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College Football Picks: Predicting Every Game in Week 5

Christian Wilkins

Christian Wilkins

The Week 5 edition of picking every game on the college football schedule is highlighted by a pivotal battle in the ACC as Clemson heads to Lane Stadium to battle Virginia Tech. Elsewhere, USC visits undefeated Washington State in a key Pac-12 showdown, Georgia attempts to keep rolling as it heads to Tennessee and Mississippi State hopes to get back on track against Auburn.

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Here is every game on the Week 5 slate:

Thursday, Sept. 28

Texas at Iowa State

This is a huge barometer game for the Longhorns, who need to prove that their strong performance at USC was not a fluke by taking care of business in Ames. Texas is 5–1 all-time at Iowa State, but that one loss came on its last visit, in 2015 — and it was ugly (Iowa State 24, Texas 0). Texas 30, Iowa State 23

Friday, Sept. 29

Miami (Fla.) at Duke

Duke is 4–0 with three wins over Power 5 opponents (Northwestern, Baylor and North Carolina). Miami overcome a sluggish start to record a 52–30 win over a good Toledo team. This is a key early season game in what figures to be a wild Coastal Division race. Miami 28, Duke 24

BYU at Utah State

Not sure what was more surprising about Utah State’s 61–10 win at San Jose State last weekend — that the Aggies won so convincingly or that a college football game was played in under 3 hours (2:57). BYU has scored 19 points in three games vs. FBS foes. BYU 19, Utah State 13

Nebraska at Illinois

Are these the two worst teams in the Big Ten West? Hard to argue otherwise at this point in the season. Nebraska is 2–2 but has not looked good in either win, by seven over Arkansas State and by 10 over Rutgers. This might not be aesthetically pleasing. Nebraska 20, Illinois 7

USC at Washington State

Washington State concludes a season-opening five-game homestand with arguably the biggest game of the Mike Leach era. Luke Falk has been outstanding so far, completing 76.9 percent of his passes, averaging 8.2 yards per attempt and throwing only one interception in 169 attempts. USC, however, will be by far his biggest test. Washington State 37, USC 33

Saturday, Sept. 30

Memphis at UCF

This critical AAC matchup was rescheduled from Week 2 due to Hurricane Irma. Both teams are undefeated and both teams have an impressive win over a Power 5 opponent on their résumé — Memphis outlasted UCLA 48–45 in Week 3 while UCF rolled past Maryland with surprising ease, 38–10, in College Park last weekend. UCF 44, Memphis 34

Houston at Temple

It’s been a tough transition from Matt Rhule to Geoff Collins at Temple. The Owls are 2–2, with two narrow wins over inferior opponents (Villanova and UMass) and two blowout defeats (Notre Dame and USF). Things are only slightly better at Houston, which lost at home to Texas Tech on Saturday. Houston 47, Temple 17

Maryland at Minnesota

Minnesota leads the nation in scoring defense, allowing only 8.0 points per game. The schedule hasn’t been too tough (Buffalo, Oregon State and Middle Tennessee without QB Brent Stockstill), but it’s still a very impressive start for defensive coordinator Robb Smith. Minnesota 23, Maryland 20

New Mexico State at Arkansas

Arkansas is still seeking its first win over an FBS opponent. It should occur this weekend — though New Mexico State, 2–2 overall, will no doubt put up a fight. Arkansas 37, New Mexico State 20

Northwestern at Wisconsin

The winning team has not scored more than 21 points in the last three games in this series — quite a departure from 2005-13, when the winner averaged 45 points. Both teams are coming off of a bye. Wisconsin 28, Northwestern 20

Rice at Pittsburgh

It’s been a struggle for both of these programs in 2017. Pitt has lost three straight, each in convincing fashion, and has yet to beat an FBS team. Rice is 1–3, with a win over lowly UTEP. Pittsburgh 44, Rice 13

South Florida at East Carolina

East Carolina showed some signs of life, outlasting UConn 41–38 to record its first win of the 2017 season. Win No. 2 will have to wait. South Florida will light up the Pirates’ defense. South Florida 47, East Carolina 23

North Carolina at Georgia Tech

Georgia Tech is flying under the radar — due to its overtime loss to Tennessee — but this looks like a really good team that is capable of challenging Virginia Tech and Miami for the Coastal Division crown. UNC is 0–3 vs. Power 5 opponents. Georgia Tech 31, North Carolina 20

