Another college football Saturday is here and conference play is in full swing! And we’ve spent all week looking up and down the Week 5 college football betting odds, compiling the best picks and predictions on spreads, totals, props and everything in between.
RED ZONE RIDICULOUSNESS
Transitioning into a new offense takes time and patience – but Georgia Tech fans and bettors are running out of both as the Yellow Jackets prepare to host North Carolina. While Georgia Tech still relies heavily on the run, it has incorporated more of a passing approach in 2019 – with dreadful results. Not only are the Yellow Jackets completing fewer than half their pass attempts with just two TD passes and four interceptions, they also rank dead last in the FBS in red-zone success rate, having scored on just five of their nine trips inside their opponents’ 20-yard line (four touchdowns, one field goal).
The Yellow Jackets have failed to cover in seven consecutive games – and with offensive execution this poor, it’s no wonder. We lean toward a visiting North Carolina team that very nearly upset the defending-champion Clemson Tigers last week.
CAN’T KEEP ANYONE UPRIGHT
No team has done a poorer job of protecting its quarterback than the South Florida Bulls, who go into Saturday’s matchup with the Connecticut Huskies as a double-digit road favorite. The Bulls are allowing an average of five sacks per game for the season, the most of any FBS team – and that’s not the only strike against the USF offensive line. The rush attack is averaging a meager 3.1 yards per carry through the first four games, with not a single Bulls rusher having recorded more than 82 yards on the ground. UConn ranks in the middle of the pack in sacks per game (2.50).
We’re not sure how a 1-3 team with such a poor offensive line is favored by double digits on the road against another FBS team, but such is the case. We like UConn ATS after the Huskies fought Illinois hard in their only previous home game of 2019.
TAYLOR MADE FOR DOMINANCE
What happens when the No. 1 running back in the nation takes on the worst run defense in the country? We’re about to find out as Jonathan Taylor and the Wisconsin Badgers tangle with the visiting Kent State Golden Flashes on Saturday. Taylor has menaced opposing defenses through his first four games this season, racking up 559 yards and eight touchdowns on the ground – and he should feast against a Kent State defense that is surrendering an NCAA-high 261 yards per game on the ground. Look for backup running back Nakia Watson to see plenty of action in this one, with Wisconsin favored by five touchdowns.
Taylor and the rest of the Wisconsin offense should have little trouble handling Kent State – and with the Badgers eyeing an even higher position in the NCAA rankings, don’t expect any mercy. We favor the host Badgers to cover.
DON’T PLAY THIS FAVORITE
The San Diego State Aztecs have been a fairly predictable team of late: bet against them when they’re favored, and you’re going to make out well. The Aztecs are one-touchdown road favorites Saturday night at Colorado State, and will look to cover as a fave for the second consecutive game. But bettors beware: San Diego State had gone 0-10 ATS in its previous 10 games as a favorite – and needed a touchdown with 3:49 remaining against New Mexico State to end that lengthy skid on Sept. 14. Colorado State has covered in back-to-back games, including a 10-point loss to Utah State as a 24-point ‘dog last time out.
With the Aztecs ranking outside the top 100 in passing offense and Colorado State coming in 15th (with the 39th-ranked pass defense), the Rams are not only an intriguing cover option, but are worth a look to win outright.
PURDUE’S STAR RECEIVER SIDELINED
It’s bad news for the Purdue Boilermakers, who will be without star receiver Rondale Moore indefinitely. Moore let last week’s 38-31 loss to the Minnesota Golden Gophers on a cart after sustaining a leg injury. He’ll miss this week’s encounter with the Penn State Nittany Lions, but head coach Jeff Brohm isn’t ready to declare Moore out for the season. Moore was one of the top wide receivers in the nation prior to the injury, catching 29 passes for 387 yards and a pair of touchdowns. He joins quarterback Elijah Sindelar (broken collarbone, out indefinitely) on the sidelines.
This has moved by as many as five points in some places – and Penn State still looks like the superior cover option with Purdue down its top two offensive players in hostile territory this weekend.
OREGON GAINS A WEAPON
The Oregon Ducks will likely have one more difference-maker in the lineup for Saturday’s game against the rival Cal Golden Bears. Four-star wide receiver Mycah Pittman has been cleared to return to action for the first time since suffering a shoulder injury in preseason camp. Considered one of the top wide receiver prospects in the Pac-12, Pittman joins a Ducks receiving corps that is led by the talented trio of Jacob Breeland (18 receptions, 265 yards, 5 TDs), Johnny Johnson III (22 receptions, 264 yards, 2 TDs) and Jaylon Redd (17 receptions, 149 yards, 3 TDs).
