Predictions for College Football Week 5
Week 5 of the college football season may not feature any marquee matchups pitting two Top-10-ranked teams against each other like last week did. However, the weekend slate features plenty of meaningful games that are worth watching, such as Texas vs. Oklahoma State, Ohio State vs. Michigan State, Tennessee vs. Georgia and Nebraska vs. Wisconsin.
Last Saturday offered up plenty of excitement and entertainment, but this Saturday may just top it.
Here's a look at some predictions for how the Week 5 action will play out.
Braxton Miller Will Have a Heisman-Caliber Performance
Last week, I said that Florida State QB E.J. Manuel would have a Heisman-caliber performance against Clemson, and he did just that, leading the Seminoles to a 49-37 victory.
This week, I'm expecting the same type of showing out of Ohio State QB Braxton Miller.
Miller has totaled 1,195 yards of offense and accounted for 14 touchdowns in the Buckeyes' first four games. However, he's yet to play a game away from Ohio Stadium, and he's yet to face a defense that's as dominant as Michigan State's.
Still, I expect the dual-threat sophomore signal-caller to rise to the occasion and continue to flourish against the Spartans on Saturday.
Baylor and West Virginia Will Combine To Total over 1,000 Yards
Two of the most explosive offenses in the country will meet in Morgantown this weekend when Baylor and West Virginia square off on Saturday afternoon.
The Bears rank fifth in the nation in scoring offense and sixth in total offense, averaging 51 points and 568 yards per game, while West Virginia ranks 10th in scoring offense and 14th in total offense, averaging 47 points and 529 yards per game.
These two offenses are both loaded with firepower, and this game has all of the makings of a wild shootout.
Rex Burkhead Will Run for Twice as Many Yards as Montee Ball
Nebraska RB Rex Burkhead may have had to take a backseat to Wisconsin RB Montee Ball in the race for the Big Ten rushing title last year, but he won't on Saturday when the Cornhuskers and the Badgers meet in Lincoln.
Now that Burkhead is recovered from a knee injury, he should be able to do plenty of damage to Wisconsin's defense.
Ball, on the other hand, hasn't looked anything like the back that ran for more than 1,900 yards and scored 39 touchdowns last season.
This game may come down to which team can establish the more consistent ground game, and I give that edge to Nebraska.
Boise State Will Finally Look Like Boise State Again
So far this season, Boise State has not looked like the same team that we've grown accustomed to seeing during the Chris Petersen era.
The Broncos are averaging just 19 points per game on offense, and they seem to lack that special energy that made prior teams so much fun to watch.
Petersen's squad should get on track this weekend against New Mexico, though.
The Lobos are improving under first-year coach Bob Davie, but there's still a big gap between the two teams.
Munchie Legaux Will Outplay Logan Thomas
So far this season, Virginia Tech QB Logan Thomas has not looked like the potential No. 1 overall draft pick that some made him out to be before the season started.
Thomas' accuracy and decision-making have both been inconsistent so far this season, and overall, he's just looked average.
The quarterback that Thomas will face off with at FedEx Field this weekend, Cincinnati's Munchie Legaux, has looked very impressive in his two starts, completing 61 percent of his passes for 413 yards and four touchdowns.
Don't be surprised if Legaux steps his game up and outplays his more heralded foe on Saturday.
Alabama Will Shut out Ole Miss
The Ole Miss offense, led by QB Bo Wallace, has helped propel the Rebels to a 3-1 start to the season. However, they've yet to face a defense that can compare to the one they'll see against Alabama on Saturday.
The Tide currently rank second in the nation in scoring defense and third in total defense, allowing an average of just five points and 185 yards per game.
Look for Nick Saban and his coaching staff to figure out a way to neutralize Wallace and completely shut down the Ole Miss offensive attack.
E.J. Manuel’s Hot Streak Will Continue
West Virginia's Geno Smith may be the quarterback that's received the most publicity and Heisman buzz so far this season. However, you can make the argument that Florida State's E.J. Manuel has been just as impressive.
Manuel has completed 73 percent of his passes for 905 yards and eight touchdowns, and he's added 188 yards and a score on the ground as well.
