Upset Watch: Week 5

Brian Spurlock-US PRESSWIRE - Presswire

More upsets again this week, but Michigan wasn’t one of the teams to spring the upset. The Irish snapped a three game losing streak to Michigan and now open 4-0 for the first time since 2002; the Irish went 10-3 that year, Tyrone Willingham’s first year as head coach.

For the first time this season, I nailed the majority of my picks, going 5-2 ATS. I'm now 10-17-1 on the season. Still, the victory feels a bit hollow, especially with a Michigan loss to rival Notre Dame.

Week five of the college football season begins with a PAC-12 North showdown in Seattle, as (#8) Stanford Cardinal visit the Washington Huskies (9:00 PM ET on ESPN) on Thursday. On Friday, the Brigham Young Cougars host the Hawaii Warriors on ESPN at 8:00 PM ET.

If you followed the Upset Watch last season, you know I pick five underdogs to cover the points, a favorite to cover, and I preview the Michigan game. Because Michigan is on a bye this week, there will be no pick on the game. I will substitute in another favorite to cover, though.

Be sure to check out my website, Before Visiting the Sportsbook, throughout the week, for more content.

Recap:

Wins

Kansas (1-3) +10.0 @ Northern Illinois (3-1). Result: Northern Illinois 30 Kansas 23.

New Mexico (2-2) +8.5 @ New Mexico State (1-3). Result: New Mexico 27 New Mexico State 14.

Clemson (3-1) +14.5 @ Florida State (4-0). Result: Florida State 49 Clemson 37.

Central Michigan (2-1) +18.0 @ Iowa (2-2). Result: Central Michigan 32 Iowa 31.

Marshall (2-2) -2.5 @ Rice (1-3). Result: Marshall 54 Rice 51.

Losses

Utah (2-2) +7.5 @ Arizona State (3-1). Result: Arizona State 37 Utah 7.

Michigan (2-2) +6.5 @ Notre Dame (4-0). Result: Notre Dame 13 Michigan 6.

Push

None

This Week

Only two games pair top 25 teams against one another, with (#25) Baylor Bears visiting (#9) West Virginia Mountaineers at 12:00 PM ET on FX. At 3:30 PM ET on ABC, the (#20) Michigan State Spartans host the (#14) Ohio State Buckeyes.

Upset Watch

Marshall (2-2) +18.0 @ Purdue (2-1). First ever meeting between these two teams. Purdue is 5-2-1 against current CUSA members, losing to Rice last year. The Thundering Herd are 0-6 against Big Ten teams, with an average margin of defeat of 29. Marshall is 7th in total offense (1st in passing, 52rd in rushing), while the Boilermakers are 31st in total offense (50th in passing, 28th in rushing). The Thundering Herd are 117th in total defense (97th in passing, 112th in rushing), while Purdue is 17th in total defense (27th in passing, 25th in rushing). Purdue Coach Danny Hope is 18-22 (20-19-1 ATS, 9-9 ATS as a favorite); Marshall Coach Doc Holliday is 14-15 (12-14-2 ATS; 7-8-1 as an underdog). Under Coach Holliday, the Herd are 2-4-2 ATS as two touchdown or more ‘dogs. Purdue is 4-3 ATS as a two touchdown or more favorite under Hope. Purdue has big games against Michigan and Wisconsin the next two weeks. I like Purdue to get the win, but I think they fail to cover the points, especially against a Marshall secondary that is better than the numbers indicate.

Missouri (2-2) +3.0 @ UCF (2-1). First meeting between the two schools. Missouri is .500 against current CUSA schools (17-17-2, but 13 of the 17 losses came to SMU). UCF is 1-10 hosting current BCS schools (beat Boston College last year, 30-3). Missouri is 98th in total offense (97th in passing, 76th in rushing), while the Golden Knights are 77th in total offense (60th in passing, 66th in rushing). The Tigers are 23rd in total defense (46th in passing, 24th in rushing), while UCF is 46th in total defense (32nd in passing, 67th in rushing). UCF Coach George O’Leary is 52-52 (57-47-1 ATS, 26-23-1 ATS as a favorite) since 2002; Missouri Coach Gary Pinkel is 83-49 (67-63-2 ATS; 18-17 as an underdog) since 2002. The Golden Knights are 4-10 coming off a bye week, under O’Leary. Its not surprising that Missouri has struggled in SEC play – they have faced two of the favorites to win the SEC East. A win over UCF means the Tigers will likely be bowl eligible come November 24th. UCF, as of right now, is ineligible for the postseason due to sanctions. A win would do a lot for the Golden Knights’ program, but they have games against East Carolina and Southern Miss looming; the game against the Pirates is just 5 days after the Missouri game. I like the Tigers to cover the points and win outright.

