College Football Odds & Market Report: Week 5 Early Bets, Including Michigan State vs. Maryland & More
Nic Antaya/Getty Images. Pictured: Michigan State wide receiver Jayden Reed.
Week 5 of the college football season is here, and it's time to put in work.
We all know the college football market moves a lot over the course of the week. Money pours in all over the place from the time lines open on Sunday afternoon to kickoff on Saturday. This week is no exception.
Like any other sport, it's paramount to get the best price possible when betting on college football.
For example, a -6.5 favorite could move to -7.5 on Saturday morning and then you run the risk of that team winning by one of the most likely outcomes — a seven-point victory — and you just lost your bet. It could have all been avoided if the bet was locked in at -6.5 Monday morning.
I'm here to help you navigate the market by providing a few lines I'm buying right now with my specific thresholds or other lines that I'm waiting to buy for later in the week.
The hope for this piece is to beat the market, get the best price possible, and in the long run, save you some money with closing line value. To do that, we'll utilize our TAN projections, ESPN's SP+ and my own projections to create a consensus.
You hear all the time, "process over results." The best way to know if the process is working is by closing line value (CLV), meaning how many points did you beat the closing line by?
I'll be keeping track throughout the year of exactly how many points we've beaten the market by:
- 3.5 Points: UConn +27.5 → +24 closing line
- Pittsburgh -7.5 → -7.5 closing line
- Cincinnati +6.5 → +6.5 closing line
- Rice +34.5 → +32.5 closing line
- Boise State +3 → +2.5 closing line
- Louisville +6.5 → +5.5 closing line
- Iowa -3.5 → -3.5 closing line
- Virginia +5 → +4 closing line
- Western Kentucky +6.5 → +6.5 closing line
- Houston -9.5 → -8.5 closing line
- Memphis -13 → -14.5 closing line
- Virginia Tech +3 → +1.5 closing line
- Old Dominion -3.5 → -5.5 closing line
- Hawaii +3 → +4.5 closing line
Now let's dive into a fantastic Week 5 slate
Texas State vs. James Madison
|Texas State Odds|
-110o / -110u
|James Madison Odds|
-110o / -110u
This one is ugly, but it's time to sell high on James Madison.
The Dukes pulled off one of the best comebacks of the college football season, erasing a 28-3 Appalachian State lead to win, 32-28.
KAELON LOVES SCORING TOUCHDOWNS!
— JMU Football (@JMUFootball) September 24, 2022
The Dukes crossed the Appalachian State 40-yard line eight times and came away 32 points.
So far through three games against Norfolk State, Middle Tennessee, and Appalachian State, James Madison ranks 24th in Success Rate, 91st in explosiveness, and 37th in Finishing Drives. James Madison is also only gaining 5.7 yards per play, which is 60th in the country.
Texas State's defense has struggled against the run so far, allowing 4.8 yards per carry and ranking outside the top 100 in EPA/Rush allowed. However, that is mainly due to a game against Baylor in which it allowed 7.9 yards per carry.
The secondary for Texas State has actually been pretty impressive. It allows only 5.8 yards per attempt (17th in FBS), owns the second-best coverage grade in college football at 93.1, per PFF, and leads in the country in passing explosiveness allowed.
Todd Centeio finally came back down to earth against Appalachian State, as he posted a 67.6 PFF passing grade after topping 90 in the two previous weeks. So, facing a secondary that is actually in the top 100 is going to be a rude awakening.
Texas State run the ball effectively this year. It returned four starters and 95 career starts on the offensive line and ranks top-30 in Offensive Line Yards, Stuff Rate Allowed and Power Success Rate.
James Madison enters as the No. 1 team in the country in Success Rate Allowed, but they're 53rd in Finishing Drives Allowed. Appalachian State crossed its 40-yard line six times and came away with four touchdowns last weekend.
This is also a defense that returned just four starters from one of the best on the FCS level a year ago and didn't really add many impact transfers. So, expect regression for the Dukes.
All three projections models are giving at least four points of value to Texas State, so you may want to grab the Bobcats +21.5 before it moves.