The athletic senior signal-caller just played a fantastic game in a 49-37 win over Clemson last Saturday. Following that performance, he now must be considered one of the top early contenders for the Heisman Trophy.
Look for Manuel's hot streak to continue when he leads Florida State against South Florida on Saturday.
Barkevious Mingo Will Finally Get a Sack
LSU DE Barkevious Mingo is one of college football's premier pass-rushers. Surprisingly, though, he has yet to notch a sack in the Tigers' first four games.
Mingo should finally get to the quarterback this weekend, as LSU's defensive line should have no trouble manhandling Towson in the trenches.
Boston College Will Give Clemson a Tough Test
Everyone's probably expecting the Clemson Tigers to go up to Boston College and take out their anger on the Eagles after last week's disappointing loss to Florida State. However, when you combine a potential hangover effect with the team's second consecutive road trip, it's easy to see that this game could be a lot closer than it should be.
Boston College is a better team this season than the one that went just 4-8 last year.
Strong-armed quarterback Chase Rettig and the rest of the Eagles offense could really give Clemson's defense a tough test on Saturday.
Tennessee Will Hold Todd Gurley Under 100 Rushing Yards
Georgia RB Todd Gurley has been the most impressive freshman player in the country so far this season.
Gurley has rushed for more than 100 yards in three out of the four games he's played in, and he's scored seven total touchdowns.
The main priority of the Tennessee defense on Saturday will be to contain the freshman sensation, and the Vols have the pieces up front to do it.
Linebackers A.J. Johnson and Curt Maggitt are two of the best defenders in the SEC. Gurley won't have an easy time finding running room with them roaming around the field.
Garrett Gilbert Will Cause Problems for TCU’s Defense
Texas transfer Garrett Gilbert hasn't exactly looked stellar in his first three games as a starter at SMU. Gilbert has completed just 52 percent of his passes and thrown three touchdowns compared to four interceptions.
On the surface, it would seem that he should struggle mightily against a Gary Patterson-coached TCU defense on Saturday. However, Gilbert and the rest of the Mustangs offense have had two weeks to prepare for the Horned Frogs.
They should be ready to attack a secondary that is loaded with inexperience.
A.J. McCarron Will Continue His March Toward the Heisman
Before the season started, I picked Alabama QB A.J. McCarron to win the Heisman Trophy. So far, I'm pretty pleased with that prediction.
McCarron hasn't put up eye-popping passing stats like Geno Smith or E.J. Manuel, but he has looked extremely efficient and led the Tide to a 4-0 start.
The junior signal-caller should have another solid outing against Ole Miss this weekend and continue to show that he's worthy of Heisman consideration as long as Alabama keeps winning games.
Nebraska Will Sack Joel Stave 5 Times
Wisconsin freshman quarterback Joel Stave had a strong showing in his first career start last weekend.
Stave completed 12 of his 17 passes for 210 yards and a touchdown in a 37-26 win over UTEP.
It will be a different story at Nebraska this weekend, though.
The Cornhuskers are currently tied for third in the nation with 16 sacks.
Cameron Meredith, Eric Martin and Baker Steinkuhler will be hunting Stave down all game long. It's going to be a long day for the young signal-caller.
Storm Johnson Will Pound Missouri’s Defense
Central Florida RB Storm Johnson has only carried the ball 42 times for 187 yards and two touchdowns this season. But he could be ready to have a true breakout performance at home against Missouri this weekend.
Johnson, a transfer from Miami, is one of the most talented backs in the non-BCS ranks, and he could cause a lot of havoc for the Tigers' defensive front seven.
South Carolina Will Have a Letdown
South Carolina destroyed Kentucky, 54-3, last season, but this year's meeting will likely more closely resemble the one from 2010, when the Gamecocks were shocked in Lexington, 31-28.
The Wildcats are arguably the worst team in the SEC this season, but they do have some intriguing young talent on both sides of the ball.
If Joker Phillips can get his players motivated for the big matchup at home, Kentucky could catch the Gamecocks sleeping and make this game a lot closer than it should be.
