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Wilson: My Projected Odds for Every Week 5 College Football Game

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Kent Gidley/Collegiate Images for Getty Images. Pictured: Alabama running back Najee Harris, center, runs against Missouri.

Believe it or not, we are a month into the 2020 college football season.

Miami looks like national-title contenders, while Louisiana sits at a tasty 3-0 entering an October 7th showdown against Appalachian State. Week 4 was inundated with Tulane, Texas and Louisiana Tech putting up more than 60 points.

However, the biggest news for the College Football Playoff was the fall of Oklahoma.

The SEC started play with Arkansas leading Georgia at halftime, but Mississippi State finishing an upset at reigning national champion LSU. Alabama got to a 32-point lead before going vanilla, while Gus Malzahn took advantage of three turnovers.

As the Pac 12, Big Ten and Mountain West all veer to a reboot, Texas gave up 56 points to Texas Tech. With the Big 12 set to cannibalize itself before the other Power Five teams take a snap, the College Football Playoff is wide open even in September.

Every Sunday, The Action Network publishes updated Power Ratings — including FCS teams — to project point spreads for every game of the following week in anticipation of Sunday’s opening lines.

Look here to identify early betting value when opening lines are released, and follow me in The Action Network App to see when I bet those lines on Sunday afternoon.

Our Week 5 slate continues SEC conference play, with a major showdown in Tuscaloosa. A low number of FCS games should not deter the drama, as future NFL quarterback Trey Lance leads North Dakota State in hosting Central Arkansas. Here are the projections for Week 5:


Check out our new NCAAF PRO Report, where we highlight factors that provide betting edges — like large wagers, historically profitable betting systems, model projections and expert picks — that when combined with sharp money can powerfully detail the smartest bets on a given slate.


Projected College Football Odds, Week 5

A negative number indicates the home team is favored by that many points; a positive number means the home team is an underdog.


Check out our free NCAAF odds page, which automatically surfaces the best line for every game.


Week 5 Notes

  • Air Force is playing their first game of the year against Navy. The Midshipmen are on game number three.
  • Wake Forest, Arkansas State, Georgia State, Memphis, Charlotte, North Texas and Clemson are all coming off a bye week (or COVID-19 disruptions).
  • BYU now leads the nation in offensive success rate at 59%, while Kansas State leaped to the front in explosiveness
  • Pitt leads the nation in defensive success rate, while Georgia has allowed the least amount of explosiveness per play

Week 5 Situational Spots to Play

  • Campbell will play its fourth road game in 20 days against Wake Forest
  • Georgia Southern and Troy are on back-to-back road games
  • Oklahoma travels to Iowa State and Texas hosts TCU. Both may have overlook to the Red River Rivalry in Week 6
  • Hangover may not be in Kansas State’s vernacular. The Wildcats crushed Kansas after upsetting Oklahoma in 2019

Terms to Know

Postgame Win Expectancy is a calculation of all variables in a box score that dictate who would win the game if it was played a high number of times. Turnover luck, success rate and yards per play are notable components of this calculation and can influence a single game. But over a large sample, the team that moved the ball better would win more often than not.

There have been plenty of box scores in which a team wins as an underdog, but a negative value is applied to that team’s power rating because the result was fluky rather than systematic.

Coach scheme changes can adjust a power rating quickly. For example, Oregon will undergo a change from Marcus Arroyo’s conservative play-calling to new offensive coordinator Joe Moorhead’s system. Moorhead’s offense features a heavy dose of 11 personnel, west coast spread concepts and modern RPOs.

That offensive philosophy has led to more explosiveness and higher rates of success on standard downs at each of Moorhead’s previous stops at Penn State and Mississippi State. In a situation like this, a power rating can be useful to quickly adjust a team’s forecast for future games. In the case of Mike Leach, an adjustment of totals is coming with an increase in plays per game.

Success Rate and Explosiveness were first defined in Bill Connelly’s Five Factors and are strong indicators for future box scores. While EPA (Expected Points Added) and IsoPPP (Isolated Points Per Play) can be highly variable from season to season, Success Rate is a stable data point for handicappers to use for projections.

Simply put, if a team consistently achieves the desired amount of yards — determined by down and distance — then this is a “play-on” team with your bankroll. Texas A&M ranked 17th in offensive success rate last season and returns 80% of its offensive production for 2020; that combination makes the Aggies a play-on team.

As Week 4 approaches, we’ll be keeping track of all these variables in and out of the box score. Be sure to bookmark our power ratings for the latest update on all FBS and FCS teams playing this fall.

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