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College Football Picks: Predicting Final Scores for Every Game in Week 5

College Football Picks: Predicting Final Scores for Every Game in Week 5

College Football Picks: Predicting Final Scores for Every Game in Week 5

The Week 5 edition of picking every game on the college football schedule is highlighted two huge top-10 battles: Stanford visits Notre Dame and Ohio State travels to Penn State. Here is every game on the Week 5 slate:

Thursday, Sept. 27

North Carolina at Miami (Fla.)

North Carolina, playing at home for the first time this season, broke through with a much-needed win, outlasting Pittsburgh 38–35 in Chapel Hill. The Tar Heels broke the 20-point barrier for the first time this season thanks to a career day from QB Nathan Elliott (313 yards, two TDs, zero INTs). Replicating that performance against a very good Miami defense will be a challenge. Miami 27, North Carolina 17

Friday, Sept. 28

Memphis at Tulane

Tulane is still searching for its first win against an FBS opponent in 2018. The key to upsetting Memphis: Find a way to slow down Darrell Henderson, the nation’s leading rusher (177.3 ypg) despite averaging only 14.5 attempts per game. Memphis 37, Tulane 24

UCLA at Colorado

The Chip Kelly era is off to a slow start at UCLA. The Bruins are 0–3 — and have not looked good in any game. Colorado, on the other hand, has been impressive in all three games en route to its first 3–0 start since 2008. The Buffs haven’t been 4–0 since 1998. Colorado 34, UCLA 14

Saturday, Sept. 29

Army at Buffalo

Buffalo is emerging as the team to beat in the MAC. The Bulls are 4–0 overall (with wins at Temple and at Rutgers) and 1–0 in league play (with a quality win over Eastern Michigan). Army almost shocked the college football world Saturday night before falling in overtime at Oklahoma. This is a really good game between two solid Group of 5 teams. Buffalo 30, Army 20

Bowling Green at Georgia Tech

Georgia Tech is already 0–2 in the ACC after last week’s 49–21 loss at home to Clemson. And dating back to last October, the Yellow Jackets are 1–7 in their last eight games against FBS opponents. Georgia Tech 38, Bowling Green 17

Central Michigan at Michigan State

Michigan State opened up its Big Ten slate with a solid 35–21 win at Indiana, but the Spartans aren’t going to be much of a threat unless they start to run the ball better. They are averaging only 119.7 yards per game and 3.3 yards per attempt, both 13th in the Big Ten. Michigan State 30, Central Michigan 13

Syracuse at Clemson

Syracuse handed Clemson its only loss of the 2017 regular season, knocking off the Tigers 27–24 on a Friday night in October on the strength of a big game from quarterback Eric Dungey (278 passing yards, three TDs, zero INTs, 61 rushing yards). That Syracuse team entered the game 3–3. This Syracuse team is 4–0, including a 30–7 victory over Florida State. So does this mean the Orange can make Clemson sweat? Probably not. Clemson 41, Syracuse 20

Indiana at Rutgers

Rutgers has scored a total of 30 points during its three-game losing streak. The three points against Ohio State wasn’t much of a surprise. But 14 against Kansas (in a 39-point loss)? And 13 against Buffalo (in a 29-point loss)? Inexcusable, especially three years into the Chris Ash era. Indiana 34, Rutgers 13

Louisiana at Alabama

One week after taking care of Jimbo Fisher and Texas A&M, 45–23, Nick Saban will face another former assistant when Billy Napier and the Louisiana Ragin’ Cajuns roll into town. Napier, in his first season as a head coach, was an offensive analyst at Alabama in 2011 and the Tide’s wide receivers coach from 2013-16. Alabama 48, Louisiana 7

Oklahoma State at Kansas

Oklahoma State is eager to rebound after last week’s surprising 41–17 loss at home to Texas Tech. Kansas saw its modest two-game winning streak snapped with a 26–7 loss at Baylor. The Jayhawks have lost seven straight at home to the Pokes. Oklahoma State 47, Kansas 17

