Welcome to Week 5 of the college football season.
Each week, our VSiN experts will combine to give their best bets on select games.
It was a 7-6 showing for Week 4 and we're back at it for Week 5. Odds are from DraftKings (unless noted) as of Wednesday night.
Season record: 19-23-1
Washington Huskies (-2.5, 64.5) at UCLA Bruins
Friday, 10:30 p.m. ET
Adam Burke: "Pac-12 After Dark" takes us to the City of Angels for Washington’s first big road test under Kalen DeBoer. However, this game represents UCLA’s first big test, period. According to Jeff Sagarin, UCLA has played the nation’s 162nd-ranked schedule with wins over Bowling Green, Alabama State, South Alabama and Colorado. While the Jaguars are a solid team, that was still a Pac-12 vs. Sun Belt matchup — and a game the Bruins only won by a point.
The Huskies have it all going right now and have secured wins over Michigan State and Stanford (both are top-55 teams according to Sagarin). UCLA has played one team ranked in the top 60. The Huskies are + 2.38 in yards per play differential and the Bruins are + 2.72, a pretty small gap given the difference in strength of schedule.
Washington finished 18th in yards per play allowed last season and has a much stronger offense to pair with that unit this season. My line is Washington -5, so there is a slight power-ratings difference, but this pick is more about being impressed with what the Huskies have done against a stronger schedule.
Pick: Washington -2.5
Illinois Fighting Illini at Wisconsin Badgers (-7, 43.5)
Saturday, Noon ET
Adam Burke: We should be talking about a 4-0 Illinois team heading to Madison this week, but that 23-20 loss to Indiana in Week 1 is still a sore subject for the Illini. Illinois gave up a 12-play, 75-yard drive capped off by an IU touchdown with 23 seconds left. The Illini outgained the Hoosiers 448-362 and had a yards per play edge, even though 54 of their 90 plays were runs and 52 of Indiana’s 78 were passes. The Illini lost three fumbles and had four total turnovers, along with two failed fourth-down chances.
It took all of that for the Illini to lose that game. In the three weeks between then and now, the Illini had had a bye to work on some things and allowed a combined nine points to Virginia and Chattanooga. While those teams are not on Wisconsin’s level, the Badgers have only managed 35 points in two games against Power 5 foes, losing to Washington State at home and Ohio State on the road.
In those two losses, Wisconsin QB Graham Mertz was 29-for-51 for 321 yards with three touchdowns and two picks. Wisconsin may win this game on the back of RB Braelon Allen, but Illinois has a strong running back of its own in Chase Brown. These teams play very similar styles, which should lead to a tight game. The full touchdown spread is pretty big with the low total and the tough, physical mindsets of both squads. I’ll take the 7 points here and force Wisconsin to play a virtually flawless game to beat me.
Pick: Illinois + 7
Georgia State Panthers at Army Black Knights (-7.5, 54.5)
Saturday, Noon ET
Adam Burke: Georgia State opened with Army last season and lost 43-10. The Panthers had all of last summer to prep for the triple-option and did a decent job in allowing only 3.9 yards per carry, but Army was 10-for-16 on third down, 3-for-3 on fourth down and held the ball for over 42 minutes in Atlanta.
This time around, Georgia State only has the luxury of one extra prep day as opposed to several weeks. Furthermore, Army is coming off of a bye after securing a win over Villanova on the heels of competitive losses to UTSA and Coastal Carolina. Georgia State has played a really tough schedule to this point, and after opening Sun Belt play last week, it has to face Army before going back to the Sun Belt for the “Modern Day Hate” rivalry game against Georgia Southern.
Coastal Carolina ran for 272 yards (5.2 per carry) on the Panthers, who were forced to defend 83 plays and were on the field for over 40 minutes. A turnaround to face an Army offense that is going to ground and pound all day long looks like a pretty bad spot for the dog.
Pick: Army -7.5
Navy Midshipmen at Air Force Falcons (-14, 37.5)
Saturday, Noon ET
Adam Burke: These teams are very familiar with each other and that often leads to a low-scoring game, but this total of 37.5 has just gotten too low. Air Force runs the ball a ton yet still ranks 18th with over seven yards per play. The Falcons are an offensive juggernaut this season, as they’ve ripped off 6.7 yards per carry, and rank second in rushes of 10 yards or more and first in rushes of 20 yards or more.
