Should we just go ahead and crown Alabama as the national college football champion once again?

Sure, a lot can still happen between today and January 7, but there’s not much reason to think Nick Saban and company won’t be lifting the championship trophy for the sixth time in 10 years. Through four games, the Crimson Tide has outscored its opposition by an average of 41 points, including a 45-23 whipping of #22 Texas A&M last week.

The only thing Saban’s powerhouse teams in the past have been missing was a superstar quarterback, and now that the Tide has Heisman Trophy favorite Tua Tagaovailoa at pivot, it doesn’t even seem fair. Bama is nearly even money (+110 at BetOnline) to win the national title, which may look like a virtual lock but also doesn’t present a lot of value. Neither does laying the points with Alabama on a week-to-week basis, considering that the Tide is 49-point chalk for this week’s clash with University of Louisiana-Lafayette.

Fortunately, there’s a lot more to bet on in college football than just Alabama games. There are 57 other contests on this week’s Division 1 slate, and I’ve circled four of them as prime money-making opportunities.

With that, here are my NCAAF predictions for Week 5:

All odds that are referenced in this article were taken from at 10 a.m. eastern on September 25, 2018. These odds may have changed since the time of this writing.


1. Army +8 over Buffalo (Saturday, 12 p.m. eastern)

Everyone’s high on the Bulls right now, and with good reason. At 4-0, Buffalo is off to its best start in program history, and the Bulls’ winning streak is actually at seven games if you date back to last year. Not only was UB favored last week on the road against a Big Ten opponent (yes, it was Rutgers, but they’re still a Big Ten program), the Bulls took care of business easily with an impressive 42-13 rout of the host Scarlet Knights.

But at some point, the Bulls are going to be priced too high, and that’s what I think we’re getting here. During this seven-game winning streak, the Bulls have won by double digits just three times. One of them was last week against awful Rutgers, one was last year as 17.5-point favorites at Ball State, and the other was in the season opener as 44.5-point chalk versus Delaware State. Buffalo didn’t cover the spread in the latter two contests, showing that it isn’t quite as good of a bet when it’s actually expected to blow out its opponent.

Army’s fully capable of hanging around inside a big number, as the Black Knights showed last week in a 28-21 overtime loss at Oklahoma. Army controlled the ball for nearly three-quarters of that contest, and the Black Knights will probably use a similar game plan this week to keep the ball away from Bulls star quarterback Tyree Jackson and company. That’s how you consistently cover as an underdog, which Army has done in five of its last seven outings when catching points.

Betting Prediction

While Army may be a bit flat following last week’s near-upset, Buffalo’s also got the potential to come into this one a bit full of themselves after earning Top 25 votes this week. As long as this line is over a touchdown, I think there’s all sorts of value here on the Black Knights.

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2. Virginia Tech +5 -115 over Duke (Saturday, 7 p.m eastern)

What a horrible loss that was last week for Virginia Tech! The Hokies’ 49-35 defeat at Old Dominion as 27.5-point road favorites has been described by some as the biggest college football upset in the past decade, and it’s hard to think of a bigger one. It’s one thing for a down Nebraska program to lose at home against Troy a week ago, and another for a ranked Hokies squad to lose to a supposedly overmatched FCS opponent.

Teams in this situation have two choices: pack it in and sulk after seeing their chances at a big bowl game essentially dashed, or return the next week with pride and vengeance. I fully expect Virginia Tech to do the latter this week, especially on the defensive side of the ball. Bud Foster’s defense is a very proud unit and is a lot better than it showed last week, evidenced by the 20 combined points they gave up in their first two games.

Duke’s put up some eye-popping offensive numbers over the past two weeks, scoring 95 points in games against Baylor and North Carolina Central. But this will be a real step-up in class for David Cutcliffe’s crew, which hasn’t had a whole lot of success against Foster’s Hokies over the years. The Blue Devils were held to just three points in last year’s meeting, and they’ve been limited to 24 or less in eight of the last 10. Obviously Duke has different players on the field now than it did a decade ago, but Foster and Cutcliffe have been matching wits during that span. Clearly, Foster has had the upper hand.

Betting Prediction

Finally, Duke comes into this game at 4-0, while the Hokies are 2-1 and coming off a horrible loss. Which team do you think will play with more intensity and focus? Both history and motivation are on the side of the Hokies here, and we’re catching an inflated six-point line here as well after last week’s debacle. Virginia Tech plus the points might be my favorite play of the week.

Place Your Bet Here


3. Notre Dame -4.5 -110 over Stanford (Saturday, 7:30 p.m. eastern)

We’ve known since Notre Dame’s season-opening win over Michigan that the Fighting Irish can play defense. The big question in South Bend was whether the Irish could do enough on offense this year to challenge for a national title, and the emergence of quarterback Ian Book makes me think they just might.

Book shredded a decent Wake Forest defense for 325 passing yards, 43 rushing yards and five touchdowns (two passing, three running) in his debut as Notre Dame’s starting pivot. Full marks to Irish head coach Brian Kelly for replacing Brandon Wimbush with Book despite Notre Dame’s 3-0 start, knowing that the Irish needed more production from the quarterback position. If Book can continue that type of production going forward, it makes Notre Dame extremely dangerous as a national playoff darkhorse.

Stanford’s also undefeated, but anyone who watched the Cardinal’s game last week in Oregon knows how misleading Stanford’s 4-0 mark is. Tree collected just 17 first downs, but still managed to pull off the road upset thanks to a pair of Oregon turnovers – most notably a Ducks fumble when Oregon was trying to run out the clock. Then, in overtime, Colby Parkinson hauled in a 23-yard TD pass that easily could have been intercepted, popping up in the air before the big tight end secured the catch.

Betting Prediction

Now, Stanford has to play its second straight road game, and it’s in a extremely hostile environment to boot. The Irish is playing this game with triple revenge, having lost each of the last three meetings – including last year’s affair in California by a 38-20 score. This is Notre Dame’s best team during that stretch, and I expect them to show it. Lay the points with the Irish in a game that has blowout potential.

Place Your Bet Here


4. Mississippi State -7.5 -107 over Florida (Saturday, 6 p.m. eastern)

Mississippi State was starting to emerge as a potential challenger to Alabama and Georgia as this year’s SEC champion. Then, last week happened. The Bulldogs’ hopes of a national playoff appearance this season were all but dashed with a 28-7 loss at Kentucky, when their powerful offense was limited to just 11 first downs and 201 yards from scrimmage.

The silver lining, for us bettors at least, is the extra value that we can catch on the Bulldogs this week. If Mississippi State was still undefeated, I think they’d be laying at least 10 points in this spot, if not close to a couple of touchdowns. Adding to the value is that Florida is coming off an “impressive” 47-21 dismantling of Tennessee last week, but if you look at the boxscore, that victory suddenly isn’t so impressive after all.

The Volunteers basically imploded in that contest, gifting Florida 24 points on six turnovers. The Gators’ offense continued to struggle, managing just 186 yards through the air, and padded its stats with a pair of long fourth-quarter touchdowns when the game was already out of reach. I don’t think they even get to 14 points tonight against this physical Mississippi State defense, which allowed just 26 points in its first three games, then held the Wildcats to 14 points until Kentucky scored twice in the last eight minutes.

Betting Prediction

Finally, as much as the media might make of Florida wanting to get new head coach Dan Mullen a victory in his first trip back to Mississippi State, the Bulldogs will also want to show their former coach that he made a mistake in leaving for Florida. Lay the 7.5 points with the superior favorite here, especially with the Gators’ recent struggles on the road (2-7 ATS in their last nine).

Place Your Bet Here

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