College Football Expert Picks for Week 5: Bet These Small Favorites Before Line Moves

Oregon State is in a good spot to get back on track in PAC-12 play on Friday night

Sep 23, 2023; Pullman, Washington, USA; Oregon State Beavers quarterback DJ Uiagalelei (5) throws a
Sep 23, 2023; Pullman, Washington, USA; Oregon State Beavers quarterback DJ Uiagalelei (5) throws a / James Snook-USA TODAY Sports

Many, but not all teams, are in conference play as teams we get into the meat of the college football schedule.

Oregon State, a trendy pick to win the PAC-12 this season, suffered an opening loss to league play, but can get back on track at home on Friday night against the class of the conference in recent years in Utah, who shut down UCLA's high powered offense in a Week 4 win.

The Beavers are small home favorites as we await further news about Cam Rising's knee injury after he didn't make his anticipated return last week.

Meanwhile, Memphis suffered a setback against Missouri in its first test against a Power Five opponent, but will face someone on a more level ground in Boise State in a high-level Group of Five matchup, but I don't see these two as equals like oddsmakers do.

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Utah vs. Oregon State Prediction and Pick

The Beavers couldn't slow down the Washington State passing game on the road against the Cougars as the team couldn't overcome a 14-0 first quarter deficit.

However, I don't believe the Utah passing game can challenge the Oregon State secondary that gave me some pause heading into the season as a PAC-12 title contender after losing two NFL-caliber cornerbacks.

The Utes are hoping that Cam Rising will make his long awaited return from his torn ACL suffered in January and give a jolt to its quarterback play. Rising is a decorated passer, passing for over 5,500 yards over the last two seasons, but backup Nate Johnson hasn't been a threat at all in the passing game as the Utes have leaned on its stifling defense to get to 4-0 on the year.

Utah is 108th in EPA/Play on offense thus far while running the ball at a top 10 rate given the team's inability to move the ball downfield with the rush first Johnson.

If Johnson gets the nod, I don't believe the Utes will challenge the weak point of the Oregon State defense while I also question Rising effectiveness if he suits it up in his potential first start on the road against the Beavers.

I give full credit to Utah for shutting down a vaunted UCLA offense and freshman quarterback Dante Moore, limiting the Bruins to -0.50 EPA/Play (1st percentile amongst games in 2022). However, the team will face a better Beavers offensive line in Oregon State, who are top 15 in offensive line yards.

I'm banking on Utah not being able to hit a 75-yard touchdown pass on the opening play (like against Florida), or a pick-six (like against UCLA) and struggle to play from behind, setting up a Beavers cover.

PICK: Oregon State -2.5

Boise State vs. Memphis Prediction and Pick

While Memphis couldn't knock off an SEC foe in Missouri, this is a nice landing spot for the Tigers to score a home victory. I rate the Tigers considerably better than the Broncos, who have struggled on defense after losing four of five key players in the secondary, among others.

The Broncos are 110th in terms of EPA/Play this season. While the team has played a more difficult strength of schedule against the likes of Washington, UCF and even San Diego State, I don't believe that is making the visitors undervalued going on the road to face a potent passing game, headlined by veteran quarterback Seth Henigan.

Henigan had little issue passing on Missouri's stout defense, totaling 316 yards and three touchdowns, but the Tigers couldn't slow down wide receiver Luther Burden, who hauled in 10 catches for 177 yards. Boise State lacks a wide receiver to take advantage like the future NFL player Burden, rating 120th in EPA/Pass this season.

Boise State continues to receive credit in the market after entering the season as the Mountain West favorites, but the team hasn't lived up to its billing. Meanwhile, Memphis has some serious upside on offense that can outpace the Broncos lackluster offense that is underwhelming under first year offensive coordinator

Game odds refresh periodically and are subject to change.

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