Get college football best bets for the Friday 9/29/23 slate. This article features an analysis of Louisville vs. NC State, Utah vs. Oregon State, and Cincinnati vs. BYU.
College Football Week 5 Best Bets – Friday Slate (9/29/23)
Week 5 of the college football season is here, and while the Saturday slate isn’t quite as loaded as last week’s ranked matchup bonanza, we do have a tantalizing Friday slate to break down. Here, Kody and I will give you our favorite bets for the Friday slate of games. Be sure to check out our YouTube channel for further coverage of these games, as well. Let’s get to work.
Jacob Wayne’s Record: 12-14 (-1.6 units)
Kody Malstrom’s Record: 4-6 (-2.6 units)
Will Schwartz’s Record: 8-3-1 (+4.7 units)
Louisville Cardinals vs. NC State Wolfpack
The Brennan Armstrong experience isn’t working. After the Virginia transfer put up monster numbers with offensive coordinator Robert Anae in 2021, the duo reunited at NC State this season, but the results haven’t been close to the same. Armstrong has averaged just 6.3 yards per attempt, which ranks 10th-worst in the Power Five.
Last week, Armstrong completed just 48.4% of his passes against a horrid Virginia defense that ranks outside the top 100 in pass defense EPA and success rate. Overall, NC State’s offense has been stuck in the mud as they rank just 128th in offensive explosiveness.
Meanwhile, the Jeff Brohm era at Louisville is off to a pristine 4-0 start, and the Cardinals are coming off a 56-28 shellacking of Boston College in which they finished in the 99th percentile in EPA per play. They generated ten explosive plays, which is in stark contrast to NC State’s complete lack of explosiveness to start this season.
Louisville’s offense is centered around electrifying running back Jawhar Jordan, who leads the Power Five with 9.6 yards per attempt. Jack Plummer is also playing great football, ranking top five in the P5 with 11.3 yards per attempt and a 9.3% big-time throw rate per PFF. He’s been far more productive than his counterpart Armstrong.
The Cardinals have only played one true road game this season, and it came against an Indiana team that nearly lost to Akron last week. Still, I believe in what Jeff Brohm is building at his alma mater and I’m happy to back them against an NC State team that has shown a lot of warts so far this season.
Best Bet: Louisville -3 (play to -3.5)
Cincinnati Bearcats vs. BYU Cougars
Two of the four new additions to the Big 12 face off on Friday night, and I believe Cincinnati is far more equipped for this game. BYU is dealing with a handful of injury issues to key players on the roster including its top two running backs, which underscores their nonexistent run game.
BYU is averaging 2.2 yards per carry, which ranks 122nd in the country, and they rank outside the top 130 FBS teams in rushing EPA and success rate. That doesn’t bode well heading into a matchup against a Cincinnati defense allowing just 3.3 yards per attempt this year, which ranks 36th.
As a result of their inefficiency, BYU has abandoned the run game – they rank 120th in rush play rate. Kedon Slovis had 51 pass attempts last week, and he finds himself in third-and-long situations far too often given the team’s lack of standard down success. Cincinnati ranks 14th in defensive havoc, so that’s a real concern.
Cincinnati is due for some positive regression in the red zone scoring department. They have 19 red zone possessions this year, which ranks 25th, but are scoring a touchdown on just 47% of those drives, which ranks 119th. Last week against Oklahoma, Cincinnati had six scoring opportunities where they drove past the 40-yard line and they finished with just six points on those possessions.
BYU finished with a post game win expectancy of just 4% against Arkansas a couple of weeks ago, and that fluky win is inflating their market rating. Emory Jones hasn’t been a world beater under center for the Bearcats, but they have a much more balanced offensive approach than BYU and this is a great time to buy them.
Best Bet: Cincinnati +1.5 (play to -2.5)
Utah Utes vs. Oregon State Beavers
While expectations hit a low heading into the season with injury uncertainty surrounding their starting quarterback Cam Rising, the Utah Utes have just kept finding ways to win. Largely off the backs of their defense, ranking second in Overall Def Success Rate, 11th in Def Points per Opportunity, and 16th in Havoc.
The Utes have needed every ounce of that defensive success as their offense has mightily struggled without their star quarterback. Their offensive metrics are shockingly bad for the once great unit, ranking a lowly 101st in Overall Off Success Rate, 106th in Explosiveness, and 102 in Points per Opportunity.
It’s night and day between the offense and defense, fielding a team that greatly plays towards the under. Cam Rising is still questionable to play but the spread rising in Oregon State’s favor indicates that the Utes will once again be without their star quarterback.
As for how they fare against Oregon State, this game shapes out to be a slugfest between the trenches. The Beavers base their offensive success on their ability to grind out opposing defenses with the ground game, now having to go against a stout Utes front seven.
While that style of play has worked to great success against inferior defensive units at this point of the season, Utah’s defensive line will present a far tougher challenge than they have been accustomed to. Utah’s defense has thrived in limiting opposing Success Rate, forcing offenses to convert at a further distance in later downs.
This creates potential early outs and stalled out drives down the field, resulting in either minimal points on the board or a punt to flip the field. Factor in Oregon State’s tendency to abuse the run and the clock should tick down at a rapid pace with the new clock rules.
Utah’s offense has also shown an inability to generate any sort of consistency, especially through the air. This allows opposing defenses to stack the box, cheating up and negating their run. Couple their offensive inefficiencies with a defense poised to halt the Beaver ground game and this game script plays greatly towards an under.
Best Bet: Under 45.5 (Play to 45)