Temple at Boston College

Boston College fell from the ranks of the unbeaten, dropping a 30–13 decision to previously winless Purdue. The problem? The Eagles managed only 85 rushing yards, their lowest output since the tail end of the 2016 season. They need to get AJ Dillon (59 yards vs. Purdue) back on track against an improving Temple team. Boston College 30, Temple 17

Arkansas vs. Texas A&M (Arlington)

The good news: The Razorbacks held Auburn to 3.9 yards per play on Saturday, the fewest by an Arkansas opponent in SEC play since 2015. The bad news: Auburn beat Arkansas 34–3. The tough times will continue. Texas A&M 41, Arkansas 13

West Virginia at Texas Tech

The Big 12’s top two passers will be on display in Lubbock — Texas Tech’s Alan Bowman (389.3 ypg) vs. West Virginia’s Will Grier (373.3 ypg). Grier was expected to be one of the nation’s best. Bowman, a true freshman, is one of the biggest surprises in college football. Go with the veteran Grier. West Virginia 44, Texas Tech 33

Virginia at NC State

This is a sneaky-good quarterback battle thanks to the emergence of Virginia’s Bryce Perkins as one of the nation’s most productive dual threats. Perkins, a junior college transfer, ranks fifth in the ACC in passing (216.8 ypg) and 11th in rushing (79.3 ypg) for the 3–1 Cavs. NC State is 3–0 and led by sixth-year senior QB Ryan Finley, who ranks fourth nationally with 352.0 yards passing per game. NC State 35, Virginia 23

ULM at Georgia State

It’s been a rough start for Georgia State, which had to rally to beat Kennesaw State in the opener and has since lost to NC State, Memphis and Western Michigan by an average of 30 points. With trips to Troy and Arkansas State on the horizon, the Panthers are looking at an 0–3 start in the Sun Belt if they don’t win this one. ULM 27, Georgia State 17

Massachusetts at Ohio

It’s the home opener for Ohio — and the only home game the Bobcats will play in the first seven weeks of the 2018 season. Ohio 33, UMass 14

Kent State at Ball State

Kent State dives into MAC play after a brutal opening stretch that featured three games at Power 5 schools — Illinois, Penn State and Ole Miss. The Golden Flashes might not win too many games in 2018, but they play an exciting brand of football and have a talented quarterback in former Auburn Tiger Woody Barrett. Kent State 34, Ball State 24

Baylor at Oklahoma

Oklahoma avoided disaster Saturday night, beating Army 28–21 in overtime before a mostly stunned crowd in Norman. The Sooners shouldn’t have nearly as much trouble with Baylor, which is improved from last year but still not ready to give OU much of a fight. Oklahoma 44, Baylor 20

Cincinnati at Connecticut

Cincinnati is 4–0 after rallying to beat Ohio 34–30. UConn is 1–3 after another disastrous defensive effort in a 51–21 loss to Syracuse. Cincinnati 40, UConn 10

Coastal Carolina at Troy

Coastal Carolina is emerging as one of the surprise teams in the Sun Belt. The Chanticleers have rebounded from a Week 1 loss at South Carolina to win three straight, including the league opener at Louisiana last Saturday. This trip to Troy will tell us a lot more about the Chants. Troy 29, Coastal Carolina 17

Florida State at Louisville

Not too long ago this was one of the marquee games on the college football schedule. Not this year. Florida State’s struggles in 2018 are well documented, but Louisville has also been a big disappointment. The Cardinals scored only three points in a 24-point loss at Virginia on Saturday and rank last in the ACC in both total offense and scoring offense. Florida State 24, Louisville 10

Old Dominion at East Carolina

Can Old Dominion handle success? Fresh off one of the biggest upsets in recent college football history — the Monarchs stunned Virginia Tech 49–35 one week after losing to Charlotte — ODU heads to East Carolina. The Pirates are 1–2 overall and have made significant progress on defense; they are allowing only 22.3 points per game, down from the 45.0 they allowed last season. Old Dominion 35, East Carolina 27

