College Football Week 5: Picks Against the Spread

Jeff Grant@@JeffGrantSportsContributor ISeptember 26, 2011

College Football Week 5: Picks Against the Spread

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    Week 5 of the college football season is upon us, and sports bettors are starting to dig in to all the valuable information that's available.

    It's important to note that home teams have tallied a 134-129-3 ATS record this year, which includes an even 27-27 ATS mark when getting points.

    Total bettors will find that the "over" is 135-128 through four weeks.

    What does all of this mean?

    The odds-makers are pretty darn good at what they do.

    Let's take a closer look at this week's action from a betting perspective.

No. 16 South Florida at Pittsburgh

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    The odds-makers sent out the South Florida Bulls at a pick 'em Sunday afternoon, which has caused the line to move up to three.

    Normally, I'd consider this a sharp move, but I'm still liking the original line that I created.

    There's nothing better than a home underdog knocking off a ranked team to start the week, especially when the Bulls are 0-6 ATS in their last six Thursday ventures.

    Pittsburgh's 10-1 ATS mark following a straight-up loss seals it.

    Recommendation: Pittsburgh Panthers (+3)

Northwestern at No. 24 Illinois

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    All signs point to Northwestern Wildcats quarterback Dan Persa playing in this contest, which should provide big lift in this Big Ten opener for both teams.

    Northwestern actually led 27-24 at halftime in last year's meeting, but fell apart in getting outscored 21-3 in the final 30 minutes.

    I'm quick to point out that Persa didn't take the field in that particular contest.

    Illinois head coach Ron Zook lines up in a bad role Saturday, posting a 0-8 ATS record as a home favorite of 3.5 to 10 points.

    That's not going to fly against the Wildcats' stellar 23-6 ATS when getting points in the same range.

    Recommendation: Northwestern Wildcats (+7)

No. 13 Clemson at No. 11 Virginia Tech

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    The Clemson Tigers are feeling pretty good about themselves right now—problem is, it's time to take the show on the road.

    That's right, head coach Dabo Swinney has seen his young team tally four consecutive wins inside Death Valley, but now travel to Blacksburg, Va., to play in front of a raucous crowd at Lane Stadium.

    Virginia Tech simply doesn't lose ACC games, while also registering a 40-15 ATS mark in conference tilts.

    The Hokies have also grabbed the cash in this series five consecutive times.

    I have a feeling one team's balloon is going to pop.

    Recommendation: Virginia Tech Hokies (-7)

No. 14 Texas A&M vs. No. 18 Arkansas

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    First off, the oddsmakers had to make Texas A&M the favorite in this contest due to it being played at Cowboys Stadium.

    When you look past that simple fact, as a sports bettor you have to look deeper and find a very telling trend to play the other side.

    The Aggies are 0-8 ATS in their last eight neutral site games, which includes back-to-back losses to the Arkansas Razorbacks inside this venue the last two years.

    Line value is off the charts in this contest when considering that the Razorbacks were five and two-point favorites in those meetings.

    Ryan Mallett is off to the NFL, but Tyler Wilson just experienced the Alabama defense.

    That will only help him the rest of the year.

    Upset Pick:  Arkansas Razorbacks (+3)

Wake Forest at Boston College

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    Not quite ready to make Wake Forest a road favorite in this series, considering Boston College has covered the last four meetings.

    The Eagles started the year 0-3 before last week's 45-17 win over Massachusetts, which isn't going to add much confidence to bettors.

    Wake Forest is coming off a bye week and will be favored versus a lined opponent for the first time in three opportunities this year. 

    The wrong team is favored, especially with Boston College running back Montel Harris getting back into game shape. He was only picked as the ACC Preseason Player of the Year.

    Recommendation: Boston College Eagles (+2)

Nevada at No. 4 Boise State

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    I'm not one to lay four touchdowns often, but if Boise State wants to make amends for last year's loss and also grab attention of the pollsters, it's in this spot.

    The Broncos were handed a 34-31 defeat last year as 14-point road favorites in Nevada, which ended any chance of reaching the BCS National Championship Game.

    The Wolf Pack are not the same team this time around, which was quite evident in a 69-20 loss to the Oregon Ducks as 26.5-point road underdogs.

    Playing a fourth consecutive road game is going to catch up with this squad in a big way inside Bronco Stadium.

    It's going to get ugly.

    Recommendation: Boise State Broncos (-27)

Auburn at No. 10 South Carolina

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    I'm afraid that I'm walking into a trap, and the real South Carolina Gamecocks are going to show up and avenge last year's 56-17 drubbing in the SEC Championship Game.

    From a line value perspective, I'm still going to side with the Auburn Tigers, as their 4-1 ATS mark in this series is tough to ignore.

    Be cautious—Steve Spurrier will have no problem running this puppy up if he has the chance.

    Recommendation: Auburn Tigers (+10.5)

No. 17 Texas at Iowa State

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    The Texas Longhorns have the Oklahoma Sooners on deck, but head coach Mack Brown is on his revenge tour from a year ago.

    He already captured a 49-20 victory over the UCLA Bruins as 3.5-point road favorites in Week 3, which made amends for a 34-12 home loss as 15.5-point favorites the prior year.

    The boys from Austin will now be seeking revenge for another loss at home last year, falling 28-21 to Iowa State as three-touchdown favorites.

    I'd normally fade the Longhorns in this look-ahead situation, but the bye week will have the squad focused on this contest.

    Recommendation: Texas Longhorns (-9)

No. 3 Alabama at No. 12 Florida

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    Alabama Crimson Tide quarterback A.J. McCarron doesn't have to win this game due to having one of the top defenses and running games in the country to rely upon.

    A lot is going to be made of Florida's defense possessing the fifth-ranked rushing defense in the country, but let's just say the schedule hasn't been filled with a bunch of Trent Richardson's leading up to this SEC clash.

    The Gators are also an impressive 11-1-1 ATS as conference dogs, but let's remember that all of that success came before first-year head coach Will Muschamp arrived in Gainesville.

    From a betting perspective, the line is incredibly sharp, but the Crimson Tide continue to roll along.

    Recommendation: Alabama Crimson Tide (-3.5)