College Football Week 5 Picks

This week we have two games involving teams who have played mutual opponents and two games involving reverse line movement, both of which are angles that I love!

#7 Stanford at #10 Washington -3.5, 8:00 ESPN, Friday:

Sagarin has Stanford -4 as the fair spread, which is the largest single computer divergence on the card, while FPI thinks Huskies -3.5 is dead on. This is the only game on the slate where the computers disagree on the winner. On the flip side, Stanford is taking 62% of public bets, in spite of which the line has not moved. Tough call balancing the computers vs the sharp money, but we lean towards taking the points here with the hook on the wrong side of the Huskies. Neither team looked great last week and either could have easily lost to an inferior opponent but Stanford has the bigger game-changer in their corner in what should be a close one down to the wire.

#22 Texas at Oklahoma State -2.5, 11:00 ABC:

The ND and Cal losses last weekend really took the shine off of Texas in a hurry. FPI/ Sagarin average fair line is -6 for the home team, who wasn’t disgraced against a Baylor team last week that is probably a lot better than people think at this point in time. 58% of public bets are on Texas which has moved the hook to the right side of the Cowboys.

North Carolina at #12 Florida State -11.5, 2:30 ESPN:

FSU 45-Ole Miss 34. Ole Miss 45-Georgia 14. Georgia 33- UNC 24. So FSU wins by 51 via transitive property. Line looks fair according to the computers and betting trends show some sharp bettors on UNC, but we’ll lean towards the form lines here even as the favorite takes 70% of public spread bets. As noted opening weekend, UNC’s main weakness is its rushing D, and this Noles rushing attack is statistically even stronger than Georgia’s is.

#8 Wisconsin at #4 Michigan -10.5, 2:30 ABC:

This line appears to be begging you to take Wisconsin. Wisconsin is taking 62% of spread bets but causing no line movement, so the sharps are on the Wolverines, and this is a classic “fade the trendy dog” play. For support, the FPI/ Sagarin average spread is -13.5. This seems like a lot of points in what figures to be a defensive struggle but the feeling is that Michigan, being 4th nationally in scoring offense, will have a massive edge moving the ball, as Wisconsin ranks just 63rd and still has questions at QB. Wins over LSU and Michigan State by Wisconsin don’t look as impressive following last week’s results, as LSU lost to Auburn, and MSU’s claim to fame was weakened as Notre Dame suffered an embarrassing home loss to Duke.

#11 Tennessee -3.5 at #25 Georgia, 2:30 CBS:

The week’s largest spread divergence from the computers, with the FPI/Sagarin average spread at -9. The public agrees that this is a strange spread and has moved the line hook to the Vols’ side thanks to 76% support after Vegas opened it -3. Georgia seems very unbalanced offensively and Nick Chubb is listed as questionable. Tennessee seemed to really find its groove offensively in the second half against a far better Florida defense. It is never easy on the road in between the hedges but these two teams look to be headed in different directions currently.

Oklahoma -3.5 at #21 TCU, 4:00 FOX:

Spread opened -2 which is fair by the computers, but 70% of public money on the Sooners has driven the move. With the hook now on the wrong side of the line for Sooner supporters, this is the toughest call of the day. TCU’s strength is in its passing game and although Oklahoma’s secondary has struggled thus far (82nd in passing defense), they have the talent to be a top ten unit by the end of the season. TCU’s pass defense has been even worse against lesser competition (88th), which should allow Baker Mayfield to open up the OU passing game and as a result lead the Sooners to really do some damage on the ground thanks to the balance, which was a struggle in two losses to tougher opponents than this one.

#17 Michigan State -6.5 at Indiana, 7:00 BTN:

Sparty’s win at ND doesn’t look as impressive as it once did and they just took a clobbering at home while looking completely inept offensively in a 30-6 loss to Wisconsin. FPI/ Sagarin average has the fair spread at -3.5. We see reverse line movement as well with 74% of public bets on Sparty, as the line has actually moved towards IU from -8.5, indicating sharp money on the Hoosiers. It’s fair to wonder again whether this Spartan offense might just be bad, and while Indiana’s defense is certainly a step down from Wisconsin’s, it’s actually probably a bit better than Notre Dame’s is (41st vs 101st), which is a crazy statistic.

#3 Louisville -1.5 at #5 Clemson, 7:00 ABC:

The week’s largest line move as this opened Clemson -3.5, thanks to 61% of public spread bets on Louisville. Computers see this as a Pick’Em, so there appears to be some edge in taking the home team in the day’s biggest game. Louisville’s offense has been downright scary, but Clemson’s defense, despite losing a lot from last year’s squad, will be its toughest test yet and is being underestimated by many- the Tigers rank 3rd nationally in total defense and 5th in scoring defense coming into this. Clemson’s high-powered offense should be able to score more efficiently than Florida State did in their embarrassing loss to this opponent and in truth, if you had known you could get points on Clemson at home in this game before the season started, which side would you have been on?

Arizona State at USC -9.5, 7:30 FOX:

Tons of sharp money on the USC dumpster fire. Spread opened -7.5 and we see reverse line movement as it has risen 2 points despite 72% of public bets on ASU. That makes the Sun Devils the trendiest dog on the board, and that in combination with the RLM and USC in desperation mode all in play pointing to the home favorite covering here. The reality is that while 1-3, all of the Trojans’ losses have come against ranked opponents in improved efforts, and Arizona State’s 104th ranked scoring defense offers a chance to make a statement in a prime time home game.

Arizona at UCLA -13.5, 9:30 ESPN:

UCLA 17- BYU 14. BYU 18- Arizona 16. UCLA wins by 5 via transitive property. Computers see the fair spread around -12.5, and this line has risen from -10.5 off the strength of just 51% public support for the home team, so there is some sharp interest in a Bruin blowout. Still, Arizona wasn’t disgraced in an overtime loss to Washington and while the Wildcats are a bit banged up on offense, this seems like too many points for a UCLA team that has looked challenged offensively to this point (101st in Scoring Offense).

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