Vanderbilt at Florida

Vanderbilt was humbled last week in a 59–0 loss at home to Alabama in a game that was as lopsided as the final score indicates. The Dores, however, should be relatively confident heading down to Gainesville; they won at the Swamp in 2013 and lost in 2015 by two points. Florida 20, Vanderbilt 17

Syracuse at NC State

NC State opened ACC play in style, topping Florida State in Tallahassee. Now, the Pack must prove they can handle success going forward. Syracuse gained some confidence with its impressive showing (in defeat) at LSU. This is not a gimme. NC State 34, Syracuse 27

Central Michigan at Boston College

Central Michigan will be facing its third Power 5 team in September; the Chips beat Kansas 45–27 and lost at Syracuse 31–14. Boston College played well at Clemson before succumbing to the Tigers in the fourth quarter. The Eagles are in desperate need of a win. Boston College 20, Central Michigan 13

Baylor at Kansas State

Kansas State is back in action two weeks after a painful 14–7 loss at Vanderbilt. Baylor played its best game, by far, of the season last week, losing 49–41 at home to Oklahoma. The Bears are 0–4 but have the talent to make K-State sweat. Kansas State 33, Baylor 21

Buffalo at Kent State

Buffalo continues to make progress in Year 3 under Lance Leipold. The Bulls evened their record at 2–2 with a 34–31 win over FAU Saturday. And their two losses are respectable, by 10 points at Minnesota and by four at Army. Buffalo 27, Kent State 13

Florida State at Wake Forest

These two teams are a combined 4–2. Wake Forest, of course, is 4–0, while Florida State is 0–2. The Demon Deacons have held each of their four opponents to 19 points or fewer, but the schedule has been soft. True freshman QB James Blackman did some nice things in his first start for the Seminoles. He should continue to progress with more experience. Florida State 24, Wake Forest 23

Indiana at Penn State

Penn State escaped Iowa City with a thrilling 21–19 win in its Big Ten opener. The Nittany Lions leaned on spectacular tailback Saquon Barkley, who is emerging as perhaps the leading Heisman contender. Indiana’s first three Big Ten games: vs. Ohio State (in Week 1), at Penn State (Week 5), vs. Michigan (Week 6). Not kind. Penn State 37, Indiana 24

Murray State at Louisville

Murray State is 1–3 overall, with its only win against Kentucky Wesleyan. This will not go well for Racers. Louisville 56, Murray State 0

The names change, but Navy continues to roll up the yards and win games. The Midshipmen are 3–0 and averaging just under 500 yards per game. Tulsa’s usually high-octane attack was limited to 286 yards in a 16–13 loss to New Mexico on Saturday. Navy 37, Tulsa 27

Ohio at Massachusetts

It’s been a painful season for UMass, which is already 0–5 — but each of the five losses has been by 10 points or fewer. The Minutemen played their best game last week, losing 17–13 at Tennessee. Ohio opened MAC play with a 27–20 overtime win at Eastern Michigan. Ohio 27, UMass 20

Georgia at Tennessee

Perhaps no team in the nation took a bigger step toward a possible CFB Playoff appearance than Georgia. The Bulldogs dominated Mississippi State on both sides of the ball en route to their second win over a top 25 team in the first month of the season. The defense, as expected, has been outstanding. The offense, under true freshman quarterback Jake Fromm (for now, at least), is improving each week. They have emerged as the overwhelming favorite in the SEC East. Georgia 30, Tennessee 17

UTEP at Army

Breaking news: UTEP is not good at football. The Miners are 0–4 and have not scored more than 16 points in a game. Last week, they lost 41–14 at New Mexico State. Army’s option attack should have little trouble churning out big gains. Army 41, UTEP 16

Arizona State at Stanford

This might not be a vintage Stanford team, but the Cardinal could have the best offensive player in college football not named Saquon Barkley. Junior Bryce Love leads the nation in rushing with 196.8 yards per game (61 more than the No. 2 back) and is averaging an amazing 10.8 yards per carry. Arizona State slowed its early season slide by beating Oregon at home last week. Stanford 34, Arizona State 27

Eastern Michigan at Kentucky

Kentucky must bounce back from yet another devastating loss to Florida — the Cats’ 31st straight to the Gators. Eastern Michigan has improved dramatically in recent years under Chris Creighton, but the Eagles shouldn’t pose too much of a problem for UK. Kentucky 30, Eastern Michigan 16

