College football Top 25 betting cheat sheet: Week 5

Sep 28, 2011 |
South Florida Bulls at Pittsburgh Panthers (2.5, 52.5)

Why South Florida will cover: The Bulls won at Notre Dame and have dominated the rest of their competition, going 3-1 ATSwith the lone miss being a 28-point win versus a 30-point spread. USF is one the nation’s top passing teams (294 ypg, 23rd) while Pitt is 115th against the pass.

Why Pittsburgh will cover: Pitt has struggled late in games. If it can straighten out that trend, a win is very attainable, especially at home. The Panthers come to play against top competition; they’re 5-1 ATS in their last six against teams with a winning record.

Points: Both teams are 2-2 on the over and the total is about where it should be.

Texas A&M Aggies at Arkansas Razorbacks (3, 62.5)

Why Texas A&M will cover: The Aggies want to bounce back from the heartbreaking home loss to Oklahoma State, and no better way than to show up a future SEC rival. Arkansas has faced one tough team this year and got blown out, although it was at Alabama.

Why Arkansas will cover: The Razorbacks also have something to prove to themselves, especially on offense. When clicking, it can overwhelm opponents.

Points: Both offense are top 20 in passing and both defenses have struggled against it, especially Texas A&M. Points will be easy to come by, though the under has hit more often when Texas A&M faces the SEC and when Arkansas takes on the Big 12.

Minnesota Golden Gophers at Michigan Wolverines (-20.5, 54)

Why Minnesota will cover: The Gophers are 0-2 ATS in games they were the favorite, but 2-0 ATS in the underdog role. They’ve been strong against the run, which may help against electric Michigan QB Denard Robinson. Minnesota is 6-1 ATS in its last seven road games.

Why Michigan will cover: Nobody’s truly stopped Robinson yet. Eventually, he’ll break lose. The Wolverines are simply a much better team. Minnesota head coach Jerry Kill is questionable after suffering another seizure last weekend.

Points: Neither team lights up the scoreboard, but the Wolverines have the potential to do so on this day.

Northwestern Wildcats at Illinois Fighting Illini (-8, 50)

Why Northwestern will cover: Illinois had to rally in the fourth quarter for home wins over Arizona State and Eastern Michigan. Northwestern’s run game can grind out wins, and it is 11-2 in its last 13 as road dogs.

Why Illinois will cover: Illinois runs the ball and stops the run for success. Northwestern can run the ball, but has not stopped the run yet.

Points: Both teams’ defenses have slowed the competition, helped by dominant run attacks on offense. Points may be at a premium.

Kentucky Wildcats at LSU Tigers (-29.5, 45.5)

Why Kentucky will cover: LSU is ranked just 80th in pass defense. One missed tackle, and a UK receiver could be gone. That’s a big spread, despite UK’s miserable effort vs. Florida last week (L, 48-10).

Why LSU will cover: UK’s offense has scored over 20 points just once in four games. How is it going to do anything against this defense? While overshadowed by the awesome defense, LSU does average 38.8 ppg - 18th best in the nation.

Points: UK is going to struggle to put points on the board. LSU’s defense may have to help to hit the over.

Nevada Wolf Pack at Boise State Broncos (-27.5, 62.5)

Why Nevada will cover: If Nevada’s defense can keep it close in the first half, the offense can grind out and avoid a blowout. The team is 5-1 ATS in its last six as an underdog.

Why Boise State will cover: Nevada’s defense struggled against Oregon’s similar high-octane offense (69 pts), and its run-first offense isn’t geared toward a comeback. Once the Broncos get ahead, they’ll pour it on.

Points: Both defenses have struggled, which suggests a shootout. Boise State will certainly do its part.

Michigan State Spartans at Ohio State Buckeyes (-3, 44)

Why Michigan State will cover: The Spartans have the nation’s top-ranked defense, allowing just 172 yards, 101 pass yards and 11 points per game. The door could be open for an upset at the end of a low-scoring game.

Why Ohio State will cover: The Buckeyes seemingly got back on track by throttling Colorado last week. MSU has played one decent opponent this year, Notre Dame, and got trounced 31-13. The Buckeyes are 17-4 ATS in their last 21 home games.

Points: The under is 3-1 for both teams this season and points could be very tough to come by once again.

Bowling Green Falcons at West Virginia Mountaineers (-20.5, 60.5)

Why Bowling Green will cover: The Falcons haven’t faced such stiff competition, but they’ve been impressive so far. BGU is 3-1 ATS, while WVU is just 1-3. An improved offense can keep them in the game.

Why West Virginia will cover: The Mountaineers hung with LSU before faltering late thanks in part to self-inflicted wounds. BGU is less likely to take advantage of those mistakes than LSU.

Points: The over is 3-1 in both teams’ games.

Baylor Bears at Kansas State Wildcats (3.5, 63.5)

Why Baylor will cover: BU’s offense has been unstoppable, averaging 51.3 ppg (third) and 594 ypg (second). K-State may not know what hit it by halftime.

Why Kansas State will cover: Confidence must be sky-high after leaving Miami with a 28-24 win. KSU’s defense has been tough to break through, ranking in the top 25 in every major category. The Wildcats have won two close games and want to prove last week wasn’t a fluke.

Points: These two teams combined for 89 points in last season’s meeting, and both teams have been hitting the over this season. Fireworks are expected.

