Week 5 CFB Picks: Michigan-Iowa, Kentucky-Ole Miss, LSU-Auburn + more (presented by Betfred)


Credit: Michigan Athletics

It's Wednesday, and you know what that means - it's time to make some Week 5 college football picks.


And I can't lie, this has to be the best slate that we've had so far in college football, right? Conference play is officially in full swing, and we've got important matchups in packed houses, with quite a bit on the line. Alabama-Arkansas, LSU-Auburn, NC State-Clemson, Rutgers-Ohio State... well, ok, maybe not the last one, but you get the point.


Couple quick reminders before we get going: One, if you're not subscribed to the "College Football Betting" show, please make sure to do so. New episodes drop every week, and while I've told you this before I want to continue to repeat it: I believe we have better knowledge on our show than anywhere else on the internet.


Two, as always, the lines today are presented by our partners at Betfred Sportsbook. Remember, you can get bet $50 on any game, and get $250 in free bets courtesy of Betfred. Oh, and if you live in the Cincinnati area, as a quick thank you - Betfred is giving out four tickets to the Thursday Night, Dolphins-Bengals game.


You can enter here.


Now, to this week's picks:


No. 4 Michigan at Iowa (+11): Saturday, 12:00 p.m. ET, FOX


A couple of bets this week are definitely of the "hold your nose" variety. They aren't always pretty. But a winning ticket is a winning ticket, right?


So let's start with this one, and there are two reasons why I like Iowa to cover the points here.


One, it's a historical play. Michigan doesn't play in Iowa often, but it felt like - at least in my mind - every time they do it's always close and low-scoring. For fun I decided to look it up and the numbers back it up:


  1. Michigan has lost five straight against Iowa at Iowa

  2. The last time Michigan won at Iowa was 2005

  3. The last time Michigan won at Iowa by double-figures was 1994

I mean, come on.


Two, this is stylistic to me as well.


The bottom line is that last week we saw JJ McCarthy in his first career start, and while the numbers look good, he was definitely, umm, a little erratic. Too often he held onto the ball too long, too often he tried to make plays with his feet and in the end, if it weren't for a historic effort from running back Blake Corum, the Wolverines could've lost.


Well, fast forward to this week, and there are two things the Iowa defense does really well: They stop the run, as they currently rank No. 6 in rush defense. They also force a lot of turnovers, finishing third in the country in the category a year ago, with seven forced so far this season.


I expect Iowa to force McCarthy into a couple big mistakes and this one to stay close late.


Michigan may win, but I think it will be competitive.


BEST BET: No. 7 Kentucky at No. 14 Ole Miss (UNDER 54): Saturday, 12:00 p.m. ET, SEC Network


First off, I know there are a lot of good games in the SEC this weekend... and I know game times are decided weeks in advance, buuuut... how is a matchup of two, undefeated Top 15 teams being played 11 am local time on SEC Network?


It just means more? More what? Hungover kids in polos in the student section at Ole Miss. C'mon Greg Sankey!!!!


Anyway, let me get off my soap box and get to this game, because, as boring as it sounds, the under here is my favorite bet of the weekend.


It's for a first reasons.


First, if you remember back to when Kentucky played at Florida a few weeks ago, I told you something that I believe will be applicable here as well: When Kentucky goes on the road in the SEC, Mark Stoops gets ultra-conservative. That's not a criticism, Kentucky did just win at the Swamp for the second time in five years.


It's just a fact.


Literally.


I went ahead and looked it up, and since the start of last season, Kentucky has played five SEC road games. Four have gone under, and the fifth - at Mississippi State last year - went over by one point. That's more than a trend at this point.


With star running back Chris Rodriguez returning this weekend, it only makes me more confident that Stoops will be more conservative.


Then there's Ole Miss, and here's a little fun fact to throw around at your next cocktail party: While the world thinks of Lane Kiffin as some crazy offensive Frankenstein that throws the ball all over the field, most of what he does is based on the run. And this year with a young quarterback, it's only been heightened. So far this year, Ole Miss has run the ball nearly twice as much as it has passed it (194 rush attempts to 104 pass attempts).


Take two teams that would prefer to keep things on the ground, and away from the other team, I'll cash the under all the way to the bank.


Michigan State (+8.5) at Maryland: Saturday, 3:30 p.m. ET, FS1


Maybe this is a totally square move on my part, and maybe I'll regret ever typing these words, but does this line feel like a complete overreaction - on both sides - to last week?


Seriously, think about it.

For all the excitement about how good Maryland looked against Michigan, remember, it was just two weeks ago that they barely held on to beat SMU at home. Now, they're two possessions better than a Michigan State team everyone (except me) loved two weeks ago?


