Wisconsin hosts Nebraska; Bama visits Florida; Clemson takes on VT
By Mitch Light (@AthlonMitch)
Here's a look at every game of the Week 5 college football schedule.
No. 85 Utah State at No. 58 BYU
The Cougars are looking for revenge after losing last year at Utah State, 31–16, on national television. It won’t be easy, but BYU should survive.
BYU 27, Utah State 21
No. 1 Alabama at No. 11 Florida
The key for the Alabama offense is to get a lead early so it can lean on its running game and not put quarterback AJ McCarron in a position where he has to make plays to win the game. Not saying he can’t do it, but Nick Saban would feel much more comfortable with the ball in the hands of Trent Richardson and Eddie Lacy.
Alabama 24, Florida 17
No. 73 Kentucky at No. 2 LSU
Kentucky gave up 405 rushing yards in a 48–10 loss at home to Florida last week. Expect to see a lot of Spencer Ware and Michael Ford for the red-hot Tigers.
LSU 30, Kentucky 14
No. 81 Ball State at No. 3 Oklahoma
Pete Lembo is doing a fantastic job in his first season at Ball State. The Cardinals are 3–1 with wins over Indiana, Buffalo and Army. Should Oklahoma, which is plays Texas in two weeks, be on upset alert? Don’t think so.
Oklahoma 34, Ball State 10
No. 80 Nevada at No. 4 Boise State
Nevada is the only team that has defeated Boise State in the regular season since the start of the 2008 season. That Wolf Pack team, however, had Colin Kaepernick at quarterback. This one does not.
Boise State 41, Nevada 17
No. 7 Nebraska at No. 10 Wisconsin
Wisconsin has been outstanding on both sides of the football in the early going, ranking No. 8 in the nation in total offense and No. 7 in total defense. Quarterback Russell Wilson, a transfer from NC State, could be the missing piece in a national title run for the Badgers. This team, on paper, has very few weaknesses.
Wisconsin 28, Nebraska 21
No. 14 Clemson at No. 8 Virginia Tech
I don’t trust Clemson. I want to trust the Tigers. I want to believe that this year’s club is different, but Clemson has been one of the most schizophrenic programs in the nation over the past decade (or more). Whenever you fall in love with the Tigers, you end up getting hurt. I don’t want to get hurt.
Virginia Tech 22, Clemson 17
No. 12 Texas at No. 39 Iowa State
Iowa State has won its three games by a total of eight points. Texas has won its three games by a total of 55 points. Go with Texas.
Texas 31, Iowa State 14
No. 69 UCLA at No. 9 Stanford
The Bruins’ specialty is running the ball. Stanford leads the nation in rushing defense, allowing only 36.0 yards per game.
Stanford 41, UCLA 14
No. 13 Texas A&M vs. No. 15 Arkansas
Both teams are explosive on offense, with a ton of talent at the skill positions. The key for Arkansas will be finding some balance; against Alabama, Ronnie Wingo Jr. ran for only 35 yards on 11 carries. The Hogs will have to be better in the running game to remain a threat in the SEC West.
Arkansas 34, Texas A&M 30
No. 27 Auburn at No. 16 South Carolina
Marcus Lattimore will get the ball early and often against an Auburn rush defense that is allowing 226.5 yards per game.
South Carolina 37, Auburn 27
No. 97 Bowling Green at No. 17 West Virginia
Bowling Green has been a bit of a surprise in 2011, with a 3–1 mark highlighted by last week’s 37–23 win at Miami (Ohio). The Falcons, however, have not faced a team with West Virginia’s level of talent.
West Virginia 48, Bowling Green 21
No. 18 Georgia Tech at No. 66 NC State
Note to Athlon staff (which picked Tech to finish fourth in the ACC Coastal): Never doubt a Paul Johnson-coached team.
Georgia Tech 38, NC State 20
No. 20 Baylor at No. 31 Kansas State
The stat of the year so far: Robert Griffin III has more touchdown passes (13) than incomplete passes (12). That won’t continue, but the Bears’ winning ways should.
Baylor 30, Kansas State 27
No. 53 SMU at No. 21 TCU
SMU is 5–16 vs. TCU since returning from the Death Penalty in the late 1980s. None of the last four games — all won by the Frogs — has been decided by less than 14 points.
TCU 35, SMU 21
No. 55 Northwestern at No. 23 Illinois
Dan Persa is scheduled to make his 2011 debut — and that is a very good thing for the Northwestern offense. Persa has missed the first three games of the season while recovering from an Achilles injury sustained late last season. Will his return be enough for the Cats? The guess here is no.
Illinois 31, Northwestern 24
No. 101 Minnesota at No. 24 Michigan
Not much has gone well for the Golden Gophers in 2011 — from Jerry Kill’s medical problems to the losses at home to New Mexico State and North Dakota State.
