It’s been a great start to the college football season thus far for the betting column. After two straight 7-0 weeks the column cooled down a bit going 4-2, but if you are mad about a 4-2 week you should stop betting altogether. That puts us at 20-6 on the season so we just keep building a steady profit. This week, we see if we can keep the momentum rolling into week five with a ton of great games on the slate. Let’s roll!
(Odds/lines subject to change. T&Cs apply. See draftkings.com/sportsbook for details.)
Kentucky (+7) @ Ole Miss
This slate is absolutely loaded and we start at 11 AM (CT) with a battle of unbeaten teams in the SEC as Kentucky travels to Oxford to take on Ole Miss. Personally, I make this game closer to a pick with Ole Miss as just a one-point favorite in my projections. I think this is simply too many points for a Kentucky team that has struggled at times but might start to find its footing here.
Thus far Kentucky is 4-0 and they’ve won those games on the backs of their defense. Coming into week five the Wildcats rank 3rd in defensive success rate, 6th in rushing defensive success rate, and 14th in passing defensive success rate. At all levels, this Kentucky defense has been solid which is what Mark Stoops wants from his team. His offense, however, has struggled some. It’s all been put on Will Levis to make plays with running back Chris Rodriguez Jr out all season with a suspension.
This week though, Rodriguez Jr returns to the lineup and they desperately need him. Thus far, Kentucky ranks last in the SEC in yards per carry, last in the SEC in rushing touchdowns, and 13th in the SEC in rushing yards per game. That is not typical for UK but Rodriguez should change that. Last season, Rodriguez rushed for nearly 1,400 yards and nine touchdowns and he was one of the top backs when it came to yards gained after contact. If he can come in and take some pressure off of quarterback Will Levis by helping in the run game I think Kentucky is a very solid play getting a key number of 7.
Texas Tech (+7.5) @ Kansas State
Boy oh boy what a spot here for both teams. Texas Tech is coming off an upset win over Texas while Kansas State is coming off a win against their little brother Oklahoma. Letdown City? Not if both teams are playing each other!
I do think this is a bit more of a letdown spot for Kansas State though. Their win over Oklahoma landed them in the top 25 this week which is a sham in itself. This team lost to Tulane the week before. On the other side, I think Texas Tech is much more battle-tested through the first four weeks. After their blowout opener win against Murray State, the Red Raiders have played Houston, NC State, and Texas. That is a tough four-week stretch and Texas Tech got out of it 3-1.
The Red Raiders were able to do that by leaning on their defense. Through the first four weeks, Texas Tech ranks 14th in defensive success rate and 15th in rushing defensive success rate. That should bode well against Kansas State who runs the ball 67% of the time. Just look back to that Tulane game for Kansas State. The Green Wave ranked 10th in defensive rushing success rate and shut Kansas State down most of the game. If the Red Raiders can do that same thing the Wildcats have no recipe to move the football. I make this game a pick so 7.5 is way too much value to pass up.
NC State (+7) @ Clemson
There was a lot of off-season hype for NC State from a lot of people, myself included. Why? The Wolfpack returned a great defense with almost all starters back and a quarterback that was one of the most efficient in the nation in Devin Leary. Now, they face their biggest test as they travel on the road to Clemson in a revenge spot for Clemson who fell to NC State last season.
That revenge spot is why I think most people are betting on the Tigers here but I just cannot see any reason beyond that. This Clemson team is just not very good compared to previous Clemson teams. The offense had some strong showing against Wake Forest, but doesn't everyone? Aside from that, they’ve beaten lowly Georgia Tech, Furman, and a putrid Louisiana Tech team that passed for 311 yards on this Clemson defense.
I think NC State should be able to move the ball consistently here and I don't think the threat of Hurricane Ian is going to impact this game as much as originally thought. Leary and Company should be able to make plays and I think this NC State defense will give fits to Clemson’s offense. Overall, this is just too many points in this spot. Shop around and ensure you get a seven as there are only a couple out there in the market.
Navy @ Air Force Under 39: Since 2005 when service academies play the under is 41-9-1. I’ve written about this 100 times so if you’ve read this column you know the drill. I got this right at open but I still think anything about 35 has value. One day this will lose as the totals keep getting lower, but until then, we roll.
Troy (+5) @ Western Kentucky: This is just a line that makes no sense to me. I make Troy a 1-point favorite and I have trusted my numbers with success thus far so not stopping here.
Texas State (+22) @ James Madison: James Madison is off to an incredible start at the FCS level, but I think eventually that magic runs out a bit. Hurricane Ian may also impact this game so 22 points may be hard to cover given the weather.
Washington @ UCLA (+3)*: These two teams are pretty evenly matched so a home dog getting points is something I have to take. I think UCLA’s rushing offense is great and will give the Huskies fits here.
*Friday night game