Each week we’ll be providing our top college football picks. (Season record: 3-2.)
Also check out our NFL “Lookahead Lines” story, finding value (or not) by comparing earlier lines, and identifying recency bias.
Back to the college game, this week we look at the big game in the Big 12 and tell you why Colorado is a good bet to remain undefeated.
College Football Week 5 Picks Against the Spread: Go Buffaloes, Longhorns As Home Dogs And More
Colorado -2.5 over Arizona State
The Buffaloes have lost eight of their last nine to Arizona State but I’m taking them in this spot as a short home favorite. Colorado is 10-3 at home over the last three years, while the Sun Devils have struggled on the road going 4-13 SU.
Arizona State has won all three of its home games this season, while dropping road tests at Washington and San Diego State. The home team has had success in this series, covering the last five meetings.
One factor that could come into play is Colorado defeated UCLA after a week off, while the Sun Devils are playing their sixth straight game to start the season without a break. They have a bye on deck. The line opened at two and moved to -2.5 at the SuperBook.
Arizona State has been competitive in every game under Herm Edwards and I expect that trend to continue, but I’ll take the Buffs to remain undefeated a home favorite inside a field goal.
Texas +7.5 over Oklahoma
I already have money tied up in Texas futures, so this is a big game for me. While I could just let the futures play out and stay away, I see 7.5 or 8 points as too much here.
The Longhorns have covered five straight in this Red River Showdown series and the last four meetings have been decided by 7 points or less. Texas coach Tom Herman has been virtually automatic in the underdog role. He’s 11-1 ATS with eight outright upsets. Some coaches thrive in the underdog role and Herman is one of them.
Both teams have been impressive but Texas has faced the tougher schedule. Oklahoma survived at home against a feisty Army squad. The Sooners’ other wins have been over Florida Atlantic, UCLA, Iowa State and Baylor. Those teams are a combined 6-12. Meanwhile, after its opening week loss to Maryland, Texas has defeated USC and TCU at home, and beat Kansas State on the road.
The spread has moved between 7 and eight 8 at most Las Vegas sports books. These teams are a lot closer than the line suggests. I’ll take Texas and throw a little on the Longhorns money line.
Washington State -16.5 over Oregon State
Last week I jumped on board the fade Rutgers train. Not only did the Scarlet Knights cover, they almost upset Indiana, falling just short at 24-21. There’s a team out there almost as bad as Rutgers in Oregon State, so let’s try fading them and see how it works out.
The Beavers’ one win this season is over Southern Utah. Oregon State opponents have beaten them by 21 points or more in three of its four losses. Washington State is off back-to-back tough games against Utah and USC. In their other three games, the Cougars beat Wyoming by 22, San Jose State by 31 and Eastern Washington by 35.
Washington State is 20-9 ATS in its last 29 Pac-12 games. The Cougars have the seventh ranked defense in the nation with their average score being 39-21 (+18) this season. The Beavers rank 128th in total defense with an average score of 30-45 (-15).
The line opened -16 at the SuperBook and quickly went to 17, but is hovering around 16.5 at most books as of Thursday. Don’t be surprised if it’s even higher by kickoff. I’ll lay the wood on the road here against the hapless Beavers.
Wyoming at Hawaii OVER 57
I don’t like taking OVER high totals like we saw in the Penn State/Ohio State game last week. Instead, I look for value and I see it in this game.
Wyoming allowed just 17 points per game last season but the defense has struggled so far in 2018 with the Cowboys giving up over 27 points. Hawaii’s offense is rolling behind quarterback Cole McDonald. The Rainbow Warriors average 495 yards and 42 points per game. McDonald has thrown 24 touchdowns and just two interceptions in Hawaii’s run-and-shoot offense.
Wyoming gave up 34 points to Boise State, 40 to Missouri and 41 to Washington State. Hawaii has scored over 40 points in every game but one, while its defense has allowed at least 28 in five of six games.
The total has remained steady at 57. I think these two teams get into the 70s Saturday night.
Thomas Casale (@ThePigskinGuy) has been following the sports betting industry for 25 years. He’s contributed to The Linemakers and is currently an editor at BetChicago. Thomas has also provided fantasy sports analysis for multiple websites and print publications, while also covering the NFL, college football, college basketball and MMA for different media outlets.