Week 5 college football picks: A loaded SEC slate gives us plenty of games to pick from
It's Wednesday, and you know what that means, people: Time to make some college football bets.
Last week the SEC returned, and gave us some big winners. Overall, I went 3-2 against the spread, improving my season-long record to 10-4, with my two best bets both coming courtesy of the SEC. Shout out to Mike Leach, for going into LSU and winning outright (We had them +16.5) and Georgia and Arkansas for hitting the UNDER.
So now that's out of the way, let's get to this week's picks, and before we do, I've got good news: After largely staying away from the SEC last week, I think there are some GREAT plays this week in that league. With a week's worth of data from a week ago, most of my best bets are coming from the best conference in college football.
Finally, before we get rolling, I want to remind you that if you're gambling this weekend, go ahead and do it with our friends at MyBookie. Go to MyBookie and use the promo code "TORRES" and MyBookie will double your first deposit. So, if you want to bet $25 on Georgia to cover against Auburn, MyBookie will give you $50 to play with. It's the best deal going in sports.
Alright people, no more time to waste. Let's get to the picks.
Missouri (+11.5) at No. 21 Tennessee: Saturday, 12:00 p.m. ET, SEC Network
Maybe I'll end up looking dumb come 3:00 p.m. on Saturday afternoon, but to me this is the most lopsided line in all of college football this weekend. Had you asked me what the spread would've been after watching these two teams last weekend, my guess would've been that it would've come in around a touchdown. The fact that I'm getting double digits has me more excited than Ed Orgeron when he arrives at a restaurant and sees crawfish on the menu.
First off, let's start with Mizzou and let me say this: Sometimes in life, it's OK to admit you're wrong. And I think I may have been wrong on Missouri head coach Eli Drinkwitz. That's because after making fun of him most of the off-season (in part because of his name, in part because he tried to poke Nick Saban despite being a head coach for one season coming into this year), I actually thought Mizzou looked decent on Saturday. His team was clearly less talented, but they played hard until the final whistle.
Ultimately, they weren't intimidated by Alabama. Which is more than a lot of teams can say. Especially when you consider that they lined up with a new quarterback and first-year head coach.
Secondly - and I know this will piss off all the Tennessee fans reading this - but are the Vols getting a little too much hype right now? In Tennessee's defense, they do have the longest win streak of any Power 5 team at seven games (which is kind of crazy if you think about it). But in total, four of those wins have come by four points or less, including last Saturday at South Carolina. To the Vols credit, they are winning close games (something they basically haven't done for a decade). But it's not as though they're steamrolling the competition.
I do like the Vols here to win outright and push their win streak to eight games. But 11.5 points is just entirely too many.
Baylor at West Virginia (UNDER 53.5): Saturday, 12:00 p.m. ET, ABC
Look, I could dance around the topic here, but I'm just going to get to it: I don't think either of these offenses are very good. I also believe that at the very least, Baylor's defense is good. Which is why the UNDER is what I'm playing here.
In looking at West Virginia, they kind of have a little of what I said about Tennessee above. They played well down the stretch last year, winning two of their final three games. Yet in kind of a truly wild stat, they didn't score more than 24 points in any of their final seven games in 2019, even though they picked up a few victories along the way. And its not exactly like they blew the barn doors off last week in their Big 12 opener, scoring just 13 against Oklahoma State.
Then there is Baylor, who probably wasn't quite as good as their 47-14 victory over Kansas would indicate last week either. Yes, they put up 47 points, but two of their scores came on special teams plays. If you take those two plays out, Baylor put up 33 points, which is respectable. Yet still less than what Kansas gave up in their opening week loss to Coastal Carolina (38).
In his first road game as a head coach, I expect Dave Aranda to take the air out of the ball and try to keep this one low scoring. It favors the UNDER here at 53.5.
