CFB Best Bets Today: Expert Picks for Alabama-Arkansas, North Carolina State-Clemson and More in Week 5

Sep 17, 2022; Tuscaloosa, Alabama, USA; Alabama Crimson Tide quarterback Bryce Young (9) looks to
Sep 17, 2022; Tuscaloosa, Alabama, USA; Alabama Crimson Tide quarterback Bryce Young (9) looks to / Marvin Gentry-USA TODAY Sports

Week 5 brings a big slate of ranked on ranked college football matchups.

It's conference play and it's time for the best in the country to face the toughest part of their schedule. There are five matchups that feature a pair of Top 25 meeting this weekend and we have it all covered for you on our BetSided college football page. Here are our best bets for the these marquee matchups.

Kentucky vs. Ole Miss Prediction and Pick

This number looks large on the surface, the Rebels opened around -1.5 and has been blown out to -6.5. It's an interesting set up as the Rebels defense has looked fantastic and the Kentucky offense is hoping to improve on that side of the ball with the return of Rodriguez.

Rodriguez can help the Wildcats rush offense that is averaging less than 2.5 yards per carry this season (bottom 10 in the nation), but the offensive line has been concerning and Rodriguez won't help there. The team is bottom 10 in sacks allowed and outside the top 30 in line yards.

Ole Miss defense has been far better than expected this season, even against lowly competition, allowing the 10th fewest yards per play and is top 25 in tackles for loss.

This is a lot of points to lay with the Rebels, but I do lean towards that side, I make them close to a 10-point favorite. Adjust for schedules and the return of Rodriguez and you get closer to -7, but I don't believe the Wildcats are actually worthy of being a top 10 in the AP Poll.

I think the Rebels make for a strong moneyline parlay piece on Saturday as the line does indicate a reasonable difference between the teams, but at less than a touchdown I'm comfortable playing the side. -- Reed Wallach

PICK: Ole Miss -6.5

Wake Forest vs. Florida State Prediction and Pick

Florida State has looked revitalized this season, knocking off the likes of LSU and at Louisville, but I believe the market is overreacting to their recent success. After opening at around a pick, the team has been steamed out to a touchdown favorite against a formidable Wake Forest team.

Wake's secondary could be vulnerable to explosive plays (outside the top 100 in explosive pass defense), but the defense line has held up nicely under first year defensive coordinator Brad Lambert, ranking top 20 in tackles for loss and 43rd in yards per play allowed.

The Demon Decans went toe-to-toe with Clemson last week, airing it out with Hartman and the team's mesh RPO scheme. AT Perry and Donovan Greene looked fantastic in the passing game and the FSU defense is beatable, ranking 96th in defensive success rate.

This is a swift over correction in market sentiment, so I'll play back against it. If they are playing from behind I still trust Hartman to get the late cover in. -- Reed Wallach

PICK: Wake Forest +6.5

Alabama vs. Arkansas Prediction and Pick

This number has blown past a (somewhat) key number of -17, and I think it's time to step in and back the Razorbacks.

The secondary has concerns after star safety Jaylon Catalan went down with a season ending injury, but the Razorbacks have a fantastic defensive line that can challenge the Crimson Tide offensive line. Alabama has an offensive line that ranks 54th in line yards and struggled to hold up against Texas on the road.

Maybe the pass catchers have figured it out since the road trip to Austin, putting up 63 against Louisiana-Monroe and 55 against Vanderbilt, but I'll take a shot on a havoc drive Arkansas defensive line that has the most sacks in the country (20).

Meanwhile, KJ Jefferson has continued to develop as a dual threat quarterback, leading a unit that is top 25 in success rate. Can this team get to 24 points and stay within shouting distance against the Tide at home?

Last year, Arkansas scored 35 points against Alabama (aided by a fake field goal touchdown), and while the team will surely miss Treylon Burks, I downgrade Alabama's offense as well and think that this game can look something like 34-24 Bama.

I'll take the points and hope Jefferson can find the end zone enough to cash a ticket. -- Reed Wallach

PICK: Arkansas +17

Baylor vs. Oklahoma State Prediction and Pick

Blake Shapen is the sophomore quarterback for Baylor and a first year starter. He has been very solid in his four games, but against BYU he only threw for 137 yards and one touchdown. Shapen has thrown seven touchdowns to one pick this year and is completing 69% of his passes. They rely on the 26th ranked rushing offense to score and they are averaging over 200 rushing yards per game. 

Oklahoma State’s rushing defense is the 42nd best in the country so Baylor could move the ball on them. Oklahoma State is 70th in the country in total defense this year after playing two games against non-power 5 teams and one game against Arizona State who is in shambles and just fired Herm Edwards. That is very concerning considering it was a top-5 unit in the country a year ago and that was what led them to be the No. 5 team in the country leading into the Big 12 championship game. 

The unit I trust most is Oklahoma State’s offense led by Spencer Sanders, who has 10 touchdowns and nearly a thousand yards through three games. I can’t see this game finishing 21-16 like it did a year ago, I think it will be a classic Big 12 shootout. -- Josh Yourish

Pick: Over 56.5 (-110)

North Carolina State vs. Clemson Prediction and Pick

Now, it looks like the wind should subside and it will be more about the rain on the field. The total climbed back to 43.5 as of this writing. I mentioned on The Early Reed that I was buying the under below 41 and now that the weather forecast is showing that there will be limited alterations to the game, I think we see the projected game I envisioned.

So, what is that?

I'm not crazy about this North Carolina State team as they go to face a Clemson offense that is starting to find their footing with Uiagalelei under center. The team hung 50+ on Wake Forest, who is significantly worse on that side of the ball against NC State, but are the Wolfpack as elite as predicted?

The team has been outgained by their two legitimate foes this season in East Carolina and Texas Tech, needing timely turnovers to flip the game script and win those games outright. However, the team is bottom half of the country in both explosive pass and rush defense.

The Clemson offensive line has been strong protecting DJU and opening rushing lanes, posting the 34th best line yard metric. They are running to open up the passing game, which is 30th in explosive pass rate and 37th in EPA/Play on passing plays.

I think the Tigers can find success against this NC State defense that has struggled in their slight challenges, but don't sleep on Leary and this Wolfpack offense. Clemson's secondary was exposed against Wake Forest, allowing six passing touchdowns in the win.

No, NC State doesn't have the weapons that Wake does, but Leary is fantastic and I think this Wolfpack offensive line can hold up against Clemson's defense for their quarterback to make plays.

I projected this total at 48.5 (without projecting weather), at below 45 this was a play for me and I'm willing to stand by that. -- Reed Wallach