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Athlon picks the biggest upsets for Week 5.
College football's Week 5 schedule is relatively quiet in terms of top 25 matchups. Although there are few marquee games to watch this Saturday, it's weekends like this one that can spring a few upsets. Athlon's panel of editors is back, along with a guest contributor to give you the top upset predictions for Week 5.
College Football's Week 5 Upset Picks
Dave Bartoo (@CFBMatrix), CFBMatrix.com, Missouri (+3) over Central Florida
This was the pick in my pre-season selections in March and there is no reason to change it (not that I ever do). I about fell out of my chair when I saw Mizzou getting +3 to open the week. In the last 6 years, the Tiger, when the Matrix picks them to win in on the road have just 2 losses. Conversely, UCF under O’Leary is an underachieving train wreck. Everything I see points to Mizzou. They have a coaching advantage and a huge talent gap advantage. Don’t let the last 2 weeks set a Gambler Fallacy into your mind. Missouri was supposed to lose those two games against elite teams. In essence, those are two losses they cashed in exchange for the SEC payday. While I prefer the home dog, the Tigers roll into UCF and roll over the Knights.
David Fox (@DavidFox615): Iowa State (+2.5) over Texas Tech
So we’re really making Iowa State and Paul Rhoads underdogs at home against Texas Tech. OK. If you insist. Texas Tech is second in the nation in total offense and first in total defense. No doubt, the Red Raiders are improved, but they’ve played Northwestern State, Texas State and New Mexico. Iowa State will be much tougher. The Cyclones’ most impressive win might not even be the 95 victory at Iowa. Maybe it’s 38-23 over Tulsa, which is a much closer gauge of what Iowa State will see against Texas Tech. In that game, Iowa State held Tulsa quarterback to 23-of-49 passing with two interceptions. Seth Doege is a veteran quarterback with better receivers, but I’ll put my trust in the Iowa State defense.
Braden Gall (@BradenGall): Ohio State (+3) at Michigan State
These two teams are very well coached, are very physical along the line of scrimmage and have arguably the top two defenses ni the Big Ten. But the Buckeyes have one major advantage and you can bet Urban Meyer will take advantage of it. Braxton Miller will be the best player on the field and when the play breaks down, he has been brilliant. Meanwhile, Andrew Maxwell has yet to prove he can win a game with his arm. Expect Meyer to stack the box against Le'Veon Bell in an effort to force Maxwell into key third-down situations. Give me the Bucks to win a close one on the road.
Steven Lassan (@AthlonSteven): NC State (+3) at Miami
Is it time to buy into Miami? Only time will tell but last week’s win over Georgia Tech was impressive. The Hurricanes’ defense struggled to get stops, but the offense scored a season-high 42 points and recorded 609 yards. NC State has flown under the radar since losing to Tennessee in the season opener. The Wolfpack have picked up wins over Connecticut, South Alabama and Citadel the last three weeks, and cornerback David Amerson seems to have his confidence back after a disappointing performance in the opener. Although the Hurricanes have scored 38 or more points three times this season, the Wolfpack will present a tougher challenge on defense, especially in the trenches where they are averaging 3 sacks per game. Miami’s secondary has yet to face a quarterback of Mike Glennon’s caliber, which should test a unit that is allowing 226.3 yards per game. Expect a close matchup, but NC State’s edge on defense should be the difference.
Mitch Light (@AthlonMitch): Rice (+5) over Houston
Houston has arguably been the most disappointing team in the nation. Yes, record-setting quarterback Case Keenum is gone, but the Cougars welcomed back 12 starters (including seven on defense) from a team that won 13 games last season. But the 2012 season, under the direction of first-year coach Tony Levine, has been a disaster. Houston has lost all three games, most notably a 30–13 decision at home in Week 1 to FBS upstart Texas State. Rice, meanwhile, has played relatively well. The Owls are 1–4 with a win at Kansas and losses to UCLA, Louisiana Tech and Marshall (in double-overtime). As expected, Rice has been horrible on defense, but the offense has been solid; the Owls have scored at least 24 points in all four games and are averaging over 220 yards rushing and passing. Houston has the more talented roster, but Rice might be the better team. Rice 41, Houston 37
Mark Ross: Rice (+5) over Houston
This Conference USA battle of in-state rivals features two of the worst defenses in the nation, statistically anyways, so expect lots of offense. Rice is second-to-last among the 120 FBS teams in total defense (546.8 ypg), while Houston is just one spot ahead of them at No. 118 (536.3 ypg). The Owls are dead last in scoring defense with the Cougars coming in at No. 117, as both teams are giving up more than 40 points per game. The difference here is with the offenses, which is surprising since Houston has more of a reputation on that side of the ball. Make no mistake, however, this is not the same Cougars' offense that we've seen in recent years, as they and the Owls are basically even when it comes to total offense numbers. The Owls' offense, which is scoring nearly 12 more points per game than the Cougars, is led by dual-threat quarterback Taylor McHargue, who is currently 13th in the nation in total offense (321 ypg). Cougars quarterback David Piland is fourth in the nation in this category, as he's averaging nearly 350 yards passing per game, but the offense has had all sorts of issues with ball security (No. 105 in turnover margin). In the end, Rice's more-balanced offense, led by McHargue, will out-gain and out-score Piland and the Cougars in what figures to be a high-scoring affair. In other words, I wouldn't hesitate to start any Owls or Cougars I have on my fantasy roster and may even have to check to see if any are available to pick up.
Patrick Snow (@AthlonSnowman): Ohio State (+3) at Michigan State
This will be the Buckeyes first road contest under Urban Meyer, but I believe OSU’s quarterback advantage will be able to overcome the raucous atmosphere in East Lansing. Obviously these are two physical teams built around running the ball and solid defense, so expect a tight, low-scoring affair. The Ohio State defense has had some issues against the pass (104th in the nation) this season, but I do not see Spartans signal caller Andrew Maxwell being able to consistently move the ball through the air. The difference in this one will be Buckeyes dual-threat quarterback Braxton Miller, who is electric in the open field and can make big plays at any time. Special teams will also play a critical role in a close game, and I’ll take Ohio State to prevail on the road and go to 5-0 on the season.
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