I don't see it, especially when you consider that Maryland had an out of body experience in one particular category last week: In the first three games of the season, they were averaging almost 10.5 penalties per game. They had one at Michigan.


They're going to regress to the mean and make mistakes against the Spartans on Saturday.


Speaking of the Spartans, I've told you since the summer I thought they were overrated. But I also think that it's distinctly possible that in the last two weeks, they've lost to two of the more underrated teams in college football - Washington and Minnesota. Both those teams could legitimately, and might win 10 games, and I'm just not sure either will look bad by the end of the year.


I don't love Michigan State and will definitely be fading them in other spots (probably starting next week against Ohio State). But this is the right side for this game.



No. 9 Oklahoma State (+2) at No. 16 Baylor: Saturday, 3:30 p.m. ET, FOX


Here's the bottom line on this game: I believe that Baylor's numbers are largely skewed, because of some big wins against bad opponents. The Bears, who are built largely on the ability to run the ball, averaged over six yards per carry against Albany in Week 1 and close to eight yards per carry against Texas State. They averaged roughly 2.5 yards per carry in a loss to BYU and around the same in last week's narrow win over Iowa State.


On the other side, I believe Oklahoma State's numbers skew the wrong way because of a weird opener against Central Michigan, where they were up 51-15 early in the third quarter, let their foot off the gas, and ended up winning the game 58-44. The game was never really close despite what the score tells you.


Bottom line, I think the wrong team is favored here. Go Pokes.


LSU at Auburn (UNDER 45.5): Saturday, 7:00 p.m. ET, ESPN


So look, I could go in a million different directions here, but this pick is also based solely on history: LSU-Auburn is one of those rivalries that is always close, always low-scoring and where weird stuff happens.


Think I'm lying? Take out the Covid year of 2020, and here are the results of the last five games: 24-19, 23-20, 22-21, 27-23, 18-13.


And when I say "weird stuff happens" how about this as an example: Remember that historically great LSU team a few years ago? You know, the one with Joe Burrow, Justin Jefferson and Ja'Marr Chase who steamrolled college football to a national title, beating Clemson, Alabama, Oklahoma, Texas and Texas A&M along the way? Yeah, it was Auburn, which held them to their lowest point total of the season that year.


In the end, I actually think LSU is quietly improved from the start of the season and think that Auburn not-so-quietly has given up on Bryan Harsin.


I like LSU and the spread, but think the smarter move is to trust history and take the UNDER here.


No. 10 NC State at No. 5 Clemson (-6.5): Saturday, 7:30 p.m. ET


Ah, a classic Top 10 matchup, under the lights in Death Valley... just a week after Clemson barely survived against Wake Forest.


So we've got to back NC State here, right?


I'm not so sure.


One, for all the NC State hype this off-season, they've been largely unimpressive so far, nearly losing to East Carolina and looking relatively unimpressive in their one game against a Power 5 opponent (Texas Tech). Devin Leary's numbers are down across the board, and while they are a Top 10 squad on paper, we've yet to see anything to prove they are actually a Top 10 team on the field.


Then there's Clemson, and for all the frustration of last season, I thought they showed real signs last week. They were able to buckle down late against the best offense they'll see all year (giving up just 10 points in the fourth quarter and overtime, after giving up 35 in the first three quarters) and the offense seems to be finally be clicking. DJ Uiagalelei is coming off by far the best performance of his career.


In the end, this feels like one of those Saturday night games where everyone starts to question Clemson, then they come out, and you look up and it's 28-3 going into halftime.


If this game were in Raleigh or a noon ET kick-off I might feel differently. But I'm rolling with Clemson here.


Stay Away's:


No. 2 Alabama (-17.5) at No. 20 Arkansas: Saturday, 3:30 p.m. ET, CBS: So, I'm really torn on this one. I know everyone and their mother is on Arkansas, and I get it - I'm not totally sure Alabama is elite this year. Good, sure, but not elite. My concern though is pretty straightforward: Arkansas has the worst pass defense in the SEC. And Bryce Young is the best QB in college football.


My gut tells me Arkansas hangs close. But this feels like the game that everyone could have Bama in a close one, Bryce Young throws for 450 yards and Bama wins 44-20.


No. 17 Texas A&M at Mississippi State (-3.5): Saturday, 4:00 p.m. ET, SEC Network: I liked Mississippi State early in the week... and then the money started pouring in on the Bulldogs... and then it kept pouring in on the Bulldogs, to the point that this is unbetable to me.


Say what you want about A&M, but that defense has mostly been excellent this year. I'm not saying it will happen, but they could play lights out and Max Johnson and Co. could do enough to get the win in Starkville.


I'll gladly watch this one without having action on it.


A reminder: The picks are brought to you by Betfred Sportsbook. New users can get $250 when they bet $50 on any game this weekend - good in Arizona, Colorado and Iowa only