Week 5 College Football Group of 5 Parlay: Our Top Bet, Featuring SMU & Western Kentucky (Oct. 2)
Matthew Visinsky/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images. Pictured: Ulysses Bentley IV (left) and Danny Gray (right).
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.
Last week, UTSA turned in yeoman’s work, erasing a 21-0 hole and shocking previously undefeated Memphis on the road as a +135 underdog.
The rest of my parlay card wasn’t as memorable.
Kansas wilted down the stretch despite achieving an 80% likelihood of covering with just 3:43 remaining in the game. And FAU forgot to get off the plane in Colorado Springs, falling behind 24-0 out of the gate and never recovering.
The picks remain solid on the year at 8-4, but we’re due for a big parlay.
This week, I’m buying low on the Golden Flashes, fading USF during the second leg of a road back-to-back and backing Bailey Zappe and the high-flying Western Kentucky offense.
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Saturday, Oct. 2
3:30 p.m. ET
The Golden Flashes have been beat up, run over, and battered during their rugged nonconference schedule.
In the end, Kent faced off against No. 5 Iowa, No. 15 Texas A&M and an undefeated Maryland team in College Park.
The good news is that the offense started to click against Maryland, and they emerged from those three games relatively healthy.
Dustin Crum, their All-MAC quarterback found his groove against the Terps, surpassing 300 yards through the air, while sprinkling in a long run as well.
His top three receiving targets — Ja’Shaun Poke, Nykeim Johnson and Dante Cephas — are the best trio in the league, and they’re facing an opponent that wants to avoid a shootout at all costs.
Yes, Bowling Green just shocked Minnesota on the road, but this is the same Falcons team that is averaging just 16.5 points per game.
BGSU checks in at 124th in total offense and cannot run the football whatsoever. The Falcons are dead last in yards per game on the ground, which is Kent State’s No. 1 weakness.
This is a “get-right” game for Kent and the beginning of a march up the MAC standings.
Pick: Kent State -16.5
Saturday, Oct. 2
4 p.m. ET
The SMU passing attack is the best there is at the G5 level.
Tanner Mordecai has been a revelation for Sonny Dykes, tossing 20 touchdown passes through four games. His receiving corps is dynamic, led by Danny Gray (20-358-5).
The Ponies rank top-10 nationally in creating pass plays of 20 yards or more, which explains why they’ve been such a dynamic quick-strike offense.
South Florida’s offense isn’t nearly as dynamic, but Timmy McClain has given it stability and played a clean game against BYU with the Bulls covering a large number.
USF was the beneficiary of a late scratch at QB (Jaren Hall), but I think it’s clear that it can move the football better than even a few weeks ago.
Where the Bulls and McClain struggle specifically is against pressure. Pro Football Focus ranks SMU as the 17th-best pass-rushing team nationally. When you combine that fact with the likelihood of USF playing from behind, I think this sets up a Mustang runaway.
Pick: SMU -20.5
Saturday, Oct. 2
7:30 p.m. ET
Western Kentucky’s offensive heart transplant was talked about ad nauseum this offseason.
The question was, could you really port an entire offense and play caller from another school and have it work? In short, yes.
The Hilltoppers boast a top-20 offense, and check in top-five in nearly every meaningful passing statistic.
They also went into West Point on 9/11 and gave the Cadets a four-quarter fight in front of an intimidating home crowd. They followed that up by piling up yards and points against Indiana.
Those two teams are better on defense than Michigan State, and when you drill down into the pass defense stats, it’s not even close.
The Spartans are 107th against the pass this season, which means that the Hilltoppers can rely on their bread and butter of Zappe to Jerreth Sterns all night long.
It also bears mentioning that Michigan State is dead last ATS since 2015 when facing nonconference opponents (7-15). Toss in the fact that this is a letdown spot after an emotional OT win over Nebraska, and I think we have the makings of a nail-biter in East Lansing.
Pick: Western Kentucky +11