What college football games appear to be the best bets and the best picks against the spread going into Week 5?
Results So Far ATS: 30-20-1
After a crazy Week 4 – and a nightmarish 4-6 run of picks – it’s time to recalibrate and get back to getting this right. It all starts with this …
Do you really believe? You’ll get the idea.
Click on each game for the preview
LINE Georgia -18
ATS PICK Georgia
A host on one of the radio hits I did the other day asked a two-part question. Is Arkansas for real, and is Georgia actually good enough to cover this spread?
I answered a question with a question – making for riveting radio. Can both things be true?
I do believe in Arkansas. It’s not perfect, but it’s doing all the little things right, the defense is the real deal, and we have to start giving more respect to the good win over Texas as the season goes on.
But I’m starting to think Georgia might be the No. 1 team in college football, and I’ve said this over and over and over again over the last few days.
So do I really believe this? Yeah. Arkansas is just that good, but the Georgia defense is otherworldly. The Hogs could battle hard and still lose 27-6.
Yeah, I really believe that the 2021 season is on a collision course of Alabama vs. Georgia in an epic SEC Championship. So …
LINE Alabama -14
ATS PICK Alabama
Best of all, the money is coming thundering in on Ole Miss. The line started out at -17.5 and it’s down to -14 as there’s more and more buzz about this fantastic Rebel team and Heisman contender QB Matt Corral.
There’s one problem.
Louisville, Austin Peay, Tulane. We’re supposed to crown Ole Miss for rolling in those three games?
This team’s a blast, Lane Kiffin is a blast, and Nick Saban’s head will explode if his team doesn’t pull off a win in this after screaming for weeks that it’s not doing all the little things right.
However, I’ll really believe in the Ole Miss defense when it really does come up with a meaningful stop against someone other than Indiana in last year’s bowl finale.
Sort of like the call on Georgia, the Rebel offense can absolutely work and the final score could still be 47-30. More on that in a moment.
Actually, more on that now …
LINE Point Total 79.5
ATS PICK Under
Forgive this column full of self-indulgent tripe to become even more tripey.
I really believe that you always go with the team getting over 50 no matter what. If I’m Mercer walking into Bryant-Denny Stadium up 54-0, I say thank you and go on about my day – Bama won 48-14, by the way.
I also really believe that you never go over on a point total of 80.
It would be fantastic if this pick is wrong. I’ll happily take the L on this to see a wild show between these two high-powered teams, but it’s SO hard to get to 80 points.
For all the fun Bama has been this year, no game got past 79 – although the 63-14 win over Southern Miss flirted with that. Ole Miss got there last week with a 61-21 win over Tulane, but again, that’s so rare.
The SEC Championship against Florida – 98 points – and the 63-48 win over Ole Miss were the only two times the 2020 Bama team played in a game with 80 or more, and that was one of the greatest offensive juggernauts in college football history.
Ole Miss, however got well past 80 in five of its ten games last year.
Keep going under on 79.5, and you’ll be fine.
Also, you’re almost always right to take the over on a preseason win total of 1. Case in point …
NEXT: College Football Pick Against The Spread No. 7: Kansas at Iowa State
LINE Iowa State -34.5
ATS PICK Iowa State
If this doesn’t work, you stand up and applaud the investment gods for the otherworldly run you just went on by consistently fading Kansas.
My friend has all but created a religion around this, with that one last stop by Duke last week in a 52-33 win to cover the 16 keeping it all alive.
There’s no hard core analysis here – just like last week with the Duke pick – other than loving an Iowa State defense that might be even better than expected.
It’s Kansas. It’s going to be okay.
LINE Clemson -14.5
ATS PICK Boston College
We’re all going to eat it at some point when Clemson flips the switch. If that happens here, fine. We’re adults. We accept this life we’ve chosen.
However, until the Tiger offense shows us anything against someone other than South Carolina State, how can we simply assume that a 14.5 point spread is close to right?
Seriously, would you be totally stunned if Boston College won this outright? It’s not 1000% certain that this Clemson O can get to 14 points, much less win by 15.
This Boston College team hasn’t done anything too amazing in the 4-0 start, but it’s just plucky enough to lose with dignity.
Back with the bit … do I really believe in all the Power Five snob bullspit I sling? It gets put to the test here …
NEXT: College Football Pick Against The Spread No. 5: UConn at Vanderbilt
LINE Vanderbilt -14.5
ATS PICK Vanderbilt
UConn was a staple of the investing diet for a long, long time.
In every game against an FBS team, you always started with the assumption that UConn would have a hard time getting to 20, and the opponent should have a hard time not getting to 45, and go from there.
This year, the assumption was that UConn wasn’t going to score, because it couldn’t and didn’t in the losses to Fresno State and Purdue. And then the Huskies screwed it all up with a ridiculous late cover against Army, followed up by 24-22 loss to Wyoming.
When was the last time Vanderbilt won a game over an FBS program by more than two touchdowns?
