Every week throughout the season we’ll give you a college football viewing guide by highlighting the five best games of the coming weekend. We will pick those five games against the spread and highlight some other matchups that caught our eye from a betting perspective.
We’re fully into conference schedules across the country, and that’s usually the time the real contenders start to emerge and teams get tested on a more frequent basis.
No. 2 Alabama is among that group this week with a trip to face No. 20 Arkansas. That’s one of five ranked vs. ranked matchups on tap this weekend, including two big ones in the ACC Atlantic. There is the potential for plenty of upsets, especially with several other ranked teams going on the road to face unranked conference foes, beginning with No. 15 Washington’s trip to UCLA on Friday night.
This should be a really fun weekend.
(Note: All times ET, odds from BetMGM)
No. 7 Kentucky at No. 14 Ole Miss
Time: Noon | TV: ESPN | Line: Ole Miss -7 | Total: 53.5
Off to a 4-0 start and ranked No. 7 in the country, Kentucky is getting one of its best players back for a road showdown with No. 14 Ole Miss. Chris Rodriguez, the team’s top running back, is back after a four-game suspension. Rodriguez could provide a jolt for an offense that has underwhelmed a bit to this point in the season. Will Levis has played well at quarterback, but has tossed four interceptions. He’s also been sacked 16 times. Only two other FBS teams — Akron and Colorado State — have given up more sacks this season.
On the other side, Ole Miss is second in the SEC with 13 sacks. The Rebels have also notched 28 tackles for loss so far this year, trailing only Arkansas (31) and Alabama (29) among SEC teams. Offensively, Ole Miss has settled on USC transfer Jaxson Dart at quarterback after he split reps with Luke Altmyer early in the year. Off to a 4-0 start, the Rebels have leaned on their running game and are averaging 5.8 yards per rush as a team. Kentucky has been good at limiting big run plays this year, allowing only nine of 10-plus yards. By comparison, Ole Miss has allowed 40 runs of at least 10 yards.
Nick Bromberg: Ole Miss -7, Sam Cooper: Kentucky +7
No. 2 Alabama at No. 20 Arkansas
Time: 3:30 p.m. | TV: CBS | Line: Alabama -17.5 | Total: 60.5
We haven’t heard much from Alabama since it nearly lost to Texas back in Week 2. After escaping Austin with a 20-19 win, the Crimson Tide posted back-to-back blowout home wins over UL Monroe and Vanderbilt. Aside from the UT game, Alabama has won its three home games by a combined margin of 173-10. In the 55-3 win over Vanderbilt, the Crimson Tide saw a strong performance from JaCorey Brooks, who went for 117 yards and two scores on six receptions. Will that be a sign of things to come? The Tide need to find some consistency at receiver as SEC play picks up, beginning with Saturday’s trip to Fayetteville.
Arkansas opened the year 3-0 with wins over Cincinnati and South Carolina before dropping a heartbreaker to Texas A&M last week. It was a game the Razorbacks will tell you they should have won. They outgained the Aggies 415-343, but a KJ Jefferson fumble at the goal line flipped the game. That fumble was returned 99 yards for a touchdown and then a possible game-winning field goal attempt in the final seconds improbably hit off the top of the upright to give A&M a 23-21 win. Sam Pittman’s group is going to have to turn the page quickly with Alabama visiting Razorback Stadium.
Nick: Alabama -17.5, Sam: Arkansas +17.5
No. 9 Oklahoma State at No. 16 Baylor
Time: 3:30 p.m. | TV: Fox | Line: Baylor -2.5 | Total: 56.5
Last year, Baylor stood in the way of a Big 12 title and a potential College Football Playoff berth for Oklahoma State. The two met in the conference title game, but Baylor’s defense came up with a clutch goal line stand to win in dramatic fashion. Turning the page to 2022, Oklahoma State is off to a 3-0 start and has looked good on offense, albeit against lackluster competition. OSU really hasn’t been tested so far this year, but is coming off a bye headed into this showdown in Waco.
Baylor, meanwhile, is coming off an impressive road win over Iowa State to improve to 3-1. The Bears had a double-overtime road loss to BYU back in Week 2 but have since reeled off back-to-back victories. The win in Ames was dominant as the Bears jumped out to a 31-14 lead before ISU made it a bit more respectable with 10 points in the final seven minutes. Now back home and 1-0 in Big 12 play, Baylor is trying to get another conference win before heading into a bye week.