No. 13 Texas A&M at No. 2 Alabama (Alabama first half -9.5): Saturday, 3:30 p.m. ET, CBS
So I can't lie, I was a little surprised by the reaction to Alabama's win over Missouri on Saturday night. The Tide steamrolled Mizzou in the first half, then called off the dogs in the second half of a 38-19 victory. Some said that the Tide "let up" on Mizzou. Instead, I just thought Nick Saban wanted to get a bunch of his backups some reps (specifically quarterback Bryce Young) to prepare them for later in the season. I'd add, Missouri literally scored on the final play of the game. So if anything, I'm just not sure that holding a team to 13 points in a season opener on the road is really "letting up."
Anyway, I bring it up to frame this week's game. The bottom line is that there is clearly a "revenge tour" element to Alabama's season. Now, they get to return home for a big-time, Saturday game against a highly-ranked Texas A&M team, and get to do it in front of fans in Bryant-Denny Stadium? To me, this might be the most fired up we see Alabama all year.
Because of it, I will take Alabama in the first half here. With due respect to Texas A&M, I still don't trust Kellen Mond in a big spot. And I do worry that by the end of the game, Alabama could have its back-ups in and give up a fluky touchdown like last week and we miss our cover.
Do the smart thing, and roll with the Tide in the first half. There is no line officially out yet for MyBookie, but my guess is that it's around -9.5 by kickoff, and I'd play anything up to 10.
Texas Tech (+2.5) at Kansas State: Saturday, 3:30 p.m. ET, FS1
Let's put aside emotions and just look at this game logically. What does it say about Kansas State, that they're less than a field goal favorite at home, despite coming off a road upset of a Top 10 team and playing a team which just gave up 63 points in a loss? It means that Vegas probably doesn't trust them.
And neither does your boy AT.
Look, K-State was an awesome story last week, but if you look at the box score, it's kind of a miracle they won. In total, Kansas State had just 10 first downs (Oklahoma had 28). The Wildcats went 2-11 on third down. They had 13 penalties. And they gave up over 500 yards of total offense.
I mean, just look at those stats again. Anthropologists will be studying that game 200 years from now trying to figure out how the hell K-State pulled off the victory.
So take that team and put them up against an angry Texas Tech squad coming off a game they should have won, and I'll take the Red Raiders all damn day.
If you're feeling frisky, take the Texas Tech money line as well (+125).
No. 7 Auburn at No. 4 Georgia (-6.5 and UNDER 44,5): Saturday, 7:30 p.m. ET, ESPN
So last week, I got absolutely blasted by Auburn fans for the tweet below, which essentially said that I believed that Kentucky was the better team in their matchup for most of the game. Thankfully, the backlash didn't bother me... mainly because I know I was right. Kentucky had a BS touchdown overturned, and the two scoring "drives" that sealed the victory for the Tigers were both less than 30 yards.
I'm not saying the Tigers didn't deserve to win that game. I'm just saying the game was way closer than the final score would indicate. Therefore, forgive me if I'm not buying the Auburn offense going against the best defense they'll face all year.
Then on the flip side is Georgia, which looked absolutely abysmal on offense early against Arkansas, but hit their stride late when Stetson Bennett (great SEC quarterback name by the way) was inserted at quarterback. It's uncertain if he'll play this week, or Georgia will make way for USC transfer JT Daniels (who was finally cleared this week). But regardless of who plays, my hunch is that Kirby Smart won't want to open things up and will try to play it close to the vest.
I still believe Georgia covers the touchdown spread, but that it's low scoring. That's especially true when you look at the final scores of these games since Kirby Smart arrived in Athens: 13-7 (Georgia win), 40-17 (Auburn win), 28-7 (Georgia win in the SEC title game), 27-10 (Georgia win) and 21-14 (Georgia win last season), meaning that we shouldn't expect a lot of points.
History tells us this game will be low-scoring. And my eyes tell me Auburn's offense isn't very good. Which is why I like the Dawgs and the UNDER here.