Episode 4 of the Johnny Manziel Show Will Be the Most Entertaining One Yet
Texas A&M QB Johnny Manziel has only played in three games so far in his career, but he looks like he's quickly developing into an exciting player.
The dual-threat freshman signal-caller has totaled 903 yards of offense and accounted for 12 touchdowns already this season.
Manziel will now square off with an Arkansas team that looks like it's on the verge of shutting down for the season.
He should be able to find plenty of success against a Razorbacks defense that currently ranks 101st in the nation in total defense, giving up an average of 458 yards per game.
Washington State Will Hold Oregon Under 40 Points
On paper, it looks like Oregon should score at least 70 points on Washington State's defense on Saturday. However, you have to factor in that this will be the Ducks' first game away from Autzen Stadium this season.
Sure, there should be just as many Oregon fans at CenturyLink Field as Washington State fans, but it will be a different atmosphere that QB Marcus Mariota and the offense will have to adapt to.
Last year, the Cougars played the Ducks tough, losing by just 15 points, and they should be able to replicate that effort this weekend.
Louisiana Tech’s Offensive Onslaught Will Continue
Is it too early to start comparing Louisiana Tech to last year's Houston team?
The Bulldogs are currently averaging 54 points and 536 yards per game. They just got done destroying a respectable Illinois team at home, 52-24.
Now, Sonny Dykes' squad will head to Virginia to face a Cavaliers team that has looked listless in its last three games.
QB Colby Cameron and his deadly receiver duo of Quinton Patton and Myles White form one of the most powerful passing combinations in the country. When they're clicking, they're almost impossible to slow down.
Joseph Randle Will Score 3 Touchdowns
Now that QB Brandon Weeden and WR Justin Blackmon are both gone, RB Joseph Randle has become the focal point of the Oklahoma State offense this season.
So far, Randle has handled the role well, rushing for 335 yards and four touchdowns in just four games.
Now, he'll have the chance to prove himself on a big stage against Texas this weekend.
The junior playmaker is a big-play threat that can take it to the house any time he gets the ball in his hands.
Randle should produce a few big scoring plays against the Longhorns on Saturday.
Andrew Maxwell Will Throw 2 Crucial Interceptions
Michigan State is averaging just 21 points per game so far this season.
The blame for the offense's lack of efficiency has to fall squarely on the shoulders of first-year starting quarterback Andrew Maxwell.
Maxwell is completing just 56 percent of his passes, and he's thrown three touchdowns compared to three interceptions.
Ohio Sate is loaded with ball hawks in the secondary, such as cornerbacks Bradley Roby and Travis Howard and safeties C.J. Barnett and Christian Bryant.
If the Spartan signal-caller isn't careful, he could toss a few costly picks.
Damontre Moore Will Embarrass Arkansas’ Offensive Line
Texas A&M defensive end Damontre Moore was one of the most impressive pass-rushers in the country last season, racking up 8.5 sacks.
This year, he's on pace to double that total, as he's already notched six sacks in just three games.
The 6'5'', 250-pound junior will be a handful for the Arkansas offensive line on Saturday.
Razorbacks QB Tyler Wilson better beware.
Ralph David Abernathy IV Will Return a Kickoff for a Touchdown
Not only does Cincinnati RB Ralph David Abernathy IV have one of the coolest names in college football, he's also one of the best kick returners in the country.
Abernathy is averaging 31 yards per kickoff return this season.
Virginia Tech takes tremendous pride in its special teams, and the Hokies haven't given up a kickoff return for a touchdown in years.
If they decide to kick to Abernathy, though, they may finally pay the price.
Johnathan Franklin Will Bounce Back
UCLA RB Johnathan Franklin was one of the most impressive individual performers of the first three weeks of the season. However, the Oregon State defense stymied the Bruins back last week, holding him to just 45 yards on the ground and no touchdowns.
Franklin should have a big bounce-back game against Colorado this weekend.
The Buffaloes defense is giving up an average of 4.4 yards per carry to opposing running backs. Fresno State's Robbie Rouse is the only quality back that the defense has faced so far, and the unit ended up letting him rush for 144 yards and two touchdowns on just nine carries.
