With conference play ramping up around most of the country, the real season begins now.
The college football season is about a third of the way complete, and most of us still aren't sure what to make of it. Personally, I prefer it that way. Part of what makes the game so fascinating is its unpredictability, thanks in large part to both the number of teams and parity.
As conference play kicks off for most of the teams in the country, now is normally the time we start seeing who the contenders and pretenders are. We start seeing statement wins, heartbreaking losses, surprises and upsets — each with their own element of outrageousness.
Here are the five outrageous predictions for Week 5.
Iowa defeats Wisconsin by two scores
Everything Wisconsin does on offense, the Hawkeyes are built to stop. The Iowa defensive line, led by Drew Ott, is going to get penetration on every play. This is going to cause chaos in the Wisconsin run game and throw off the timing of the suspect Badger passing attack. Even when Joel Stave gets a pass off, he'll be tossing the ball into a secondary where his receivers will be dominated and struggle to get open. On the other side of the ball, C.J. Beathard is going to challenge the Wisconsin defense with both his arm and legs like this unit hasn't been challenged all season. This is where Iowa solidifies itself as a serious Big Ten West contender.
Alabama routs Georgia between the hedges
Every time Alabama loses, everyone wants to write the Crimson Tide off for the rest of the season. Not me — not now. The fact of the matter is, Alabama is probably one of the top five teams in the country. They just happened to run into what might be the best team in the country (Ole Miss) two weeks ago. A fluke play was the difference in that game, and it's going to take a handful of them for Georgia to knock off the Tide. The Bulldogs — regardless of playing two SEC teams — cruised through a fairly soft September schedule. They're about to get a cold dose of Crimson reality on Saturday.
Texas Tech upsets Baylor
I called for a Texas Tech upset of TCU last week and it nearly happened. I'm going all in on the Red Raiders again this week. They hung over 50 points on the Horned Frogs, who might have a better defense than Baylor. Kliff Kingsbury's bunch is still motivated, as they know a win here keeps them alive in the Big 12 title hunt.
Illinois upsets Nebraska
It's not as if Nebraska is having a great year, but the Cornhuskers are touchdown favorites on the road in their conference opener. The problem is, nobody in the nation is worse than the Huskers at defending the pass so far (379.5 passing yards allowed per game). Illinois quarterback Wes Lunt is going to be chomping at the bit to put up video game numbers, both on downfield passes to Geronimo Allison and underneath routes to elite playmaker Josh Ferguson. Defensively, the Illini are just good enough to slow down the Huskers and give Lunt and Co. the advantage in a shootout.
The Big Ten and SEC will have an equal number of Top 25 teams one week from now
In the Big Ten, Ohio State and Michigan State aren't going anywhere. The winner of Northwestern and Minnesota will be ranked. Iowa will be ranked after knocking off Wisconsin. Michigan won't lose to Maryland. In the SEC, Ole Miss will knock Florida out, while LSU will stay put. Alabama will move up, while Georgia will move down. Texas A&M will knock Mississippi State from the rankings. That leaves each conference with five teams in the AP Top 25 next week.