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We're getting Week 5 of the college football season started with Alex Kirshner's picks

This has been a volatile season to bet on college football. I’ve had a handful of bets result in no-action refunds as games have been canceled, and even the games that have been played have strayed more from the spread than normal, per ESPN’s Bill Connelly

No matter. I went 9-5-1 last week and am 28-18-1 on the year in college football. I don’t know if I’ll keep up a 59% win rate, but let’s follow the same process as usual and see what it gets us. 

All bets are for one unit unless otherwise noted. 

Oklahoma State vs. Kansas

BET: Oklahoma State -21 @ -115

Kansas is exceptionally bad. I do not see a win on the Jayhawks’ schedule. More relevantly, though, I do not see how Kansas is going to find points in this game. Oklahoma State may well be able to cover 21 points by scoring somewhere in the low to mid-20s. This is not the Oklahoma State team you’ve come to know under Mike Gundy. The defense is its strength and is particularly strong against the run. Not great for Kansas, which cannot pass-block at all and needs to make hay on the ground to look even remotely competent. 

East Carolina vs. Georgia State

BET: Georgia State PK @ -110 

This line moved in my favor for a while, with Georgia State moving to a 1- or 1.5-point favorite. It’s settled back as a pick’em, however. I think these teams are close to even. Georgia State is 92nd in SP+, and East Carolina is 105th – not a material difference, particularly this early in such an unusual season. But Georgia State is playing at home, and the only thing the Panthers have done this season is give a very strong Louisiana team a lot of trouble in Week 3. 

Texas Tech vs. Kansas State

BET: Kansas State -4 @ -105

BET: Kansas State -1.5 @ -110

I did something here that I’m pretty sure you’re not supposed to do as a gambler: I bet a spread right after lines came out early in the week, saw the spread move against me, then doubled down at the better number. At least the number moved back to -2.5 after I got it at -1.5. 

So, my fundamentals here are not great. But I don’t trust Texas Tech at all, and I think Kansas State’s RPO and play-action passing game will thrive against one of FBS’ worst pass defenses. I like K-State to win by a touchdown and cover the spread at both of these numbers. I still very much recommend the Wildcats at something like -2.5. 


BET: UTSA +20.5 @ -105

Both of these teams play extremely quickly with hurry-up, no-huddle offenses, and that scares me a bit. I’m also wary of overvaluing 3-0 UTSA, because the Roadrunners probably should’ve lost both their games against FBS teams. (They won by a combined five points and probably deserved worse at Texas State and against Middle Tennessee.) But SP+ sees this as an 18-point game, not a 21-point game, and UTSA is trending in the right direction. 

Ole Miss vs. Kentucky

BET: Ole Miss +6.5 @ -110

Ole Miss had two big problems against Florida: 1) Their offensive line got eaten alive, and 2) they didn’t have anyone who could cover Kyle Pitts, the country’s best tight end. 

Pitts is not a problem this week. And I don’t think Kentucky’s defensive front poses nearly the test Florida’s does. Last week, the Wildcats only hit Auburn QB Bo Nix twice and only sacked him once. I like Lane Kiffin’s chances of developing a plan this week that gives QBs Matt Corral and John Rhys Plumlee enough operating space to get the ball to Elijah Moore and Jerrion Ealy. 

It wouldn’t surprise me if Ole Miss won outright. 

South Carolina vs. Florida

BET: South Carolina +18.5 @ -108

Will Muschamp will make any game involving Florida ugly as hell and deeply unpleasant for everyone involved. South Carolina is not good enough to beat Florida, but the Gamecocks are good enough to be annoying and keep the margin around two touchdowns. They should be able to do a better job than Ole Miss did against Pitts and star receiver Kadarius Toney, as the Cocks’ best players are both cornerbacks: Jaycee Horn and Israel Mukuamu. 

Missouri vs. Tennessee

BET: Under 48.5 @ -108

Missouri’s run defense is good, and last week, the Tigers used it to speed up the game against Alabama and cover a four-touchdown spread in the second half. I think they can do something similar against a Tennessee offense that has proven nothing. 

Abilene Christian vs. Army

BET: Abilene Christian +30.5 @ -110

I expect Army to be much more effective against ACU than it was against Cincinnati last weekend, when the Black Knights didn’t score an offensive touchdown. But Army’s triple option means these teams should not get a lot of possessions, and Abilene held its own fine in an FBS game against UTEP a few weeks ago. UTEP is, of course, very bad, but Abilene showed it could hold up against a team with more scholarships and depth – something that’s especially useful against Army’s basically limitless roster. At such a big number, I’ll ride the Wildcats.

Article Author


Alex Kirshner covers college football for the Moon Crew newsletter. He is a co-author of The Sinful Seven: Sci-Fi Western Legends of the NCAA, and he lives in Washington, D.C.


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