College football picks, predictions against the spread for Week 5 top 25 games

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We finally have a Separation Saturday. Week 5 of the college football season features five games between teams ranked in the AP Top 25. That includes a pair of ACC matchups. No. 5 Clemson and No. 10 NC State meet in a top-10 showdown at 7:30 p.m. in what should be the best game of the week. The Wolfpack are trying to beat the Tigers in back-to-back seasons. No. 23 Florida State hosts No. 22 Wake Forest at 3:30 p.m. in the other ranked ACC matchup.

The SEC also has a pair of showdowns. That starts with No. 7 Kentucky and No. 14 Ole Miss at 12 p.m. The Wildcats and Rebels are among the five remaining unbeaten teams left in the conference. No. 2 Alabama travels to No. 20 Arkansas in the other matchup between ranked SEC teams at 3:30 p.m. That leaves a Big 12 championship rematch between No. 9 Oklahoma State and No. 16 Baylor at 3:30 p.m.

It’s all part of the first weekend of October and another chance to improve our record against the spread. Here is a look at our results from this season:

  • Straight up: 67-14, .827 (16-4 last week)
  • ATS: 44-35-2, .556 (11-9 last week)

Odds courtesy Caesars sportsbook.

Here are our Week 5 predictions agains the spread:

Week 5 picks against the spread

Thursday, Sept. 29

  • No. 19 BYU (-24) at Utah State (8 p.m., ESPN)  

It’s been a struggle for the Aggies, who are 1-3 and average three turnovers per game. That’s a recipe for disaster against the Cougars. BYU quarterback Jaren Hall has just one interception this season, and BYU will win here. That’s still a lot of points on the road considering BYU allows 26.5 points per game.

Pick: BYU wins 42-19 and FAILS TO COVER the spread.

Friday, Sept. 30

  • No. 15 Washington (-2.5) at UCLA (10:30 p.m., ESPN)  

Two unbeaten Pac-12 teams here, and it should be fun. UCLA has gone under the radar. These are two almost-identical teams from a statistical standpoint. Both average more than 40 points and 500 yards of total offense. Michael Penix Jr. and Dorian Thompson-Robinson are making great decisions with the football. The Huskies are a perfect 4-0 ATS this season. Make it 5-0.

Pick: Washington wins 38-32 and COVERS the spread.

Saturday, Oct. 1

  • Texas Tech at No. 25 Kansas State (-7.5) (12 p.m., ESPN+)

The Red Raiders and Wildcats took out Texas and Oklahoma, respectively, and that should lead to a fun matchup in Manhattan. Adrian Martinez has not thrown an interception this season, and that will be the key for Texas Tech quarterback Donovan Smith. Kansas State has won the last six meetings by an average of seven points per game. This will be close.

Pick: Kansas State wins 31-28 but FAILS TO COVER the spread.

  • No. 7 Kentucky at No. 14 Ole Miss (-6.5) (12 p.m., ESPN) 

This line has moved around a bit, but it’s ticking toward a TD in the Rebels favor. What will be the difference? Ole Miss’ running game averages 280.8 yards per game, and Kentucky averages 81.5 yards per game. Will Chris Rodriguez Jr.’s pending return close that gap? If not, then the Rebels will take care of business at home. Kentucky is 4-4 ATS as a road underdog since 2020, so it’s a toss-up here.

Pick: Ole Miss wins 31-24 and COVERS the spread.

  • No. 4 Michigan (-10.5) at Iowa (12 p.m., FOX) 

This won’t be like last year’s Big Ten championship game, which the Wolverines won 42-3. Michigan has lost four of their last five at Kinnick Stadium, and that includes a 14-13 slugfest in 2016. The Hawkeyes defense is allowing just 5.8 points per game and have scored two touchdowns and two safeties, so Michigan quarterback J.J. McCarthy must be patient in his first road start, and the Wolverines need a better pass rush. If this were in prime time, then we’d consider an upset pick. Instead, we’ll take the narrow cover.

Pick: Michigan wins 28-17 and COVERS the spread.

  • No. 18 Oklahoma (-6) at TCU (12 p.m., ABC) 

The Sooners are coming off a shocking loss to Kansas State, and the Horned Frogs are coming off a rivalry victory against SMU. The line has already bumped up half a point, and Oklahoma has won the last eight games in the series. Oklahoma coach Brent Venables will not lose two in a row. At least we don’t think so.

Pick: Oklahoma wins 38-30 and COVERS the spread.

  • Purdue at No. 21 Minnesota (-10.5) (12 p.m., ESPN2) 

The Gophers are ranked after an encouraging 4-0 start, and they have the top defense in the nation so far. Purdue will test that with a passing attack that averages 311 yards per game. It’s hard to make a pick here without knowing whether Boilermakers quarterback Aidan O’Connell plays. We want to see that battle of sixth-year quarterbacks with Tanner Morgan. We’ll assume for now O’Connell plays. The last three meetings have been one-score victories for Minnesota.

Pick: Minnesota wins 34-27 and FAILS TO COVER the spread.

  • Oregon State at No. 12 Utah (-11) (2 p.m., Pac-12 Network) 

The Beavers are coming off a heart-breaking loss against USC, and now they face a tough road test at Utah. Oregon State is 4-0 ATS, and the Utes have three straight covers since the season-opening loss at Florida. The last two meetings have been one-score games. This one follows that trend.

