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Predicting All Top 25 Week 5 College Football Games Against the Spread

Jonathan McDanalContributor IIIOctober 18, 2016

Predicting All Top 25 Week 5 College Football Games Against the Spread

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    We are now averaging about 47.2 upsets per week, and conference play begins in earnest this week.

    That means there should be even more upsets this week. There is even a game with an unranked team favored over a ranked team.

    Keep an eye out for upsets and surprising displays of defense in Week 5, as that is quickly becoming the theme of the 2012 college football season.

    Oregon State has been playing like a legitimate bowl contender. The Big Ten has been campaigning to join the Big East. The SEC is playing so inconsistently that Auburn looked like a top-10 team last Saturday.

    So, after a daunting quest through the Seven Seas of Stats, here are my picks for Week 5.

    *Towson at No. 3 LSU has no line as of Sept. 25, 2012. (Kickoff: Saturday, Sept. 29 at 7 p.m.)

    *The following Top 25 teams are taking a bye in Week 5: Kansas State, Notre Dame, Florida, USC, Oklahoma, Mississippi State and Rutgers

    *All betting numbers are from sportsbook.ag

    *Statistics not from memory are from ESPN.com

No. 25 Baylor Bears at No. 9 West Virginia Mountaineers

2 of 15

    When: Saturday, Sept. 29 at noon

    Line: West Virginia -12.5

    Over/Under: 79.5

    Pick: West Virginia wins but doesn't cover. Take the over.

    Baylor is averaging 50.3 points per game while allowing 29.7. The 42 points allowed to Louisiana-Monroe last week gives reason for West Virginia to be confident in winning the shootout.

    Of course, West Virginia showed vulnerability against Maryland last week. Walking away with an unconvincing 10-point win over the Terrapins was far from expected.

    This game should look an awful lot like the Florida State vs. Clemson game last week.

No. 17 Clemson Tigers at Boston College Eagles

3 of 15

    When: Saturday, Sept. 29 at 3:30 p.m.

    Line: Clemson -10

    Over/Under: 59.5

    Pick: Clemson covers. Take the under.

    Last week, Clemson showed the ability to light up the scoreboard starting in the first quarter. Even Florida State's defense couldn't stop the Tigers from scoring five touchdowns.

    Clemson's defense should be able to hold the Eagles to 13 points or fewer, just like Northwestern did.

    Clemson will win handily, but will be the only team putting points on the board for most of the game. That will keep the total in the "under" range.

Tennessee Volunteers at No. 5 Georgia Bulldogs

4 of 15

    When: Saturday, Sept. 29 at 3:30 p.m.

    Line: Georgia -13

    Over/Under: 61.5

    Pick: Georgia covers. Take the over.

    Tennessee is a hard team to predict. One game, the Volunteers show up and play hard and come away with a win over an NC State squad that probably should have beaten them. In another game, they show up for three quarters and then fall apart in the fourth quarter to lose to Florida.

    Georgia will cover the 13-point spread because, well, it's Georgia and the offense has consistently put up over 40 points this year.

    Tyler Bray will lead Tennessee into what could be a shootout. However, give Georgia one half to figure the Volunteers out, and then the Bulldogs will shut down the Tennessee offense in the second half to cover the spread.

    Tennessee will score 21 (or more) points in the first half to push this point total over the line.

No. 14 Ohio State Buckeyes at No. 20 Michigan State Spartans

5 of 15

    When: Saturday, Sept. 29 at 3:30 p.m.

    Line: Michigan State -3

    Over/Under: 43.5

    Pick: Ohio State upsets the Spartans. Take the under.

    Both these teams have looked less than impressive at some point over the last four weeks. Ohio State just won two close games in a row, and one was to a vastly inferior UAB squad.

    That performance against the Blazers will fire up the entire staff over at the Horseshoe, and Michigan State will bear the brunt of the Buckeyes' wrath.

    Michigan State is favored in the game, but home-field advantage is worth about three points in this sport. Basically, Vegas doesn't know who to pick.

    Ohio State comes out with a narrow victory over the Spartans 21-14.

No. 24 Boise State Broncos at New Mexico Lobos

6 of 15

    When: Saturday, Sept. 29 at 6 p.m.

    Line: Boise State -26

    Over/Under: OFF

    Pick: Boise State wins but doesn't cover.

    Boise State showed a remarkable inability to score on the Smurf Turf last week. A pick-six and a failed BYU two-point conversion were the key plays in Boise State's 7-6 victory over the Cougars.

    This week against New Mexico, Boise will have fewer issues with scoring, but may lose focus on defense. New Mexico is not expected to contend for the conference title, and Boise may be looking past the Lobos.

No. 4 Florida State Seminoles at South Florida Bulls

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    When: Saturday, Sept. 29 at 6 p.m.

    Line: Florida State -17

    Over/Under: 53.5

    Pick: Florida State covers. Take the over.

    Florida State has been performing like a national championship contender, and has the No. 4 spot in the rankings to show for it. In fact, if LSU plays like crap again, FSU will be right there to take over at No. 3.

    South Florida is a bowl contender, but not in the same way the Seminoles are. Florida State will cover this spread by halftime, and will almost hit the over by itself.

    South Florida will score just enough points to make it worth taking the over.

No. 15 TCU Horned Frogs at SMU Mustangs

8 of 15

    When: Saturday, Sept. 29 at 7 p.m.

    Line: TCU -16.5

    Over/Under: 54.5

    Pick: TCU wins but doesn't cover. Take the over.

    TCU should do pretty well in the Big 12, but the new conference will require a lot of the Horned Frogs' focus.

    This is a trap game for the Frogs, and it will take them a halftime speech to get fully into the game.