We’ll see if Navy can stretch out an Air Force defense that has allowed over 5.6 yards per play through four games. The Middies only completed 48 passes last season, but they’re on pace to surpass that number and had a couple of big chunk plays through the air in last week’s double-overtime win over East Carolina.
Air Force beat Navy 23-3 last season, but that was the first time since 2013 that these teams totaled under 40 points and just the third time since 1999. Also, the altitude could be a factor for Navy late in the game, and that could lead to some additional points for Air Force. You could certainly justify taking Air Force -14, but I also think this game should get into the 40s.
Pick: Over 37.5
Kentucky at Ole Miss (-7, 54)
Saturday, Noon ET
The Wildcats and Rebels are both coming off of lackluster performances last week. Kentucky beat Northern Illinois by only eight points in Lexington, while Ole Miss no-showed in the second half against Tulsa to also win by eight in Oxford.
Star running back Chris Rodriguez Jr. is expected to return for Kentucky after being suspended for the first month of the season. That will give a boost to Kentucky’s offense and QB Will Levis, who has played well.
Kentucky is far and away the best opponent so far for Ole Miss. The Wildcats already have a big win on the road against Florida, and I think they’ll come into this game better prepared for a tough opponent than the Rebels.
I expect QB Jaxson Dart to struggle against Kentucky’s defense. I’ll very happily take a whole touchdown with the Wildcats, and don’t be surprised if Kentucky wins this game outright in Oxford.
Pick: Kentucky + 7
Texas State Bobcats at James Madison Dukes (-22, 50.5)
Saturday, 1:30 p.m. ET
Wes Reynolds: James Madison + 8 at Appalachian State was one of my bets in our VSiN daily emails last week. The theory was that Appalachian State could be a bit out of gas after its upset victory at Texas A&M and walkoff Hail Mary against Troy (with ESPN’s “College Gameday” on site). Well, Appalachian State actually had the energy early and jumped out to a 28-3 lead, but the Dukes hung in and scored 29 unanswered points for a 32-28 victory.
Both Texas State and James Madison have played relatively weak schedules thus far. The Bobcats struggled against the run against the one legitimate opponent they faced (42-7 loss at Baylor), allowing 7.9 yards per carry. However, Texas State is fairly effective at defending the pass, only allowing 5.7 yards per pass attempt and getting the second-best pass coverage grade in FBS, per Pro Football Focus.
Texas State is 7-4-1 ATS as a road underdog over the last two seasons. The Dukes are 3-0 ATS this season and covering by 19 points per game, but they appear inflated here.
Pick: Texas State + 22
Oregon State at Utah (-10, 54.5)
Saturday, 2 p.m. ET
Wes Reynolds: The betting market supported Oregon State last week against USC and the Beavers got the cover, and probably should have won the game outright, as the Trojans finally went ahead for good with 1:13 left. Oregon State QB Chance Nolan threw four interceptions in the 17-14 loss.
Now, the market is willing to come back on the Beavers getting double digits at Utah, a team Oregon State defeated 42-34 in Corvallis last year as 3-point home underdogs.
Utah, ranked 12th in the country, has been “out of sight, out of mind” since a close loss at Florida in Week 1. That provides some value on the Utes as they have rolled over easy competition the last three weeks.
Oregon State put a lot into last week’s game against USC and came up short. Utah has spent the last three weeks getting right and putting the season-opening loss behind them.
Pick: Utah -10
Oklahoma State at Baylor (-2, 57)
Saturday, 3:30 p.m. ET
Danny Burke: Defense will be the name of this game, especially against the run. Baylor has been nothing short of stupendous when it comes to stopping the ground game. The Bears have limited opponents to just 2.5 yards per rush attempt, good for sixth in the nation. They are also good against the passing game, surrendering just 305 yards per game through the air. Overall, the Bears are allowing 16.8 points per game.
The Bears also have one more game under their belt than the Cowboys and have faced stiffer competition. Yes, Oklahoma State quarterback Spencer Sanders has looked rock solid, but his strong start has come against Central Michigan, Arizona State and Arkansas-Pine Bluff. And let’s not overlook Baylor QB Blake Shapen, who has thrown for over 770 yards with seven touchdowns and just one interception. He made no big mistakes in a big road spot at Iowa State, and the Bears were in complete control of that game.
