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The best bets for Week 5 of college football, including Clemson

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The early betting lines often allow for the most value.

NCAA Football: Clemson at Georgia Tech Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports

All wagers at -110 odds and for 1 unit unless otherwise noted. My picks are in bold, with that team’s spread attached. Visit Odds Shark for updated lines throughout each game week.

Season record: 37-32 (54%) (+$195)

Last week I went 16-11, finally getting rewarded for beating the closing line.

I often tell readers that the best bets can be found in the opening lines on Sunday afternoons. Lines tend to be sharper after they’ve been bet all week. Most of my plays are made early in the week. Note that some of the lines below have since changed.

Of course, if you’re trying to bet thousands of dollars on each game, the low limits (typically $250-500 max bets per game) early in the week can be a hindrance, but I’m figuring most of my readership is playing $100 per game or less.

Because I make these wagers throughout the week, I order them by when they were made.

Picks made Friday, September 28

I have been waiting on a few more lines to move, and they have not gone where I wanted them to go. I really wanted to take Fresno State hosting Toledo at a touchdown or less, but it seems stuck in the eight or nine area.

A few look about as good as they are going to get, though.

  • Pitt at UCF Over 64.5: This is UCF’s one shot to get a win over a Power 5 opponent this season. While I do not trust the UCF defense, I do trust the Knights to score. And I believe Pitt can put up 30, and UCF in the 40s.
  • UMass +13.5 at Ohio: All week I have waited to see if this would get back up to 14. But I am still comfortable taking the 13.5 points.
  • Texas at Kansas State Under 49: Kansas State’s offense is hot trash, and Texas’ offense is probably not as good as its turnover-aided point totals in the last few weeks suggest.
  • Oregon at Cal Under 58.5: I am a big fan of Justin Herbert, but Cal’s defense has had a bye week to prepare for the Ducks. And Cal’s offense is actually not that good.

Picks made Tuesday, September 25

  • Arkansas +21 vs. Texas A&M (Neutral site): Arkansas was better than it showed on the road against Auburn. I gave the Aggies a one-point home-field advantage in my power numbers because of the neutral site in Dallas.
  • Florida State at Louisville +7: This is a lot of points for a team like FSU with a shaky offensive line to be laying on the road. Louisville did look awful against Virginia, but some of the things it struggles with on defense (QB run game and RPOs) are not things FSU does well.
  • Louisiana Monroe at Georgia State +8: This opened +6.5 and I am surprised to see it move in this direction. I have been on Louisiana Monroe and against Georgia State for much of this year, but I cannot pass on taking eight points at home with GSU.

As of Tuesday, the existing bets I’ve made have moved in my favor by an average of two points, which is tremendous value.