Iowa at Michigan State

Iowa came one play away from knocking off Penn State Saturday night at Kinnick Stadium. Didn’t happen. Now, the Hawkeyes head to East Lansing for a winnable game at Michigan State. The Spartans are improved after sinking to four wins a year ago, but this is not a team that looks like it will be a threat in the Big Ten East. Iowa 24, Michigan State 20

Texas State at Wyoming

Josh Allen’s struggles continue; Wyoming’s junior quarterback — considered by some to be a future first-round draft pick — completed 9-of-19 passes for 92 yards in a 28–21 win over Hawaii. He has thrown for a total of 330 yards in three games against FBS opponents. Wyoming 24, Texas State 7

Connecticut at SMU

It’s been a rough start for the second act of Randy Edsall’s career at UConn. The Huskies are 0–2 against FBS foes, losing at Virginia 38–18 and dropping a 41–38 decision at home to previously winless ECU. Defense is the primary concern. SMU 44, UConn 21

Miami (Ohio) at Notre Dame

Miami, the preseason favorite in the MAC East, has lost two non-conference games by a total of nine points but took care of business in the league opener, topping Central Michigan 31–14. Notre Dame is fresh off an impressive win at Michigan State. The Irish look like a potential 10-win team. Notre Dame 30, Miami 14

Akron at Bowling Green

These two teams are a combined 1–7, with the one win by Akron over Arkansas-Pine Bluff. Akron is coming off a competitive loss at Troy, one of the top teams in the Sun Belt. Go with the Zips on the road. Akron 31, Bowling Green 27

Mississippi State at Auburn

It’s been quite a ride in recent weeks for Mississippi State, which rolled past LSU 37–7 with shocking ease and then lost at Georgia 31–3 on Saturday. Auburn, which won at Missouri last week, needs to sweep the next two games — Mississippi State and Ole Miss at home — before it hits the road for dates with LSU, Arkansas and Texas A&M. Auburn 24, Mississippi State 20

Air Force at New Mexico

New Mexico recorded a sneaky-good win last week, beating Tulsa 16–13 on the road. The most impressive part was holding the Golden Hurricane to 286 yards. Air Force led San Diego State late in the fourth quarter but gave up a 53-yard touchdown run to Rashaad Penny that proved to be the difference. New Mexico 24, Air Force 21

Ball State at Western Michigan

Western Michigan has won three straight in this series and has averaged 49.3 points in those three wins. Western Michigan 37, Ball State 18

Charlotte at FIU

Charlotte has endured some epic struggles on offense en route to its 0–4 start. In three games against FBS opponents, the 49ers have scored a total of 14 points, including zero last week in a 28–0 loss at home to Georgia State. FIU is a work in progress under Butch Davis, but the Panthers have a chance to be 3–1 after this weekend. FIU 24, Charlotte 10

Coastal Carolina at ULM

Coastal Carolina opened up its first season in the FBS ranks with a 10-point win over UMass but has since lost to UAB and to Western Illinois (by a shocking 42 points). ULM is riding high after outlasting rival Louisiana 56–50 in overtime. ULM 42, Coastal Carolina 21

Marshall at Cincinnati

A quick look at comparative scores — which can be dangerous — suggests these teams are pretty even. Marshall defeated Miami (Ohio) 31–26 at home in Week 1. Cincinnati won at Miami (Ohio) 21–17 in Week 2. I’ll go with the team that beat Miami on the road — and the team that is at home this week. Cincinnati 27, Marshall 23

Middle Tennessee at FAU

Middle Tennessee managed to beat Bowling Green last week without its two best offensive players, quarterback Brent Stockstill and wide receiver Richie James. It’s unclear if either will be available on Saturday. Either way, I’m taking the Blue Raiders. Middle Tennessee 28, FAU 25

North Texas at Southern Miss

This is an important game for two teams that will be jockeying for position in the C-USA West Division. North Texas snapped a two-game losing streak by beating UAB 46–43 at home on Saturday. Southern Miss has had a week off to prepare. Go with the rested Golden Eagles. Southern Miss 34, North Texas 20

South Alabama at Louisiana Tech

Louisiana Tech came a play away from knocking off South Carolina in Columbia last weekend. The last time the Bulldogs played at home was not pretty: They gave up 57 points to Mississippi State. Things will be different this week. Louisiana Tech 40, South Alabama 20

Troy at LSU

LSU is a very underwhelming 3–1 after holding off Syracuse in Baton Rouge on Saturday. The Tigers have one more week to get things right before diving back into the SEC slate with a trip to Florida. LSU 34, Troy 13

