College Football Week 5 Early Line Movement and Best Bets


All Lines provided by BetMGM

USC vs. Colorado (-21.5) | 73.5 – Opened (17.5) | 71.5

This line launched at -17.5 on Thursday, 9/7 after the Buffs outlasted TCU 45-42, and just before they soundly defeated Nebraska 36-14. On 9/13, it shifted to -14.5 following the NU victory, which would be this line’s low-point as it re-posted at a massive -27.5 with money lines of +1,200/-3,000 this Sunday. Furthermore, it conspicuously re-opened at 2:31 AM EST and stayed there for 3 ½ hours until the east coast woke up and began throttling this line down to -21.5 by Monday morning, where it stopped dead in its tracks and hasn’t budged since.

Fortunately for Colorado, Oregon defensive guru HC Dan Lanning is not calling the D this week…USC DC Alex Grinch is. Interestingly, the strengths/weaknesses of OU and USC’s defensive units are, to varying degrees, similar. Both teams have solid secondaries (OU = 6th in pass D/USC = 29th) that are the strength of their respective defenses. They also are lagging in the run game, with USC ranking 112th in Rushing EPA/Play and Oregon checking in at 91st. The problem for Colorado is they barely acknowledge the notion of running the ball, ranking 127th with an average of 23 rushes per game with a 38.5% success rate (89th).

Despite their market correction game against Oregon, CU ranks second nationally with 47 passes per game and will continue to perpetuate their full throated aerial assault. I’m concerned that the talent gap with these two teams is too vast, as it was against Oregon. Colorado’s roster ranks 53rd in 247Sports average player rating, while USC charts at 11th overall. It’s not a great stylistic matchup for CU as well given the relative strengths of each program. It’s been a whirlwind ride thus far, but we have to keep in mind that we are just 4 games into the Colorado Prime regime and further development is sorely needed.

Without their star CB Travis Hunter, the Buff’s pass defense could get blown into orbit by Caleb and USC’s fleet of highly-talented WRs. I’m bucking the downward trend and will wait to see if the Prime furor will cause this line to cross 21, at which point it’s a full green light on USC. I’m assuming we see Caleb lined a little higher than the 300-ish range he’s been posted at lately, probably 320-330 pass yards. I’m not sure about Shedeur though, as his average weekly line has been right around the 335 passing yardage mark, which I faded last week to the delight of my bank account. With the public betting CU at NFL level volume, the books will likely line him a little higher than i’m comfortable with for Over purposes. However, if we get another big line i’ll be backing the Under two weeks in a row.

Washington vs. Arizona (-17.5) | 67.5 – Opened (-21.5) | 69.5

The line movement is curious, as it opened at -21.5 around 7AM on Sunday, where it stayed until 11AM at which point a tectonic 3.5 point shift happened Washington has eviscerated every defense they’ve encountered to the tune of 593 total yards and are fresh off a 59-32 detonation of Cal’s secondary. Arizona on the other hand was outgained by Stanford and barely survived the Cardinal 21-20 despite their team being in the midst of a true Year 0 rebuild. To put this in perspective, just last week Stanford lost 30-23 to a FCS Sacramento State program whom their head coach Troy Taylor coached last year before accepting the Stanford gig. It seems to me like the books are looking past the ankle injury that knocked Jayden de Laura out of their game last Saturday, with backup QB Noah Fifita managing to save the game for AZ after going 4-for-4 with 47 passing yards.

However this week the Wildcats have the pleasure of traveling from sunny Zona to the rainy Pacific Northwest where they face the unenviable task of slowing down the lethal passing attack and their budding Heisman Trophy contender, Michael Penix who has slaughtered his Over pass yardage line in every single game this season. I doubt we see an AZ QB line, but i’m dying to see that Penix Passing Yardage line when it comes out as it may justifiably be listed in the 380-390 yard range, which might very well be the highest pass yardage line i’ve ever seen. I think this line rises back up around three touchdowns if de Laura is deemed out, which I think is the likely outcome. I’d grab this -17.5 line right now and take your Washington ticket to the pay window.

Louisville vs. NC State (+2.5) | 54.5 – Opened (+3) | 47.5 (Friday Night)

Clearly the offensive bursts from these two ACC foes from Saturday influenced this total which shot up from 47.5 when it opened at 5:53 AM Sunday, to 54.5 by the time 11 AM arrived. Surprisingly, Louisville has been one of the slowest paced teams in the country, averaging a play every 29:4 seconds (109th) as opposed to the quicker tempo that HC Jeff Brohm employed at Purdue. Despite the methodical pace, Louisville is still 4-0 while averaging 542 total yards per game. NC State and OC Robert Anae are 25th in pace of play and want to throw the ball as often as possible, ranking top-10 in pass attempts per game over the course of his stint at UVA under HC Bronco Mendenhall.

Louisville QB Jack Plummer finally had a breakout performance, carving up BC to the tune of 388 pass yards, 18.5 yards per pass and five touchdowns for a UL offense that appears to be hitting their stride heading into ACC conference play. The Cards have been lighting up opponents in traditional HC Brohm fashion, averaging 39 PPG, 7.8 yards per play (5th) and an impressive 11.6 yards per pass (3rd). On the other side NC State barely escaped with a victory against QB Brennan Armstrong’s former team, UVA, as their 24% post game win expectancy can attest. That’s not a great look for the Wolfpack who have only beaten UConn (24-14) and VMI thus far.

Unlike past Jeff Brohm seasons UL is running the ball with authority behind RB Jawhar Jordan, ranking 15th in rushing performance. I know NC State are home dogs, but this is a flawed team with limited playmakers on offense who would be +7.5 if Virginia manages to simply not throw up on themselves with asinine penalties down the stretch. Hammer the Cards.

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Penn State vs. Northwestern (+26.5) | 45.5 – Opened (+21.5) | 47.5

Clearly this line was mispriced at the jump, with +21.5 lasting 20 minutes before shooting all the way to -25.5 by end of day, and eventually settling in at 26.5. The total went for a ride too, kicking off at 47.5 at 6:25 AM Sunday, with the total jumping to 49 10 minutes later and hanging there until 11AM when it began an incremental decline to the current 45.5.

Northwestern’s upset victory over Minnesota on Saturday was a very similar scenario to the NC State vs UVA game described above, but amplified to the 10th power. Minnesota had a 21-point lead in the fourth quarter and proceeded to absolutely implode over the final 10 minutes to lose 37-34 as Northwestern earns their first Power Five victory of the year despite a dirt-low 4% post game win expectancy. Ben Bryant gutted out the contest despite being banged up and taking some big shots, putting together a career highlight reel to Bryce Kirtz who cleared the bi-centennial mark in receiving yards. Northwestern had been one of the worst passing teams in the nation heading into the game, and still ranks just 115th even after the big comeback win, so their brief passing explosion screams “outlier”.

For their part, Penn State essentially ended the Ferentz Family Dynasty at Iowa last week by holding them to just 4 first downs and a staggering 76 total yards in their 31-0 domination of the Hawkeyes. Defensively PSU has arrived by holding opponents to a ridiculous 28% success rate (2nd) while checking in at 11th in defensive EPA, which is why this line has taken the express elevator to the four-touchdown-underdog penthouse. I will be eagerly awaiting the Northwestern team total and intend to be aggressive should it hit 10. NW RB Cam Porter will also be on the Froton Props Radar, as he will not crack 40 yards against PSU with the heavy pass game script we will be seeing when the Cats get down 14-0 and start to panic.

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