Michigan 48, Minnesota 21
No. 99 Oregon State at No. 25 Arizona State
Oregon State expects freshman tailback Marcus Agnew back in the lineup this weekend. It will help — but not enough.
Arizona State 37, Oregon State 17
No. 26 Notre Dame at No. 87 Purdue
The Irish are 0–2 when gaining over 500 yards of offense and 2–0 when gaining under 400 yards.
Notre Dame 35, Purdue 17
No. 28 Mississippi State at No. 36 Georgia
You would never know it because of all of the talk about Mark Richt’s job security, but Georgia is actually playing pretty decent football. The Dawgs are 2–2, with the losses coming to Boise State and South Carolina, two teams ranked in the top 10 in the AP poll.
Georgia 28, Mississippi State 20
No. 20 North Carolina at No. 75 East Carolina
Good news for East Carolina: Its defense, statistically the worst in the nation last season, appears to be much improved. Bad news: The Pirates’ offense, among the best in the nation in 2010, has taken a few steps backward.
North Carolina 31, East Carolina 21
Bethune-Cookman at No. 32 Miami (Fla.)
Miami has scored exactly 24 points in all three games this season. Prediction: Miami will score more than 24 points this week.
Miami (Fla.) 48, Bethune-Cookman 14
No. 33 Penn State at No. 104 Indiana
Kevin Wilson’s first season in Bloomington hasn’t quite gone as planned. The Hoosiers are 1–3 with losses to Ball State, Virginia and North Texas.
Penn State 31, Indiana 10
No. 64 Toledo at No. 34 Temple
Temple is fresh off one of the most impressive first-half performances you will see by any team this season. The Owls led Maryland 31–0 in College Park at the break.
Temple 34, Toledo 24
No. 35 Michigan State at No. 37 Ohio State
It’s tough to get an accurate read on Michigan State. The Spartans have dominated three very weak opponents (Youngstown State, Florida Atlantic and Central Michigan) and got beat handily by the one solid team they have faced (Notre Dame).
Michigan State 21, Ohio State 10
No. 38 Washington at No. 45 Utah
Utah has had two weeks to celebrate its surprisingly easy 54–10 win over BYU in the Holy War. The Utes have nice balance on offense with Jordan Wynn at quarterback and junior college transfer John White emerging as the primary ball-carrier. The defense, as usual, is solid.
Utah 28, Washington 27
No. 107 Buffalo at No. 40 Tennessee
The Vols have a tune-up with Buffalo before beginning a four-week stretch that features games with Georgia, LSU, Alabama and South Carolina.
Tennessee 41, Buffalo 9
No. 56 Arizona at No. 41 USC
Arizona has now lost its last eight games against FBS competition. This year, the Cats’ three losses have been by an average of 25 points.
USC 35, Arizona 21
No. 44 Wake Forest at No. 84 Boston College
The Eagles picked up their first win of the season, but they had to step out of FBS play to do so, beating in-state rival UMass 45–17. The pressure is mounting on third-year coach Frank Spaziani. A loss at home to Wake Forest won’t help his cause.
Wake Forest 31, Boston College 17
No. 46 Texas Tech at No. 70 Kansas
Kansas is last in the nation in rushing defense, pass efficiency defense, total defense and scoring defense. That is hard to do.
Texas Tech 51, Kansas 30
No. 47 Cincinnati at No. 102 Miami (Ohio)
Cincinnati has won five straight in this rivalry that dates back to 1888 — and none has been very competitive.
Cincinnati 37, Miami (Ohio) 20
No. 51 Air Force at No. 49 Navy
Air Force snapped a painful seven-year losing streak to Navy last season with a 14–6 win in Colorado Springs. The Falcons’ winning streak will not reach two.
Navy 31, Air Force 24
Towson at No. 50 Maryland
After the Terps’ 38–7 loss at home to Temple last week, first-year coach Randy Edsall said the following: “This is a process. It wasn’t going to get changed overnight.” Change what? Maryland won nine games last season. This isn’t a rebuild.
Maryland 41, Towson 14
No. 86 Rice at No. 57 Southern Miss
Rice is just now playing its first opponent not in a BCS conference after opening with losses to Texas and Baylor and a win vs. Purdue. Southern Miss recovered nicely from its surprising loss at Marshall by pounding SE Louisiana and posting a quality win at Virginia.
Southern Miss 31, Rice 27
No. 79 Duke at No. 59 FIU
FIU didn’t handle success well, losing at home to UL-Lafayette a week after improving to 3–0 with a win at Louisville. Duke has righted the ship a bit after losing to Richmond and Stanford to open the season. Going with Duke in an upset — yes, FIU is favored.
Duke 27, FIU 20
No. 103 North Texas at No. 61 Tulsa
After facing Oklahoma, Oklahoma State and Boise State in the first month of the season, Tulsa gets a break with a visit from North Texas. But don’t chalk this up as a sure win; the Mean Green beat Indiana last week.