    SMU beat TCU in overtime last year, and the Frogs will not have forgotten that. The flip side of that coin is that Pachall and company struggled to put points up against Virginia and Kansas.

    TCU won't return to form in Week 5, though it will be firing on all offensive cylinders before the end of the season.

    This game will satisfy fans that like lead changes and successful offenses, but will fall short of last year's 73-point total.

No. 6 South Carolina Gamecocks at Kentucky Wildcats

9 of 15

    When: Saturday, Sept. 29 at 7 p.m.

    Line: South Carolina -21

    Over/Under: 47.5

    Pick: South Carolina covers. Take the under.

    South Carolina joins the ranks of teams entering conference play for good in Week 5, though this game does have an asterisk beside it, because Kentucky lost to Western Kentucky this year. 

    Yes, it's a conference matchup, but Alabama's game against Ole Miss is more evenly matched than this game is.

    South Carolina wins, but shuts out Kentucky to fall just shy of the over.

No. 12 Texas Longhorns at Oklahoma State Cowboys

10 of 15

    When: Saturday, Sept. 29 at 7:50 p.m.

    Line: Texas -3

    Over/Under: 66.5

    Pick: Texas covers. Take the under.

    This game will tell everyone in the nation whether it's Texas or Oklahoma State that's overrated. After watching Texas take down Ole Miss, I believe the Longhorns will take care of business against the Cowboys.

    After Texas allowed Ole Miss to score 31 points, it would be easy to take the over in this game. However, when you're ahead 31-10 at halftime and extend it to 38-10 on the first drive of the second half, it's really easy to let your guard down.

    Texas will use Oklahoma State to kill suspicion that the Longhorns have a suspect defense.

Wisconsin Badgers at No. 22 Nebraska Cornhuskers

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    When: Saturday, Sept. 29 at 8 p.m.

    Line: Nebraska -13

    Over/Under: 50.5

    Pick: Nebraska covers. Take the over.

    Wisconsin and Nebraska face off in what should have been a Top 25 vs. Top 25 matchup.

    While it is not as important on the national scale anymore, this game has serious conference championship implications.

    The Big Ten is having a down year. Every game is going to matter. This is the first major chance for each of these teams to get back on track after suffering upsets early in the season, and they will play like it.

    Look for Rex Burkhead and Montee Ball to get several touches early in the game as the offenses wear down the defenses. Which defense will crack first?

    Look for a low-scoring defensive battle in the first half and an offensive explosion from Nebraska in the second.

No. 19 Louisville Cardinals at Southern Miss Golden Eagles

12 of 15

    When: Saturday, Sept. 29 at 8 p.m.

    Line: Louisville -10.5

    Over/Under: 49.5

    Pick: Louisville covers. Take the under.

    Louisville takes on a winless Southern Miss team in Week 5. 

    The Cardinals have gotten off to a great start, and a win over North Carolina makes them look like the favorites for the Big East title.

    Louisville will win this battle by 11 or more, but the point total will come in under the half-century mark.

Ole Miss Rebels at No. 1 Alabama Crimson Tide

13 of 15

    When: Saturday, Sept. 29 at 9:15 p.m.

    Line: Alabama -31

    Over/Under: OFF

    Pick: Alabama wins but doesn't cover.

    Ole Miss will shock some people and score a couple of times on Alabama. Though it's not the toughest test of the Crimson Tide secondary, it is definitely a legitimate trial for the Tide's defensive backs. Currently, Ole Miss sits atop the SEC West in total offense (yardage).

    Alabama's schedule gets progressively tougher each week, and Ole Miss is the first of a bunch of trap games between here and LSU.

    Ole Miss will attempt to capitalize on that, and will keep the score closer than the 31-point spread. Another point to keep in mind is that Ole Miss seems to have reacted angrily to the beating the Longhorns handed it.

    If the 39-0 shutout of Tulane is any indication of the Rebels' direction, the Tide should be very afraid of an upset. Hugh Freeze is a magician, and Ole Miss has a lot of talent for him to work with.

    However, this game takes place at Alabama. The Tide should roll.

No. 18 Oregon State Beavers at Arizona Wildcats

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    When: Saturday, Sept. 29 at 10 p.m.

    Line: Arizona -3

    Over/Under: 56.5

    Pick: Oregon State upsets the Wildcats. Take the under.

    After everything Oregon State has done this year, it's a bit surprising that the Beavers are underdogs in this game.

    They have played great in a couple of games, but if this spread is to be believed, their streak is about to come to an end at the hands of RichRod and the Arizona Wildcats.

    Disagreement with that sentiment is found right here: Oregon State continues the "streak" that the rest of us call a good season. Yes, losses are coming for the Beavers, but not this week.

    Oregon just ran a clinic on how to stop Arizona from scoring, and you can bet the Beavers have been watching that game tape at every opportunity this week.

    The Wildcats will be angry and looking for redemption. The Beavers will not give them that.

No. 2 Oregon Ducks at Washington State Cougars

15 of 15

    When: Saturday, Sept. 29 at 10:30 p.m.

    Line: Oregon -28.5

    Over/Under: 70.5

    Pick: Oregon covers. Take the under.

    Oregon's defense made a statement last week against Arizona. The Ducks' offense had to take the backseat, in the middle...with its feet on the hump to the unit that held RichRod's offense to zero points on the scoreboard.

    Complete with goal-line stands, sacks and four interceptions, the Oregon defense played at a national championship level on Saturday.

    There is the possibility of a letdown in this game after a win like that, but the Ducks should cover the spread even with a letdown.

    Washington State's score should look similar to Arizona's, and Oregon will pull it back around the 40-point barrier to let the backups get some experience. They'll need it against USC, the Pac-12 title game opponent (probably USC again) and whoever they play in the national championship game.

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