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Betting Against the Spread: College Football Week 5 Picks


We now enter the conference portion of the college football season which really ramps up the intrigue and how much is at stake with each matchup. This also means the FCS/FBS matchups will go away for the most part. Some disappointing results as far as our selections are concerned. Any team that gives up that many points to Kent State should be sent to a lower level as the Golden Flashes' offense is quite anemic. The end of the Ohio/Minnesota game was also a clunker as far as I was concerned. I'll try to improve upon that and get back on the winning side.

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Record: 21-18 (4-6 last week)

Memphis (4-0) at South Florida (1-2) (Friday)

If you are looking for someone in an awful spot, you may want to look at Friday night when Memphis plays at South Florida. The Tigers should win the game easily although their defense is horrendous. Memphis has allowed 87 points in its last two games. To make things even more difficult, the Tigers have a game at home against Ole Miss on Oct. 17 which may also have their attention. Well I don't have the stones to take USF, I'll lean to the under. It's a high number because quarterback Paxton Lynch and the Tigers' offense is capable of putting up points. I think they will do so, but I just don't think the Bulls will be able to take advantage of the issues Memphis has on defense. The Bulls have gone under in 18 of their last 27 games including 15 of their last 20 as an underdog. Memphis has gone under in eight of its last 13 on the road. SELECTION: Under 62

Wyoming (0-4) at Appalachian State (2-1)

Appy State's offense was rolling last time out as the Mountaineers pounded ODU 49-0 in Norfolk. The Mountaineers are rushing for 288.3 yards per game while the Cowboys have allowed 207.2 yards per game on the ground. Wyoming has been awful defensively and should struggle to get many stops. The Cowboys have put up over 400 yards per game on offense. They should have more success then Howard and Old Dominion who each failed to move the ball consistently. The road team has gone over in nine of their last 13 road games including four of their last six in October. Appy State gets Montez McGuire back on offense and he was third in receiving yards last year. SELECTION: Over 53

Minnesota (3-1) at Northwestern (4-0)

The Wildcats are one of the best stories in college football and have proven their opening win over Stanford wasn't a fluke. Last time out they struggled with Ball State, but you had to expect it coming off their first road game with conference play beginning the next week. Northwestern's offense has looked modestly pedestrian outside of the 41-0 win over Eastern Illinois. The Wildcats have put up a boatload of yards, but have scored just 59 points in those three games. We can continue to look at Minnesota's effort against TCU in the opener but its defense overall has been very good. The offense is an issue though especially since they scored just 10 points at home vs. Kent State. Northwestern has gone under in 18 of its last 28 games including 12 of its last 17 at home. SELECTION: Under 40.5

UCF (0-4) at Tulane (1-2)

This matchup will cause almost no ripples in the college football universe on Saturday. The only publicity this game will get is if UCF wins and The Basement in Orlando will stop giving away beer. The Golden Knights get Dontravious Wilson back at RB, which will help an offense that has only scored 50 points in four games. Their defense hasn't been too awful and shouldn't have much trouble facing Tulane who has just five WRs on scholarship right now on the roster. The Green Wave are coming off a bye week, which should refresh them a bit entering conference play. The under has hit in 11 of Tulane's last 16 conference games and five of its last six after a bye week. SELECTION: Under 44

Air Force (2-1) at Navy (3-0)

In one of the most underrated games of the weekend, Navy hosts Air Force. These two have had some spirited battles in the past. The Falcons are coming off a bye week after a 35-21 loss to Michigan State. AFA's defense has been very good even against Sparty, which rushed for just 77 yards on 42 carries. Navy's triple option rolled through its first three games, but will now run into a team very familiar with it. These two have played nine unders in the last 11 meetings. Rain could be an issue, but these two don't throw it much anyway. Originally I was ready to pick the home team, but anytime someone has two weeks to prepare it's a concern. Also, Navy is at Notre Dame next week, which is a big game to them as well. SELECTION: Under 52

