With the calendar turning over into October, now is the time where the legitimate contenders separate themselves from the pack. No fewer than three of this weekend’s games could result in the elimination (or near-elimination) of a team from contention for the College Football Playoff. Not only are games like this more fun to watch, but they provide some excellent betting opportunities, as well.
In the Week 6 edition of “Power 5 Picks”, Drew Goldfarb, Jim Beviglia and Taylor Smith dive into five of the week’s biggest games and provide their betting advice for each. In addition to the games listed below, an honorable mention goes to Michigan State vs Ohio State when it comes to games to watch and wager on this weekend. The Buckeyes can begin to trim back their competition against the Spartans, but an MSU win opens the door in the Big Ten East Division for any number of teams to contend for a spot in the Conference Championship Game. A Buckeyes loss also rests much of the Big Ten Conference’s College Football Playoff hopes on the shoulders of two teams from the West Division. One of those teams is the Wisconsin Badgers, who face Kent State this weekend. The other?
Big Ten: Iowa Hawkeyes vs Michigan Wolverines
The Iowa Hawkeyes are still a bit of an unknown quantity when it comes to the rankings. Iowa is 4-0 and ranks in the top 15 in the nation, but their best win is an 18-17 victory over Iowa State. The rest of their competition this season – Miami (OH), Rutgers, and Middle Tennessee State – aren’t exactly top-tier competition. In the next two weeks, the Hawkeyes visit The Big House to take on Michigan and host the Penn State Nittany Lions. This will give Iowa a chance to prove they belong in the national discussion.
As for the Wolverines, they’re just trying to prove they aren’t dead in the water just yet. Michigan rebounded from taking a pounding from Wisconsin to shellac the Rutgers Scarlett Knights, 52-0. But, like with Iowa, their wins haven’t exactly proven their abilities as much as they’ve raised questions. Are the Wolverines the team that nearly lost to Army and suffered a blowout loss to the Badgers in back-to-back contests, or are they the team that earned them the 7-spot in the preseason AP Top 25 rankings?
Speaking of separating contenders from pretenders, the Florida Gators and Auburn Tigers square off this weekend. Auburn is well-seasoned and battle-tested already, with road (or neutral-site) wins over Oregon and Texas A&M under their belts. Sitting at 5-0 on the season, this is the third of what should be six games this season where the Tigers will face a ranked opponent. The first four of those games are all away from Jordan-Hare Stadium.
A season-opening win for Florida over Miami (FL) in Week 0 doesn’t look nearly as impressive now as it did a month ago. Their other games this season? A pair of wins over SEC opponents (Kentucky, Tennessee) with a combined 3-6 record and two wins over FCS opponents (UT-Martin, Towson). The Gators have not been tested, but that’s about to change in a big way. This week’s game against Auburn is the first time Dan Mullen’s team is going to be challenged in 2019, and it’ll be followed up by a visit to Baton Rouge to take on LSU next weekend. We’ll know if the Gators are for real or not within an eight-day stretch.
Side note: This will be the Homecoming game for the Gators. They lost their Homecoming games in 2017 (LSU) and in 2018 (Missouri).
With the SEC sits back and wonders if they’ll be able to convince the College Football Playoff Committee to allow more than one team make the Final Four this year, the Pac-12 is scrambling to argue that they have a single team worthy of making it into the Playoff this season. Cal all but ruined those hopes for Washington back in Week 2, and Arizona State saw to it that the Golden Bears wouldn’t be able to take the Huskies’ spot just last week. Despite their 4-1 record, Cal is unranked heading into this week’s showdown at Autzen Stadium.
The Oregon Ducks faltered in Week 1, falling in a neutral-site game to a late drive from the previously-discussed Auburn Tigers. While they’ve rebounded to outscore their opponents 133-15 in their three games since, none of those opponents (Nevada, Montana, Stanford) carry the gravity to help pull the Ducks back up into the Top 10. Oregon may just be the Pac-12’s only shot at a National Championship this season, but they can’t look ahead to their game in two weeks against Washington just yet. Cal head coach Justin Wilcox played football for Oregon during his college years (as did his brother and father), so he should have a better chance than most at keeping his squad calm and cool on the road in Eugene. That said, an injury to Cal quarterback Chase Garbers might be enough to keep the Golden Bears outside of upset potential.