Baylor scored 31 points and racked up 123 rushing yards against the Cyclones. Those aren’t wildly impressive numbers, but they’re important to note because the Bears were able to do that damage against a top-five run defense. Oklahoma State does not possess such a stout defensive front, with the Cowboys allowing 163 rushing yards per game.
The Bears’ defense and ability to methodically move the ball, without making too many mistakes, gives them a slight edge in this spot.
Pick: Baylor ML (-125)
Texas A&M Aggies at Mississippi State Bulldogs (-3.5, 45)
Saturday, 4 p.m. ET
Tim Murray: The cowbells will be out in Starkville as No. 17 Texas A&M comes to town. After falling to LSU in Baton Rouge two weeks ago, Mississippi State is searching for its first SEC win.
The Aggies, on the other hand, have won back-to-back games over top-15 teams. Last week, Texas A&M beat then-No. 10 Arkansas 23-21 after a Razorbacks field-goal attempt bounced off the upright with 1:30 left in regulation. Two weeks ago, the Aggies defeated then-No. 13 Miami 17-9. That victory is a bit tarnished after the Hurricanes lost to Middle Tennessee State 45-31 as 25.5-point favorites.
Texas A&M is ranked 107th nationally in total offense, averaging just 321 yards per game. If you remove the Aggies’ season-opening win over Sam Houston State, they are averaging just 262 yards per game. Texas A&M has been outgained by an average of 112 yards per game against its three FBS opponents (Appalachian State, Miami, Arkansas). In those three games, Aggies opponents have amassed 32 more first downs (73-41). Lastly, an offense that has struggled mightily was dealt another blow with leading WR Ainias Smith now sidelined for the season with a leg injury.
Mississippi State QB Will Rogers is thriving in his third season under Mike Leach. Rogers threw for 409 yards and six touchdowns last week against Bowling Green. He has completed 74% of his passes this season with 16 touchdowns and three interceptions. Last year, Rogers threw for 408 yards and three touchdowns in a 26-22 win over Texas A&M. Revenge certainly could be on the minds of the Aggies, but coming off an emotional win over rival Arkansas and with No. 2 Alabama on deck, the situational spot is tricky for the Aggies.
WIth the Mississippi State point spread rising from an opener as low as -1 to -3.5 now, I’m looking to spice things up a little with a parlay. Iowa State (-3, 58) travels to Kansas, which kicks off 30 minutes before the Mississippi State game, and the Jayhawks have been one of the best stories in college football thanks to a 4-0 start and terrific play from QB Jalon Daniels. But has the hype gotten a bit out of control? Kansas has all the makings of a popular underdog. As of Thursday morning, 73% of the bets at DraftKings were on the Jayhawks. Iowa State has dominated Kansas, winning the last seven games in the series by an average of 28 points. Saturday might be the perfect time to fade the Jayhawks..
Pick: Mississippi State / Iowa State ML parlay (+ 165)
Cal Golden Bears at Washington State Cougars (-4, 53.5)
Saturday, 5:30 p.m. ET
Tim Murray: Washington State stunned the college football world three weeks ago, winning at then-No. 17 Wisconsin as a 17.5-point underdog. Last week in Pullman, the Cougars led 15th-ranked Oregon by 12 points with less than four minutes to play. In a wild finish, the Cougars fell to the Ducks 44-41 (though they did cover the 6-point spread). After a gut-wrenching loss, Washington State now turns its attention to Cal.
The Golden Bears cruised past Arizona 49-31 last week, putting up the most points they’ve scored in a game since 2018. Cal outscored the Wildcats 28-7 in the second half. Freshman RB Jaydn Ott rushed for 274 yards and three touchdowns and QB Jack Plummer threw for three touchdowns as Cal totaled 599 yards of offense. Last week, Washington State’s defense allowed 624 yards against Oregon. The Cougars are 96th in the nation in defensive passing efficiency. Cal has a pair of WRs in Jeremiah Hunter (21 receptions, 305 yards, 2 touchdowns) and J.Michael Sturdivant (17-225-2) who could have success against the Cougars secondary.
In six seasons under coach Justin Wilcox, Cal is 24-9 ATS as an underdog with 13 outright wins. The Golden Bears covered as 13.5-point underdogs at Notre Dame a few weeks ago and almost forced overtime in South Bend.
Following a heartbreaking loss to Oregon and a trip to USC next week, Washington State is in a tricky situational spot against a formidable foe.
Pick: Cal + 4