As the college football season progresses, most of the people who enjoy wagering on the games tend to focus their energy on the Top 25 matchups on each week’s schedule. I have found that oftentimes there is some serious value in the games that fly well under the radar of the betting public. These “diamonds in the rough” feature matchups between teams in the mid-major conferences, and they can provide an excellent return if you know where and how to look.
My top picks last week were a mixed bag with an overall record of 1-1-1, so my year-to-date total now stands at 5-6-1. After digging down deeper into this week’s pile of potential gems, I came up with the following three college football picks for Week 5, with lines provided by 5Dimes.
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Tulsa Golden Hurricane (-13.5) vs. UAB Blazers
Tulsa brings a three-game winning streak into this contest after a 38-23 loss to Iowa State as a two-point favorite on the road on opening weekend. The Golden Hurricane are one of the stronger teams in Conference-USA behind a balanced offense that is averaging 236.5 yards through the air and 245.8 yards on the ground. The concern for this team is an inconsistent defense that is ranked 54th in the nation in points allowed.
The Blazers are still looking for their first win of the season, but you have to give them credit for not taking the easy way out in their nonconference schedule. They have already faced No.6 South Carolina and No.14 Ohio State after opening the season against Troy. The key to this game will be their ability to move the ball down the field through the air after averaging 274.7 passing yards in their first three games behind Jonathan Perry and Austin Brown, who have both seen time behind center.
These two met last season, with Tulsa coming away with a 37-20 victory as a 21.5-point favorite. Revenge will be a factor this time around considering that the talent gap between these two teams is not nearly as wide this season. This is especially true when it comes to putting points on the board. UAB may still be winless after this one, but it will cover with the 13.5 points at home.
Take #184 UAB (+13.5) over Tulsa (Saturday, Sept. 29, 3 p.m.)
Central Michigan Chippewas vs. Northern Illinois Huskies (-10)
Central Michigan comes into its Mid-American Conference opener at 2-1 straight-up after pulling off a thrilling 32-31 upset of Iowa as a 14.5-point road underdog this past Saturday. The Chippewas lone loss of the season was a 41-7 rout at the hands of Michigan State as an 18-point underdog at home. The battle-tested Chippewas will look to get the ball into Zurlon Tipton’s hands as much as possible after leading the team with 314 yards rushing in his first three games.
Northern Illinois begins conference play with an overall record of 3-1 SU that includes a one-point loss to Iowa as a 7.5-point underdog on opening weekend. Last Saturday, the favored Huskies got by Kansas, 30-23, in a game that ended as a “push”. Their offensive attack features a duel threat at quarterback. Jordan Lynch has thrown for 845 yards and seven touchdowns while adding another 438 yards on the ground.
The Chippewas won last season’s contest, 48-41, as eight-point favorites at home to run their record in this series to 4-1 both SU and ATS over the last five seasons. The home team has won seven of the last 10 meetings SU, and that trend may hold true this Saturday as well. However, stick with Central Michigan to keep things close enough to cover with the 10 points.
Take #139 Central Michigan (+10) over Northern Illinois (Saturday, Sept.29, 3:30 p.m.)
North Texas Mean Green (-6.5) vs. Florida Atlantic Owls
North Texas was not one of the preseason favorites to win the Sun Belt Conference this season, so last week’s 14-7 loss to Troy as a one-point home underdog was certainly not a shock. The loss dropped the Mean Green to 1-3 SU, which also includes losses to LSU and Kansas State as heavy underdogs.
Florida Atlanta had even higher odds to win the conference and has also been pushed around by some tough competition in lopsided losses to Alabama last week and Georgia the week before. The problem with the Owls’ 1-3 SU start is an offense that has had major problems moving the ball and scoring points. It is ranked 112th in the nation in scoring with an average of 12.8 points a game.
The Owls won six-straight meetings dating back to 2004, but the Mean Green have gotten the best of things the last two years both SU and ATS while outscoring Florida Atlantic 52-34. North Texas has a huge advantage in the running game behind Antoinne Jimmerson and Brandin Byrd and will use it to pound its way to a win that covers the 6.5 points.
Take #199 North Texas (-6.5) over Florida Atlantic (Saturday, Sept. 29, 5 p.m.)
YTD Record: 5-6-1
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