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NFL Draft

College Football Week 5 Best Bets

  • The Draft Network
  • October 2, 2020
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Welcome back to our look at college football’s lines. Here, we take one of the most volatile sports in one of the most volatile years and pretend to be able to predict it. It’s kinda fun.

Here are five lines I like looking at Week 5’s slate. I’ll be around on Twitter if there are any other games you’re looking at. Odds are supplied by our friends over at BetOnline.

NC State at Pitt (-14)

It’s time to talk about Pitt as a legit team, which, because it’s Pitt, means the Panthers are probably going to lay a goose egg this week. That’s okay. I’ll stare down the dragon and dare him to make me hurt.

Kenny Pickett is probably not an NFLer, but he is a Shrine Bowl-caliber quarterback who is more than capable of hitting key throws and putting explosive passing plays on the board. He’s been great scrambling as well, which has buttressed a modest Pitt rush attack that should continue to wake up against one of the worst defenses in college football: NC State.

This pick is as much about fading NC State as it is trusting Pitt (because, again, we should never do that). NC State looked like a live offense against an atrocious Wake Forest defense before getting stymied by the shorthanded Virginia Tech last week, but it’s the defense that has surrendered the ninth-most rushing yards per game in college football’s still-young season. The Wolfpack’s passing defense isn’t much better, and against a balanced offense like the Panthers’, they’re going to give up points.

Pitt’s defense is arguably the best in the country and flummoxed a great Louisville rushing attack last week on all but one 75-yard scamper from Cardinal speedster Javian Hawkins. NC State still has yet to name a starting quarterback and has only had offensive success this year when winning with the ground game; if it gets put into an early hole against this opportunistic Pitt defense, this is going to get ugly.

Fourteen is a tricky number to bet, but I have enough confidence in the Pitt defense to keep this a low-scoring game and grab the cover. Take the total under 47 if you’re so inclined.

USF at Cincinnati (-21)

We’re once again sitting on a key number, which is a cause for concern, but this is another look where I’m fading one squad and riding another through two weeks. We should feel confident here.

Cincinnati entered the season as the AAC favorite for many and through two weeks has done nothing to deter that notion. It tidied up against Austin Peay and never lost control against a tough Army team, showing, versus both squads, its defense is exactly as it was billed coming into the year: veteran, physical, and critically, a good tackling unit. Many teams are struggling with tackling right now; head coach Luke Fickell’s Bearcats are not one of them.

USF has been demolished in the running game through two weeks against the Citadel and Notre Dame, giving up over five yards a carry. The offensive line and running game, boasting of a varied backfield with receiving and goalline ability, should dominate against the Bulls, who canceled last week’s game due to COVID-19 concerns and project to again be out a few players following contract tracing protocols. USF’s trenches have really struggled early, and against a physical team like Cincinnati, are unlikely to get anything going offensive or stop the running game in garbage time. I think a four-score margin for Cincinnati is a likely outcome.

Oklahoma State (-23) at Kansas

This is a principled play without much analysis behind it: Kansas has been arguably the worst Power 5 time in college football this year, and while Oklahoma State may still be out starting quarterback Spencer Sanders, it has talent on defense and weaponry on offense. The Jayhawks won’t be able to outrun them, and that’s the only way Kansas has a hope of putting points on the board.

Texas Tech (+116) at Kansas State; Ole Miss (+200) at Kentucky

Feel free to pass on both of these if you like, but if you’re looking for good parlay pieces or just some juicy moneyline action, both of these small dogs are quite lively. Texas Tech getting priced below (+2 1/2) a Kansas State team that capitalized on special teams and unforced errors to stun Oklahoma is a fat one over the middle, as you can expect a hangover for the Wildcats. Meanwhile, Texas Tech’s offense isn’t going to get slowed down by anyone this year—quarterback Alan Bowman has a great handle on Matt Wells’ offense—and I always like the dog in a shootout.

To that point, I’m getting the better offense as a 6 1/2-point dog against Kentucky in Ole Miss, who stressed a decent Florida defense last week with a variety of zany sets and quarterback shenanigans. I’m betting on Lane Kiffin having more up his sleeve than just one week’s worth of tricks in 2020, while the Kentucky defense, ever staunch against the run, gave up explosive passing plays to a less talented offense in Auburn last week. Consider looking at 1H lines for Ole Miss here as a safer bet, but I’ll take the underdog straight up for a good time.

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