Scully’s NCAAF Week 5 picks: Unbeaten teams facing key tests

James Scully

September 26th, 2019

A trio of unbeaten (and perhaps surprising) teamsCalifornia, Minnesota and Wake Forestare in the spotlight in Week 5. We will back two of them and fade the other in our four pack of picks.

Arizona State at California (-4.5), Friday, 10:30 p.m. ET, ESPN

Both teams can be low scoring but we like how Cal’s offense continued to evolve in a road win over Ole Miss, where Chase Garbers threw for 357 yards and four touchdowns as the Bears sped to a 28-13 lead after three quarters. The Bears traveled east for an early start last week and looked the part of a legitimate Pac-12 championship contender. They get after teams with an elite defense and shut down Washington to win straight up as a 13.5-point underdog in Week 2. Linebacker Evan Weaver is a force and he recorded 22 tackles last week. The Bears are not receiving the respect they deserve from oddsmakers in this matchup.
Kudos to Arizona State for a 10-7 win at Michigan State two weeks ago, but this offense can be pedestrian and the defense is not in the top 10 nationally like California. Colorado went to Tempe last week and put the Sun Devils in an insurmountable hole, with 24 points in the first half. The Buffs enjoyed success through air (337 passing yards) and on the ground (138 rushing yards), even without star playmaker Laviska Shenault Jr. for most of the game.

Cal enters on a 6-1 ATS run in conference play and Arizona State is 1-5 ATS in its last six games.

Pick: California -4.5

Wake Forest (-6.5) at Boston College, Saturday, 3:30 p.m. ET, ACC Network

The points are attractive with Boston College, which is undervalued because of a shocking home loss to Kansas. That performance was an aberration, and the Eagles still play solid defense and feature one of the ACC’s best ground games behind stud A.J. Dillon (who has more than 150 rushing yards in his last two games) and dual-threat quarterback Anthony Brown. Boston College is 7-3 ATS in last 10 conference games and capable of controlling the clock.

Wake Forest entered the Coaches Poll this week at No. 24 and brings a 4-0 record to its first conference road game. But the Deacons beat up on three bad opponents and had to eke out a six-point home win over a rebuilding North Carolina that was ripe for an emotional letdown (the game followed a pair of thrilling upsets for the Tar Heels over high-profile rivals). The Tar Heels gained 144 yards rushing behind a committee of running backs, and Boston College set to do much more damage on Wake Forest’s suspect run defense. We like what Jamie Newman and the Demon Deacons offense is doing, but this is too many points to be laying in an expected close game.

Pick: Boston College +6.5

Minnesota (-2.5) at Purdue, Saturday, 3:30 p.m. ET, ESPN2

Minnesota features a pair of dynamic backs in Mohamed Ibrahim and Rodney Smith, but the Gophers have yet to get the ground game rolling in three close wins. Quarterback Tanner Morgan has been solid, has led a high-scoring attack (34 points per game) and has completed 35-of-54 passes for 523 yards (with five TDs and an interception) in the last two games. Minnesota’s ground game can get going against a Purdue defense that allowed 346 rushing yards to TCU in its last game.

We like Minnesota regardless of who plays quarterback and recommend getting down on this game early in case Purdue’s Elijah Sindelar is ruled out, which would change the line. The Boilermakers can’t run the ball effectively, and even if Sindelar plays, he will take some hits behind the Big Ten’s worst offensive line. Minnesota good up front defensively, ranked 17th nationally against the run, and Golden Gophers’ offense will continue to progress against a declining Purdue.

Pick: Minnesota -2.5

North Carolina State at Florida State (-6.5), Saturday, 7:30 p.m. ET, ACC Network

Florida State struggled early in the season but enters this game with momentum, off a 35-point effort to win by double digits over Louisville. James Blackman’s status is in doubt, but the Seminoles have a capable backup in Alex Hornibrook, who played most of the second half last week. Florida Sttate is far too potent for NC State, which has not been a good road team of late (1-5 ATS in the last six games) and must rely on the run game.

The Wolfpack completed two passes and had only 104 yards in the second half against Ball State last week, and won because of special teams’ mistakes and turnovers from its opponent. NC State struggles to throw the ball effectively with new quarterback Matthew McKay, who is only 40-for-78 over the last two games. Florida State put up 522 yards of offense last week and will exploit a rebuilding NC State with offensive issues.

Pick: Florida State -6.5

James Scully’s 2019 NCAAF record ATS on BetAmerica heading into Week 4: 10-8 (2-2 last week)