Arkansas at No. 16 Mississippi State (UNDER 69.5): Saturday, 7:30 p.m., SEC Network ALT
Listen, no one has more Mike Leach/Pirate Fever than this guy right here. Seriously, my outbreak got so bad I had to go to get a shot of penicillin this week. Just thinking about the next several years of Mike Leach in the SEC has me waking up in cold sweats I'm so excited.
At the same time, this is just WAYYYYYYY too many points to be handing out for this game. Frankly, there are so many reasons why I'm just going to list them quickly to avoid turning the next few paragraphs into a novel.
You've got to think that Mississippi State comes into this game a little bit overconfident after last week, right?
Mississippi State scored so many points, that what got lost in the shuffle is that their defense actually looked legitimately good against LSU. The Bulldogs sacked LSU quarterback Myles Brennan seven times in the victory.
I know Arkansas wants to play up-tempo in general this season, but they have to know that their best shot at winning this weekend is to keep the Mississippi State offense off the field, right? Expect a lot of Rakeem Boyd in this game.
The Arkansas defense actually looked pretty good last week. Don't let the final score fool you, they held Georgia to five points in the first half, before getting worn down late. There was also a pick-six return which made the game look more one-sided than a lot of folks probably realize.
If Mississippi State does get up big in this game (which I don't think will happen) you've got to think they will pull their starters with Alabama and Texas A&M coming up in the next three weeks, right?
I know we all love the pirate. And I know we all want to lay the points any chance we can with him. But I'm going the opposite direction. This is my favorite play of the weekend.
South Carolina at No. 3 Florida (-18.5): Saturday, 12:00 p.m. ET, ESPN: Credit where it's due: I've criticized the hell out of Will Muschamp through the years (justifiably, I believe) but I thought South Carolina played hard last week against Tennessee. My lean here is Florida. But think the Gamecocks can do just enough to cover the spread.
TCU at No. 9 Texas (-11.5): Saturday, 12:00 p.m. ET, FOX: It's nice to know that as crazy as 2020 has been, one thing has remained consistent: You just can't trust Texas. Some weeks they look great. Others, they rally from 15 point deficits in the final three minutes of a game to seal a win. Ultimately, I just never know what I'm getting from them week to week, and until further notice, they're a perpetual stay away.
Ole Miss at Kentucky (-6): Saturday, 4:00 p.m. ET, SEC Network: To me, this is a matchup of styles that are so contrasting, I can't even begin to wrap my head around how it will play out. Ole Miss knows that the only shot they have to win is to score and score in bunches (since it's defense can't stop anyone), while Kentucky would prefer to run the football and rely on its defense. Those are two very different ways of approaching a game, and again, I just can't even wrap my head around how it all my play out. Which is why it's just a big, fat stay away.
No. 18 Oklahoma (-7.5) at Iowa State, Saturday, 7:30 p.m. ET, ABC: Because I had money on the Iowa State game last week, I watched closely and can confirm to you: They stink. Still, playing at home, at night, I could see a scenario where they keep this close. Heck, if Oklahoma plays like it did last week, they could win outright. Too much uncertainty here, so I'll be staying away.
No. 20 LSU (-20.5) at Vanderbilt: Saturday, 7:30 p.m. ET, SEC Network: I talked about it a bunch on Monday's podcast, but I just don't think LSU is that good this year. In their defense, they lost just about everyone off of last year's team. That still makes them a weird team to try to peg. Especially against a Vanderbilt squad that looked decent against Texas A&M last week.
Virginia at No. 1 Clemson (-28): Saturday, 8:00 p.m. ACC Network: For all the Miami hype, an argument could be made that Virginia is turning into the second best program in the ACC. They won their division last year, played in the Orange Bowl and dominated Duke in their opener. Which leads me to say, I could see them covering the four touchdowns here. Also, on a completely unrelated note: The fact that Clemson is a four-touchdown favorite against maybe the second best team in the conference really does show how great Clemson is.
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