College Football Week 5 Odds, Picks, Predictions: Experts Offer Best Bets for Saturday Afternoon – The Action Network
For the first time since Week 1, we have a truly massive slate of college football.
Two top-10 matchups take center stage as Cincinnati takes on Notre Dame and Georgia duels a surprising Arkansas team.
Also, No. 1 Alabama hosts one of the most electric offenses in the country in No. 12 Ole Miss, and No. 19 Oklahoma State squares off with No. 21 Baylor.
While the national focus will obviously remain on the games that will most impact the College Football Playoff picture, bettors will not forget about the spots that will be best to hit for their wallets.
With that in mind, our experts eye four games in the Noon and afternoon window that could make you some dough to kick off Week 5. They may not be the most intriguing, but they certainly could be the most important for a successful start to the day.
Saturday College Football Best Bets for Week 5
Our Top Picks for Saturday Afternoon
The set of college football team logos below reflects each of our college football staff’s best bets for games kicking off from noon to 3:30 p.m. ET. Click the team logos for one of the matchups below to navigate to a specific pick discussed in this article.
Specific bet recommendations come from the sportsbook offering preferred odds as of writing. Always shop for the best price using our NCAAF Odds page, which automatically surfaces the best lines for every game.
Wisconsin’s loss to Notre Dame last week really took the hype away from this matchup, but it’s still the biggest game of the year for Michigan.
Jim Harbaugh’s Wolverines have not fared well against Wisconsin the last two seasons, being outscored by a combined 84-25.
Michigan is undefeated this season, but the identity of this team has not changed from a run-heavy, boring offense.
This game will be highlighted by elite defense, strong offensive line play and two teams who will seldom throw the football.
Michigan has the No. 4 scoring defense, holding teams to less than 12 points per game. Harbaugh has elected to run on 74% of the Wolverines’ plays, which is the highest rank in the nation outside of option teams.
The rushing offense will be tested by a Wisconsin defense that has been stout against the run, allowing just one yard per rushing attempt. The Badgers own the top rushing defense in the country, allowing just 23 rushing yards per game.
The Wisconsin offense has been bad this season, ranking 102nd in scoring at 19 points per game.
The offensive line play hasn’t been up to the typical Badger standard, so Michigan is going to be able to stop the run.
Graham Mertz has been awful this season, throwing for an average of 5.9 yards per pass attempt with six interceptions and just one touchdown pass.
Hard-headed Harbaugh will continue to run the ball regardless of if it’s working or not. Paul Chryst will be reluctant to put the ball in Mertz’s hands after last week’s fourth-quarter debacle against Notre Dame.
I’m playing the under where scoring drives will be few and far between.
This is going to be a battle between two overperforming offenses and two horrific defenses.
If you throw out Northern Illinois’ game last week against Maine, basically all of its offensive output came in Week 2 against Wyoming. Against Georgia Tech and Michigan, the offense did absolutely nothing, gaining 4.5 yards per play.
Michigan State transfer Rocky Lombardi really struggled in the games against FBS opponents, throwing for only 5.92 yards per attempt. It also doesn’t help that his offensive line hasn’t been able to protect him, ranking 84th in terms of a run blocking grade, per Pro Football Focus.
While Eastern Michigan’s defense has been horrible to begin the season — ranking 129th in Success Rate allowed — it hasn’t allowed explosive plays, ranking sixth nationally.
The Eagles offense has been humming the last two weeks, gaining 6.39 yards per play. Yes, it was against UMass and Texas State, but for the season, Eastern Michigan is 49th in Offensive Success rate, fourth nationally in points per opportunity, and eighth in Havoc allowed.
The Eagles will be going up against a Northern Illinois defense that couldn’t stop anything against Wyoming and Michigan, giving up a combined 113 points and 7.5 yards per play.
For the season, the Huskies’ defense ranks 125th in Success Rate allowed, 126th in points per opportunity and 87th in explosive plays allowed.
I think the Eagles’ offense should be able to shred them on Saturday afternoon in DeKalb.
I think the wrong team is favored here, as I have Eastern Michigan projected as a -4.57 favorite and our PRO Projections have them projected as a -2.3 favorite. So, give me the Eagles at +2.5.
The Golden Flashes have been beat up, run over and battered during their rugged non-conference schedule.
They faced three top-45 defenses (Iowa, Texas A&M and Maryland) and when they had to send their starting 11 in on defense, they were simply bludgeoned by their Power Five competition.
The good news is that the offense started to click against Maryland and they emerged from those three games relatively healthy.
Dustin Crum, their All-MAC quarterback, found his groove against the Terps, surpassing 300 yards through the air while sprinkling in a long run as well.
His top three receiving targets — Ja’Shaun Poke, Nykeim Johnson, and Dante Cephas — are the best trio in the league. Cephas has really come alive, as he’s coming off of a 10-catch, 150-yard, touchdown performance against the Terps.
Yes, Bowling Green just shocked Minnesota on the road, but this is the same Falcons team that is averaging just 16.5 points per game.
BGSU checks in at 124th in total offense and cannot run the football whatsoever. The Falcons are dead last in yards per game on the ground, which is Kent State’s No. 1 weakness.
This is a “get-right” game for Kent and the beginning of a march up the MAC standings. Keep in mind that dating back to 2019, Kent State has averaged 40 points per game in MAC play.
I would also advocate for an alternate-line play here: up to Kent State -24 (+280).
I hate to exist in a world where Bowling Green and Kent State are a combined 10-0 to the under to start the year, but money is money.
The Falcons don’t offer any upside offensively. They’re 122nd in pace and don’t want to play with tempo — probably because they’re 129th in Line Yards, 112th in big play rate, and the only team in America to average fewer than 1.0 yard per carry (0.9).
Quarterback Matt McDonald owns the 12th-worst EPA in the country at his position.
Kent State, meanwhile, will find a dance partner for a track meet soon, but this ain’t it. The Falcons are quietly outside the top 25 in Passing Success Rate and have no desire to trade punches.
Quarterback Dustin Crum has been worse than McDonald in EPA, owning the third-worst clip in the country.
I’m not sure where the points come from, especially in a game potentially affected by weather.
Undefeated and No. 3 ranked Oregon heads to Palo Alto for an early kick against the Cardinal.
The Ducks are coming off an ugly performance last week in which they only led winless Arizona by five entering the fourth quarter.
I’m still not sold on quarterback Anthony Brown and his ability to move the ball through the air against capable secondaries.
Brown used his legs in a big way against Ohio State, which played a key part in the road victory. He’s sputtered since then, though, only completing 47% of his passes last week against Arizona.
Look for Stanford defensive coordinator Lance Anderson to spy Brown and force the Boston College transfer to beat them with his arm.
Meanwhile, Stanford sophomore QB Tanner McKee has been very productive since winning the job full-time ahead of the USC game. McKee has thrown for seven touchdown passes in his last three starts and has yet to throw an interception on the season.
The Cardinal lack some of the explosive skill players they’ve had in recent memory, but this is still an offense that has been quite efficient thus far in 2021.
I hopped on the Stanford train in the Week 2 Best Bets column when they were way too high of an underdog on the road at USC.
Back to the well I go again.
Look for David Shaw to slow this game down and limit the number of possessions. I believe the Cardinal defense can get enough stops to hang around in this game and give the Tree a chance to win outright late.
I’m taking the Cardinal and the points, but if you’re feeling bold, go ahead and sprinkle some cash on Stanford (+250) on the money-line as well.