Pick: Utah wins 34-27 but FAILS TO COVER the spread.

  • No. 22 Wake Forest at No. 23 Florida State (-6) (3:30 p.m., ESPN) 

This all hinges on how Wake Forest bounces back from the double-overtime loss against Clemson. The Demon Deacons are good enough to pull the upset here, but they have lost their last five trips to Doak Campbell Stadium. Wake Forest won 35-14 in this game last season. An improved Florida State rushing attack is the difference in a close one.

Pick: Florida State wins 38-33 but FAILS TO COVER  the spread.

  • Rutgers at No. 3 Ohio State (-41) (3:30 p.m., BTN) 

We hate 40-point lines. The Buckeyes failed to cover that spread in Week 2 against Arkansas State, but they’ve covered twice since. The Scarlet Knights average 16 points per game against FBS competition. Ohio State has won the last three meetings by an average of 31.3 points per game.

Pick: Ohio State wins 52-13 and FAILS TO COVER the spread.

  • Northwestern at No. 11 Penn State (-25.5) (3:30 p.m., ABC/ESPN)

These teams haven’t met since 2017, and the Wildcats are in a tough spot right now after three straight home losses. That is a lot of points to lay for a Pat Fitzgerald-coached team, even if they are overmatched by Penn State’s running game. The Wildcats slow this one down just enough to squeak out a cover.

Pick: Penn State wins 37-13 but FAILS TO COVER the spread.

  • No. 9 Oklahoma State at No. 16 Baylor (-2.5) (3:30 p.m., FOX) 

The Bears and Cowboys have split the last eight meetings, and that includes Baylor’s 21-16 victory in last year’s Big 12 championship game. The Cowboys had a bye week to prepare, and Spencer Sanders has had a lot of time to think about that four-interception game that ended with a goal-line stand. The Cowboys get their revenge.

Pick: Oklahoma State wins 30-27 in an UPSET.

  • No. 2 Alabama (-15.5)  at No. 20 Arkansas (3:30 p.m., CBS) 

We have been waiting for one of those Alabama statement games. The Razorbacks’ allow 302.5 yards per game against the pass, so that could make this possible. Arkansas did push Alabama last year in a 42-35 shootout, but that was with a better passing attack. This time, the Crimson Tide pulls away early with another banner performance from Bryce Young.

Pick: Alabama wins 42-24 and COVERS the spread.

  • No. 17 Texas A&M at Mississippi State (-3) (4 p.m., SEC Network) 

The Aggies’ reward for last week’s victory against Arkansas is a road trip as a three-point underdog against Mississippi State. The Bulldogs won 26-22 last year, and they will test an Aggies’ offense that just hasn’t moved the ball. Why is this line like this? We’re going to stick with our instincts here. Texas A&M finds a way again.

Pick: Texas A&M wins 28-25 in an UPSET.

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

That half-point hook is quite the tease. Clemson is coming off a dramatic double-overtime win against Wake Forest, and the Wolfpack have the confidence knowing they beat the Tigers in double-overtime last season. Devin Leary threw four TDs in that game, and this will be another entertaining quarterback duel with DJ Uiagalelei. The Tigers find a way at home, but NC State keeps it close right down to the wire.

Pick: Clemson wins 32-26 but FAILS TO COVER the spread.

  • No. 1 Georgia (-27.5) at Missouri (7:30 p.m., SEC Network) 

The Bulldogs were a little lackadaisical in their 39-22 victory against Kent State, and Missouri is coming off a heart-breaking overtime loss at Auburn. Look for a more-focused Georgia team in SEC play, and that’s bad news for the Tigers. Get this line before it spills over four TDs.

Pick: Georgia wins 42-10 and COVERS the spread.

  • Georgia Tech at No. 24 Pitt (-20.5) (8 p.m., ACC Network) 

Georgia Tech is the latest team that will have to rally after Geoff Collins was fired. Nebraska and Arizona State failed to cover the week after their coach was fired, and this is a tough spot on the road for the Yellow Jackets considering Pitt has won its last two games by 21 points. Kedon Slovis is healthy, too.

Pick: Pitt wins 35-14 and COVERS the spread.

  • Arizona State at No. 6 USC (-24) (10:30 p.m., ESPN) 

The Sun Devils are still trying to figure that out after Herm Edwards was fired. Arizona State’s inability to stop the run (182.5 ypg.) is going to be a problem in this game, and the Trojans will look to bounce back to after a subpar offensive performance at Oregon State. Caleb Williams has a 74.6% completion percentage at home. That will fuel the Pac-12 blowout.

Pick: USC wins 42-17 and COVERS the spread.

  • Stanford at No. 13 Oregon (-15.5) (11 p.m., FS1) 

The Cardinal lost to USC and Washington by an average of 15.5 points, and that’s how we landed at this line against the Ducks. Oregon is 2-0 ATS at home, and they have scored 40-plus points each of the last two weeks. Stanford has won three of the last six at Autzen Stadium, but all of those losses were by three scores.

Pick: Oregon wins 38-21 and COVERS the spread.

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