College football Week 5 best underdog bets, picks and predictions: Rebels bounce back

Sep 23, 2023; Tuscaloosa, Alabama, USA; Mississippi Rebels quarterback Jaxson Dart (2) celebrates his touchdown in the end zone against the Alabama Crimson Tide during the first quarter at Bryant-Denny Stadium.
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Sam Avellone


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Long-time suffering Browns fan born and raised in the greater Cleveland, Ohio area who now resides in SEC country. University of South Carolina alum. Sports handicapper for close to 10 years with a primary focus on NCAAB while enjoying NFL, PGA, NCAAF, NBA, and Soccer. For Sam Avellone media enquiries, please email
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The first month of the college football season is in the rearview mirror as we head into Week 5. Last week was full of marquee matchups that left us glued to our televisions all day, and while there are not as many headline games this week – there are plenty of fascinating games that will demand attention and could play a part in conference title races or bowl eligibility. Following a 1-1-1 performance in the Week 4 article, the underdogs of the week picks are 7-4-1 with a handful of winners from the honorable mentions as well. Let’s check out this week’s best underdogs and continue our profitable run!

And make sure to check out all of our CFB Week 5 picks.

Best Week 5 Underdog Bets

Odds available at BetMGM at the time of publishing. 

USF Bulls +3.5 (-115) over Navy Midshipmen

This is an ugly one, but I cannot trust Navy laying points even if the Midshipmen are off their second bye week of the season. Navy’s defense has not been good thus far, ranking outside the top 125 in opposing drive efficiency, yards per play, and touchdown rate. Furthermore, the Midshipmen are in the bottom 10 nationally in success rate allowed and yield over 4 points per opposing trip inside their own 40 yard line. Now, USF is not what most people consider a good offense, but first year coach Alex Golesh has given this unit some flair. Quarterback Byrum Brown has been solid leading Golesh’s system, especially in last week’s 42-29 win over Rice. Brown had 435 passing yards and 2 touchdowns on just 22 completions while adding 82 yards and a score on the ground. Being that Navy’s pass defense grades similarly to Rice’s per PFF, Brown should be able to put together another solid performance through the air.

Defensively, USF leaves a lot to be desired. However, previous opponents seemingly attacked the Bulls through the air rather than on the ground like Navy figures to do. While first year head coach Brian Newberry promised a change to Navy’s offense, the Midshipmen still keep the ball on the ground at the second highest rate nationally both by run play percentage and rush rate over expectation. Without too much of a passing threat, USF should be able to focus on stopping the run, giving the offense an avenue to keep this game close or even win outright. For what it is worth, Navy has been bad in the favorite role recently, failing to cover in their last 4 games when laying points dating back to the start of last season. Meanwhile, USF has covered in its last 2 games, both as an underdog.

Ole Miss Rebels +2.5 (-105) over LSU Tigers

I would love to find a +3 before this one kicks off, but I think the Rebels will win this one outright despite last week’s horrid second half performance against Alabama. The Rebels looked defeated as soon as the Tide took the lead, which is something I think they can fix playing at home in front of their fans as the sun sets Saturday night in Oxford, Mississippi. If Ole Miss wants to be in the SEC West race, this is pretty much a must win. While that is not actionable information, it is something to consider when trying to quantify motivational advantages. Keep in mind, Lane Kiffin and the Rebels have been in this position before back in 2021 when Ole Miss defeated a ranked Arkansas team at home following a disappointing effort in Tuscaloosa the week prior. The Rebels fell just short of the division title that year.

For what it is worth, LSU did not look great defensively last week against Arkansas, who ranks outside the top 40 in adjusted offensive efficiency. The Tigers gave up 6.3 yards per play and yielded 8 first downs on 13 third down attempts while never leading by more than 10 points despite laying 17 at home. On the season, LSU currently ranks outside the top 25 in adjusted defensive efficiency and outside the top 90 in certain unadjusted defensive metrics like drive efficiency and touchdown rate. Furthermore, the Tigers are outside the top 80 in explosive plays allowed and passing success rate allowed while ranking outside the top 110 in PFF’s coverage grade. Comparatively, Alabama’s defense ranks 2nd in coverage and in the top 25 in both explosiveness and success rate allowed, so this is a better matchup for Ole Miss’ offense all around.

Jaxson Dart’s group of talented pass catchers should be able to find space against LSU’s leaky secondary, and the run game should find success against LSU’s defense as well. The Tigers are outside the top 100 in PFF’s tackling grade, which is not a good trait to have against Ole Miss’ duo of thumping running backs – Quinshon Judkins and Ulysses Bentley. The duo has forced 16 combined missed tackles on just 72 attempts and often require multiple defenders to be brought to the ground. With the Rebels’ season goal of winning the SEC West on the line, I expect them to play a much better all around game in front of their home fans against LSU.

South Carolina Gamecocks +12.5 (-110) over Tennessee Volunteers

Neyland Stadium is going to be very hostile under the lights on Saturday night, as the Volunteers have one thing on their mind – revenge. The Gamecocks embarrassed the ‘Vols last season on primetime, dashing Tennessee’s playoff hopes. To make matters worse, Hendon Hooker was injured during the game – which effectively ended his college career. With Hooker out of the picture this season, Joe Milton has taken over at quarterback and there has been a hefty downgrade at the position because of it. Milton’s PFF passer grade is a 67.4 compared to Hooker’s 85.3 last season, and he accumulates 2.3 less yards per pass attempt than Hooker did. The downgrade in the passing game has affected the offense as a whole, as the Volunteers are averaging 11 less points and over 60 less yards per game in 2023. They will have to rely on their rushing attack to score efficiently throughout the season, which is not necessarily a bad thing considering the Volunteers rank 12th in EPA per rush according to CFBGraphs.

Unfortunately for Tennessee, that may not help them in this matchup. Unlike last season, the Gamecocks are solid against the run, ranking 14th nationally in EPA per rush allowed while giving up just 3.43 yards per attempt and grading in the top 35 nationally in tackling. Given Milton’s inaccuracy and Spencer Rattler’s continued improvement at South Carolina, the Gamecocks have the quarterback advantage in this game. Rattler should be able to create enough plays against Tennessee’s secondary, which ranks 60th in passing success rate allowed, to keep this game close despite the hostile road environment. 

Honorable Mention: Syracuse Orange, South Alabama Jaguars

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