With the Ducks (and quarterback Justin Herbert in particular) officially loaded in the passing game and the Golden Bears starting a backup quarterback this weekend, Oregon looks like a good bet to surpass its team point total despite the tough matchup.
DTR WITH THE DNP
The UCLA Bruins could be down their starting quarterback for this weekend’s game against Oregon State. Dorian Thompson-Robinson missed practice Wednesday with an undisclosed injury. He was seen on the sidelines stretching but did not take the field.
Thompson-Robinson was knocked out of last week’s loss to Arizona with a suspected leg injury and his status for this weekend is unclear. Austin Burton will get the start if Thompson-Robinson can’t play. DTR has thrown for 1,243 yards with 11 touchdowns and six interceptions for the Bruins so far this season.
This is certainly an injury to monitor, with the struggling Bruins favored by six points against the visiting Beavers. A potential downgrade at QB for UCLA limits the Bruins’ scoring potential, which brings the Under in play (especially with this game carrying a total in the mid-60s).
PASS TO PLAY?
Jawon Pass is hoping to return to the Louisville Cardinals’ lineup for this weekend’s home encounter with Boston College.
The junior quarterback suffered a foot injury that has kept him out the Cardinals’ previous two games but with Louisville coming off a bye, Pass has had time to recover and was able to practice over the weekend.
That said, he’s still considered a game-time decision against the Eagles, with Malik Cunningham set to start if Pass is unable to go. Pass threw four touchdown passes in his previous outing, a 42-0 victory over Eastern Kentucky back on September 7.
If Pass is healthy enough to go, he’ll find himself in a favorable matchup against a Boston College pass defense that ranks just inside the Top 100 nationally in yards allowed per game (255.6), making the home team cover a more viable option.
A NEW AFFLICTION
A new injury could keep Stanford Cardinal quarterback K.J. Costello off the field for Saturday’s game against the Washington Huskies. Costello is dealing with a hand injury that kept him out of last Saturday’s game against Oregon State, after he had previously missed time while recovering from a concussion.
Costello has been labeled between questionable and doubtful by Stanford head coach David Shaw, making it likely that Davis Mills will get the start in Costello’s place. Mills has completed 62.5 percent of his passes with four touchdowns and one interception so far this season.
The downgrade in quarterback could make a difficult task even tougher for a Cardinal team giving away more than two TDs to the visiting Huskies. Stanford is averaging just 11.5 points in two home games, so we like the Under 17.5 on the team point total.
FROM HERO TO HURT
The hero of Pitt’s shocking win over Central Florida might be on the shelf for yet another week. Panthers quarterback Kenny Pickett is still recovering from an undisclosed injury that held him out of last week’s victory over Delaware, and head coach Pat Narduzzi could only say “I don’t know” when asked earlier this week if Pickett would return.
Pickett, who caught the game-winning touchdown pass for Pitt in a 37-34 triumph over ranked UCF, has thrown for 1,102 yards on the season with three touchdowns and two interceptions. Nick Patti will get the start if Pickett can’t go.
Duke comes into this one as a 4-point favorite and while Patti fared well in Pickett’s absence, the Blue Devils’ 38th-ranked pass defense should make his day difficult. And with Pitt struggling to run the ball, we favor the hosts to cover.
LSU receiver Justin Jefferson might be back on the field against visiting Utah State this weekend. Jefferson left the Tigers’ Septemer 21 triumph over Vanderbilt with an ankle injury, but with LSU enjoying a week off following the victory, the junior wide receiver had plenty of time to rest and heal.
He returned to the team’s unpadded practice to start the week and is trending toward returning against the Aggies. Jefferson is having a solid season for the Tigers so far, having hauled in 21 passes for 392 yards and five touchdowns to help lead LSU to a perfect 4-0 start.
With LSU getting another weapon back and enjoying home-field advantage against a USU team that ranks outside the Top 100 in passing yards allowed, the Tigers are a great bet to finish above their team total, which sits at around 50 points.
Devon Modster has taken over the reins as starting quarterback for the California Golden Bears. Modster will get the start this weekend against the Oregon Ducks in place of Chase Garbers, who suffered an upper-body injury and is reportedly out for the “long term”.
While Garbers was having an up-and-down season – throwing for eight touchdowns against just two interceptions but completing only 59.1 percent of his attempts – Modster was decidedly less stellar in relief, going 6-of-15 for a paltry 39 yards with an interception and a sack in the loss to Arizona State.
Oregon is one of the most dangerous first-half teams in the league (especially at home, where the Ducks average 24.7 first-half points per game) and Cal will struggle to keep up in hostile territory. We favor Oregon -10 on the first-half spread.