Miami Will Be out of Energy
Miami picked up a huge comeback win over Georgia Tech in overtime last weekend. But you have to wonder what type of toll that kind of game took on the Hurricanes.
It took a lot of energy and effort to get that win, and that's the type of game that can really drain a team.
It won't be easy for Al Golden's squad to bounce right back and perform at a high level against N.C. State on Saturday.
Tyler Bray Will Struggle Against Georgia
Last year, Tennessee QB Tyler Bray had one of the worst performances of his 2011 season against Georgia. Bray completed just 18 of his 33 passes, and he couldn't manage to get the Vols into the end zone in the 20-12 loss.
The junior signal-caller could struggle again in this year's meeting against a Bulldogs defense that has a tremendous pass-rush led by LB Jarvis Jones and a secondary full of playmakers, led by safety Shawn Williams.
Matt Scott Will Struggle Against Oregon State
Another quarterback that could struggle this weekend is Arizona's Matt Scott.
Scott is coming off a terrible performance against Oregon last week. He completed just 22 of his 44 attempts and threw three interceptions.
The senior signal-caller will have to face another tough defense on Saturday when Oregon State comes to town.
The Beavers have a top-flight cornerback in Jordan Poyer and one of the country's best sets of pass-rushers in Dylan Wynn and Scott Crichton.
Cody Fajardo and Stefphon Jefferson Will Continue to Impress
Nevada isn't a team that's received much national publicity this season, but the Wolf Pack are definitely a squad to watch out for.
The team's potent and powerful Pistol offense is led by one of the most dangerous backfield duos in the country in QB Cody Fajardo and RB Stefphon Jefferson.
Fajardo and Jefferson have combined to total over 2,000 yards of offense in just four games.
The two should continue their impressive run this Saturday against Texas State.
Duke Will Win Its Fourth Game of the Season
Duke has won exactly three games in each of the past two seasons. However, the Blue Devils have already managed to match that total this season after a 3-1 start.
The team will be looking for its fourth win when it travels to Wake Forest on Saturday.
The Demon Deacons are a tough team, but their defense looked vulnerable against Army last weekend.
QB Sean Renfree and WR Conner Vernon should exploit Wake Forest's defensive weaknesses and lead Duke to its fourth win of the season.
David Ash Will Thrive Under Pressure
Texas has been plagued by inconsistencies at the quarterback position since Colt McCoy left after the 2009 season. However, it looks like the Longhorns have finally found a signal-caller they can rely on.
Sophomore David Ash has had a strong start to the season so far. He's completed 76 percent of his passes for 703 yards and seven touchdowns in just three games.
Now, all eyes will be on Ash when he leads the Longhorns into Stillwater for a battle with Oklahoma State on Saturday.
Boone Pickens Stadium can be a tough environment for an opposing quarterback to deal with, but Ash should thrive under the pressure.
Kirk Ferentz's Problems Will Get Worse
Things have not gone particularly well for Iowa so far this season.
After barely surviving an 18-17 scare against Northern Illinois in the season opener, the Hawkeyes proceeded to lose two home games to in-state rival Iowa State and Central Michigan.
The last thing coach Kirk Ferentz needs right now is another home loss.
It's too bad for him that the 4-0 Minnesota team that's visiting this weekend doesn't really care about Ferentz's problems.
Louisville Will Have Another Close Call on the Road
It doesn't seem as if Louisville should have any trouble picking up a win against Southern Miss this weekend.
The Golden Eagles are 0-3 and currently rank 118th in the nation in total offense and 106th in total defense.
It didn't seem like the Cardinals would have any trouble with FIU last week, though, but they won that game by just a touchdown.
Charlie Strong better have his team ready to play, because this game won't be as easy as some may think.
Mike Glennon Will Throw for over 300 Yards
N.C. State QB Mike Glennon came into the 2012 season with some high expectations, and so far he's yet to match his preseason hype.
Glennon has yet to throw for over 300 yards in a game, but that could change this weekend against Miami.
The big, strong-armed senior should be able to pick apart a Miami secondary which currently ranks 67th in the nation in passing defense.
Ohio State Will Shut Down Le’Veon Bell
Notre Dame gave teams a solid blueprint to follow after it contained Michigan State RB Le'Veon Bell back in Week 3.
