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Week 5 College Football Picks: Challenge the Athlon Sports Experts in 2016


The college football season is off to a roaring start, and the competition off the field is almost as heated as the action on it.

The Athlon Sports College Football Experts Club 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 editor Rob Doster:

Texas at Oklahoma State

The scoreboard operator should be busy in this one, as neither team has yet proved that it can stop a Power 5 offense. Notre Dame's recent struggles have stripped the luster off Texas' marquee win, leaving the Horns where they started the season — as an unproven team searching for an identity.

Doster's pick: Oklahoma State 35–31

Rutgers at Ohio State

Rutgers is still trying to learn how to win. This game won't do much to help the Knights learn that lesson. The Buckeyes will roll in their Big Ten opener.

Doster’s pick: Ohio State 37–10

Notre Dame at Syracuse

Notre Dame's 35–31 loss at home to Duke was likely the low point of the Brian Kelly era, and in the wake of that humbling defeat, Kelly fired defensive coordinator Brian VanGorder and announced that every position was up for grabs. Syracuse should present a chance for the Irish to get back on track, but they would be wise not to sleep on Dino Babers' improved Orange. 

Doster’s pick: Notre Dame 28–20

Baylor at Iowa State

Baylor looks like the best of a bunch of good-but-not-great teams in the Big 12 — a group that does not include Iowa State. Seth Russell & Co. should roll in Ames.

Doster’s pick: Baylor 38–17

Miami at Georgia Tech

The Canes have been even better than expected in Mark Richt's first year, and the opportunity is there for Miami to win a wide-open ACC Coastal. The Canes have historically struggled against Paul Johnson's option, but Clemson provided a blueprint for Richt to follow in a 26–7 win.

Doster's pick: Miami 24–14

Florida at Vanderbilt

Don't dismiss this sneaky-good matchup. Vanderbilt comes in off the emotional high of beating a talented Western Kentucky team in overtime on the road, while Florida limps in following a second-half blitzkrieg at the hands of Tennessee. The Gators defense should prove to be the difference, but it could be closer than expected.

Doster’s pick: Florida 24–17

Northwestern at Iowa

Points will be at a premium in this one, as these two teams are allowing a combined 30.5 points per game. The difference should be the Hawkeyes offense, which, unlike Northwestern's, has shown signs of competence this season. 

Doster's pick: Iowa 17–10

Wisconsin at Michigan

The Badgers’ two-week jaunt to the Great Lakes State concludes with a trip to the Big House, where their stingy defense will be put to the test by an explosive UM offense. Even with stars at multiple positions, though, all eyes will be on Wolverines multi-purpose superstar Jabrill Peppers, the LB/DB/return specialist who conjures memories of Charles Woodson with his versatility and value. The Badgers have been one of the nation’s biggest surprises; we could start talking about them as a CFB Playoff team with a win in Ann Arbor. That seems unlikely, though.

Doster's pick: Michigan 24–17

North Carolina at Florida State

The Mitch Trubisky-to-Ryan Switzer combo led the Tar Heels to a thrilling 37–36 win over Pitt in their ACC opener, giving them an early leg up in the ACC Coastal. This game could bring them back down to earth. The Noles' Dalvin Cook is finally getting untracked, and that's a bad sign for the ACC. 

Doster's pick: Florida State 34–28

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Tennessee at Georgia

The Vols are in the midst of a critical four-game gauntlet that will tell the tale on their 2016 season. Tennessee must gain no worse than a split against the quartet — Florida, Georgia, Texas A&M and Alabama — to realize its dreams of a division crown, making a win over the Dawgs all the more critical. The Vols finally showed what they are capable of last week in the big win over Florida, but this team still struggles with consistency. Georgia must bounce back from a blowout loss at Ole Miss that featured poor play on both sides of the ball. 

Doster's pick: Tennessee 27–21

Kansas State at West Virginia

The Big 12 opener for both teams presents an intriguing matchup of teams with plenty of potential but much to prove. The Mountaineers are getting good production from senior quarterback Skyler Howard, and Dana Holgorsen should find a way to outscore the offensively limited Wildcats.

Doster's pick: West Virginia 27–17

Texas A&M at South Carolina

Kevin Sumlin's Aggies have emerged as the primary challenger to Alabama in the SEC West behind the stellar play of quarterback Trevor Knight and a surprising running game. Will Muschamp has the Gamecocks playing good defense, but the offense has been abysmal.  

Doster's pick: Texas A&M 31–10

Oklahoma at TCU

Oklahoma's two early losses have rendered the Sooners an afterthought, but let's not forget that those losses came to playoff contenders, and a wide-open Big 12 is still there for the taking. TCU is producing big offensive numbers again, but this will be the Frogs' toughest test to date. 

Doster’s pick: Oklahoma 31-28

Utah at California

Don't look now, but the Utes are unbeaten and are finding new ways to win for underappreciated head coach Kyle Whittingham. The Utes defense will have its hands full with quarterback Davis Webb and the Cal offense, but the Bears have yet to prove that they can stop anybody.

Doster's pick: Utah 35–31

Memphis at Ole Miss

No Justin Fuente? No problem for the Tigers, who have steamrolled three opponents by an average score of 52–9. The Rebels are much more battle-tested, though, having played three ranked opponents in four games. Rebels quarterback Chad Kelly should outduel his Tigers counterpart Riley Ferguson in this one. 

Doster's pick: Ole Miss 38–34

Kentucky at Alabama

Now that Les Miles has been fired at LSU and Kevin Sumlin has things going at Texas A&M, the hottest seat in the SEC likely belongs to Kentucky's Mark Stoops. This game won't help. Bama should have its way against a leaky Wildcats defense.

Doster’s pick: Alabama 42–14

Missouri at LSU

The abrupt firing of Les Miles gives Missouri a rare opportunity to steal a win in Death Valley. The homestanding Bayou Bengals have to be reeling, although a steady diet of Leonard Fournette could help start the healing process in Baton Rouge. And let's not forget — LSU still has a huge talent advantage.

Doster’s pick: LSU 21–20

Louisville at Clemson

UL signal-caller Lamar Jackson has supplanted Clemson’s Deshaun Watson as the ACC’s marquee attraction, but Watson and Co. can flip this season’s script back to its original draft with a win in this one. Despite some early-season struggles, Clemson is still more than capable of a championship run. Whichever defense can muster a few key stops will put its team in position for a critical conference statement win. 

Doster's pick: Louisville 38–31

Arizona State at USC

It hasn't always been pretty, but Todd Graham's Sun Devils are 4–0 on the strength of an offense that is producing 500-plus yards per game. That surprising success could continue against a USC team that is struggling on both sides of the ball.

Doster's pick: Arizona State 35–28

Arizona at UCLA

Both teams come into this game off disappointing losses to Pac-12 frontrunners. UCLA, led by sophomore quarterback Josh Rosen, looks like the better bet to get its season back on track.

Doster's pick: UCLA 24–14

Last Week: 13-7