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Week 5 College Football Picks: Challenge Athlon Sports Experts


The college football season is just getting interesting, and the competition off the field is nearly as heated as the competition on game day.

The Athlon Sports College Football Experts Club presented by Nexium & Advil gives you the chance to compete with your friends and our experts each week.

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Here are this week’s top picks from Athlon Sports senior writer David Fox:

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Saturday's Games

Purdue at Michigan State

Michigan State quarterback Connor Cook should feast on the Purdue defense. The Boilermakers are allowing FBS quarterbacks to complete 67.8 percent of their passes for 7.2 yards per attempt.

Fox’s prediction: Michigan State 42-14

South Carolina at Missouri

Missouri is averaging fewer than 300 yards per game against FBS competition. The Tigers’ defense, ranked seventh in fewest yards per game, is pulling its weight. South Carolina may have found answers on offense with dual-threat quarterback Lorenzo Nunez giving the Gamecocks an additional dimension with his legs.

Fox’s prediction: Missouri 17–14

Notre Dame at Clemson

The only time we’ve seen Clemson face a legitimate opponent, the Tigers needed to overcome two Deshaun Watson interceptions to beat 1–3 Louisville by three points. Despite all the injuries, Notre Dame still ranks 15th in total offense and 43rd in total defense, including three games against Power 5 competition.

Fox’s prediction: Notre Dame 35–21

Mississippi State at Texas A&M

Myles Garrett was quiet until his late sack and strip of Arkansas quarterback Brandon Allen to force overtime. With the Bulldogs’ struggles in the run game, Garrett and the top sack team in the SEC (4.5 per game) could tee off on Mississippi State quarterback Dak Prescott.

Fox’s prediction: Texas A&M 35–20

Ole Miss at Florida

The big question for Florida: Can the Gators score 30 points against Ole Miss? The Rebels are averaging 54.8 points per game (35.0 per in two SEC games) Florida has won 24 consecutive SEC games in which it has scored 30 points, going back to the 2008 loss to Ole Miss. Only one of Florida’s last 17 30-point SEC games has come against an West team, a bad Arkansas team in 2013.

Fox’s prediction: Ole Miss 35–17

Minnesota at Northwestern

Get ready for a defensive struggle between two teams averaging fewer than 20 points per game against FBS competition. Both teams have made it work this season with outstanding defense, but where Northwestern has been able to beat Stanford and Duke, Minnesota is eking by Colorado State, Kent State and Ohio.

Fox’s prediction: Northwestern 21–10

Iowa at Wisconsin

Wisconsin’s defense has been lights out since facing Alabama. The Badgers held Miami (Ohio), Troy and Hawaii to three points combined. Iowa’s offense is better this season — no, really. The big question will be if Wisconsin’s young offensive line can contain Hawkeyes defensive end Drew Ott.

Fox’s prediction: Iowa 28–21

Texas at TCU

Texas is ninth in the Big 12 in pass efficiency defense and has allowed a league-worst 10 touchdown passes. Bad news heading into a matchup with TCU’s Trevone Boykin.

Fox’s prediction: TCU 42–31

Boston College at Duke

Get ready for a defensive struggle. Boston College is holding opponents to 1.6 yards per carry this season — and that includes a game against Florida State. Duke is coming off a win over Georgia Tech in which the Yellow Jackets averaged only 2.9 yards per carry.

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Fox’s prediction: Duke 24–14

Arizona at Stanford

Arizona’s outlook depends heavily on if quarterback Anu Solomon returns. Either way, Stanford is as physical a matchup in the Pac-12 — and the Wildcats are already beat up. Stanford is also coming off back-to-back 40-point games for the first time since early 2013.

Fox’s prediction: Stanford 42–21

Arizona State at UCLA

The Sun Devils don’t have much time to recover from the debacle against USC. More important, they have to prove that their lackluster offense is not going to be the trend for the season. Arizona State averaged 5.5 yards per pass attempt against Texas A&M and USC. UCLA is holding all opponents to 4.9 yards per pass.

Fox’s prediction: UCLA 35–21

West Virginia at Oklahoma

Time to find out if West Virginia is a legitimate Big 12 contender. The Mountaineers lead the nation in scoring defense at 7.7 points per game, but the competition has been against Georgia Southern, Liberty and Maryland. Oklahoma’s offense this season has been dominant in all but the first three quarters against Tennessee.

Fox’s prediction: Oklahoma 28–21

Oregon at Colorado

The Ducks may find a cure for their ills against Colorado, but don’t be surprised if this turns into an up-and-down game. Colorado topped 90 plays twice this season, and Oregon’s defense may oblige a shootout.

Fox’s prediction: Oregon 42–28

Ohio State at Indiana

Bloomington will be hosting its biggest football game in quite some time as the Hoosiers try to reach 5–0 for the first time since 1967. Ohio State seems to have settled on Cardale Jones as the primary quarterback and its defense is plenty stout to contain Nate Sudfeld and Jordan Howard. Indiana hasn’t defeated Ohio State since 1988.

Fox’s prediction: Ohio State 41–27

Texas Tech at Baylor

Baylor finally gets a legitimate test and perhaps one few saw coming at the start of the season. Texas Tech defeated Arkansas and took TCU to the wire. New Baylor QB Seth Russell has settled into his role with more touchdown passes (six) than incomplete passes (four) in his last start.

Fox’s prediction: Baylor 52–41

North Carolina at Georgia Tech

Believe it or not, North Carolina’s defense has improved under Gene Chizik. The Tar Heels have held their FBS opponents to 5.1 yards per play, compared to 6.7 a year ago. Meanwhile, Georgia Tech’s offense has stalled the Yellow Jackets have been held to fewer than five yards per carry in back-to-back games for the first time since losses to Georgia and Ole Miss to end 2013.

Fox’s prediction: Georgia Tech 35–27

Arkansas at Tennessee

Both teams are in desperation mode. Perhaps the best news for Tennessee: Brandon Allen is a far better quarterback in the first half (79.7 completion percentage, 7 TDs, 2 INTs) than he is in the second (58.6 percent, 0 TDs, 1 INT).

Fox’s prediction: Tennessee 38–28

Florida State at Wake Forest

Wake Forest is much better team than it was a year ago. Florida State isn’t quite as good as it was a year ago. That still might not be enough to make up the 40-point margin from last year’s meeting.

Fox’s prediction: Florida State 31–10

Alabama at Georgia

Can Alabama really start 0–2 in the SEC? The Crimson Tide will rely on its run defense, which is one of three nationally allowing fewer than two yards per carry (1.97). Greyson Lambert is on a hot streak with only two incomplete passes in his last two games, but can he win a game for Georgia with his arm?

Fox’s prediction: Alabama 28–24

Michigan at Maryland

Maryland’s run defense is getting progressively worse, giving up 301 rushing yards and 5.2 yards per carry in its most recent game against West Virginia. Michigan is averaging 244.3 yards per game and 5.3 per carry since its loss at Utah. Meanwhile, the Wolverines have allowed all of two touchdowns in the last three games.

Fox’s prediction: Michigan 35–10

Last week: 15–5

Season to date: 60-20