41-10 over Nevada early in the 2018 season.
When was the last time Vanderbilt won a game by more than 14 points against a Power Five program? 22-6 over Kentucky in 2013.
But UConn isn’t a Power Five program, and Vanderbilt is in the fricking SEC.
That’s right, Vanderbilt, you’re in the SEC – act like it. It’s supposed to just mean more for you, too, son.
Really, it’s more about a Commodore team that really does have a few okay parts under head coach Clark Lea. The running game should work here.
NEXT: College Football Pick Against The Spread No. 4: USC at Colorado
LINE USC -7.5
ATS PICK USC
Which USC is going to show up?
It was okay against San Jose State to start the season, and then came the loss to Stanford.
The team perked up in time to roll past Washington State, and then the defense couldn’t seem to do anything right a home loss to Oregon State.
There’s no reason to trust the Trojans in any way right now, but they still have more talent than anyone other than – possibly – Oregon. They still have the firepower, and they still have the ability to end this that Colorado doesn’t.
The Buffaloes have been great at times defensively, but we’re now on three games in a row without coming up with more than 260 yards of total offense. They scored just 20 points in the last three games – USC might get that early on to put it away.
Minnesota rolled at will on Colorado – and then lost to Bowling Green. Arizona State came off a loss to BYU and pushed past the Buffs 35-13.
USC needs to stick with its pattern and follow up a loss with a win.
NEXT: College Football Pick Against The Spread No. 3: Oklahoma at Kansas State
LINE Oklahoma -12
ATS PICK Kansas State
What has the Oklahoma offense shown you over the last few weeks to suggest it’s ready for this?
There just isn’t enough of a rushing element to the attack to make up for the lack of high-octane pop from Spencer Rattler and the passing game. The team might be 4-0, and the numbers aren’t that bad, but …
This isn’t the Oklahoma team of the recent past. Even the version of early last year could score.
To be fair, there’s no reason to go all out. The defense is terrific, so as long as Rattler isn’t screwing up and making the big mistakes, everything should be fine.
Sort of like the though with Clemson, just scoring might be difficult, much less do it by more than 12. Fortunately for OU, outside of a late issue with Tulane, the defense has been stellar. It’s been able to hold time and again, and it should be able to keep down a Kansas State team with slew of banged up quarterbacks.
But the Wildcats might be undervalued in a huge, huge way.
They’ve had Oklahoma’s number for the last few years, it held down high-powered Nevada quarterback Carson Strong in a win, and the run D has stopped everything.
The same Sooner playbook might work. Don’t take chances, rely on the defense get out with a win. Even so, Kansas State has won the last two years against OU despite allowing close to 1,000 yards.
This very well might be the game it all comes together for OU, but the O just isn’t doing what it should.
NEXT: College Football Pick Against The Spread No. 2: Louisiana Tech at NC State
LINE NC State -19.5
ATS PICK Louisiana Tech
Just how much of a letdown will there be for NC State after beating Clemson?
Just how good is Clemson, at least on offense? There’s a chance that this really isn’t the Tiger team cohesion-wise that we’re used to. It’s certainly not even close in terms of production – in other words, maybe that awesome thing NC State did last week is being overloved.
It’s a strong team, but rolling by USF and Furman – to go along with a 24-10 loss to Mississippi State – is hardly impressive.
Louisiana Tech might not have the team to pull this off, but it played Mississippi State a whole lot closer than NC State did.
The Bulldogs have yet to play in a game this year decided by more than a touchdown. It took a Hail Mary from SMU to beat them, and Mississippi State was in big trouble before pulling out the 35-34 win.
It’s a team with the offense to keep up, and the ability to punch up in weight class a bit. There’s no issue here when it comes to playing a Power Five program – this team has been through a whole lot.
Again, it plays close games against everyone. NC State will win, but that 19.5 is a huge number for this.
NEXT: College Football Pick Against The Spread No. 1: Arizona State at UCLA
LINE 55.5 Point Total
ATS PICK Over
We all so want this to hit the over.
It’s a true Pac-12 After Dark showdown that starts at 10:30 in the east – and it’ll be worth staying up for.
Arizona State has been a bit measured so far. It has the offense and the experience, but it wasn’t able come together in the loss to BYU, and it didn’t exactly unleash the hounds on UNLV.
UCLA will drag the Sun Devils into being fun.
Last year these two plays one of the most entertaining games of the season, but it was only a 25-18 UCLA win. The points are about to flow with Dorian Thompson-Robinson and company playing as efficiently and as well as anyone.
The 44-10 win over Hawaii was the only time the team didn’t play in a game the hit 56. LSU kept pressing, Fresno State was phenomenal, and even Stanford helped with the two combining to score 59.
There are going to be fireworks, both teams need this to take control of the Pac-12 South, and both will trade big haymakers. You’re just asking for this to be played in the 30s, and both teams should oblige.