Ohio State at Rutgers

Ohio State has feasted on two overmatched opponents, Army and UNLV, by a combined score of 92–28. We won’t truly know if the Buckeyes have solved any of their offensive issues until late October/early November when they play Penn State and Iowa in back-to-back games. Rutgers appears to be playing hard for second-year coach Chris Ash, but the Scarlet Knights are still searching for their first FBS win of the season. Ohio State 44, Rutgers 10

South Carolina at Texas A&M

Nobody is talking about South Carolina as a possible SEC East champion anymore. That’s what happens when you lose at home to Kentucky and have to rally to beat Louisiana Tech, 17–16, the following week (the same Louisiana Tech team that lost at home to Mississippi State by 36 points). Texas A&M 33, South Carolina 26

Clemson at Virginia Tech

I have a new theory: Don’t pick Clemson to lose … and usually pick them to win by a lot of points. So while Virginia Tech is a really good team — the Hokies are 4–0 and are scoring a ton of points — and Lane Stadium is a difficult place to play (especially at night), it would go against my new theory if I picked Virginia Tech to win (or at least lose by just a few points). Clemson 34, Virginia Tech 20

Oklahoma State at Texas Tech

Kliff Kingsbury’s seat — scorching to start his fifth season at his alma mater — is getting cooler by the week. The Red Raiders are 3–0, highlighted by last week’s 27–24 win at Houston. This team has made huge strides defensively, allowing only 5.1 yards per play (down from 7.0 last season). Tech held Houston to 10 points until late in the fourth quarter, when the Cougars tacked on two late touchdowns to make the final score respectable. Oklahoma State was emerging as a popular pick to win the Big 12 title and even crash the CFB Playoff party … until the Cowboys lost at home to TCU last weekend. They were undone by turnovers — three interceptions and one fumble. This is still a very good team when it takes care of the ball. Oklahoma State 41, Texas Tech 33

Washington at Oregon State

Washington looks like the best team in the Pac-12 one-quarter into the 2017 season. The Huskies opened their league slate with an impressive 37–10 win at Colorado. Improving to 2–0 shouldn’t be too much of a problem. Oregon State is 0–3 against FBS opponents, with each loss coming by at least 29 points. Washington 47, Oregon State 10

Ole Miss at Alabama

With two wins (2014, ’15) and a three-point loss (’16), Ole Miss has enjoyed more success against Alabama than any other SEC team over the last three years. The Rebels’ magic figures to end this season. Alabama 41, Ole Miss 17

Nevada at Fresno State

Fresno State’s last two games came against teams that appeared in the 2016 College Football Playoff, and the results were not surprising — losses to Alabama (41–10) and Washington (48–16). Now, after a week off, Jeff Tedford and his team are ready to begin Mountain West play against 0–4 Nevada. Fresno State 34, Nevada 21

California at Oregon

Cal is exceeding expectations in Year 1 of the Justin Wilcox era thanks in large part to the improved play of the Bears’ defense. Through four games, they are allowing 24.0 points, down from a Pac-12-worst 42.6 per game a year ago. They will be tested this week by the potent Oregon offensive attack. Oregon 34, Cal 24

Colorado at UCLA

Here’s some advice for Colorado: Run the ball. UCLA ranks last in the nation in rushing defense, allowing an unthinkable 307.5 yards per game and 6.6 yards per carry. Colorado 34, UCLA 31

Northern Illinois at San Diego State

San Diego State climbed into the national rankings on the strength of wins over Pac-12 foes Arizona State and Stanford — and then held on to its spot in the polls by rallying to defeat Air Force in its Mountain West opener. The Aztecs step out of league play one more time when Northern Illinois visits this weekend. The Huskies, who won at Nebraska two weeks ago, are more than capable of winning this game. San Diego State 24, Northern Illinois 20

San Jose State at UNLV

It’s been a struggle for San Jose State on defense in recent weeks. The Spartans have given up 56, 54 and 61 in consecutive losses to Texas, Utah and Utah State. Expect the struggles to continue. UNLV 48, San Jose State 24

Colorado State at Hawaii

Colorado State, expected to battle Boise State for the Mountain West Mountain Division title, opens league play with two straight on the road, beginning with this trip to Hawaii. The Rainbow Warriors are improved, but this is a game Colorado State should win. Colorado State 38, Hawaii 24


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