Most of the nonconference fun has been had and we’re looking at a lot of league play the rest of the way. These are important games for programs, especially at the Group of Five level where making the College Football Playoff is not an attainable goal. Division and conference titles are what teams strive for, along with winning the magic number of six games to get a bowl invitation.
A lot of situational spots in conference play will be related to revenge. There will be look-ahead spots to think about, especially ones that may warrant a second-half wager, but it is never fun to lose to a team you play on an annual basis. I’ll highlight those and other spots for Week 5, but a reminder that these are never sole justifications for a bet. We can get a lot of confirmation bias from the spots that work while ignoring similar spots that didn’t work. Always do your due diligence with every handicap and don’t just rely on what appears to be a good spot to lock in a wager.
Here are some situational spots to consider for Week 5.
UTSA Roadrunners (-4, 62) at Middle Tennessee Blue Raiders
Middle Tennessee was 0-20 against opponents ranked in the AP Top 25 before going to Miami and coming away with a 45-31 win. The Blue Raiders racked up 507 yards on just 61 plays, including touchdowns of 71, 69 and 98 yards through the air. UTSA was able to get back on track against Texas Southern a week after getting blown out by Texas. This definitely qualifies as a letdown spot for MTSU, even as the first conference game of the season. It is also a short week for the Blue Raiders, which might actually help them stay on task, but that was a huge win for the program, which could produce a hangover this week.
Texas State Bobcats at James Madison Dukes (-21.5, 52.5)
James Madison should be in no danger of losing to Texas State, but covering a 23-point spread may be a tall task this week. The Dukes just came from behind to knock off App State, the poster child for what it looks like to go from FCS to FBS and have tremendous success. The Dukes scored 22 points in about six minutes of game time in the second half to turn an 18-point deficit into a four-point lead. They made it stand up and started 1-0 as a member of the Sun Belt. JMU has badly beaten two inferior opponents, so maybe it does it again here, but I think the spot cannot be overlooked.
Texas Tech Red Raiders at Kansas State Wildcats (-7.5, 57.5)
You knew this game would be listed here. This is a letdown spot both ways, as Texas Tech just beat Texas in overtime and Kansas State proved to be a thorn in Oklahoma’s side once again. The fans stormed the field in Lubbock, while the Wildcats did their dirty work in Norman. Manhattan is something of a tricky trip and the Red Raiders didn’t travel well to North Carolina in the 27-14 loss to NC State. Kansas State was in a similar spot back in 2020 off of a win against the Sooners and beat Texas Tech 31-21, but the Red Raiders have a new coach and new belief this season. This is a tough handicap with each team vulnerable to a letdown.
Navy Midshipmen at Air Force Falcons (-15, 37.5)
A spread of 15 is a big number with a total of 37 in a matchup of teams that run the exact same style of offense, but the Commander-in-Chief’s Trophy rivalry begins in Colorado Springs. Navy just picked up a huge upset win last week against East Carolina in overtime, while Air Force blew out Nevada on Friday night. Air Force has not won the Commander-in-Chief’s Trophy since 2016 but is clearly the best of the service academies this season. The Falcons have won the last two meetings with Navy by a combined score of 63-10. This isn’t really a situational spot (except long travel to elevation for Navy), but I do love rivalries and the added focus and energy they come with.
Georgia State Panthers at Army Black Knights (-7.5, 55.5)
This would appear to be an awful spot for Georgia State. The Panthers do have extra time after playing on Thursday night to prepare for Army’s triple option, but this is an early kickoff at West Point ahead of the rivalry game against Georgia Southern. Money did hit the board on Georgia State on Monday morning, but this would appear to be a very difficult situation in the middle of conference play with long travel for the first time and the focus and preparation it takes to defend this rushing scheme.
Louisiana-Monroe Warhawks at Arkansas State Red Wolves (-7.5, 60.5)
ULM didn’t seem to get a whole lot of respect in the investment community for beating rival Louisiana in the Battle of the Bayou last weekend. They’re on the road getting more than a touchdown against Arkansas State. This is not a great spot for the Warhawks, though. They just won the rivalry game at home for the first time since 2004 and ended a four-year losing streak against the Ragin’ Cajuns. Arkansas State is back home in Jonesboro for the first time in nearly a month and looks to be getting a boost from the spot.