Spread: Oregon -17½
Moneyline: Cal +650, Oregon -1100
Big 12: Baylor Bears vs Kansas State Wildcats
We were hoping that last week’s game between Baylor and Iowa State would show us the Bears’ true colors, but it’s hard to really say that a 23-21 victory at home proved that the 4-0 and Big 12 Conference-leading Bears are… well, anything other than a 4-0 and unranked team. Since that game wrapped up, both Baylor’s head coach, Matt Rhule, and athletic director, Mack Rhoades, have signed contract extensions. We may not be able to say how good the 2019 Baylor football team is with any real certainty just yet, but they seem to be happy with it in Waco.
Kansas State lost badly last week, dropping a 26-13 decision to Oklahoma State. The Cowboys are now ranked in the Top 25, so the loss wasn’t an awful one for K-State, but it certainly wasn’t the performance they were hoping for. A week after beating the SEC’s Mississippi State Bulldogs in Starkville, the Wildcats sunk in Stillwater. If there’s an upside to this week for the Wildcats, it’s that the game is being played at Bill Snyder Family Stadium; the Wildcats beat the Bears two years ago in their last meeting in Manhattan, KS, and are 5-2 all-time in home games against Baylor.
This game might just have the strangest betting odds we’ve featured in this segment up to this point. The Wildcats are favored by two points, but the payout on a spread bet sits at -120 for K-State and +100 for Baylor. The moneyline payout, meanwhile, to pick a straight-up win for either side sits at -125 for the Wildcats and +105 for the Bears. It almost feels like a trap. Obviously, I would suggest steering clear of Kansas State on the spread and of Baylor on the moneyline this week… sacrificing two points in exchange for five cents on the dollar (or less, in KSU’s case) has negative value written all over it.
Spread: Kansas State -2
Moneyline: Baylor +105, Kansas State -125
ACC: Pitt Panthers vs Duke Blue Devils
Slim pickings in the Atlantic Coast Conference this week. The conference’s three ranked teams – Clemson, Wake Forest, Virginia – all have the week off. The Duke Blue Devils could move into a tie with Virginia for the division lead in the ACC Coastal with a win this weekend, and they’ll be making that attempt at home. Since opening up the season with a crushing 42-3 loss to Alabama in Atlanta, the Blue Devils have won three straight, including a 45-10 road win to open up conference play against Virginia Tech. Duke did get some bad news on Thursday, however, with running back Brittain Brown being ruled out for the rest of the 2019 season due to a shoulder injury. He hasn’t played much this season so far, however, due to the injury, so the Blue Devils teams we’ve seen in the last few weeks is pretty much what we can expect moving forward without Brown (he finishes his season with 12 carries for 56 yards and no touchdowns).
Pittsburgh quarterback Kenny Pickett is a little banged up, and there was some concern that he might miss this week’s game. However, Panthers head coach Pat Narduzzi announced on Thursday that Pickett will be able to play against Duke this weekend. The news wasn’t all good for Pitt, however, as senior wide receiver Tre Tipton will miss the rest of the 2019 season with a knee injury that required surgery. Like Brown, Tipton didn’t have a lot of touches this season for Pitt, but it does hurt their depth.
The Panthers have been among the nation’s most unpredictable teams in 2019. They dropped two of their first three games this season, losing 30-14 to Virginia to open the year and falling two weeks later, 17-10, to rival Penn State. The week after barely losing to the Nittany Lions, however, they handed UCF their first regular season loss since 2016. However, last week, Pitt trailed Delaware entering the fourth quarter despite out-gaining the Blue Hens 443-170 in total yards of offense. The Panthers won, 17-14, but it doesn’t exactly scream “confidence-building win” when trying to bet on them.
Spread: Duke -4
Moneyline: Pitt +150, Duke -170
For our experts’ picks for all five of these games, check out the video at the top of this page, and make sure to check back next week for another edition of “Power 5 Picks” on the Odds On Favorites YouTube channel and right here at GamblingSites.org. When you’re ready to place some bets, check out our page featuring the top picks for college football betting sites.
Drew has been covering sports professionally since 2007, covering sports of all kinds in the ACC, SEC, Big 12 and Conference USA. In addition to covering college sports, he also spent two seasons working with the NHL's Florida Panthers as part of their TV broadcast team, as well as reporting and anchoring for AT&T SportsNet and FOX Sports affiliates, CBS Sports Network and ESPNU. Drew has also ...
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