Pittsburgh at UCF

New coaching staff. Same results for UCF, which is 3–0 and ranked fifth in the nation in total offense with 587.7 yards per game. The Knights will pose all sorts of issues for a Pitt defense that has allowed an average of 44.5 points in its two losses — vs. Penn State and at North Carolina. UCF 44, Pittsburgh 28

Purdue at Nebraska

Things could be better for Nebraska, which is 0–3 and coming off a brutal offensive performance at Michigan. The Cornhuskers managed 132 total yards — their lowest output since the 2009 Big 12 Championship Game — in a 56–10 loss to Michigan. This is a great opportunity for Purdue to grab its first-ever win in Lincoln. Purdue 28, Nebraska 16

Rice at Wake Forest

Wake Forest has dropped two straight at home, losing by seven to Boston College on a Thursday night and by 29 to Notre Dame last Saturday afternoon. On Sunday, Wake coach Dave Clawson fired defensive coordinator Jay Sawvel after the Deacs gave up a combined 97 points in those two losses. Wake Forest 49, Rice 17

South Alabama at Appalachian State

Appalachian State gets ready for Sun Belt play after a 72–7 tune-up vs. Gardner-Webb on Saturday. South Alabama showed some fight at Memphis before falling 52–35 to the high-powered Tigers. Appalachian State 47, South Alabama 30 

Tennessee at Georgia

Two years ago, Tennessee won in Athens on a Hail Mary connection from Josh Dobbs to Jauan Jennings. This week, the Vols find themselves as a 32-point underdog. A lot has changed in 24 months — for both programs. Georgia 44, Tennessee 14

Texas at Kansas State

Few programs have had a bigger jolt in the last two weeks than Texas, which followed up a loss to Maryland and a lackluster win over Tulsa with emphatic victories over USC and TCU. Kansas State, on the other hand, is struggling; the Wildcats have lost both of their games against Power 5 opponents, by 31 points at home to Mississippi State and by 29 points at West Virginia. Texas 28, Kansas State 20

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Western Michigan at Miami (Ohio)

Miami scored a total of three points in back-to-back losses to Cincinnati and Minnesota before erupting for 38 in its league-opening win at Bowling Green. The RedHawks will need to put up a big number again this week; Western Michigan has scored at least 34 points against every opponent not named Michigan. This one should be interesting. Western Michigan 38, Miami 33

Nevada at Air Force

For the second straight season — and the fourth time in the past seven years — Air Force has lost its first two games against FBS competition. This week the Falcons host a Nevada team that has scored at least 37 points in three of its first four games. Nevada 38, Air Force 30

Tennessee State at Vanderbilt

Vanderbilt takes on neighboring Tennessee State — the campuses are less than three miles apart — for the second time in three years. The Commodores beat TSU 35–17 in 2016 and should do so once again on Saturday without too much difficulty. Vanderbilt 42, Tennessee State 14

Southern Miss at Auburn

These two schools played 13 times from 1977-1993 but have met only one time since — a 27–13 Auburn win in 2008. The Tigers hold a 14–4 advantage in the all-time series. Make it 15–4 after Saturday. Auburn 33, Southern Miss 10

Michigan at Northwestern

Northwestern won a thriller on Thursday night in Week 1 at Purdue. Michigan lost at Notre Dame two days later. Since then, however, the two teams have gone in opposite directions. Northwestern lost back-to-back home games to Duke and Akron, while Michigan has won three straight (over Western Michigan, SMU and Nebraska) by an average margin of 42.3 points. Michigan 31, Northwestern 14

Arkansas State at Georgia Southern

It’s been a solid stretch for Arkansas State, which has posted wins over teams from the AAC (Tulsa) and MW (UNLV) over the last two weeks. The Red Wolves now begin Sun Belt play against a Georgia Southern team that hasn’t played since losing at Clemson 38–7 two weeks ago. This will be a nice test to see how much progress the Eagles have made in Chad Lunsford’s first full season on the job. Arkansas State 34, Georgia Southern 21