Nick: Baylor -2.5, Sam: Oklahoma State +2.5
No. 22 Wake Forest at No. 23 Florida State
Time: 3:30 p.m. | TV: ABC | Line: FSU -7 | Total: 64
Florida State is back in the Associated Press Top 25 for the first time since 2018 thanks to a 4-0 start. FSU has wins over LSU, Louisville and Boston College under its belt so far and welcomes Wake Forest to Tallahassee on Saturday for an ACC Atlantic showdown. FSU quarterback Jordan Travis has been fantastic so far this season and the Seminoles rank No. 13 nationally in rushing offense, averaging 227 yards per game. FSU got off to a slow start under head coach Mike Norvell but is now looking like a potential contender in the ACC.
While the FSU offense is off to a strong start, the defense will be tested against Sam Hartman and the Wake Forest offense. The Demon Deacons were lethal through the air last week against No. 5 Clemson, but ultimately came up short in a 51-45 overtime loss. Hartman threw for 337 yards and six touchdowns while completing 20-of-29 throws, but the running backs were limited to just 3.2 yards per carry. How will that group fare against an FSU defense that is allowing fewer than five yards per play?
Nick: Wake Forest +7, Sam: Wake Forest +7
No. 10 NC State at No. 5 Clemson
Time: 7:30 p.m. | TV: ABC | Line: Clemson -6.5 | Total: 41.5
Elsewhere in the ACC is another marquee game out of the Atlantic Division. And while FSU and Wake Forest may avoid most of the impact coming from Hurricane Ian, heavy rains appear imminent for NC State’s trip to Clemson. Last year, NC State snapped an eight-game losing streak to the Tigers, who failed to win the ACC title for the first time since 2014.
This year, both teams are off to 4-0 starts but this is the first conference game for NC State. The Wolfpack have had close wins over East Carolina and Texas Tech and blowout wins over Charleston Southern and UConn. Before the OT win over Wake Forest, Clemson took care of business vs. Louisiana Tech, Furman and Georgia Tech but wasn’t overly impressive. The Wake win seemed to show the offense has made major strides but the defense may not be quite as strong as it has been in recent years.
Nick: Clemson -6.5, Sam: Clemson -6.5
Head-to-head ATS: Nick: 12-8, Sam: 9-11
Week 5 best bets
Nick Bromberg (Last week: 1-2, Overall: 7-5)
Purdue at No. 21 Minnesota (-12.5): The status of Purdue QB Aidan O’Connell is up in the air and may not be known until closer to kickoff. To me, the line favoring Minnesota looks like it would without O’Connell playing for Purdue and the total is set as if he was going to see the field. Either way, I like the under in what could be a fairly low-scoring affair. Pick: Under 51.5
Cal at Washington State (-4): I feel like I’ve picked Washington State a lot this year but the Cougars have covered in three straight games after a close win over Idaho in the opener. Cal did get a big win over Arizona and has beaten a solid UNLV squad so far this year, but Washington State should slow down Jaydn Ott. He rushed 19 times for 274 yards and three scores in that win over the Wildcats. Pick: Washington State -4
Virginia at Duke (-3): I think we’re underestimating just how much work Virginia has to do in 2022. The Cavaliers are 2-2 and have a win over FCS foe Richmond and a two-point win over Old Dominion. Duke looks better than we realized after it lost by eight to a surging Kansas on the road and the Blue Devils could cover easily. Pick: Duke -3
Sam Cooper (Last week: 2-1, Overall: 10-2)
Tulane at Houston (-2.5): These teams have combined to average 70.3 points per game in their last three meetings, so I think this over hits pretty easily. Pick: Over 54.5
Texas Tech at No. 25 Kansas State (-7.5): Both teams are coming off big upsets, so I think a sleepy start is likely. Also, games when K-State is favored tend to follow a similar script with the Wildcats playing a run-heavy, ball control game. Since Chris Klieman became head coach in 2019, the under is 14-5 when K-State is the favorite. Pick: Under 57.5
Navy at Air Force (-14): The under is 14-5-1 in the last 20 meetings between these two. They both run the option. The clock keeps moving and the totals stay low. Pick: Under 37.5
For other Week 5 picks from Sam Cooper, click here.
For Week 5 picks from Dan Wetzel, Pat Forde and Ross Dellenger, subscribe to the College Football Enquirer.