Middle Tennessee and UTSA adjusted to allow, 31.3 and 38.7 points per game, respectively.
Neither of these teams are clock hogs, which is perfect for a bet that relies on teams airing it out. The Blue Raiders rank 85th nationally in possession at just under 29 minutes, while the Roadrunners possess the ball even less at an average of 27:38 per game.
UTSA has a very pass-heavy attack that currently has Harris ranked sixth nationally in passing yards heading into Week 5.
Lastly, UTSA is a perfect 4-0 against the total this season, while Middle Tennessee is 2-2 — but the Blue Raiders have hit the over in their last two.
Based on the aforementioned factors my model is projecting a total of 72.38 points in this game. This represents just under eight points of value in actionable markets and offers the best value on the Friday night card for me.
Sit back, grab a drink and hammer the Friday night over.
Pick: Over 64.5 (Play to 66)
Washington vs. UCLA
Washington's defense has some major problems right now that quarterback Michael Penix and some timely turnovers have masked.
On defense, the Huskies rank 78th in EPA/Play Allowed, 121st in explosiveness allowed and 70th in Finishing Drives Allowed.
Stanford averaged 6.0 yards a play against them last Saturday but turned the ball over three times. In fact, Washington has already forced six turnovers in its three games against FBS opponents, so some turnover regression is coming.
One of the main reasons why Washington is struggling defensively is because it only returned five starters and lost two first-team All-Pac 12 cornerbacks from 2021.
Washington has allowed 8.3 yards per attempt (104th in FBS), sits 81st in EPA/Pass and 118th in Passing Explosiveness Allowed. Meanwhile, UCLA is a top-10 team in terms of Passing Success Rate.
Another year in Chip Kelly's system has done wonders for Dorian Thompson-Robinson and Zach Charbonnet.
UCLA is averaging 5.7 yards per attempt. It's also 20th in EPA/Rush, 15th in Rushing Success Rate and eighth in Offensive Line Yards
Charbonnet finished 2021 with a 91.9 PFF rushing grade and averaged 5.1 yards per carry. This season, it's been more of the same, as he's put up an 89.8 PFF rushing grade while averaging 7.0 yards per carry.
Even though Penix has been lighting opponents up through the air, UCLA’s defense is allowing just 4.0 yards per play (ninth in FBS) and ranks 13th in EPA/Play Allowed and ninth in Success Rate Allowed.
I have UCLA projected as a -0.8 favorite at home, so I think there’s a little value on the Bruins at +3.
New Mexico vs. UNLV
By Cody Goggin
Oftentimes there’s a line that’s posted based on just underlying stats or power rankings without looking at how two teams match up. I believe that’s the case for this Mountain West battle on Friday night.
UNLV has had a solid offensive season so far. It ranks 20th in the country in Offensive Success Rate and 19th in EPA per Play despite having some of the worst starting field position in FBS (116th). This Rebels offense succeeds on the ground, where they have the fifth-highest Rushing Success Rate in the entire nation.
Why is this important? Because New Mexico has a Success Rate of 28th on defense. It has looked good at times, but its success has come against the pass, where it ranks 10th. The Lobos rank just 97th in Rushing Success Rate., which is a matchup UNLV will be able to exploit.
New Mexico’s offense is brutal. It ranks 111th in Offensive Success Rate with its strength also coming on the ground. Even with this as a “strength,” it still ranks just 83rd in Rushing Success Rate.
New Mexico runs at the 12th-highest rate in the country, making up 62% of its offensive plays.
The UNLV defense isn’t fantastic, ranking 55th in Success Rate both overall and against the run. However, it will be good enough to handle a New Mexico offense that ranks dead last in SP+ among all offenses.
I expect UNLV to run the ball all night long against this Lobo defense en route to an easy victory. I would take the Rebels to cover this spread all the way up to 16.5 points.