The best upset picks for Week 5 of the college football season
Another six teams in the AP Top 25 rankings lost this past weekend, adding to the chaos that the first three weeks already provided. Clemson was the most notable loss, as Tigers saw their national championship hopes go up in smoke. Oklahoma survived another close scare, while Alabama and Georgia continue to distance themselves from the rest of the pack.
Last week we had four outright winners and our fifth pick, California, covered the spread but lost outright in overtime. Let’s see if the underdogs can keep barking with five more upset picks for Week 5 of the college football season.
Iowa vs. Maryland
Sat, October 2 2021, 12:00 AM
Maryland narrowly defeated a mediocre Illinois team two weeks ago but have otherwise been an overachieving group in 2021. They enjoy passing the ball, ranking 16th in the nation in pass attempts per game. So many attempts have resulted in a 355 passing yards per game average, good for eighth in the nation.
Iowa has looked good at times and average at others, but they are not actually blowing out anybody out or looking dominant in any facet of the game. Their game against Indiana was a bit flukey with turnovers, they were out-gained by Iowa State, and looked sleepy against a bad Colorado State team in their most recent appearance.
Iowa is ripe for an upset as their results and ranking don’t accurately reflect their actual production on the field. Look for Maryland to pull off a big win for a national audience on Friday night.
Memphis vs. Temple
Sat, October 2 2021, 4:00 PM
Memphis has had an eventful two weeks, winning via a wild punt return against Mississippi State in dramatic fashion, then following that up with a loss last weekend against UTSA which saw them blow a 21-0 lead to lose 31-28.
Now Memphis must travel to Temple to face a team that has been one of the most underrated in the entire sport over the past 10 years. Since 2011, Temple is fourth in the country in its record against the spread. The Owls have a small fanbase, ugly colors, play in a professional stadium, and aren’t in a power conference. Bettors consistently fail to support Temple relative to their talent and ability, and that makes them a good underdog pick.
The Owls have three interceptions over four games, and if they can avoid turnovers and penalties they will have a chance to knock off a Tigers squad that has been through two stressful, dramatic contests and might be due for a letdown.
Western Michigan vs. Buffalo
Sat, October 2 2021, 4:00 PM
Buffalo couldn’t come through earlier this year when they were a live dog against Nebraska, but I’m giving them another chance at home against a much lesser opponent in Western Michigan.
Buffalo is a team that has a 33-24 average game point differential despite a blowout loss to Nebraska, while Western Michigan has a 27-22 average game point differential despite having a better record.
Buffalo won the MAC East Division in a shortened 2020 season, and will relish the opportunity to begin conference play at home. These teams are both right around 5.0 yards per play on offense, and the value on the underdog here in a spot that feels like a pick ‘em is a must-bet.
Baylor vs. Oklahoma State
Sat, October 2 2021, 11:00 PM
Oklahoma State has won and covered their last two games despite not scoring at all in the second half. On the one hand, it's a promising sign that they can take half a game off offensively and still cover a spread. On the other, it's troubling that their offense is so inconsistent and unreliable.
Baylor is coming off a huge upset win against Iowa State in which special teams and some big plays made the difference, but this is a program that has clearly turned the corner from the lows they experienced a few years ago following sexual misconduct by members of the football team.
Baylor is rather shockingly 26th in the nation in yards per play on offense, while the Cowboys are 81st. On defense, Baylor is 31st in yards surrendered per play, just 0.2 yards worse than Oklahoma State’s 24th ranked defense in that category.
Baylor has more offensive talent, and head coach Dave Aranda has instilled a winning culture throughout this rejuvenated program. Look for Baylor to play well for both halves and knock off a Cowboys team that has been lucky to get positive results after such lackluster play.
Arizona State vs. UCLA
Sun, October 3 2021, 2:30 AM
This may end up being the game of the year in the Pac-12, with the winner having pole position in the South Division and a shot to take on Oregon for the conference title, and maybe even a playoff spot.
The Sun Devils' defense is 11th in the country in opponent yards per play, with a defensive-minded coaching staff and a stout defensive line that limits big plays.
And while the UCLA offense has received more accolades thanks to the success they had against a talented LSU group and a double-digit win over an historically tough Stanford defense, the Sun Devils are just as efficient on offense.
Arizona State quarterback Jayden Daniels is a dynamic weapon, able to sling it with his strong arm and get out of the pocket with ease to buy more time or scramble when necessary. His counterpart, Bruins quarterback Dorian Thompson-Robinson, also injured his shoulder in his last game and may not be 100% for this big matchup.
Home field is probably the only difference in this spread and moneyline, but everything about these teams says it will likely be an even matchup. Let’s side with the healthier quarterback that has a better defense supporting him and pick the Sun Devils to pull the mild upset for some Pac-12 after dark fun.