My best bets column returns this week for a fourth season. Obviously, this season is unlike anything we have ever experienced. Home-field advantage may not mean as much due to little or no crowds. Four of the 10 conferences have yet to begin play, so the number of games available is much lower than usual. Computer simulations -- if that's your thing -- mean nothing with only 53 total nonconference games between FBS schools currently scheduled. Nevertheless, we must work with what we have.
Each week, I will use this space to tell you what I think are a few of the best bets heading into the weekend. I will also throw in an upset of the week, which will be a team that is at least a touchdown underdog that I am picking to win outright. I will also give you picks on other games involving potential College Football Playoff teams. Considering many teams haven't played yet, pretty much everybody is technically a CFP candidate right now, so I'll go with the top 12 teams in this week's AP Top 25 poll that have already commenced play this season.
Odds below provided via William Hill Sportsbook
Week 5 Picks
Arkansas at Mississippi State (-18): Mike Leach's Air Raid offense was very impressive in its SEC debut in a win at LSU last week as it blew away some old passing records in the SEC. I guess it didn't take long for the Bulldogs to adjust to the new system. Arkansas is still a long way from being competitive in the SEC, so unless MSU has a letdown, covering this spread should be no problem. Pick: Mississippi State (-18)
Virginia Tech at Duke (+10.5): Duke has been able to hang around for a while in games, but has let things get away from it in the second half. That has been especially true in the fourth quarter where the Blue Devils have yet to score. The Hokies are coming off an impressive opening win over NC State last week. Duke has not been within 10.5 points of anyone yet, and I would not expect that to change this week. Pick: Virginia Tech (-10.5)
Louisiana Tech at BYU (-23.5): BYU has come out firing to open the season, with a 55-3 win over Navy in the opener and a 48-7 win over Troy last week. The Bulldogs' only game against an FBS opponent was a one-point win at 0-3 Southern Miss. I expect the Cougars to keep rolling. Pick: BYU (-23.5)
Upset of the Week
Navy at Air Force (+6.5): We have yet to see the Falcons play, but Air Force was expected to be one of the best teams in the Mountain West behind Boise State. We have seen Navy play, and until the second half kickoff at Tulane, the Midshipmen were outscored 79-3 to start the season. Perhaps Navy has righted the ship, but I like the Air Force, which has not lost at home to the Midshipmen since 2012 . Pick: Air Force (+7)
Other CFP candidates
- Virginia at Clemson (-28) Pick: Clemson
- Texas A&M vs. Alabama (-16.5) Pick: Alabama
- South Carolina at Florida (-18.5) Pick: Florida
- Auburn at Georgia (-6.5), Friday Pick: Auburn
- TCU at Texas (-13) Pick: TCU
- Tulsa at UCF (-21.5) Pick: UCF
- North Carolina at Boston College (+13.5) Pick: North Carolina
- South Florida at Cincinnati (-21) Pick: Cincinnati
Which college football picks can you make with confidence in Week 5? And which SEC team pulls off a shocking upset? Visit SportsLine to see which teams win and cover the spread, all from a proven computer model that has returned over $4,000 in profit over the past four-plus seasons, and find out.