The 2023 college football season moves into Week 5 with a lot of interesting matchups. This isn’t as big a slate as Week 4 with Ohio State beating Notre Dame with one second left, but it’s still a good slate with a ton of conference matchups which will reshape the balance of power in the sport heading into the month of October.
USC Trojans at Colorado Buffaloes
Odds: USC -21.5 at YouWager
The Colorado Buffaloes are still a hot item in college football, but they are not as hot right now as they were a week ago when they were still unbeaten. Oregon took Colorado to the woodshed in a 42-6 thumping. Deion Sanders has a lot of work to do to get his team prepared for USC and Heisman Trophy winner Caleb Williams.
One of the key limitations facing Colorado right now is that Travis Hunter, who was a star as a receiver and cornerback, is injured and unavailable. That really hampers what Colorado tries to do. Hunter played almost 150 snaps in the season-opening upset of TCU, a game in which Colorado was a 20-point underdog. Hunter caught a touchdown pass on offense and made a big interception inside the Colorado 5-yard line on defense. Not having his impact on both offense and defense is a double-whammy against the Buffaloes. They need that kind of high-end athleticism against USC.
However, even without Hunter, Colorado might find it easier to score this week than it did a week ago against Oregon, when CU scored just six points. USC allowed 28 points to Arizona State one week after the Sun Devils were shut out by Fresno State. The Trojans missed a bunch of tackles and did not look sharp. USC committed a number of penalties and led by only six points early in the fourth quarter on a night when the Trojans were 35-point favorites at kickoff time.
If USC does play as poorly against Colorado as it did against Arizona State, it could actually lose the game outright. USC is favored by three touchdowns, and that seems like entirely too many points. The Trojans will win the game, but Colorado will cover.
Pick: Colorado +21.5
Florida Gators at Kentucky Wildcats
Odds: Kentucky -1 at YouWager
The Florida Gators were good enough to beat the Tennessee Volunteers very convincingly, and they were bad enough to lose to Utah on a night when the Utes did not have their best quarterback, Cam Rising, available to play. Florida looked strong and authoritative against Tennessee but weak and disorganized versus Utah. Which version of Florida will show up in this game?
Meanwhile, what version of Kentucky will show up? The Wildcats have been all over the place under new quarterback Devin Leary, the transfer from North Carolina State. Kentucky has not played at the level it hoped to this season, and this is a key measurement of how much the Wildcats have evolved and prepared through the first month of the season. The game feels like a coin flip, and the betting line reflects that. You should probably stay away from this game, but if you lean in one direction, go with the home team, which is Kentucky.
Pick: Kentucky -1
Texas A&M Aggies vs. Arkansas Razorbacks (in Arlington)
Odds: Texas A&M -6.5 at YouWager
This game is always fragile and tenuous. It is played in a neutral site and both teams really need the early-season victory. Both coaches, Jimbo Fisher of Texas A&M and Sam Pittman of Arkansas, are under a lot of pressure. They might not be directly on the hot seat, but if they don’t win a lot of games this season, they will definitely be on the hot seat entering the 2024 season, so it’s a huge game for both sides.
Arkansas’ defense got shredded by BYU earlier in September in what was a very poor performance from the Razorbacks. Texas A&M is dealing with an injury to starting quarterback Conner Weigman, though backup Max Johnson actually looked very good in relief last week in a victory over Auburn. A&M didn’t score much with Weigman in the first half but scored a lot more with Johnson in the second half. A&M, with Johnson, looks like the better choice in this game.
Pick: Texas A&M -6.5
Clemson Tigers at Syracuse Orange
Odds: Clemson -6.5 at BetOnline
The Clemson Tigers just blew a lead to the Florida State Seminoles, a crushing loss marked by yet another untimely mistake from Dabo Swinney’s team. Clemson was leading 24-17 midway through the second half and was driving to score a touchdown for a 31-17 lead, but then a sack and fumble and Florida State recovery return for a touchdown which tied the game at 24-all. They have been driving down the field and then fumbling deep in the opponent’s territory in multiple games this season. Clemson has been moving the ball between the 20-yard lines but has not been able to finish drives.
The team looks good for most of the game but makes catastrophically horrific plays in key moments and high-leverage situations which undo everything the Tigers achieved. Clemson is bound to have a game in which it doesn’t commit a huge turnover inside the opponent’s 20-yard line and doesn’t give up touchdowns on offense. The Tigers are due to have a game in which catastrophes don’t emerge. They should finally be able to put all the pieces together and grab an ACC road win.
Pick: Clemson -6.5
Georgia Bulldogs at Auburn Tigers
Odds: Georgia -14.5 at Bovada Review
This is a game Georgia should expect to win. The Bulldogs have the best defensive line in the country. The spread might seem a little small for the No. 1 team in the United States, and that small spread is connected to a belief among the public that Georgia quarterback Carson Beck will get nervous and will not play a solid game. Here’s the thing, though: Beck doesn’t need to be the hero. He can just hand the ball off and throw short, safe passes to get Georgia where it needs to go on offense. Georgia is not going to allow more than seven points to a bad Auburn offense. Georgia should be able to cover the spread by the time this game is ultimately over.
Pick: Georgia -14.5
Michigan Wolverines at Nebraska Cornhuskers
Odds: Michigan -17.5 at Nitrobetting
This is a game in which Michigan’s defense will not be tested by Nebraska’s offense. Nebraska has one of the worst quarterback situations in the country, with no proven field general who can throw the ball down the field and test a secondary, stretching the field in ways which can get skill position players open. Nebraska just doesn’t have the athletes or the scheme to really make Michigan sweat on defense. The Wolverines will hold Nebraska to no more than 10 points, and so as long as they score 28 points, which they should be able to do, they will cover the spread.
Pick: Michigan -17.5
Kansas Jayhawks at Texas Longhorns
Odds: Texas -16.5 at BetOnline
This is a very intriguing game. Texas has high-end talent, but Kansas has rising coaching star Lance Leipold and should be able to put up a good fight on the road. Texas will win, but Kansas should be able to cover the spread in this Big 12 game. Leipold is one of the hot names to watch for the Michigan State head coaching job now that MSU coach Mel Tucker has officially been fired.
Pick: Kansas +16.5
LSU Tigers at Ole Miss Rebels
Odds: LSU -2.5 at MyBookie
This is a game LSU should win. Ole Miss’ offense has been inconsistent and disappointing not only this year, but in 2022 as well. Until Ole Miss proves it can improve, LSU should be the choice.
Pick: LSU -2.5
Notre Dame Fighting Irish at Duke Blue Devils
Odds: Notre Dame -5.5 at MyBookie
This is a Duke team which is strong and tough under coach Mike Elko, who has done one of the best coaching jobs in the country. Duke is going to hang tough in the trenches and play Notre Dame close. It might not actually win the game, but this will be decided by a field goal late, either way. Duke will cover.
Pick: Duke +5.5
South Carolina Gamecocks at Tennessee Volunteers
Odds: Tennessee -12.5
This is a tough game to call because Tennessee’s offense and South Caorlina’s offense have both struggled this season. If both offenses struggle again, though, that means a close game. Take South Carolina.