Tulsa 38, North Texas 20
No. 65 Rutgers at No. 63 Syracuse
The Orange are among the least-impressive 3–1 teams in the nation. They were fortunate to beat Wake Forest (Deacs’ quarterback got hurt with a 29–14 second-half lead) and Toledo (the extra point was no good) at home, and also struggled with Rhode Island.
Rutgers 24, Syracuse 21
No. 112 Idaho at No. 67 Virginia
Virginia has lost some momentum with back-to-back losses after its 2–0 start, Mike London’s team is clearly better in Year 2. If they plan on reaching a bowl game — which is still very possible — beating Idaho at home is a must.
Virginia 33, Idaho 10
No. 93 Marshall at No. 68 Louisville
Marshall has scored a total of two offensive touchdowns in its three losses — not a huge surprise with a true freshman (Rakeem Cato) at quarterback. Louisville has trouble scoring, as well, but the Cards should do enough to win this one at home.
Louisville 24, Marshall 13
No. 113 Kent State at No. 71 Ohio
Ohio lost its first game of the season last week, falling at Rutgers 38–26. This is a very good team that will challenge Temple in the MAC East. Kent State? Not a good team.
Ohio 41, Kent State 3
No. 72 Northern Illinois at No. 110 Central Michigan
Points are very hard to come by for the once-powerful Chippewas, who are averaging 11.3 points in three games vs. FBS competition.
Northern Illinois 38, Central Michigan 13
No. 74 Hawaii at No. 98 Louisiana Tech
Hawaii’s 40–20 loss at UNLV two weeks ago remains the most surprising result of the year so far. Last week, UNLV lost at home to Southern Utah, 41–16.
Hawaii 41, Louisiana Tech 33
No. 77 Washington State at No. 76 Colorado
Washington State is vastly improved, but I’m not quite sure the Cougars, without starting quarterback Jeff Teul, can go on the road and win this game.
Colorado 31, Washington State 20
No. 78 Arkansas State at No. 116 Western Kentucky
Western Kentucky opened the season with a relatively impressive 14–3 loss to Kentucky in Nashville but has since lost to Navy and Indiana State at home by a combined score of 84–30. This one could get ugly.
Arkansas State 41, Western Kentucky 14
No. 108 San Jose State at No. 82 Colorado State
San Jose Sate snapped a 13-game losing streak last week with a 34–24 win over New Mexico State. A new streak will begin Saturday.
Colorado State 28, San Jose State 20
No. 90 Western Michigan at No. 83 Connecticut
Connecticut has been brutal on offense, and I’m not sure the Huskies will score enough points to beat Western Michigan, even at home.
Western Michigan 24, Connecticut 17
No. 89 Ole Miss at No. 88 Fresno State
Ole Miss scored a season-high 55 points against Fresno State last season. That game, however, was in Oxford, and the Rebels had Jeremiah Masoli at quarterback.
Fresno State 28, Ole Miss 24
No. 105 UAB at No. 91 Troy
UAB is one of seven winless teams in the nation. It’s likely they will be on that list after this week’s action.
Troy 31, UAB 20
No. 120 Memphis at No. 94 Middle Tennessee
The Tigers are more than a three-touchdown underdog at Middle Tennessee — and it’s still not enough. I don’t think the boys in Vegas, who don’t miss much, realize how bad this team is.
Middle Tennessee 41, Memphis 10
No. 95 Tulane at No. 93 Army
One week after posting a huge win over Northwestern, the Black Knights were pounded at Ball State, 48–21. Tulane, too, has been inconsistent, following up a 49–10 win at UAB with a 48–27 loss at Duke.
Army 30, Tulane 20
No. 118 Florida Atlantic at No. 100 Louisiana-Lafayette
FAU showed enough last week at Auburn — the Owls scored 14 points and managed over 300 yards of offense — to move from No. 120 to No. 118 in our rankings.
Louisiana-Lafayette 31, Florida Atlantic 3
No. 109 New Mexico State at No. 119 New Mexico
It’s time once again for the biggest game in the Land of Enchantment. The 2011 edition, however, will be without Mike Locksley, who was dumped after a coaching tenure that can only be described as a debacle. The Aztecs will be looking for their third straight in the series.
New Mexico State 21, New Mexico 20
No. 117 Akron at No. 114 Eastern Michigan
Eastern Michigan, an 8.5-point favorite, has not been favored over another FBS team since Sept. 5, 2009, when Army visited Ypsilanti. (Army won, 27–14). The last time the Eagles were more than a touchdown favorite? You have to go back to Nov. 11, 2000, when they beat Central Michigan 31–15 as a 9.5-point favorite.
Eastern Michigan 28, Akron 20
Last week — 41-16
Season — 232-38