Ohio State's defense has enough difference-makers in the defensive front seven, including standouts like DT Johnathan Hankins and DE John Simon, to contain Bell in a similar fashion this week.
The Buckeyes will surely be looking stack the box in order to shut down Bell and force QB Andrew Maxwell to beat them with his arm.
Keenan Allen Will Score 2 Touchdowns
Cal's Keenan Allen is one of the most talented and productive receivers in all of college football.
In just four games, Allen has already caught 29 passes for 309 yards. However, he's only found the end zone once this season.
That will change this Saturday against Arizona State.
Allen should put a ton of stress on the Sun Devils cornerbacks, and he's going to present some nightmarish matchup problems for the secondary.
Lyle McCombs Will Rush for over 150 Yards
Connecticut RB Lyle McCombs had the best game of his season last week against Western Michigan, when he ran for 119 yards in a 30-24 loss.
McCombs should have an even bigger day on Saturday against a Buffalo defense that currently ranks 111th in the country against the run.
If the Huskies feed their workhorse back enough times against the Bulls, he should rush for more than 150 yards for just the second time in his career.
Houston Will Get off the Schneid
Houston has had a disastrous start to the 2012 season.
The Cougars have lost their first three games right out of the gate, but luckily all hope is not lost.
The team has still yet to play a conference game, so technically Houston is in pretty good shape in the conference race.
A win over Rice this weekend would really help the Cougars gain some momentum and put their early season struggles in the rear-view mirror.
Illinois Will Beat Penn State
Illinois will be looking to make up for an embarrassing loss at home to Louisiana Tech last weekend when it hosts Penn State on Saturday.
The Nittany Lions have a tough defense, led by linebackers Gerald Hodges and Michael Mauti, but I doubt that QB Matt McGloin will be able to replicate the career day he had against Temple last Saturday.
QB Nathan Scheelhaase and the Illini should be able to get back on track and pick up their first conference win of the season.
Prediction: Illinois 21, Penn State 13
Texas Tech Will Beat Iowa State
Texas Tech will be seeking revenge for the 41-7 loss that the Red Raiders experienced at the hands of Iowa State last year.
Iowa State is a tough team that's well coached and disciplined. However, QB Seth Doege leads one of the most explosive passing attacks in the country.
Ultimately, the Cyclones just won't be able to keep up with Doege and the rest of the Red Raiders offense.
Prediction: Texas Tech 38, Iowa State 27
N.C. State Will Beat Miami
Noon road games are always tough on visiting teams, but N.C. State should be able to handle this one just fine.
Miami has to be lacking energy after such a strenuous overtime win at Georgia Tech last week.
The Wolfpack, on the other hand, have just cruised past two cupcake opponents in recent weeks.
QB Mike Glennon is starting to regain his confidence after a rough start to the season, and he should be able to pick apart the Hurricanes' shaky secondary.
Prediction: N.C. State 34, Miami 17
Florida State Will Beat South Florida
There will be no letdown performance for Florida State after last week's big win.
The Seminoles simply have too much offensive firepower for the South Florida defense to deal with.
The Bulls have the speed and athleticism on both sides of the ball to make things interesting for a half. But eventually, E.J. Manuel, Chris Thompson and the rest of the Florida State offense will pull away.
Prediction: Florida State 41, South Florida 20
Oregon State Will Beat Arizona
Oregon State has had two impressive wins over ranked opponents in its first two games of the season.
Now, QB Sean Mannion and the Beavers will take their show on the road to Tucson for a tilt with QB Matt Scott and Arizona.
The Wildcats got run over by Oregon last week, but they should be ready to have a better performance at home on Saturday.
Still, this Oregon State team looks like it has the proper balance and playmakers to go on the road and pull off another big win.
Prediction: Oregon State 31, Arizona 27
Texas A&M Will Beat Arkansas
This is a meeting of two teams heading in opposite directions.
Texas A&M has won two straight and has been building momentum for the stretch run of the season, while Arkansas has dropped three of its first four games and appears to be destined for a long, tumultuous season.
