College Football Picks Week 5: Contrarian Bets for Saturday

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College Football Picks Week 5 – Contrarian Betting Review

We are back for another week of examining contrarian angles as we look at the sports betting board to make our Week 5 college football picks. If you are new to using a contrarian approach for sports betting then give yourself a primer by reviewing last week’s edition. The approach worked well for us, as our contrarian bets went 2-0 for the weekend.

As a refresher, the three steps we use for choosing contrarian sides to play are:

1. The public is heavy on one side of the game
2. The betting volume is high
3. The line stays at or reverses from the opening number (a good indicator of sharp money)

Expanding on no. 3; as you monitor line movement for a game, it might not necessarily stay at or reverse below the opening number.

Let’s use last week’s Oklahoma State vs. Texas game as a prime example. The number opened -5.5 at William Hill and then dipped down to -5 at multiple books despite nearly 70% of public tickets betting on Texas. This was an indicator that sharp money was backing Oklahoma State. Eventually the line inflated to -6.5 as public money continued to back Texas. So, while the spread ultimately climbed above the opening number, there were still instances of sharp action moving the number down from 5.5 to 5, and later in the week, from 6.5 to 6. This is a prime example of why it’s so important to monitor line movement throughout the week.

Now let’s get to our contrarian college football picks for Week 5.

College Football Picks Week 5 – Contrarian Plays for Saturday

Northern Illinois vs. Vanderbilt -6.5 (12:00 p.m. Eastern)

Opened: Vanderbilt -6.5 at William Hill

Vanderbilt enters the week winless for the season and winless against the spread. Northern Illinois is 1-2 on the year but is 2-1 against the spread. Both teams lost in the previous week with Vanderbilt falling to LSU 66-38 and Northern Illinois losing to Nebraska 44-8. Historically, Northern Illinois has been a ticket goldmine against the SEC with a 6-1 ATS record.

The line opened at 6.5 and within a few hours fell to 6. Then it reached 7 and has since come back down to 6.5. While getting 7 would be nice, I feel fine getting 6.5 as I think the line should be around 4 to 4.5. With nearly 75% of the public on Vanderbilt and the line sitting currently at the opening number, I will take Northern Illinois.

The College Football Pick: Northern Illinois +6.5 (use our William Hill promo code to get these odds)

Middle Tennessee State vs. Iowa -24 (12:00 p.m. Eastern)

Opened: Iowa -23.5 at William Hill

We continue with another small conference school taking on a Power 5 conference team. Iowa comes into this game unbeaten on the year with wins over Miami OH, Rutgers and most recently a fourth-quarter comeback at Iowa State.

Iowa is now ranked No. 14 in the nation, and the public has taken notice. They are currently receiving 76% of the tickets in the betting market. Middle Tennessee State comes in at 1-2 on the year with double-digit losses to Michigan and Duke. Their lone win of the season comes against Tennessee State. The line moved from 23.5 to 24 on Monday. From there it has settled at 23 at multiple online sportsbooks. I would personally wait and play this game if the number reaches 24 once more. You should be able to find 24 if you shop around.

The College Football Pick: Middle Tennessee State +24

Georgia Tech vs. Temple -8.5 (3:30 p.m. Eastern)

Opened: Temple -10 at William Hill

Georgia Tech comes into this game 1-2 on the season and 0-3 ATS. They take on a Temple team that is both 2-1 in its regular-season record and ATS. Not much is expected from Georgia Tech this year with their season win total setting at a measly 3.5 games.

Unsurprisingly, 70% of the betting tickets are coming in on Temple as of Friday morning. The last time we saw Georgia Tech in action they were beaten as 27-point favorites against the Citadel. There is no way to spin Georgia Tech as an average team, yet we are seeing substantial reverse line movement in Georgia Tech’s direction. Sharp money didn’t only bet Georgia Tech on the key number of 10. They continued to hit them at 9.5 and 9. So here we are sitting with Georgia Tech as 8.5-point dogs now. I am also sitting with futures tickets on Georgia Tech under 3.5 wins and Temple over 6.5 wins for the season. This would have been great to hop on early, but I’m comfortable siding with the sharps, even if I’m a little late to the party.

The College Football Pick: Georgia Tech +9 (use our DraftKings Sportsbook promo code to get these odds)

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SMU -7.5 vs. USF (4:00 p.m. Eastern)

Opened: SMU -7 at William Hill

Southern Methodist comes in riding high at 4-0 on the season and 4-0 ATS. Their last victory was especially eye-raising. SMU went on a short road trip to TCU and came out ahead 41-38.

The South Florida Bulls come into this game 2-1 ATS with a single win on the year two weeks ago against South Carolina State. Thus, it’s not surprising to see 80% of the tickets backing SMU. The line has moved from its opening number of 7 up to 7.5, 8 and 8.5. However, sharp money keeps knocking that number back down to the current number of 7.5. I will gladly take the sharp side of this game and join the 20% of tickets backing South Florida.

The College Football Pick: USF +7.5 (use our FanDuel Sportsbook promo code to get these odds)

New Mexico vs. Liberty -7 (6:00 p.m. Eastern)

Opened: Liberty -7.5 at William Hill

New Mexico sits at 2-1 on the year with a blowout loss to Notre Dame. They will be on the road this week taking on a Liberty team who is 2-2 on the season. Both sides are 1-2 ATS. Multiple online books opened this game as high as 8, and nearly all have adjusted the line down to 7. Despite 75% of betting tickets coming in on Liberty, the line has come down a full point at some books. Once again, this indicates sharp money on New Mexico’s side, and I will be joining them.

The College Football Pick: New Mexico +7 (use our PointsBet promo code to get these odds)

College Football Picks Week 5 – Betting Card

Northern Illinois +6.5
MIDDLE TENNESSEE State +24
Georgia Tech +9
South Florida +7.5
New Mexico +7

Image Credit: USA Today Sports Images

About the Author

  • James Ivy (LiverpoolReds)

  • James Ivy will soon begin his career as a history teacher. Ivy has always been interested in the forces that drive sports betting markets. His favorite sports to watch and bet on are soccer and Formula 1. When he’s not watching sports, you can find him behind a steering wheel sim racing or viewing films in the Criterion Collection.

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