During the college football season, the Stadium staff will provide weekly betting picks and advice in this roundtable. Here are our thoughts on the Week 5 slate.
Note: Ben and Nate will discuss all of their college football and NFL bets on the Sharp Lessons podcast. Subscribe on Spotify and Apple for episodes and follow Stadium Bets on Twitter for more sports betting content.
1. What is your favorite pick against the spread?
Alex Symonds, Stadium Senior Producer: Marshall -10 over Middle Tennessee.
I’m nothing if not a company man, so first off I need to let you know that you can watch this game on Stadium at 7 p.m. ET with Chris Hassel and Sed Bonner on the call. Now that the shameless plug is out of the way, let’s get to the handicap. Marshall has the top C-USA offense in Bill Connelly’s SP+ rankings (11th-best among Group of Five teams) and also boasts big-play potential: the Herd’s 28 plays of 20-plus yards is tied for seventh in the FBS this season.
Meanwhile, Middle Tennessee’s defense has given up 5.31 yards per play through four games and has allowed opposing offenses to convert 45.9% of third downs. I made this game Marshall -14, so I’ll gladly lay 10 points on the road with the defending East Division champs.
Ben Wittenstein, Stadium Social Media Producer: Florida -7.5 over Kentucky.
I really think this line should be higher, like, in the double digits. Sure, Kentucky is 4-0, but look at their schedule — they SHOULD be 4-0. Florida has already sharpened its teeth against Alabama and possesses the passing game to counteract a tough Kentucky run defense. Kentucky also has a bit of a turnover problem, something you really can’t have if you want to keep a game against a better opponent close. Florida should win this game by more than 10, so give me this line all day.
Kate Constable, Stadium Host & Digital Producer: Michigan +2.5 over Wisconsin.
All the money is coming in on Wisconsin right now, and I’m here for it. This game opened at Michigan -1 and has been bet up to Wisconsin -2.5. While I’d still take this at Michigan +2.5, I’m going to wait as long as possible to see if the line can get to +3 before I bet it. After what we saw in Chicago last week with QB Graham Mertz throwing four interceptions, I have a hard time trusting the Badgers’ offense. Penn State and Notre Dame’s defenses only allowed the Badgers to score a combined 23 points this season and Michigan’s defense is just as good, if not better.
Nate Jacobson, Stadium Sports Betting Analyst: Wisconsin -2.5 over Michigan.
I’m giving 1-2 Wisconsin one more chance. Wisconsin was leading Notre Dame 13-10 early in the fourth quarter last week but everything went downhill after they gave up a kick return for a touchdown. The misleading final score gives us line value on Wisconsin this week. It’s also a tough spot for Michigan, who plays their first game outside of Ann Arbor this season. For many of the players, it’ll be their first road game in front of fans in 22 months.
Michigan relies on running the ball, and you can count on Wisconsin’s ability to stop the run (Wisconsin held Notre Dame to nine rushing yards last week). If Michigan can’t get the run game going, then they’ll struggle to move the ball. The worry about backing Wisconsin is the inaccuracy of QB Graham Mertz, but if he was more consistent, this line would be significantly larger.
2. What is another bet you like?
AS: UAB (-125) over Liberty.
UAB football has been through quite a journey over the last decade. Let me get you up to speed: the school shut down the program in December of 2014 due to funding concerns before reinstating football months later thanks in large part to significant fundraising. After two years without games, the Blazers finally took the field again in 2017, opened a brand new practice facility and won its first Conference USA title in 2018.
Why the history lesson? Because this game is the first at Protective Stadium, UAB’s new $200 million crown jewel, and I don’t see Bill Clark and the Blazers letting this one slip away. I know it’s a handicap completely driven by the narrative, but I feel even more confident knowing that Clark’s teams are 11-3 vs. non-Power Five non-conference opponents in the regular season since the program returned.
BW: Under 49.5 in Arkansas-Georgia.
You pit the No. 1 defense in the SEC against the conference’s third-ranked defense and I think we’re in for a low-scoring slugfest. Both defenses have seen success in limiting explosive plays this season and both have been good at stopping the run. The fact that both offenses aren’t the most efficient when it comes to passing means that the under should hit.
KC: Wake Forest -6.5 over Louisville.
Despite being 4-0, Wake Forest seems to be flying under the radar this season. I’ve been very impressed with the consistency of the product they’ve put on the field each week, as they’ve dominated the turnover battle with 11 takeaways, and their defense is only allowing 14.2 ppg. Sophomore QB Sam Hartman has been extremely sound through the first four weeks, completing 66.1% of his passes for 961 yards, nine touchdowns and only one interception.
The Demon Deacons also have a solid run game that is able to take some of the pressure off of Hartman. If Wake can get points on the board early, it’s going to be hard for Louisville to climb back into this one. The Deacons are also 5-0 ATS in their last five in October, 5-1 ATS in their last six following an ATS win, and 8-3 ATS in their last 11 at home.