Pick: Texas State +21.5
Michigan State vs. Maryland
|Michigan State Odds|
-110o / -110u
-110o / -110u
Oh boy, this article just keeps getting uglier.
There's absolutely nothing positive we can take away from Michigan State's performance against Minnesota on Saturday. It was thoroughly dominated in every aspect of the game.
But Maryland is not Minnesota — not by a long shot.
If there was ever a game for Michigan State to get its rushing attack going, this is the one. Maryland ranks 101st in Power Success Rate Allowed, 90th in rushing explosiveness allowed and 54th in EPA/Rush Allowed.
Michigan State, meanwhile, ranks top-50 in the country in Rushing Success Rate and rushing explosiveness. It also owns the fourth-best run-blocking grade in the country, per PFF.
Michigan ran for over 200 yards and 6.1 yards per carry against Maryland on Saturday, so I expect the Spartans to establish a strong ground game.
Payton Thorne has been pretty bad to begin the season. His PFF passing grade sits at just 65.9 with four big-time throws and six turnover-worthy plays. However, Michigan State is still 42nd in Passing Success Rate even with those terrible numbers.
Taulia Tagovailoa looks like the greatest quarterback on earth when playing inferior opponents, but as soon as he has to face a somewhat decent defense, he turns into a below-average quarterback.
Take a look at his PFF passing grades from all of last year and then the first four games of this season:
Images via pff.com
When he faced Michigan State last season, he threw for 350 yards — but that came on 51 attempts and included four turnover-worthy plays, which was tied for his season high. Michigan State returned its entire secondary from that team that wreaked havoc on Tagovailoa.
Also of major importance — Tagovailoa and top wide receiver Rakim Jarrett are both questionable to play on Saturday.
Bettors clearly are reacting to Michigan State's poor performance against Minnesota. Maryland opened as a -3.5 favorite and has already been bet up four points as of Sunday night.
As you can see, all three projection models have Maryland projected below -4.5, so I highly doubt we'll see Michigan State higher than +7.5.
Pick: Michigan State +7.5
South Alabama vs. Louisiana
|South Alabama Odds|
-112o / -108u
-112o / -108u
Let's keep the ugliness going.
Louisiana is coming off an extremely embarrassing loss to rival Louisiana Monroe after giving up two late touchdowns. It's now risen to touchdown underdogs at home against one of the best defenses in the Sun Belt, which I think is far too high.
Louisiana is in a period of transition with Billy Napier moving onto Florida and star quarterback Levi Lewis moving on. However, it brought back one of the best Group of Five running backs in Chris Smith, along with its top three pass-catchers from last season.
The Ragin' Cajuns were extremely run-heavy under Napier, but this season, they're implementing a new offense and have become more balanced. In fact, they're actually throwing the ball on 54% of their offensive plays.
Starting quarterback Chandler Fields has been up and down but does own an 80.4 PFF passing grade through his first four games. This is an offense that lives on big plays, ranking 23rd in explosiveness, and Fields already has 10 big-time throws on the season.
South Alabama has not been good against the pass this season, ranking 72nd in EPA/Pass Allowed and 84th in passing explosiveness allowed against Nicholls State, Central Michigan, UCLA and Louisiana Tech.
South Alabama does have a good passing attack with Carter Bradley. The Jaguars rank 30th in Passing Success Rate, and Bradley has a 72.6 PFF passing grade with an 8.1 yards per attempt average through four games. However, that's going to play right into Louisiana's hands.
The Ragin' Cajuns are have the third-best coverage grade in all of college football, per PFF. Louisiana hasn't played the stiffest of competition, but it ranks sixth in EPA/Pass. Its fantastic play in the secondary has also allowed it also to rank 24th in Finishing Drives Allowed.
After back-to-back road losses to Rice and Louisiana Monroe, the market has reacted from opening, with 79% of the money on South Alabama at the time of writing. That has pushed Louisiana up to +7.
All three models have this game projected around a pick'em, so I highly doubt we'll see a better number than +7 on the Ragin' Cajuns before Saturday.
Pick: Louisiana +7