Week 5 College Football Best Bets: How I See Cincinnati-Notre Dame, Alabama-Ole Miss

Written By Eli Hershkovich on October 1, 2021
Week 5 College Football Best Bets

Let’s break down where the value lies in my Week 5 college football best bets for TheLines. We’ve been gifted with a trio of top-25 college football matchups, including No. 7 Cincinnati at No. 9 Notre Dame and No. 1 Alabama vs. No. 12 Ole Miss.

No. 7 Cincinnati Bearcats @ No. 9 Notre Dame Fighting Irish

Yes, I regret betting against Notre Dame last week, in which Brian Kelly’s team covered as a 6.5-point underdog against Wisconsin. But it wasn’t a demolition like the final score would appear, considering the Badgers out-gained the Irish 4.6 to 3.5 in net yards per play.

Notre Dame defensive coordinator Marcus Freeman crowded the box while allowing the inaccurate Graham Mertz to throw ducks and a pair of fourth quarter pick-sixes. Freeman won’t be so fortunate versus the Bearcats, as Desmond Ridder (8.1 yards per pass attempt) presents more of a threat through the air than Mertz.

Luke Fickell’s offense has also had two weeks of prep time for this game. If Ridder asserts himself more in the first half than he showcased in Cincinnati’s come-from-behind win at Indiana, the Bearcats will be able to establish themselves on the ground (No. 3 expected points added per carry).

EPA is graded by the expected points scored based on the down, distance, and field position at the start of a play in comparison to the end result. Notre Dame is tied at No. 53 in opponents’ EPA/carry after stymying Wisconsin, but the defensive front is still vulnerable.

Regarding the Irish offense, quarterback Jack Coan (ankle) has practiced all week despite splitting first-team reps with Drew Pyne, who played in his first-ever collegiate game once Coan was banged up. The Bearcats’ defense, which ranks seventh overall in EPA/play, should continue to generate havoc — no matter who starts.

Checking In At The Counter

Over at WynnBET, a whopping 87% of the moneyline bets and 90% of the handle is on Notre Dame (as of Thursday). The line opened with Cincinnati as a two-point road favorite, but it’s down to -1.5.

“I personally had Notre Dame as a small favorite (-1),” Motoi Pearson, WynnBET senior trader, said. “It was easy for me to think immediately after Notre Dame crushed Wisconsin last week that they might be a public play this week. I’m anticipating more Notre Dame money coming in whether Coan or Pyne go.”

Additionally, Cincinnati’s College Football Playoff odds (+650 on DraftKings) are worth a look. That price would drop with a Bearcats win, and all of the sport’s parity has opened the door. We’re back to fading Notre Dame in the Week 5 college football best bets.

Eli’s Bet: Cincinnati -1.5 (PointsBet — placed at 4p ET on Thursday, Sept. 30)
Best Available Line: Cincinnati

  • Georgia Vs. Arkansas: College Football Betting Lines, Odds and Trends

No. 12 Ole Miss Rebels @ No. 1 Alabama Crimson Tide

Led by Matt Corral, the Rebels have developed into one of college football’s most explosive offenses, producing the third-ranked EPA/play. Their success has transitioned over from late last season, albeit versus mediocre competition thus far.

  • Louisville: No. 80 opponents’ EPA play
  • Austin Peay: FCS program
  • Tulane: No. 116 opponents’ EPA play

Even though I might not get the in-game line I’m looking for, there isn’t enough pregame value for me to back Kiffin’s team. Bryce Young & Co. have notched 11th-highest EPA/pass despite Young appearing befuddled at times, and they’re up against a subpar Rebels passing defense.

WynnBET has 58% of the spread tickets and even 77% of the handle on Ole Miss. It opened with Alabama as a 14.5-point favorite, and that spread hasn’t shifted either direction.

“My number out of the gate was ‘Bama -13.5,” Pearson said. “Although it’s been a short sample size with Ole Miss, I’ve been impressed and have tried to stay ahead of them in my power rankings. I’ll expect Alabama money coming in closer to kickoff, but I’d like to respect Lane Kiffin & Co. regardless of what the market says.”

This game will represent a massive swing in the Heisman betting market, too. Both signal callers are +175 to win the award after Corral opened the season as high as 50-1.

Potential Underdog Angle: Ole Miss live +17.5 or better
Best Available Line: Ole Miss

Week 5 College Football Odds:

Eli Hershkovich Avatar
Written by
Eli Hershkovich

Eli Hershkovich is a lead sports betting writer with TheLines and Catena Media, formerly with Audacy and The Action Network. His goal is to provide you with data and information to lead you to winning bets. Eli is an avid college basketball gambler — among many other sports — and still hasn't forgiven Virginia for ruining his 2018-2019 Texas Tech futures.

View all posts by Eli Hershkovich