10 College Football Picks Against the Spread (ATS) for Week 5

Michigan will keep it rolling against Northwestern

The Week 5 edition of college football picks against the spread is highlighted by surging Michigan’s trip to play slumping Northwestern as well as an intriguing showdown in the Pac-12 North between heartbroken Oregon and surprising Cal. Elsewhere, Tennessee limps down to Athens to play Georgia, UCLA searches for its first win as it heads to Colorado and Florida State meets Louisville in a battle of disappointing ACC teams. Here are 10 predictions for games against the spread.

 

Michigan (-14) over Northwestern

Northwestern won a thriller on Thursday night in Week 1 at Purdue. Michigan lost at Notre Dame two days later. Since then, however, the two teams have gone in opposite directions. Northwestern lost back-to-back home games to Duke and Akron and must now move forward without leading rusher Jeremy Larkin, who retired from football due to a neck condition. Michigan has won three straight (over Western Michigan, SMU and Nebraska) by an average margin of 42.3 points. For the season, the Wolverines are outgaining their opponents by an average of 2.9 yards per play. Michigan is starting to look like the team we expected to see in 2018. Michigan 31, Northwestern 14

 

Oregon (-3) over California

Oregon suffered a heartbreaking loss to Stanford at home Saturday night, but the Ducks did a lot of good things and showed that they can be a very good team in 2018. Specifically, quarterback Justin Herbert is playing at a high level, averaging a Pac-12-best 10.4 yards per passing attempt. California is a surprising 3–0 despite some limitations on offense. Defensively, however, this team is strong. The Golden Bears, coached by former Oregon defensive back Justin Wilcox, are allowing just over 300 yards per game and have given up a total of three offensive touchdowns in two games against FBS opponents. Cal’s best hope is to win the turnover battle (and hope Oregon snaps the ball over the quarterback’s head from inside the 5-yard line). Oregon 28, California 20

 

Tennessee (+32) over Georgia

Two years ago, Tennessee won in Athens on a Hail Mary connection from Josh Dobbs to Jauan Jennings. This week, the Vols find themselves as a 32-point underdog. A lot has changed in 24 months — for both programs. But this line still appears to be a bit high. Georgia showed some deficiencies on defense in last week’s 43–29 win at Missouri, allowing the Tigers to run for 172 yards (on a healthy 4.7-yard average). There aren’t many positives for Tennessee right now, however. The Vols have lost their two games against Power 5 foes by an average score of 44–18 and have been outgained by an average of 3.5 yards per play in those games. Georgia will win with ease. But not by more than 32 points. Georgia 44, Tennessee 14

 

Colorado (-10) over UCLA

The Chip Kelly era is off to a slow start at UCLA. The Bruins are 0–3 — and have not looked good in any game. They have scored 21 points or fewer in all three games; they rank 115th nationally in yards per play (4.8); and they are converting only 30.0 percent on third down (122nd). Colorado, on the other hand, has been impressive in all three games en route to its first 3–0 start since 2008. The wins might not look as good now as they did at the time — both Colorado State and Nebraska are struggling — but there’s no doubt the Buffs are much improved in 2018. Colorado 34, UCLA 14

 

Nevada (+6.5) over Air Force

For the second straight season — and the fourth time in the past seven years — Air Force has lost its first two games against FBS competition. And in those two games — against Florida Atlantic and Utah State (both on the road) — the Falcons have been outgained by an average of 2.8 yards per play. This week AFA hosts a Nevada team that has scored at least 37 points in three of its first four games. Last week, the Wolf Pack outgained Toledo (both in total yards and yards per play) but were done in by poor special teams in a 63–44 loss on the road. Nevada 38, Air Force 30

 

Florida State (-5) over Louisville

Not too long ago this was one of the marquee games on the college football schedule. Not this year. Florida State’s struggles in 2018 are well documented, but Louisville has also been a big disappointment. The Cardinals scored only three points in a 24-point loss at Virginia on Saturday and rank last in the ACC in both total offense and scoring offense. Here’s the most damning stat: The Cards are getting outgained on a per-play basis for the season even when not including the Week 1 loss to Alabama. (The other three games have been against Indiana State, Western Kentucky and Virginia.) Florida State 24, Louisville 10

 

Arkansas State (-3) over Georgia Southern

It’s been a solid stretch for Arkansas State, which has posted wins over teams from the AAC (Tulsa) and Mountain West (UNLV) over the last two weeks. The Red Wolves now begin Sun Belt play against a Georgia Southern team that hasn’t played since losing at Clemson 38–7 two weeks ago. The Eagles won their first two, beating FCS opponent South Carolina State 37–6 and UMass 34–13. Arkansas State is 21–3 in the Sun Belt in the last three seasons. Take the team that knows how to win. Arkansas State 34, Georgia Southern 21

 

North Texas (-7) over Louisiana Tech

Few teams have been as impressive — relative to the competition — as North Texas four games into the 2018 season. The Mean Green are 4–0 and have outscored their opponents by an average of 33 points per game. Quarterback Mason Fine is completing 65 percent of his passes while averaging 8.2 yards per attempt, and he has a TD-to-INT ratio of 10-to-1. Louisiana Tech has played only two games against FBS opponents, beating South Alabama 30–26 in Week 1 and losing at LSU 38–21 last Saturday night (despite outgaining LSU 417 to 409). This is a solid team. North Texas, however, is better — and at home. North Texas 37, Louisiana Tech 28

 

Hawaii (-13) over San Jose State

Hawaii has already surpassed its win total from the entire 2017 season — and we are still in September. The Rainbow Warriors have wins over Colorado State, Navy, Rice and Duquesne and a seven-point loss at Army. The offense has been the story, ranking seventh nationally with 7.7 yards per play on the strength of quarterback Cole McDonald, who has thrown 20 touchdowns and only one interception. San Jose State is 0–3 and once again appears to be one of the worst teams in the nation. The Spartans did have a respectable 35–22 loss in Week 3 at Oregon, but they also lost at home to FCS opponent UC Davis in the opener and were shut out in Week 2 by Washington State. Hawaii 41, San Jose State 20

 

Western Michigan (+1.5) over Miami (Ohio)

Miami scored a total of three points in back-to-back losses to Cincinnati and Minnesota before erupting for 38 in its league-opening win at Bowling Green. The RedHawks will need to put up a big number again this week; Western Michigan has scored at least 34 points against every opponent not named Michigan. In those three non-Michigan games (vs. Syracuse, Delaware State and Georgia State), the Broncos are outgaining their opponents by almost 3.0 yards per play. Western Michigan 38, Miami 33

 

Last week: 3-7

Season: 14-26

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