- A Pac-12 home underdog and our first moneyline parlay of the season highlight our Week 5 best bets in college football.
I already posted three best bets earlier in the week, and added a couple more to finish off Week 5. If you haven't seen the first three best bets yet, make sure to check them out, especially since two of them are for Friday night games. SI Gambling will be using current odds from New Jersey sportsbooks (FanDuel, DraftKings, William Hill, PointsBet) for best bets every week.
Stanford at Oregon State: Oregon State +4.5 (-110) at William Hill
It’s not always the best move to fade a team that is at its lowest point, but Stanford is just in a really poor spot this week. The Cardinal have been traveling quite a lot recently, going from a road game in Los Angeles to a cross-country trip to Orlando to a flight back home to Palo Alto to a trip up north to Corvallis. That is a draining schedule for college kids. Meanwhile, Oregon State is coming off a bye and the Beavers won a 45-7 home affair vs. Cal Poly the week before.
Oregon State knows it doesn’t have many opportunities to pick up a Pac-12 win this season, but it’ll be amped to take on a stumbling Stanford team. The Cardinal offense was abysmal last week against Oregon, mustering only 3.7 yards per play and 4.0 yards per attempt through the air. Stanford QB K.J. Costello injured his hand early on, and it clearly seemed to impact him throughout the game. Costello is questionable to play this weekend, and his backup Davis Mills has been uninspiring in game action against Northwestern and USC this season. Whichever quarterback plays has to deal with a makeshift offensive line hit hard by injuries (NOTE: Costello was ruled out, so Mills is starting).
Now, at first glance, this seems like an excellent get-right spot for the Stanford offense. Oregon State’s defense last year was historically bad. This season, the Beavers have actually been manufacturing much more negative plays. Oregon State ranked 122nd in 2018 in tackles for loss per game (4.42). It has jumped up all the way to 20th (8.0 TFLs per game) this season, including notching nine against Oklahoma State’s explosive offense. Stanford is already a team that struggles getting first downs, putting the Cardinal in second- and third-and-long situations will make it even tougher.
Stanford has actually been an ever bigger disappointment on the defensive side of the ball, particularly through the air. The Cardinal have allowed a whopping 17 pass plays of at least 20 yards, which is tied for 109th in college football. Stanford has been much better defending the run (47th in YPC allowed), but the best rushing offense in terms of yards per carry it has faced is UCF at 38th (5.15 YPC). Northwestern, USC and Oregon all rank in the bottom half of the country in YPC. Oregon State ranks 11th, led by the tandem of Jermar Jefferson and Artavis Pierce. Jefferson sat out last game vs. Cal Poly due to injury, but he’s ready to go for this weekend.
While Oregon State prefers to run the ball, the Beavers also have a competent passing game. Jake Luton has thrown for eight touchdowns without an interception this season, and wideout Isaiah Hodgins is an NFL talent. The Beavers also have one of the better offensive lines in the conference, as Football Outsiders ranks them 12th in line yards (tops in Pac-12) and 12th in sack rate (also the best mark in the Pac-12).
I get that backing Oregon State is scary, but hey, we’ve won with the Beavers this season when we took them as a touchdown underdog at Hawaii (they lost 31-28). This is a team hungry for a conference win, and the Cardinal are limping into Corvallis.
No. 21 USC at No. 17 Washington (-385 ML at DraftKings), No. 24 Kansas State at Oklahoma State (-177 ML at DraftKings)
No. 17 Washington and Oklahoma State moneyline parlay, $100 to win $97.15 at DraftKings
Our first moneyline parlay this season for best bets! The reasoning behind this one is that I really like the spot for Washington, but I don’t love laying the double-digit points, for the Huskies or pretty much any Pac-12 team. But if there’s any Pac-12 team that knows how to contain the Air Raid, it’s Washington. The Huskies have held Mike Leach and Washington State to 17 or fewer points in all five meetings since Chris Petersen took over as head coach in 2014. Washington essentially rushes three and drops back eight, which is what BYU did against USC when the Cougars notched their upset win in Provo this season. Not only was BYU able to slow down the passing attack, but it was also able to generate pressure with only sending three guys, which speaks volumes about USC’s disastrous offensive line.
Additionally, the Trojans come into Seattle with some major injuries. Kedon Slovis is out, meaning Matt Fink will be the signal-caller for the second game in a row. Fink performed admirably against Utah, but the same throws he made against the Utes will not fly against Washington’s talented secondary. USC will also be without safety Talanoa Hufanga and cornerback Olaijah Griffin, meaning an already struggling secondary has a bigger uphill climb against the dynamic Jacob Eason. USC’s defense has been a bend-don’t-break unit so far. The Trojans have allowed the most red-zone trips per game (5.0) out of any Power 5 team this season. However, USC has only allowed a touchdown in the red zone 35% of the time. I don’t think that is sustainable, and it’ll be even tougher with those injuries in the secondary. Washington should have no problem racking up yardage either, as USC ranks 80th in 20-yard-plus plays allowed and the Trojans haven’t forced one three-and-out since their season opener against Fresno State.
For the other leg, Chris Klieman has gotten off to a very nice start at Kansas State. But are the Wildcats getting too much love? They’ve blown out Nicholls and Bowling Green. Their signature win, a 31-24 road victory over Mississippi State, came against a hurt Tommy Stevens at quarterback (and an ineffective true freshman Garrett Shrader in backup duty), and two of the touchdowns came on an 100-yard kickoff return and a 30-yard drive following a Bulldogs turnover. This isn’t the best spot for Oklahoma State, as it’s traveling home after a 36-30 road loss to Texas, while Kansas State is coming off a bye. I think the Pokes, though, are a major step up in class for offenses that the Wildcats have faced thus far. It’s hard to get more explosive than Spencer Sanders, Chuba Hubbard and Tylan Wallace. Oklahoma State is tied for 10th in plays of at least 20 yards and is tied for sixth in plays of at least 30 yards. I’ll take the home team here to give K-State its first loss of the season.
Season record: 13-8