If college football wasn’t back before last week, it sure is now! An action-packed Saturday of action featured two top-10 upsets, a third close call and plenty more entertaining games and thrilling finishes across the country (Georgia Southern-Louisiana anyone??). With Week 5 now upon us, it’s time to sift through the chaos and lock in some winning college football picks.
A disappointing 1-for-3 showing last week means this column’s record is now 5-4 on the season overall. We nailed Mississippi State’s upset win over LSU, but fell just short with Army and Liberty. This week’s picks include a heavy dose of Conference USA action, along with the first game for the 2020 Commander in Chief’s Trophy. Without further ado, let’s get down to business.
Week 5 College Football Picks
All odds courtesy of Bovada Sportsbook
Southern Mississippi at North Texas (-1.5)
Conference USA is home to another one of our Week 5 college football picks, as Southern Mississippi takes on North Texas in primetime. The line for this game opened as USM -1. I am siding with the sharp money that has already driven the Mean Green to be short home favorites.
Southern Miss is coming off a 66-24 blowout loss at the hands of Tulane in which they were outgained on the ground, 430-70. While those aren’t pretty numbers, to say the least, it is worth noting that the Golden Eagles did lead 14-0 at one point. It’s been a rocky start to the season for the Golden Eagles, who have now blown multi-score leads in back-to-back games. This after their head coach stepped down following the Week 1 loss to South Alabama. Scotty Walden, the youngest acting head coach in all of FBS at age 34, brings plenty of energy to the sideline, but it is yet to translate to a victory. Southern Mississippi’s defensive front has struggled, especially in the second half of games with fatigue being more than apparent.
North Texas is coming off an unplanned bye week after positive COVID-19 tests led to the cancellation of last week’s game. The extra rest along with home field advantage should serve the Mean Green well in this matchup. While the North Texas defense got lit up in their last game against SMU, it’s very hard to imagine the talented Mean Green offense failing to outscore USM. If wearing down the Golden Eagles defensive front is a key to victory, the Mean Green RB tandem of DeAndre Torrey and Oscar Adaway III are more than capable. The line is not doing North Texas’ offensive talent justice.
Navy at Air Force (+7)
The first matchup of the Commander in Chief’s Trophy series is also the first matchup of Air Force’s 2020 season. With the Mountain West Conference among those who delayed the start of football, the Falcons have yet to play while Navy has gone 1-1 in their first two games. In what will be a hard-fought game from both sides, Air Force catching a touchdown at home is the play for our college football picks.
The Midshipmen had to pull off a miraculous second half rally to earn their win over Tulane two weeks ago, and I’m just not convinced this team is nearly as talented as Navy teams in recent history. It shouldn’t come as a major surprise that the offense didn’t exactly come flying out of the gates with the loss of QB Malcolm Perry to graduation. Even if the second half of the Tulane game is the real 2020 Navy, Air Force will play them tough on Saturday. The Falcons should have advantages along both the offensive and defensive lines.
The line movement on this game has been drastic. Air Force opened as slim one-point favorites, and the market has bet the game all the way up to Navy being favored by as many as a full seven at the majority of books, including Bovada. While line movement is totally understandable and can oftentimes be a great indicator of which side to bet, a full eight points of movement in a rivalry is way too far, especially when the team taking money has been very average in its first two contests. I like Air Force to at least make a game of this one, with a real shot to take it a step further and win outright.
Western Kentucky (-7) at Middle Tennessee
After getting beaten badly in their first two games of the season, Middle Tennessee came much closer last Friday night against UTSA. The winless Blue Raiders are catching a touchdown at home against Western Kentucky, a line that has actually been bet down after opening at 8. After being upset by Liberty two weeks ago, the Hilltoppers are also looking for their first win of the season. The 70th edition of the 100 Miles of Hate rivalry series finds itself among this week’s college football picks.
This is the first line to move against WKU all season after they drew the favor of the sharps in their first two matchups against Louisville and Liberty. Veteran quarterback Tyrrell Pigrome, who transferred in from Maryland, should have no trouble orchestrating the offense against an MTSU defense that has surrendered 37-plus points in each of its first three games. If the Hilltoppers can slow down quarterback Asher O’Hara and the Middle Tennessee offensive attack, something that both army and Troy had no trouble doing, they will be in good shape.
The Hilltoppers have to feel like they let one get away two weeks ago against Liberty. They were the better team on paper for that game and certainly are once again this week. There’s a reason they were picked to contend in Conference USA. It is a rivalry game, but I am confident in WKU to win easily.