Florida at Mississippi State

The most troubling aspect of Mississippi State’s 28–7 loss at Kentucky? The manner in which it occurred. The Bulldogs, who were supposed to be one of the most physical teams in the SEC, were manhandled on the line of scrimmage and lost the battle for rushing yards 229 to 56. Not a good sign moving forward. This week, they host Florida and former coach Dan Mullen, whose team is coming off a surprisingly easy win at Tennessee. This one will be fun. Mississippi State 24, Florida 20

Liberty at New Mexico

Liberty was in the news last week, and it had nothing to do with the Flames’ 47–7 loss at home to North Texas. Following Old Dominion’s shocking win over Virginia Tech, the college football world — eager to show the magnitude of the upset — was quick to point out that Liberty had defeated Old Dominion 52–10 in Week 1. New Mexico 30, Liberty 20

Northern Illinois at Eastern Michigan

The pain continues for Eastern Michigan. Last week, the Eagles lost 23–20 in overtime at San Diego State. Now, 10 of EMU’s last 11 losses have come by seven points or fewer. Eastern Michigan 23, Northern Illinois 20

Utah at Washington State

The Pac-12 South looks to be wide open, but it would be tough for Utah — which lost at home to Washington two weeks ago — to win the division title if it starts the season with two straight league losses. That makes this trip to Pullman very, very important. Utah 28, Washington State 27

Boise State at Wyoming

This one flew under the radar, but Wyoming needed a touchdown with nine seconds remaining — scored by Raghib Ismail Jr. (yes, Rocket’s son) — to beat Wofford 17–14 in Laramie. The Cowboys are averaging a league-low 304.0 yards per game. Boise State 33, Wyoming 7

Charlotte at UAB

UAB is 8–0 at home since its return to football last season. The Blazers shouldn’t have too much trouble making it nine straight. UAB 35, Charlotte 17

FAU at Middle Tennessee

The schedule has been difficult — games against Oklahoma, Air Force and UCF — but the FAU offense has failed to score more than 36 points against an FBS opponent so far this season. Last year, the Owls averaged 40.2 points in 12 such games. FAU 38, Middle Tennessee 30

Hawaii at San Jose State

Hawaii has already surpassed its win total from the entire 2017 season — and we are still in September. The Rainbow Warriors have wins over Colorado State, Navy, Rice and Duquesne along with a seven-point loss at Army. The offense has been the story, ranking seventh nationally with 7.7 yards per play on the strength of quarterback Cole McDonald, who has thrown 20 touchdowns and only one interception. Hawaii 41, San Jose State 20

Houston Baptist at SMU

The Sonny Dykes era at SMU started with three straight losses, but all was forgotten after the Mustangs opened league play with a thrilling 31–30 win over Navy in Dallas last Saturday. It was the school’s first win over Navy since the formation of the AAC in 2015. SMU 41, Houston Baptist 17

Iowa State at TCU

These two teams hope to be a factor in the Big 12 race. They are both 0–1 in the league. A second loss this early would be very damaging. TCU is trying to avoid its first three-game losing streak since the 2013 season. TCU 28, Iowa State 24


UTEP’s losing streak reached 16 games last week, as it fell 27–20 at home to neighboring New Mexico State. The good news? The Miners rolled up 429 yards of offense, their best effort against an FBS opponent since the final game of the 2016 season. UTSA 28, UTEP 17

Virginia Tech at Duke

A pair of backup quarterbacks — Virginia Tech’s Ryan Willis and Duke’s Quentin Harris — will get the start in this pivotal ACC Coastal Division game. The Hokies are reeling after last week’s stunning loss at Old Dominion, but keep in mind that this team is 1–0 in the ACC with a win at Florida State in its back pocket. Duke completed its non-conference slate 4–0, with two wins at Power 5 opponents (Northwestern and Baylor) and a home win over a good Army team. Duke 23, Virginia Tech 20

Arkansas-Pine Bluff at FIU

Arkansas-Pine Bluff has lost its last two games — to South Dakota State and Prairie View A&M — by a combined score of 162–20. This will not be close. FIU 55, Arkansas-Pine Bluff 3

