Bet LSU Big, Sell Big Ten Points Quickly

After seven games of college football action on Thursday and Friday, there’s much more in store in Week 5. After searching for early line value at the opening stages of the week, our college football picks and predictions examine any midweek line movement. We’ll also search for any closing line value to maximize the bang for your buck this weekend across all the games.

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Week 5 college football picks and predictions

Illinois vs. Wisconsin (under 43.5 points)

Originally set at 44.5 points, the under has certainly taken the lion’s share of the bets midweek. Now set at 43.5 points, it’s a bit more complicated to pick this game. Though our prediction has this game set at a total of 38, sitting comfortably within 5.5 points feels less and less confident to bet. Let’s go back to what we said earlier in the week to indicate why pulling the trigger on an under 44.5-point total was where the money was.

What we said earlier this week: Don’t overlook this Illinois defense. Throwing out the Wisconsin performance against Ohio State gives you two of the top-scoring defenses in the country. Illinois has allowed just 32 points in four games this year, including three contests where they’ve held their opponents out of the end zone. Wisconsin has allowed 76 points but 52 of those were against OSU last week.

As impressive as these defenses are, these offenses aren’t quite world-beaters, and the under is certainly in play. Yes, each offense is capable of running the ball incredibly well, but the defensive fronts for each team are healthy and should be able to control the point of attack. Illinois has held their opponents to well under 100 yards per game on the ground and have the proverbial horses to man up against Braelon Allen and Co.

Though 46 would be a more preferable number here to grab the under, this matchup still leans one-sided even at 44.5.

Prediction: Wisconsin 21, Illinois 17

Wake Forest (+6.5) vs. Florida State

Simply put, Florida State exceeded expectations last weekend. Or maybe Boston College’s underwhelming performance gave us a false glimpse of this FSU team and what they can do in 2022. Given recent history, I’d go with the latter. Florida State was gifted a kick-return touchdown and multiple short fields against BC, and though they capitalized on them nicely, it’s not a sustainable way to play football in the ACC.

Wake Forest is fresh off a game their quarterback threw for six touchdowns and somehow still lost. Their secondary played awful, and their defensive front couldn’t get any pressure on Clemson. However, Wake Forest’s offensive line was dominant and kept a Clemson defensive line that has at least four NFL draft picks on it quiet all night long. FSU’s defense needs a resurgence of pass rushers to stymie the Wake Forest offensive scheme (slow mesh, RPO). Otherwise, their secondary will be tested big time.

Wake keeps it much closer, and this line should come down to represent that. Get the Deacs while you can, and hedge your bets, FSU fans.

Prediction: Florida State 34, Wake Forest 31

Ohio (+11.5) vs. Kent State

We’ll leave what was written earlier in the week as this line felt far off from the truth. Originally set at Kent State -7.5, it seemed as if the Ohio Bobcats were given the benefit of the doubt that they’d score a ton of points due to their high-scoring affair against Fordham. Yet, here we are with this line that’s shifted a total of 4.0 points since we published our early-week picks. We’re now confident enough to place a bet the other way, hedging your way to victory no matter the outcome if you were able to get Kent State -7.5.

From earlier this week: It’s time to put some respect on Collin Schlee’s name. The junior Kent State QB may be one of the top signal-callers in the MAC this season, but he’s had a hard time showing it against a ridiculously difficult start to their season.

The Golden Flashes have had games at Washington, Oklahoma, and Georgia, looking better each time they’re on the field. Schlee even put up 22 points against the Georgia defense, which is widely seen as the best in the country.

As far as good defenses go, Ohio doesn’t have one of those. This is the same Bobcats unit that allowed 52 points to Fordham, including QB Tim DeMorat throwing for 503 yards and six touchdowns. Schlee and Kurtis Rourke should be able to score points at will, but this Kent State offense has the distinct advantage as Schlee can make special throws from any platform. Kent State and the points here.

Prediction: Kent State 46, Ohio 35

LSU (-8) vs. Auburn

Brian Harsin has been playing with house money for weeks now. He’s on his way out as Auburn’s head coach — it’s just a matter of time. Had it not been for Harrison Mevis’ missed 26-yard field goal attempt from the middle of the field (still not over that missed kick) or a fumble from Nathaniel Peat as he was crossing the goal line for the game-winning touchdown, Harsin would likely have been out following last week’s game.