Vanderbilt (1-3) at Middle Tennessee (2-2)

Despite the proximity, these two schools have played just three times since 1992 with the Blue Raiders winning each of those games. While things aren't working out for the Commodores on the scoreboard, their defense continues to play well. They held a very potent Western Kentucky team to just 14 points in the opener and Ole Miss scored just 27. The problem has been with Vandy's offense, as the Commodores just can't get things going on that side of the ball. No one will confuse MTSU's defense for the Seattle Seahawks, but the Blue Raiders have played well for the most part. Middle Tennessee State has gone under in eight of its last 12 non-conference games. SELECTION: Under 51

East Carolina (2-2) at SMU (1-3)

These two teams had quite different results last week. The Pirates knocked off Virginia Tech at home in the rain while the Mustangs lost a shootout at home to James Madison. ECU has another huge road game next week at BYU and is currently in a stretch of four on the road in the first six overall. The Pirates' offense has been inconsistent this season. Two weeks they ran for less than 100 yards while the other two saw them put up over 180. SMU's offense has not had many problems scoring, as the Mustangs are averaging 33.5 per contest. The problem comes defensively where they allow 603 yards of offense. I don't like the spot for the road team in this one. East Carolina has not covered in seven of its last eight games as a road favorite and 12 of its last 17 conference contests. SELECTION: SMU +6

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Eastern Kentucky (2-1) at Kentucky (3-1)

Classic letdown spot here potentially for Kentucky as the Wildcats take on in-state FCS member Eastern Kentucky. The Colonels lost to NC State 35-0 already this season, but they are ranked in FCS polls and have several FBS transfers. The Wildcats are coming off a solid 21-13 win at home over Missouri and are staring at a home game vs. Auburn on Oct. 15. Kentucky's inconsistency may hurt the Wildcats in this matchup. SELECTION: Eastern Kentucky +30.5

UNLV (1-3) at Nevada (2-2)

It's a big rivalry game as Nevada hosts UNLV. Not quite sure on the line movement in this one as the Rebels haven't really shown much outside of their 80-8 win over Idaho State last week. The offense has been modestly pedestrian while the defense has been gashed on the ground. Nevada is coming off a win at Buffalo and has shown more consistency on offense. The defense is an issue for the Wolf Pack, but I don't know if UNLV can take advantage here. Devonte Boyd is a good receiver for the road team. Nevada has covered six of its last eight home games in this series. SELECTION: Nevada ML

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- Injuries are complicating things when it comes to handicapping Penn State and Army. Ahmad Bradshaw is the Black Knights leading rusher and quarterback and his status is up in the air. Penn State has some issues as well with their two top running backs. If Akeel Lynch and Saquon Barkley were healthy, then I think the Nittany Lions roll in this one. As it is, I think head coach James Franklin sits them out as it's just not necessary that they play. Army's not going to be able to run the ball much on the home team so it's basically PSU calling their shots. If we learn Lynch or Barkley is going to play, then I take the team out of Happy Valley.

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- Two of my favorite teams to keep my eye on are playing as UMass is hosting FIU. The Minutemen kept up with Notre Dame for a half or so before falling to their potent offense. They should have beaten Temple if not for special teams errors. The Golden Panthers, meanwhile, have played well at home, but injuries are mounting. I have no selection in this one, but the winner could go on a nice win streak potentially as the talent is there on both sides.

- Should be a fun one as Rice hosts Western Kentucky. The Owls are playing just their second home game after three straight on the road including contests with Texas and Baylor. This game is going to be high scoring as both teams have leaky defenses and potent offenses. Rice will try to keep up with Brandon Doughty, but Driphus Jackson isn't a bad QB either. Small lean to the over in this one.

— Written by Matt Josephs, who is a part of the Athlon Sports Contributor Network. Josephs prefers non-Power 5 college football and may be the only one wagering on the Sun Belt. Follow him on Twitter @MidMajorMatt.