Louisiana Tech at North Texas

Few teams have been as impressive — relative to the competition — as North Texas four games into the 2018 season. The Mean Green are 4–0 and have outscored their opponents by an average of 33 points per game. North Texas 37, Louisiana Tech 28

Marshall at Western Kentucky

Western Kentucky picked up its first win of the season last Saturday, grabbing a 28–20 victory at Ball State. Marshall, on the other hand, dropped to 2–1 with a 37–20 loss at home to NC State. The Thundering Herd made the Pack sweat for a bit, closing the gap to 23–17 in the third quarter, but in the end had no answer for NC State QB Ryan Finley. This is a game Marshall needs to win if it wants to contend in the C-USA East. Marshall 30, Western Kentucky 14

Ohio State at Penn State

This Big Ten East showdown has emerged as one of the must-see games on the college football calendar. Ohio State has won five of the last six, but that one Penn State win — 24–21 in 2016 — will be remembered as the game that established James Franklin’s program as a legitimate national power. Ohio State, as usual, has more overall talent, but it’s tough to win on a Whiteout Night at Beaver Stadium. Still, I’m going with the Buckeyes. Ohio State 30, Penn State 24

South Carolina at Kentucky

The winner of this game will be crowned with the unofficial title as the second-best team in the SEC East. Both are coming off impressive wins: Kentucky manhandled Mississippi State in Lexington while South Carolina won at Vanderbilt with surprising ease. South Carolina 24, Kentucky 21

Stanford at Notre Dame

Stanford heads to South Bend feeling pretty good about itself after last week’s miracle win at Oregon. Yes, the Cardinal were very fortunate to win the game, but give credit to K.J. Costello and an offense that averaged a season-high 8.0 yards per play. Notre Dame is coming off a terrific offensive game of its own; the Ian Book-led Irish rolled up 566 yards in a 56–27 win at Wake Forest. Notre Dame 33, Stanford 30

BYU at Washington

BYU is much improved and already has a win at Wisconsin on its resume. Vegas isn’t impressed, as the Cougars are a 17.5-point underdog at Washington this weekend. (Or maybe Vegas really, really likes the Huskies.). The line seems a bit high. Washington 27, BYU 17

Ole Miss at LSU

Ole Miss’ first true road game of the season sends the Rebels to LSU for a night game at Tiger Stadium. The Rebs have played well over the years at LSU; they are 4–7 in their last 11 in Baton Rouge, with six of the seven losses coming by seven points or fewer. LSU 34, Ole Miss 27

Oregon State at Arizona State

Oregon State’s defense is an issue; in three games against FBS opponents, the Beavers are allowing a Pac-12 worst 7.5 yards per play (2.0 more than any other team) and 557.3 yards per game (132.8 more than any other team). Arizona State 38, Oregon State 20

Oregon at California

Oregon suffered a heartbreaking loss to Stanford at home Saturday night, but the Ducks did a lot of good things and showed that they can be a very good team in 2018. California is a surprising 3–0 despite some limitations on offense. Defensively, however, this team is strong. The Golden Bears, coached by former Oregon defensive back Justin Wilcox, are allowing just over 300 yards per game and have given up a total of three offensive touchdowns in two games against FBS opponents. Cal’s best hope is to win the turnover battle (and hope Oregon snaps the ball over the quarterback’s head from inside the 5-yard line). Oregon 28, California 20

Toledo at Fresno State

This home date with Toledo concludes a tough three-game stretch for Fresno State’s non-conference slate. The Bulldogs lost at Minnesota 21–14 in Week 2 but responded with a dominating 38–14 win over UCLA two weeks ago. Toledo, aided by two special teams scores, outlasted Nevada 63–44 last weekend. Fresno State 38, Toledo 33

USC at Arizona

Arizona is 1–0 in the Pac-12. That’s the good news. The bad news: That win was over Oregon State, clearly the worst team in the league. More bad news: Khalil Tate still looks nothing like the offensive weapon who captured the attention of the college football world last fall. On a positive note: J.J. Taylor rushed for 284 yards in the win over Oregon State last week. USC 34, Arizona 24