Sure, Auburn may be looking to go to 2-0 in conference play, but anyone who actually watched the Tigers play this season knows that they are the inferior team to this LSU roster. And that’s saying something.

Brian Kelly hasn’t gotten off to the hottest start. Nonetheless, the fact remains that LSU is 3-1 and a missed extra point away from being 4-0. Their defense has started to play relatively well and has limited their last three opponents to just 33 total points, including a shutout last week. This is a team that can stymie Auburn’s rushing attack. The biggest question is how Jayden Daniels will stand up to pressure that will inevitably come from Derick Hall and Colby Wooden, among others, on the Auburn defensive line.

Daniels has withstood pressure well this season and is clean on the turnover sheet. If he maintains that clean record under pressure, LSU wins this one easily.

Prediction: LSU 31, Auburn 16

Texas State vs. James Madison (-22)

The JMU Dukes are clearly one of the better teams in the Group of Five, if not the best Group of Five team this season. Sure, the transitive property doesn’t actually apply, but beating App State the way they did shows resolve, tenacity, and ultimately an incredibly gifted coaching staff that will likely take the Power Five bounce in the offseason.

Until then, the Dukes should be heavy favorites from Bridgeforth Stadium and potentially favorites in every game from here on out, with eyes toward Louisville and Coastal Carolina as the only close outings. That said, JMU wins by controlling the trenches and rolling their impressive secondary around with a talented group of cover corners. Xavier Cokley is speedy enough to stick with Ashtyn Hawkins, and the Texas State attack may be limited in this one as they’ll likely not have any time to set protection schemes and will be unable to keep Layne Hatcher upright. JMU wins big.

South Alabama (-8.5) vs. Louisiana

We’ve not moved off this game, either. In fact, it’s moved more to the Ragin’ Cajuns at this point. No prediction here, just a pick as South Alabama has been lights out on offense this season with Carter Bradley at the helm. Yet, there is too much talent on Louisiana to warrant much more. If you grabbed the Jags earlier this week at -7, you can always scoop up some pretty good odds on Louisiana +8.5 before kickoff (it appears).

What we said earlier this week: The South Alabama Jaguars are playing incredible football and head into a potential buzzsaw at Louisiana, fresh off a defeat at in-state rival UL-Monroe. The Ragin’ Cajuns have too much talent on their hands to lose too many games, but the way this South Alabama offense has been rolling, they should be at least a touchdown favorite. If the line moves below seven, grab the Jags.

Cal vs. Washington State (over 53 points)

As good as the Washington State offense has been with Cameron Ward leading the way, Cal’s offense has had only one really good performance this season. They, of course, ride that momentum into Pullman against the Cougars after Jaydn Ott was named to our National Team of the Week.

Cal scored more than 20 points for the first time this season in Week 4, but the way Ott ran the ball, we could expect to see a lot of open passing lanes for Jack Plummer to exploit. The line now is 53 points. Buy it if it lowers at all, but even at 53, that’s pretty good value if we see the same Cal offense we saw last week.

Cincinnati vs. Tulsa (over 58.5 points)

Another one to monitor through the week — this game has a chance for each team to score 30+ points. Cincinnati is a two-possession favorite, rightfully so, and Ben Bryant is throwing the ball incredibly well the past two weeks. Tulsa’s defense, however, is certainly on the up and up as their defensive secondary is the strong suit. And as we said earlier in the week, “anything below 60 points is worthy of pulling the trigger on here.” The line has now shifted down 2.0 points and is worthy of grabbing the over before kick.

ECU vs. USF (under 57 points)

Once again, the line has moved in our favor as the total was 59 points to open the week. We grabbed under 59 points; the betting community seems to believe in the same. After all, the USF Bulls are still without a passing touchdown this year, and ECU’s run defense has been stellar. The Pirates are allowing just 3.0 yards per carry, giving up just 442 on the season’s schedule, including games against Campbell’s rushing attack and Navy’s triple-option offense.

USF will have a tough time getting things going offensively, and ECU’s offense is banged up. The under should be good at anything under 60. Still, the closer you could purchase a line to a total of 60 would’ve been a better bet.

Cam Mellor is the Senior Director of the College Football/NFL Draft vertical for Pro Football Network. You can find his writing here and follow him on Twitter: @CamMellor.

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