The Razorbacks have plenty of playmakers on offense, such as QB Tyler Wilson, running backs Knile Davis and Dennis Johnson, WR Cobi Hamilton and TE Chris Gragg. However, the team just doesn't look like it has the motivation to go into a tough environment and pull off a big win.
Prediction: Texas A&M 30, Arkansas 20
Central Florida Will Beat Missouri
Central Florida is one of the most talented teams outside of the BCS conferences this season. Missouri is going to find that out when the Tigers make the trip down to Orlando this weekend.
While Missouri may have more overall talent on both sides of the ball, the team has to be banged up after last week's beatdown at South Carolina.
The Knights have enough athletes and playmakers to build an early first-half lead and surprise the wounded Tigers.
Prediction: Central Florida 31, Missouri 24
Arizona State Will Beat Cal
After squaring off with Ohio State and USC in consecutive weeks, Cal has to be a bit worn out.
The last thing the Golden Bears want to see right now is a feisty Arizona State team led by budding star quarterback Taylor Kelly.
Many of the Sun Devils players remember the feeling of losing to Cal in last year's regular-season finale, and they'll be looking for payback on Saturday.
Prediction: Arizona State 27, Cal 21
Nebraska Will Beat Wisconsin
Nebraska was embarrassed, 48-17, at Wisconsin last season. It was a loss from which the Cornhuskers could never quite recover.
This year will be a different story, though.
The dynamic trio of QB Taylor Martinez, RB Rex Burkhead and WR Kenny Bell will just be too much for Wisconsin's defense to handle.
Freshman QB Joel Stave and struggling RB Montee Ball simply won't have an answer.
Prediction: Nebraska 42, Wisconsin 24
West Virginia Will Beat Baylor
West Virginia looked very sloppy against Maryland last weekend, but the Mountaineers will come out more focused and energized for their Big 12 debut against Baylor on Saturday.
On paper, this game has all the ingredients to be a wild aerial show.
Both of these offenses are explosive, but in the end, it's hard not to side with a veteran signal-caller like Geno Smith, especially on his home field.
Prediction: West Virginia 45, Baylor 33
Georgia Will Beat Tennessee
Not only does Georgia have one of the most talented and toughest defenses in the country, the Bulldogs also have one of college football's best quarterbacks, Aaron Murray, and one of the biggest breakout star running backs, Todd Gurley, leading the way on offense.
Murray struggled against Tennessee's defense last season, completing just 15 passes in a 20-12 win. However, he should have a much better outing at home this time around.
Prediction: Georgia 34, Tennessee 23
Texas Will Beat Oklahoma State
After two disappointing mediocre seasons over the last two years, Texas is now playing with something to prove in 2012.
The Longhorns remember what it felt like to lose to Oklahoma State two years in a row, and they'll be looking for redemption when they travel to Stillwater on Saturday.
The Cowboys offense will certainly give the Texas defense a challenge. But in the end, Mack Brown's squad has the motivation it needs to go out and make a statement in its first league game.
Prediction: Texas 36, Oklahoma State 29
Ohio State Will Beat Michigan State
If you've watched the two quarterbacks in this game—Ohio State's Braxton Miller and Michigan State's Andrew Maxwell—play during these first few weeks of the season, it's hard not to side with Miller.
Even though Ohio State has to travel to East Lansing, the Buckeyes still have the edge at the most important position on the field for this game.
Given the way Mark Dantonio criticized Urban Meyer during the offseason, you can bet that Meyer will have his boys riled up and ready for a battle on Saturday.
Prediction: Ohio State 17, Michigan State 13
Upset Special: Cincinnati Will Beat Virginia Tech
Last week, Kansas State delivered on my upset special by going on the road and beating Oklahoma.
This week I'm hopping on the Cincinnati bandwagon. The Bearcats have only played two games so far, and one of them was against Delaware State, so it's hard to get a feel for just how good they are.
Judging from what I've seen out of Virginia Tech, though, I simply haven't been impressed at all with the Hokies. If QB Logan Thomas doesn't improve his passing, we could see a repeat performance from the Pittsburgh loss.
Prediction: Cincinnati 28, Virginia Tech 24
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