College football Week 5 picks against the spread for every top-25 matchup
Week 5 of the college football season features several large spreads.
Only five games involving top-25 teams have spreads of fewer than 10 points, and the best game on the schedule might be No. 21 USC traveling to No. 17 Washington (10) in a battle of Pac-12 teams trying to avoid a College Football Playoff-eliminating loss. No. 10 Notre Dame (-11) hosts No. 18 Virginia in the only other matchup involving two ranked teams.
Nine games this week have spreads of more than 20 points, so be careful. Here’s a look at our picks after Week 4:
Straight up: 72-16, .818 (12-7 last week)
Against the spread: 50-38, .568 (10-9 last week)
Upset picks: 1-5, .166 (0-1 last week)
With that in mind, here is a look at the dates, times, TV and odds for every top-25 matchup in Week 5 ( provided courtesy of Sportsbook Review as 4 p.m. ET on Monday, Sept. 23):
Friday, Sept. 27
Arizona State vs. No. 15 Cal (-5.5)
It’s a near 50-50 split as far as the wagering money, and the Sun Devils won a 51-41 shootout the last times these teams played. The Golden Bears’ defense has been a difference-maker this season, but now the team bears the pressure of being the conference’s only unbeaten team. That hasn’t gone well for others.
Cal wins 23-20 and FAILS TO COVER the spread.
No. 12 Penn State (-7) at Maryland
The Nittany Lions hit the road for a Big Ten special at Maryland, and both teams had a bye week to prepare. It could turn into a shootout, but if Sean Clifford (six touchdowns, zero interceptions) is efficient, then Penn State will be fine. The pass-rush will be a difference-maker.
Penn State wins 31-17 and COVERS the spread.
Saturday, Sept. 28
Northwestern at No. 8 Wisconsin (-24)
The Badgers are huge favorites in a Big Ten West showdown, but there’s a chance for a little bit of a letdown after the big win against Michigan. The Wildcats have won three of the last five meetings and haven’t lost to the Wisconsin by more than 21 since 2013.
Wisconsin wins 34-17 but FAILS TO COVER the spread.
Middle Tennessee State at No. 14 Iowa (-24)
The Hawkeyes had a bye week to prepare for a Blue Raiders team that lost by 23 to Duke and 19 to Michigan. The Hawkeyes should control this game, but that spread looks just a tough too high.
Iowa wins 34-12 and FAILS TO COVER the spread.
Arkansas vs. No. 23 Texas A&M (-23.5)
The Aggies have covered two spreads of more than 30 points this season, and Arkansas is coming off a 31-24 loss to San Jose State. Texas A&M has won the last seven meetings, but the last six have been by 21 points or fewer.
Texas A&M wins 35-17 and FAILS TO COVER the spread.
Texas Tech at No. 6 Oklahoma (-27)
The Sooners open Big 12 play after a bye week, and the Red Raiders lost by two touchdowns to Arizona, the only Power 5 opponent on their schedule. Look for Jalen Hurts to pour on more numbers.
Oklahoma wins 59-21 and COVERS the spread.
Rutgers at No. 20 Michigan (-27)
The Wolverines are 0-2 against the spread as a favorite this season and, given the offensive struggles, the line does look a touch too high. That said, Michigan has beat Rutgers by an average of 41.8 points per game under Jim Harbaugh, and the Scarlet Knights have had offensive troubles of their own.
Michigan wins 38-10 and COVERS the spread.
No. 1 Clemson (-26.5) at North Carolina
The Tigers are 3-1 against the spread, and that includes covering a 28-point spread at Syracuse. The Tar Heels have been scrappy under Mack Brown, however, and this is their all-in game. The wagering is coming in heavy at 69 percent on the Tigers. Clemson hasn’t allowed more than 14 points in a game. We’re still going with a hunch that North Carolina hangs around for a while.
Clemson wins 42-20 but FAILS TO COVER the spread.
Ole Miss at No. 2 Alabama (-35.5)
Tua Tagovailoa has 17 passing touchdowns and no interceptions, and the Crimson Tide are heavy favorites against Ole Miss. The Crimson Tide have won the last two meetings by an average of 59 points per game. It won’t be that bad, but Alabama is 2-2 against the spread this season and this is a tough pick.
Alabama wins 49-14 but FAILS TO COVER the spread.
No. 18 Virginia at No. 10 Notre Dame (-11)
The Irish are coming off a 23-17 loss to Georgia, but there is no time to dwell on that with the Cavaliers visiting South Bend for the first time. Virginia can make a statement here, but ultimately the Irish prevent that from happening in the fourth quarter.
Notre Dame wins 27-20 but FAILS TO COVER the spread.
No. 21 USC at No. 17 Washington (-10)
The Trojans have another quarterback in Matt Fink, and he’ll likely see action against Washington in this huge Pac-12 matchup. The Huskies beat Hawaii and BYU by an average of 29 points the last two weeks, but that spread looks high. In fact, we’re feeling another upset.
USC beats Washington 30-27 in an UPSET.
Indiana at No. 25 Michigan State (-14.5)
The Spartans rediscovered their offense in a 31-10 victory against Northwestern, but the last two matchups with Indiana have come with a winning margin of 14 points or fewer. Michigan State, however, keeps the momentum going at half.
Michigan State wins 31-13 and COVERS the spread.
Towson at No. 9 Florida (-33.5)
Florida looks like a different team with Kyle Trask, and the Gators should cruise in this one before the schedule gets interesting. Towson is 3-1 but will be overwhelmed by the Gators’ defense.
Florida wins 44-9 and COVERS the spread.
Mississippi State at No. 7 Auburn (-11)
Would it be like Auburn to have a letdown after a big win against Texas A&M? Mississippi State found some rhythm on offense last week with quarterback Garrett Shrader, and the Bulldogs hang around in this one, too.
Auburn wins 28-21 but FAILS TO COVER the spread.
UConn at No. 22 UCF (-43)
The Knights can still win the American Athletic Conference, and it’s a question of motivation against a UConn team that just lost 38-3 to Indiana. Will UCF pour it on? The Knights are 3-1 against the spread as a favorite.
UCF wins 52-7 and COVERS the spread.
No. 24 Kansas State at Oklahoma State (-4.5)
The Wildcats have been a pleasant surprise under first-year coach Chris Kleiman, and they had an extra week to prepare. The last six meetings between these teams in Stillwater have been decided by seven points or fewer.
Oklahoma State wins 38-31 and COVERS the spread.
No. 5 Ohio State (-17.5) at Nebraska
The Buckeyes have put big numbers on the board, but they haven’t been seriously challenged by an opponent this season. Perhaps that changes in primetime in Lincoln — but it will be on Nebraska’s offense to keep pace.
Ohio State wins 43-27 but FAILS TO COVER the spread.
Washington State at No. 19 Utah (-7)
Washington State and Utah both lost last week, so the desperation factor will be high for both teams in the Pac-12 crossover matchup. The Cougars have won the last four meetings, and they make it five in a row in a thriller.
Washington State wins 34-30 in an UPSET.