LB looks at the NCAAF Week Five fixtures and picks his best bets and upsets across all of College Football.
Alabama @ Arkansas
The Tide are three score favorites on the road against SEC rivals Arkansas and the line looks too high. Yes, Alabama have obliterated three opponents so far – but those were #124 Utah State, #104 UL Monroe and #84 Vanderbilt. Their other game was a highly controversial 1 point win against Texas that saw Longhorns star QB Ewers go off injured and some highly questionable officiating. Texas finished with a post game win expectancy of 80%. I just do not believe ‘Bama are as good as their record.
Arkansas come into this one on the back of a painful 2 point loss in College Station. Two Razorbacks’ fumbles basically decided that game. The first happened on the Texas A&M 15 yard line and was returned for a TD by Demani Richardson – changing the game by at least 9 points. The second came on the last play of the game. Arkansas were trying to make life easier for their kicker but messed it up and Cam Littlehad to go for a 42 yard attempt, which he missed. The Razorbacks’ had a 70% PGWE.
With a bounce of a ball or two, or some better refereeing, this could be a one-loss Bama taking on an “and oh” Arkansas. We have already seen The Razorback Stadium crowd cause problems for visiting teams. and Alabama have not been at their best on the road for quite some time. My money says The Crimson Tide will come undone here.
Michigan @ Iowa
There is not a lot I can say to back up this pick. Michigan are ranked #4 in the country and Iowa look to be a mess. However, The Hawkeyes defense is the best in the FBS, and have only allowed 5.8 points per game so far. Their offense hasn’t clicked yet (to put it kindly) although there were some promising signs last week against Rutgers.
Michigan’s stats are phenomenal so far but it must be noted that the schedule has been particularly kind. Big wins against #129 Colorado State, #127 Hawaii and #126 UConn won’t exactly prepare you for an 11 AM kickoff at Kinnick Stadium. The Wolverines were gifted the win over Maryland too. The game opened with Tai Felton fumbling the kickoff on his own 10 yard line. Michigan recovered the ball and scored on their first pass of the game. They never really pulled away after that, winning by those same 7 points, despite Taulia Tagovailoa throwing two interceptions.
Iowa are the antithesis of the high-octane, free-scoring CFB stereotype and that’s why I love them. I think they will pull Michigan into a fight here and could very easily blow The Big Ten wide open.
Washington @ UCLA
This game should be a cracker and I’m surprised to see The Bruins as home underdogs here. Yes, Washington took down Michigan State, but nobody believes The Spartans are as good as their (freefalling) rank and UCLA still look underrated. Are Washington good? Absolutely. Are UCLA good? We cannot know yet because they are basically untested. I started out with a mind to back The Bruins here but I’m flipped to backing the points instead (O 65.5).
Purdue @ Minnesota
The Golden Gophers are flying this season and I just can’t see how they are only 12 point favorites. If Aidan O’Connell is out then Purdue will be stuffed. If he is fit, they will still lose and probably by more than two TDs. On the ground Minnesota will just bulldoze over The Boilermakers and I’m not sure how Purdue plays their way into this game.
Alabama @ Arkansas: Arkansas +17
Alabama @ Arkansas: Arkansas Moneyline Win @ +575 (23/4)
Michigan @ Iowa: Iowa +10.5
Michigan @ Iowa: Iowa Moneyline Win @ +320 (16/5)
Washington @ UCLA: Over 65.5 Total Points
Purdue @ Minnesota: Minnesota -12 (2U)
Purdue @ Minnesota: 1st Quarter Minnesota -3.5
There are quite a few other teams I like this week but just can’t bring myself to include as official picks. Ole Miss looked dodgy against Tulsa last week and I’m not sold on their defense. The Golden Hurricane really could have won and Ole Miss didn’t score a point in the second half. Would any Ole Miss fans be surprised by a Kentucky upset here?
Clemson snuck out of Winston-Salem with a 2OT win and PGWE of 59%. I picked Wake Forest to win that which stung and I just have a feeling The Tigers are not quite as good as people say. NC State arrive after a breezy 43-10 win over UConn and should be the better prepped side. I will bet the dogs for sure.
Utah host Oregon State and I expect The Beavers will have a hangover from that tough loss to USC. I fancy The Utes to cover the 10.5 and the first quarter spread of 3.5 (a market that has been very profitable for us this season). The Utes will be out for revenge after last season too.
Kansas look underrated in the market and are picking up 3 points at home to Iowa State. I like The Cyclones but this one looks set for a home win.