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.
Here are this week’s top picks from Athlon Sports senior writer David Fox:
College Football Podcast: Week 5 Recap
Maryland at Ohio State
The Buckeyes will go from playing the top-ranked total offense in the Big Ten on the road (Indiana) to playing No. 13 at home (Maryland). Ohio State has hardly looked the part of a No. 1 team, but the Terrapins are struggling mightily on offense with six points in the last two games.
Fox’s prediction: Ohio State 31–7
Illinois at Iowa
Who could have expected this to be a meaningful Big Ten West game? Iowa and Illinois knocked off preseason favorites Wisconsin and Nebraska last week. Illinois lost big in its only road trip of the season to North Carolina, and Iowa has a stout defense with six interceptions in the last three games.
Fox’s prediction: Iowa 28–17
Florida at Missouri
Both teams are strong in the defensive front seven — the Gators and Tigers are both in the top seven in tackles for a loss per game. Florida, though, is finding answers on offense while Missouri is playing it safe with freshman Drew Lock. Gators quarterback Will Grier will need to continue his hot streak on the road.
Fox’s prediction: Florida 24–14
Baylor at Kansas
This … this is going to be ugly. Baylor has defeated Kansas by 46 and 45 points in the last two meetings. The Bears might top that this time.
Fox’s prediction: Baylor 63–10
Georgia at Tennessee
Georgia has won five in a row over Tennessee, but the last two have come by a field goal each. Georgia is coming off its worst performance of the season on both sides of the ball, but Tennessee hasn’t put together a complete performance against an FBS team all season.
Fox’s prediction: Georgia 31–20
Wisconsin at Nebraska
What was supposed to be a showdown of the top two teams in the Big Ten West is a must-win game of sorts for both teams to bounce back from losses. Nebraska quarterback Tommy Armstrong is completing 47 percent of his passes with seven touchdowns and five interceptions in the Huskers’ three losses to “name” teams this season. Wisconsin has allowed 3.7 yards per play in the last four games, albeit all at home.
Fox’s prediction: Wisconsin 24–20
TCU at Kansas State
This game will be closer than you expect because it’s Kansas State and the game is in Manhattan. The Wildcats have been stout against the run, but Trevone Boykin has been averaging better than nine yards per attempt in each of his last four games.
Fox’s prediction: TCU 38–28
Miami at Florida State
Florida State is still seeking its signature moment of the season after playing close games with Wake Forest, Boston College and USF. Everett Golson has been turnover-free, but he’s hardly been an explosive quarterback. The Seminoles will need more out of him if Dalvin Cook continues to be hampered by a hamstring injury. Miami has struggled, but the Hurricanes lead the ACC in turnover margin at plus-nine.
Fox’s prediction: Florida State 41–21
Cal at Utah
Jared Goff, a 70-percent passer, runs into a defense that’s held its last two opponents to under 50-percent passing. Cal has quietly improved a defense that leads the Pac-12 in takeaways (18) and sacks (18).
Fox’s prediction: Cal 35–28
Arkansas at Alabama
Georgia was the first team to crack 100 rushing yards and three yards per carry against the Alabama defense — and Nick Chubb had to rush for an 83-yard touchdown to do it. Arkansas is getting better, but probably not good enough to upset the Tide in Tuscaloosa.
Fox’s prediction: Alabama 28–10
Oklahoma vs. Texas (Dallas)
Texas is 1–4 and a mess on offense, defense and special teams. Oklahoma is 4–0 and as legitimate a playoff contender as any team in the Big 12. On paper, there’s no reason Texas should touch Oklahoma, but this rivalry does strange things.
Fox’s prediction: Oklahoma 42–21
LSU at South Carolina
South Carolina’s run defense has improved in the last two games, which is more of a function of facing UCF and Missouri than anything else. LSU’s passing game is suspect, but Leonard Fournette has been able to bail out the Tigers in any situation.
Fox’s prediction: LSU 35–10
Oklahoma State at West Virginia
It’s strange times in the Big 12 when Oklahoma State and West Virginia rank Nos. 1-2 in total defense and middle of the pack in total offense. Oklahoma State can prove it belongs in the Big 12 title discussion. The Mountaineers have to prove their pass defense isn’t as vulnerable as it looked against Oklahoma.
Fox’s prediction: Oklahoma State 31–27
Colorado at Arizona State
Colorado’s rushing offense ranks third in the Pac-12, but that’s a bit of a mirage based on games against UMass and Nicholls State. Meanwhile, Arizona State’s attacking defense has held USC and UCLA to fewer than 100 yards rushing (USC, it’s worth noting, passed for 379 yards and five touchdowns against the Sun Devils).
Fox’s prediction: Arizona State 37–14
Georgia Tech at Clemson
The Yellow Jackets are averaging an uncharacteristic 3.9 yards per carry during their three-game losing streak. The run game has put more of the responsibility on Justin Thomas to win games with his arm, which is not a good place for a quarterback who should be running the option. Meanwhile, Clemson’s defense is doing just fine despite losing the bulk of its talent from last season.
Fox’s prediction: Clemson 38–20
Virginia at Pittsburgh
Without James Conner and a stable quarterback situation, Pittsburgh’s offense is below average at best. Virginia’s defense is worse, allowing 6.9 yards per play against teams not named William & Mary.
Fox’s prediction: Pittsburgh 24–10
Navy at Notre Dame
The Midshipmen are undefeated and have one of the nation’s most productive quarterbacks in Keenan Reynolds, who should set the career touchdowns record this season. Facing the Navy option probably isn’t ideal for a shorthanded Notre Dame team.
Fox’s prediction: Notre Dame 27–14
Northwestern at Michigan
Which defense will give first in a matchup between the top two teams in the Big Ten in total D? Northwestern’s offense is getting better, but Michigan’s run game is bulldozing opponents right now.
Fox’s prediction: Michigan 21–13
Boise State at Colorado State
Colorado State’s defense is sagging just as Boise State is starting to round into form. The Broncos have outgained their last three opponents by an average of 286 yards per game.
Fox’s prediction: Boise State 42–17
Michigan State at Rutgers
The Spartans are still seeking an easy win. Even Purdue made Michigan State sweat. The Spartans have had their share of injuries, but Rutgers has had its share of being Rutgers.
Fox’s prediction: Michigan State 37–20
Last week: 15–5
Season to date: 75–25