North Carolina State (3-1) +3.5 @ Miami (FL) (3-1). Miami (FL) has lost back-to-back games in this series. Overall, the Hurricanes lead the series, 7-5-1. North Carolina State is 76th in total offense (53rd in passing, 83rd in rushing), while the Hurricanes are 50th in total offense (37th in passing, 67th in rushing). The Wolfpack are 30th in total defense (40th in passing, 35th in rushing), while Miami (FL) is 98th in total defense (65th in passing, 109th in rushing). Miami (FL) Coach Al Golden is 36-41 (42-32-2 ATS, 17-15 ATS as a favorite); North Carolina State Coach Tom O’Brien is 81-49 (69-51-4 ATS; 35-20-1 as an underdog) since 2002. Since 2004, North Carolina State is 26-38 in ACC games (37-30-1 ATS), Miami (FL) is 36-31 (28-37 ATS). The Wolfpack seem to fly under the radar each year, but they are a legitimate dark horse team to win the ACC Atlantic Division. That said, I like North Carolina State to pull the upset here. Both teams face big games next week, with NC State hosting Florida State and Miami (FL) playing Notre Dame at Soldier Field.

@ Rice (1-3) +7.0 Houston (0-3). These two teams meet for the Bayou Bucket and are separated by 6 miles. Houston is 7-3 in the last ten meetings, but the teams have split the last four games. Rice is 30th in total offense (54th in passing, 25th in rushing), while the Cougars are 32nd in total offense (6th in passing, 95th in rushing). The Owls are 119th in total defense (84th in passing, 119th in rushing), while Houston is 118th in total defense (107th in passing, 113th in rushing). Houston Coach Tony Levine is 1-3 (1-3 ATS, 1-1 ATS as a favorite); Rice Coach David Bailiff is 24-41 (31-31-2 ATS; 21-27-2 as an underdog). Rice is 7-6 ATS against Houston since 1999, including 4-2 since 2006. The home team is 9-3 since 1999, but this game is being played at Reliant Stadium. The Cougars have had a tough time replacing QB Case Keenum. Look for the struggles to continue, and for Rice to keep it close.

@ South Florida (2-2) +17.0 Florida State (4-0). Only meeting was in 2009, where USF won 17-7 in Tallahassee, despite being a 14-point underdog. Florida State is 17-5 in road openers, but has lost back-to-back road openers. South Florida is 43rd in total offense (27th in passing, 78th in rushing), while the Seminoles are 4th in total offense (26th in passing, 8th in rushing). The Bulls are 64th in total defense (62nd in passing, 72nd in rushing), while Florida State is 2nd in total defense (4th in passing, 5th in rushing). Florida State Coach Jimbo Fisher is 23-8 (17-14 ATS, 14-10 ATS as a favorite; South Florida Coach Skip Holtz is 51-39 (48-39-2 ATS; 24-11-2 as an underdog). The non-conference game against in-state foe South Florida is sandwiched between two big conference games (Clemson and at North Carolina State). South Florida heads to Temple next week. The Bulls looked awful the past two weeks, losing at home to Rutgers and at Ball State. I’m a bit wary of this pick, as the Bulls could be starting their tailspin early. With that said, I like the Bulls to keep it right around two touchdowns.

Sure-fire Favorites

@ Wake Forest (3-1) -3.0 Duke (3-1). Wake Forest is 6-0 against Duke, in games played in Winston-Salem. The Demon Deacons beat the Blue Devils 54-48, covering the five-point spread, in 2010. Wake Forest is 101st in total offense (78th in passing, 92nd in rushing), while the Blue Devils are 49th in total offense (17th in passing, 105th in rushing). The Demon Deacons are 106th in total defense (49th in passing, 117th in rushing), while Duke is 44th in total defense (74th in passing, 23rd in rushing). Wake Forest Coach Jim Grobe is 65-63 (60-63-2 ATS, 20-32-1 ATS as a favorite) since 2002; Duke Coach David Cutcliffe is 39-50 (47-37-2 ATS; 28-24-2 as an underdog) since 2002. Duke has lost 12 straight to Wake Forest. Since 2004, Duke is 3-29 in ACC road games (Boston College 2011, North Carolina State 2009, and Virginia 2009). Wake Forest is 6-9 ATS since 1997 against Duke, but 3-2 ATS in the last five meetings in Winston-Salem. Take Wake Forest with the points.

Miami (OH) (2-2) -5.5 @ Akron (1-3). Miami leads the series 13-4, but all four losses have been at Akron. The Redhawks won the last meeting in Akron, 19-14 in 2010, but failed to cover the nine-point spread; the meeting before that, in 2006, resulted in a 24-13 Akron win – Miami was a 7.5-point underdog. Miami (OH) is 105th in total offense (63rd in passing, 116th in rushing), while the Zips are 37th in total offense (9th in passing, 100th in rushing). The Redhawks are 110th in total defense (77th in passing, 114th in rushing), while Akron is 81st in total defense (58th in passing, 99th in rushing). Miami (OH) Coach Don Treadwell is 6-10 (7-9 ATS, 3-4 ATS as a favorite); Akron Coach Terry Bowden is 1-3 (3-1 ATS; 2-1 as an underdog) since 2002. Akron is 0-4 in MAC openers over the last four years, with an average loss of 30 points per game. The Redhawks are 6-5-2 ATS since 1997 in this series, including 5-2-1 since 2002. Take Miami to cover the points.

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