Picks made Sunday, September 23

  • Memphis -12 (-115) at Tulane: Tulane could have covered against Ohio State, and Memphis could have covered against South Alabama, but neither did. I’ll back Memphis’ combination of air and ground attack.
  • Army at Buffalo -6 (-110): I’ve been on Buffalo all year and think the Bulls’ offense should be in prime form against Army.
  • Central Michigan at Michigan State -25.5: I made this like 32, so while I do not like playing huge favorites, this is too much to pass up.
  • NIU at EMU -2: Northern Illinois’ offense is quite frankly a mess right now. Eastern Michigan is an improved team this year.
  • Bowling Green at Georgia Tech -24: The Yellow Jackets struggled with fumbles against Clemson, making the margin larger than it otherwise might have been.
  • Temple +17 at Boston College: Boston College’s defense has been suspect in recent weeks, while Temple seems to be hitting its stride a bit.
  • Virginia Tech at Duke -1.5: While the injury to Duke QB Daniel Jones is worrisome, Virginia Tech looked awful against Old Dominion.
  • Syracuse at Clemson -21: I do not trust the Syracuse defense to get enough stops to hold Clemson under 45+. This is a revenge spot for Clemson.
  • South Alabama at App State -21: South Alabama’s offense is much improved, but App State’s physicality should be enough for a blowout.
  • Nevada +10 at Air Force: I thought the Falcons should be favored by about five here, so ten points is a gift.
  • BYU at Washington -18: BYU is off an FCS win, which is scary here because they probably worked on their plan for Washington. But I think the Huskies can outscore the Cougars and force them to throw in the second half.
  • Ohio State at Penn State +4.5: I am surprised to see this number outside of a field goal. Can Ohio State’s defense stand up to the test? This is admittedly more about numbers than it is a love for Penn State here. I want to see if Ohio State can make Penn State throw.
  • Arkansas State at Georgia Southern +4: Georgia Southern’s rushing attack could be enough for the Eagles to get the outright win.
  • Iowa State +12.5 at TCU: Iowa State should be up for this one after a lookahead spot last weekend.
  • Baylor +27.5 at Oklahoma: Oklahoma has a major lookahead game to Texas next week, and while this could end up as a blowout with OU looking to make a statement after its close win against Army, this is a ton of points.
  • Louisiana Tech at North Texas -7: Louisiana Tech hung tough with LSU for a while, but North Texas should be able to pull away.
  • Purdue -3 at Nebraska: Purdue seems to have hit its stride. Nebraska looks like a mess.
  • West Virginia at Texas Tech +5: Texas Tech has played great football the last two weeks and I’ll take points in a shootout.
  • Stanford at Notre Dame -2.5: This should not be under a field goal in South Bend. The Notre Dame defense is nasty.

Pick made preseason

  • Florida at Mississippi State -3: This pick was made with my preseason futures and props picks. I would not endorse taking the Bulldogs at +8, which is the current line. (See below)

Ongoing Futures/Props

I made 26 futures or prop bets which I published between May and August. My current record on these is 1-1, with a profit of $-10. That is reflected in the total above. My reasoning for making them can be found at the link.


  • BC +1.5 at Wake Forest (GOY futures line)


  • Alabama at Ole Miss +22 (GOY futures line)


  • Washington national championship (+2400)
  • Washington Over 8.5 wins (-200)
  • Michigan State Over 7.5 wins (-155)
  • Stanford Under 9.5 wins (-170)
  • Tennessee Under 6.5 wins (-160)
  • Virginia Over 5 wins (-110)
  • Boston College Over 5.5 wins (-110)
  • Oregon Over 8.5 (-120)
  • Northwestern Under 6 (+100)
  • Florida State Over 7.5 wins (-110)
  • UCLA Under 5.5 wins (-115)
  • Washington State Under 6.5 wins (-110)
  • Pittsburgh Under 5.5 wins (+100)
  • Virginia Tech Under 8.5 wins (-110)
  • Florida at Mississippi State -3 (Game of year futures line)
  • Wisconsin at Michigan -3 (Game of year futures line)
  • N.C. State +19.5 at Clemson (Game of year futures line)
  • USC to win the Pac-12 (+485)
  • NC State to win ACC (+6000)
  • Georgia Tech to win ACC (+6000)
  • Clemson to make the Playoff (-130)
  • Alabama to not make the Playoff (+280)
  • Oklahoma to make the Playoff (+425)
  • Notre Dame to make the Playoff (+600)

I feel good about my chance of turning a profit on these wagers as a whole.

My Washington, Michigan State, Tennessee, Virginia, Boston College, Northwestern, UCLA, Pitt, and Virginia Tech season win totals are trending in my direction.

Clemson at -130 to make the playoff looks strong according to both Bill Connelly’s numbers and ESPN’s playoff predictor.

And I really like my chances of cashing at least one of my tickets on Oklahoma or Notre Dame to make the playoff at long odds.

USC, for all its struggles, still must be considered the favorite in the Pac-12 South, and at +485 to win the conference, will be a hedge opportunity if it gets to the final.

Meanwhile, there are some wagers which I feel are already dead in the water.

Georgia Tech to win the ACC seems done, as does Alabama not to make the playoff, and win totals for FSU, Washington State, Oregon, and Stanford. The Stanford-Oregon game was not the result I was looking for.