Auburn Tigers at South Carolina Gamecocks (-10.5, 59.5)

Why Auburn will cover: South Carolina is 4-0, but has been on the brink several times. Auburn can grind it out and, at the least, keep it close until the finish.

Why South Carolina will cover: The Gamecocks, at home, won’t give the Tigers a break. The Gamecocks’ pass defense (13th) keeps teams down, while USC’s offense could impose its will on Auburn’s shaky defense.

Points: Both teams have shown the ability to score points. The over has been consistent for the Gamecocks.

Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets at North Carolina State Wolfpack (9.5, 65)

Why Georgia Tech will cover: Georgia Tech’s offense ranks tops in the nation in points (53.2 ppg), tops in yards (630.5) and is No. 2 in rushing (398.8), and N.C. State’s defense ranks in the bottom half nationally in all those categories. GT is 4-0 ATS, N.C. State is 0-4 ATS.

Why North Carolina State will cover: The Wolfpack average 279 pass ypg and are at home. Cut down on the turnovers that have sabotaged the team, and a close game is very possible.

Points: The over is 4-0 for Tech. N.C. State must find a way to keep up.

SMU Mustangs at TCU Horned Frogs (-11.5, 56.5)

Why SMU will cover: SMU throws for 321 ypg - 18th in the nation. TCU is ranked 87th in pass defense, keeping open the chance for a close game. The Mustangs’ defense has actually been its strength, especially against the run (ninth).

Why TCU will cover: The Horned Frogs average 219 yards passing and 219 yards rushing. Try and stop that. Nobody has yet.

Points: The over is 4-0 in TCU’s games, but the under is 3-1 in SMU games.

Clemson Tigers at Virginia Tech Hokies (-7, 49)

Why Clemson will cover: The Tigers are 3-1 ATS, and that includes wins over Auburn and Florida State. Virginia Tech is 1-3 ATS, and that includes no wins of note. Clemson’s offense has lit teams up, especially the pass game (318 ypg).

Why Virginia Tech will cover: Nobody’s done much of anything against the Hokies’ defense, which ranks No. 2 against the rush, No. 4 in yards allowed and No. 6 in points allowed. VT is great at running the ball, which is Clemson’s chief area of concern.

Points: The under is 7-1 in Clemson’s last eight ACC games, and 9-2 in Tech’s last 11 overall. VT’s defense is going to put up a tough fight for Clemson’s offense.

Ball State Cardinals at Oklahoma Sooners (-37.5, 60)

Why Ball State will cover: The Cardinals have beaten Indiana, Army and Buffalo. They have confidence and that’s a big spread. OU’s been susceptible against the pass.

Why Oklahoma will cover: OU is not Indiana, Army or Buffalo. Ball State’s defense is shoddy against the run, so once the Sooners get up big, it’s only going to get worse. The Sooners are 6-2 ATS in its last eight overall and eight at home.

Points: The over has hit in OU’s last game and BSU’s last two.

Texas Longhorns at Iowa State Cyclones (9.5, 48)

Why Texas will cover: The Longhorns changed QBs and became an offensive juggernaut, rushing for 280 and throwing for 200-plus in a 49-20 win at UCLA. Texas is eager to show it’s still a Big 12 bully and get some revenge for a shocking loss to the Cyclones last year. 

Why Iowa State will cover: ISU is 2-1 ATS, including SU wins as an underdog over Iowa and UConn. The Cyclones aren’t great in any statistical category, but aren’t terrible, either.

Points: The under is 1-2 for both teams so far, part of a larger under trend for both teams.

Alabama Crimson Tide at Florida Gators (3.5, 44.5)

Why Alabama will cover: The Tide has run roughshod over everyone, and that includes an Arkansas squad similar to Florida. While Alabama was expected to be this good, Florida has seemingly overachieved. UF is 2-5-1 in its last eight vs. teams with a winning record. Bama is 7-1-1 ATS in the last nine meetings.

Why Florida will cover: The offense ranks 15th in scoring, and the defense is second in points allowed. The Gators don’t lose primetime games in The Swamp. They have something to prove.

Points: Both defenses have been stellar and both teams have trended toward the under.

Nebraska Cornhuskers at Wisconsin Badgers (-9, 56.5)

Why Nebraska will cover: The Huskers have had this game circled on their calendars since February. While they’ve been largely unimpressive in a 4-0 start, that’s a big spread for the nation’s eighth-ranked team, especially one with an offense that could break out at any moment. NU is 6-2 in its last eight road games and 5-0 ATS in its last five as an underdog.

Why Wisconsin will cover: Nobody has figured out a way to stop an offense that averages 286 yds passing and 246 yds rushing per game, and Nebraska’s defense has been shaky against far worse competition. NU is 1-3 ATS, UW is 3-0-1. The Badgers remain the best bet in the game, 10-0-1 ATS in its last 11.

Points: Both teams can score 40-plus in a hurry.

UCLA Bruins at Stanford Cardinal (-20.5, 54)

Why UCLA will cover: Stanford has given up passing yards, which bodes well for a Bruins team that will likely be throwing  more than usual.

Why Stanford will cover:
UCLA likes to run the ball and Stanford’s defense is the best in the nation at stopping it. Stanford is 3-0 ATS so far, while UCLA is 1-3 and 2-9 in its last 11 conference games.

Stanford can score with the best of them, and UCLA will spend much of the night trying to catch up, which could make for a high-scoring contest.

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