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2023 College Football Week 5 Sleeper Picks

By Hank Blaine

Some bad news for Texas Tech as starting quarterback Tyler Shough was set to have surgery Tuesday on a broken left fibula that could keep him out for the rest of the regular season. Coach Joey McGuire said that Shough will be out at least six to eight weeks. The Red Raiders probably weren’t Big 12 contenders but now certainly aren’t. Here are three underdogs we like in Week 5 around college football, all games Saturday.

Top 2023 College Football Week 5 Sleeper Picks

Texas A&M Aggies vs. Arkansas Razorbacks

The Aggies and Razorbacks meet for the 80th time in program history Saturday and the 12th time at AT&T Stadium as A&M has claimed 10 of the last 11 matchups with Arkansas. Aggies QB Conner Weigman has registered a pair of 300-yard passing games this season and is tied for eighth in the SEC, averaging 244.8 yards per game. His eight touchdown passes on the year are good for fifth in the league. Weigman sprained his ankle in Saturday’s win over Auburn but A&M hopes he will be ready. If Weigman can’t go, veteran Max Johnson would step in under center. With the Aggies up by just a field goal at the half against Auburn, Johnson spelled an injured Weigman in the second half and quickly connected on a pair of touchdowns. He finished 7-for-11 for 123 yards and a TD. Quick starts have been a harbinger of Aggie victories in the Jimbo Fisher era. Texas A&M is 33-5 when scoring first and are 31-2 when leading after the first quarter.

Hogs QB KJ Jefferson has completed 77-of-108 (70.4%) passes for 918 yards and nine touchdowns while also rushing for 128 yards and a touchdown through four games this season. Jefferson, who has thrown for at least one touchdown in each of his last 15 games under center, ranks first on Arkansas’ career touchdown responsibility list with 77 (57 passing touchdowns, 20 rushing touchdowns. Rashod Dubinion has rushed for 174 yards and a touchdown on a team-high 41 carries (4.2 ypc) through the Hogs’ first four games of the 2023 season. Filling in for injured star RB Raheim “Rocket” Sanders, Dubinion logged a career-high 15 rushing attempts for 78 yards (5.2 ypc) and recorded three receptions for 35 yards in Saturday’s loss at LSU. WR Andrew Armstrong leads the Razorbacks with 24 receptions for 273 yards and three touchdowns. Arkansas boasts a 42-34-3 record against Texas A&M.

2023 College Football Week 5 Pick: Arkansas

Illinois Figting Illini vs. Purdue Boilermakers

  • When: Saturday, September 30th, 2023. 3:30pm EST
  • Where: Ross-Ade Stadium, West Lafayette, IN
  • College Football Odds: Illinois (-1) // Purdue (+1))

The first-year head coach at Purdue is former Illinois defensive coordinator Ryan Walters. In 2022, the Fighting Illini had one of the top defenses in the nation, ranking No. 1 in the country in scoring defense (12.3 points per game allowed) and No. 2 in yards per play allowed (4.26). Seven of Illinois’ 12 opponents in 2022 were held to 10 points or less, and five opposing offenses failed to score a touchdown against Walters’ defense. The Boilers are just 1-3 under Walters, however, and opened Big Ten play with a 38-17 home loss to Wisconsin last Saturday. The Boilers outgained the Badgers with 233 total yards to 185 in the second half, but the 21-3 deficit from the first 30 minutes was too large to surpass. Purdue’s only points in the first half came from kicker Julio Macias, who connected on his first career field goal attempt from 34 yards. Purdue quarterback Hudson Card was 21-of-38 passing for 202 yards. The redshirt junior set a career high with 50 yards on 13 carries, notching his third rushing score of the season.

Illinois (2-2) beat Florida Atlantic 23-17 on Saturday. Isaiah Williams grabbed a team-high eight catches for 120 yards, a mark that ties his career-high. Williams leads the Big Ten in receptions (24) and ranks second in receiving yards (333), only three yards behind Ohio State’s Marvin Harrison Jr. Saturday’s game features the two top pass-catchers in the conference, as Purdue’s Abdur-Rahmaan Yaseen ranks second in the Big Ten in receptions (22). Illinois’ Jer’Zhan “Johnny” Newton and Keith Randolph Jr., who go by the nickname “The Law Firm,” are one of the top defensive tackle duos in the nation over the last two seasons. Among defensive linemen (both interior and edge), Newton is tied for third in the nation in Pro Football Focus’ defensive stops statistic with 13. Randolph is tied for the national lead in tackles (27) among defensive linemen, including both interior and edge rushers. He has four more tackles than any other Power-5 defensive tackle. Purdue has won the past three in the series and makes it four Sunday.

2023 College Football Week 5 Pick: Purdue

Oregon Ducks vs. Stanford Cardinal

It’s the final Pac-12 meeting for these rivals with Oregon off to the Big Ten and Stanford to the ACC. Could be a trap game for the Ducks (4-0) off an impressive 42-6 home win over No. 19 Colorado on Saturday. The Ducks led 35-0 at halftime, at which point Oregon had more first downs (22) than Colorado had total yards (21). Through three quarters the UO lead was 42-0, and the advantage in yardage was 481-72. Oregon’s defense held the Buffs to 199 total yards, 127 of those coming in the fourth quarter. The Ducks had seven sacks, broke up six passes and didn’t allow a point until just 2:51 remained in the game. QB Bo Nix finished the day 28-of-33 passing for 276 yards and three touchdowns and is right in the Heisman race. Oregon is No. 2 nationally with 54.0 points per game and leads the nation in first-half scoring at 34.25 points per game. The Ducks lead the nation with 6.98 yards per rush. Bucky Irving ranks fourth in the Pac-12 with 8.24 yards per carry. Defensively, Oregon leads the Pac-12 and ranks ninth in the FBS in passing defense, allowing just 158.8 yards per game.

Stanford (1-3) lost 21-20 at home to Arizona on Saturday. DJ Williams scored a go-ahead touchdown from two-yards out midway through the fourth quarter to lead the Cats. Stanford — coming off a loss to FCS-member Sacramento State in last week’s home opener — entered the game on a five-game Pac-12 losing streak, but had won the previous six contests against Arizona. Stanford vs. Oregon has been one of the steadiest Pac-12 rivalries over the years. Both have won seven times in the last 14 meetings, and since 2007, the series is split 4-4 inside Stanford Stadium. Stanford has also lost eight consecutive games against ranked teams. The most recent win for Stanford over a team inside the AP Top-25 came in the most recent matchup against the Ducks at Stanford Stadium, when the Cardinal upset a third-ranked Oregon squad 31-24 in overtime.

2023 College Football Week 5 Pick: Stanford

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READ MORE: 2023 College Football Week 5 Odds, Overview & Picks