NJ: Under 49.5 in Arkansas-Georgia.
I like the defensive units of both teams more than I like their offenses. Arkansas proved me wrong last week with a statement win over Texas A&M, a game in which their defense protected a quick 17-0 lead. The Razorbacks only scored three points in the final 44 minutes of the game to preserve the 20-10 win, and starting QB KJ Jefferson missed some snaps with a knee injury that has limited him in practice this week. I believe Arkansas will have a lot of trouble scoring against an extremely talented Georgia defense, and the point spread indicates that as the Bulldogs are an 17.5-point favorite.
Georgia is coming off a 62-point output against Vanderbilt, but their starting QB JT Daniels is dealing with an injury of his own. I like betting the under when the two coaching staffs are familiar with each other, and Arkansas head coach Sam Pittman served as an assistant for Kirby Smart at Georgia from 2016-19. All of those factors lead me to the under, and I’ll also bet Arkansas’ team total under.
3. Which underdog of +200 or more on the moneyline has the best chance of an outright upset?
AS: Troy (+225) over South Carolina.
I’ll be totally honest, I haven’t watched a single minute of Troy or South Carolina in 2021. With that being said, I made this game a pick‘em (even giving South Carolina three points for home-field advantage), so I’m happy to take a shot on the Trojans at +225 on the moneyline. First-year South Carolina coach Shane Beamer is still figuring out how to run a program, and with an important SEC East game at Tennessee on deck, I’m hopeful Troy will catch the Gamecocks napping on Saturday afternoon.
BW: Indiana (+375) over Penn State.
Is this a biased pick with very little supporting evidence? You’re darn right it is… But this really is the role that Indiana was born for: a long underdog against a powerhouse that’s enjoying an impressive season. The Hoosiers love to play spoiler in this situation, and they’ve historically played better under coach Tom Allen as ‘dogs. It won’t be easy — night games in Happy Valley are brutal. But IU beat Penn State last year on a wild (some would say controversial) play, so you know that they believe they can steal one on the road.
KC: Buffalo (+220) over Western Michigan.
On paper, Western Michigan is the better team, but I like Buffalo’s running back tandem of Ron Cook Jr. and Dylan McDuffie, as well as receivers Dominic Johnson and Jovany Ruiz. The Bulls are putting up 10.2 more points and 104 more yards per game than the Broncos are giving up. With Western Michigan being favored by just a touchdown, Buffalo can pull out the upset at home if they limit their turnovers.
NJ: Nevada (+200) over Boise State.
Boise State is coming off a 27-3 win at Utah State, but they allowed 443 yards and benefited from three takeaways. This Boise State team isn’t the same Mountain West power that we’re used to seeing, and I like that Nevada is rolling into this game off a bye week. The Wolf Pack have an NFL prospect in QB Carson Strong, and this is a big game for him that pro scouts will certainly have an eye on.
4. What is one bet you are tempted to make this week, but know you probably shouldn’t?
AS: Maryland +3.5 over Iowa.
I’m 2-0 ATS betting Maryland so far this season, and I have the itch to try for 3-0 against the Hawkeyes on Friday night. Taulia Tagovailoa has a couple of future pros to throw to in Dontay Demus Jr. and Rakim Jarrett, and running back Tayon Fleet-Davis is averaging 7.1 yards per carry. This offense is potent, but Iowa’s defense scares me.
The Hawkeyes are third in the FBS in defensive yards per play (3.93), have forced nine turnovers and average seven tackles for loss per contest. I will definitely be watching this game, but unless the spread gets closer to a touchdown, I won’t be betting on it.
BW: Iowa -3.5 over Maryland.
I really feel like this line is incorrect because Iowa should be able to handle a less impressive team in Maryland. But the explosive Terrapins lining up at home against a shaky Iowa offense in what is one of their biggest games in years? That’s the perfect recipe for an upset. So with that in mind, I’ll stay away and probably hit the under in this one.
KC: Boston College +500 ML over Clemson.
I would love to see Clemson lose two in a row for the first time in a long time. With the Tigers coming off a 27-21 double-overtime loss at N.C. State, and Boston College coming into this game with a 4-0 record, it seems as if their roles have been reversed. Yet, as bad as D.J. Uiagalelei and Clemson’s offense have looked this season, I’m not sure BC has what it takes to pull off the upset outright. It’s probably safer to take the Eagles and the points at +14.5.
NJ: Ole Miss +14.5 over Alabama.
The 2020 version of Alabama was one of the most dominant teams in college football history — and the program that gave them real trouble during last year’s truncated season was Ole Miss. Lane Kiffin’s offense is humming under current Heisman favorite Matt Corral, and this overall roster is more talented than last year’s squad.
The Crimson Tide have a lot of new starters, including QB Bryce Young, who has a chance to pass Corral in the Heisman odds after this week. I think the number might be inflated, especially after Alabama showed some vulnerability against Florida two weeks ago, but I just can’t bet against Alabama, especially at home.