Week 5 of the college football season featured 22 outright upsets, including ranked teams like Oregon, Fresno State, Texas A&M, Florida and UCLA. At this point in the season, the answer to the question of whether or not anybody in college football is good is a short one. Alabama. Georgia.
This is a weird environment for both bettors and oddsmakers. A high-variance environment such as this one can have a lot of benefits for bettors that are able to isolate the teams that are for real, the teams that aren’t and the spots to capitalize. On the other hand, oddsmakers may be able to prey on the reactionary nature of the betting markets and bait bettors into taking teams that may not be able to sustain what they’ve recently done.
There is a lot to unpack every Sunday morning, but the box scores can help us determine what was real and what wasn’t from the past weekend of college football.
Let’s check out some examples and what they mean going forward.
Iowa 51, Maryland 14
The Hawkeyes did it again. Iowa was + 7 in turnover margin on Friday against Maryland. The 51 points came on 5.35 yards per play. The passing attack did look better with Spencer Petras in this one, as he threw for 259 yards on 21-of-30 passing, but Iowa had two scoring drives longer than 60 yards.
Forcing turnovers is a skill and one that Iowa has mastered. Defensively, this team is every bit as legit as the profile looks. Offensively, though, I still have major questions.
The Hawkeyes are fortunate that Wisconsin appears to be bad and that Michigan and Ohio State are not on the regular season schedule. I still think this is a team with an overblown perception and I think we’ll see sharp money on Penn State this week.
Bet Iowa Unders – The Hawkeyes offense isn’t good enough to sustain long drives, but short fields can cure a lot of offensive ills. Even though this game went over, we had back-to-back easy unders with the Hawkeyes against Colorado State and Kent State. I’d expect another one this week against Penn State.
Kentucky 20, Florida 13
This was a best bet from me this week, as Kentucky not only got to the window on the spread, but also upset Florida to win for the third time in 42 head-to-head meetings. Florida had 15 penalties for 115 yards in this game. The Wildcats scored a touchdown on a blocked field goal and also had a 29-yard TD drive. Florida outgained Kentucky 382-224, though give the ‘Cats credit for holding Florida to 5.4 YPP.
Kentucky was 1-for-9 on third down and only ran 47 plays to 71 for the Gators. The Wildcats are now 5-0. I like this team and love this team’s tenacity, but the Florida win was pretty misleading and the rest of the wins look worse with each passing week. South Carolina’s offense is terrible. Missouri gave up 62 to Tennessee. UL Monroe and Chattanooga aren’t good teams.
Bet on Kentucky anyway - Look, the ‘Cats offense isn’t where I thought it would be. Will Levis has played bad and it is a one-dimensional group. However, Kentucky still finds ways to win. In this game, they didn’t have to overcome a big turnover margin, but did have to make a special teams play and also benefit from some Florida errors. They’re just finding ways.
LSU is next and that program, while far more talented and athletically-superior, has problems. Georgia comes after that and Kentucky will be getting a ton of points on the road. The schedule lightens up a good bit after that. Even though this Florida win was misleading, there is an unquantifiable element of moxie that this team has and it makes them a good ATS bet.
Minnesota 20, Purdue 13
For whatever reason, Jeff Brohm doesn’t seem to be working out at Purdue. I’m not sure what direction the Boilermakers would go, but this ain’t it. Purdue had 448 yards and ran 86 plays on Saturday and scored 13 points. Minnesota had 294 yards, ran just 53 plays, and won the game outright.
Purdue fumbled in plus territory on its first possession and settled for a red zone field goal on its second. After a long 91-yard TD drive, Purdue punted twice and kicked a short FG to take a 13-10 lead into half.
In the second half, Purdue had a plus-territory punt, a missed field goal, a turnover on downs and an interception inside the Minnesota 30. Aidan O’Connell was sacked on third down three times and fumbled on a first-down sack.
Fade Purdue – This team makes way too many mistakes and is inefficient on offense. Purdue ranks sixth in the nation in pass attempts and two of the teams above them (Fresno State, New Mexico State) have played six games to their five. Purdue still ranks 90th in yards per play. They’ve allowed 14 sacks and are -5 in turnovers. They’ve only generated two takeaways.
The rest of the schedule is tough for Purdue, as they’ll face better teams or teams with better coaching throughout. The fade sign is lit up for them.
Georgia Southern 59, Arkansas State 33
The total for this game was 66 and a triple-option running offense that fired its coach this week nearly got to the total by themselves. Georgia Southern ran for 10.1 yards per carry and scored seven rushing touchdowns in the 59-33 win over Arkansas State.
The Red Wolves threw the ball 61 times in this game, but threw four interceptions and turned it over on downs twice. Arkansas State had 34 first downs and 534 yards, but still lost by 26 points. That is incredibly hard to do. So is giving up 503 rushing yards.
This isn’t Arkansas State’s first high-scoring game. The Red Wolves played a 41-34 game against Tulsa last week, gave up 52 to Washington and gave up 55 to Memphis. I’m not sure oddsmakers can set their totals high enough.
Bet Arkansas State Overs – The Red Wolves defense has allowed 7.99 yards per play this season. That is easily the worst in the nation. The next two opponents are Coastal Carolina and Louisiana, two teams that were among the nation’s best in offensive efficiency last season.
Arkansas State plays with a lot of tempo and throws the ball all over the yard, so they’re bound to find the end zone a few times, even against better opponents. I’m not sure their totals can be set high enough at this point. They’re fourth in pass attempts and eighth in total number of plays while being 78th in time of possession. They get scored on so fast that there are a lot of drives in their games.
You could also bet the opposing team total over, especially the next two weeks.
Hawaii 27, Fresno State 24
The Fresno State Bulldogs have had a couple of tough weeks since beating UCLA to get ranked in the top 25. They struggled badly with UNLV in a 38-30 win and just lost to Hawaii out on the island with a late game that most people didn’t see until the morning.
Fresno State outgained Hawaii 505-348 in the game. The Bulldogs had 6.2 yards per play to 4.9. Fresno State also led 24-10 going into the fourth quarter. Hawaii scored 17 fourth-quarter points and finished the game 5 in turnover margin, as the Bulldogs had four interceptions and two fumbles. That included a pick at the two-yard-line to preserve the win on Fresno’s last possession.
Bet on Fresno State – The Bulldogs are a great play-on team going forward. The UNLV game came in a terrible spot, but the Hawaii game was just an outlier performance. Kalen DeBoer’s team is now on a bye before playing Wyoming, Nevada, San Diego State and Boise State. That gives Jake Haener a chance to get healthy and gives the Bulldogs a chance to collectively catch their breath.
I feel like these last two performances will take bettors off of them a little bit. I’ll be looking to back them (hopefully at a cheaper price) on the road in Laramie in Week 7.