Week 5 of the college football season is here, with another Saturday of terrific matchups.
Our handicappers Adam Burke, Tim Murray, Wes Reynolds and Scott Seidenberg are here to give you their best bets for the weekend's card.
Overall record: 18-18-2 ATS
Lines are consensus odds from VSiN's college football lines page, as of Wednesday night.
No. 14 Michigan Wolverines at Wisconsin Badgers (-2, 43.5)
Murray: Fresh off a 28-point loss to Notre Dame, life doesn't get easier for 1-2 Wisconsin as the Badgers welcome unbeaten Michigan to town on Saturday. At Soldier Field last weekend, Wisconsin led Notre Dame 13-10 early in the fourth quarter before falling apart. The Badgers allowed a kickoff return for a touchdown, QB Graham Mertz lost a fumble and threw three interceptions, two of which were returned for a touchdown. Despite the lopsided loss, Wisconsin outgained Notre Dame, 318-248, and held running back duo of Kyren Williams and Chris Tyree to 39 yards on 20 carries.
The Wolverines enter Camp Randall with an unblemished record, but Saturday’s 20-13 win against Rutgers was concerning. Leading 20-3 at halftime, Michigan was held to 42 total yards on 21 plays in the second half; QB Cade McNamara was just 1-of-5 for 7 yards after halftime. McNamara has only attempted 53 passes, completing 33, so far this season, as Michigan has relied on the ground game. The Wolverines are fifth in the nation in rushing yards per game (290.8), sixth in yards per carry (6.25) and tied for first in rushing touchdowns (17). Can Michigan rely solely on running the ball against Wisconsin? The Badgers have allowed a total of 69 yards on the ground in three games this season. Opponents are averaging 1.01 yards per carry and have rushed for only one touchdown.
Turnovers have been a massive issue for Wisconsin this season. The Badgers are last in the nation with a seven-7 turnover margin, and Mertz has thrown six interceptions (four against Notre Dame, two against Penn State). Michigan, on the other hand, is the only team in the country to have zero turnovers this season.
Lastly, doesn’t the line seem a bit off? An unbeaten top-15 team is an underdog against a 1-2 team? As pointed out by ESPN's Chris Fallica, going back to 2016, there have been nine unranked teams that have been favored over a top-15 team. The unranked teams are 7-2 straight up including West Virginia’s win over Virginia Tech on Sept. 18. In a desperate spot for the Badgers, I’ll ride with the unranked team.
Pick: Wisconsin -2
South Florida Bulls at SMU Mustangs (-20.5, 68.5)
Burke: USF is getting a lot of points for the second straight week. The Bulls covered with ease last week against BYU and are back on the road once again this week to take on SMU. The back-to-back road spot after a game in altitude is a little bit concerning, but not nearly as concerning as the spot for SMU.
The Mustangs just beat TCU to retain the Iron Skillet. It was the first time since 1992-93 that SMU won consecutive games over TCU. There is a “Little Brother vs. Big Brother” component to that rivalry, which has been heavily one-sided for TCU over the last 20 years and also with the difference in conference between the two schools.