Things are about to get a lot more exciting as college football heads to Week 5. The highly anticipated start of conference play is highlighted by not one, not two, not three, but four Top 25 matchups that are sure to shake up the rankings.
With such an exciting lineup on the weekend slate, we’re sure to see an upset or two. Or are we?
Here are picks for every game followed by a breakdown of the top three matchups on Saturday.
No. 21 Ole Miss at No. 1 Alabama
The Ole Miss Rebels have been on a recruiting tear in recent years, ending with a top class last offseason. But are Hugh Freeze’s boys ready for the big time? Going into Tuscaloosa and winning isn’t exactly an easy task against Nick Saban’s polished Alabama Crimson Tide.
From the surface, it looks like the Tide are on pace to complete a three-peat to close out the BCS era in style. Those aspirations won’t be hindered by the SEC up-and-coming Rebels—not in Saban’s house.
Alabama is once again very balanced in 2013, led by A.J. McCarron's 702 passing yards and six touchdowns. The team ranks 36th in the country in scoring as well as 36th in the country in points against. While Ole Miss has impressed thus far and ranks 21st in the nation in rushing yards, its first three opponents don't compare to its Week 5 foe.
The Crimson Tide are the gold standard in the SEC and what Freeze’s team is trying to become. While they may be on their way, quarterback Bo Wallace isn’t the guy who’s going to get them there. Look for him to regress against a tougher defense than he’s seen and for the Tide to capitalize off of multiple Rebels turnovers.
Prediction: Alabama 31, Ole Miss 17
No. 6 LSU at No. 9 Georgia
This SEC showdown is the game of the week. Despite losing their season opener, the Georgia Bulldogs look to have rebounded and are playing great football heading into this weekend. The team ranks ninth in passing behind quarterback Aaron Murray, and Todd Gurley continues to dominate on the ground.
But the LSU Tigers are also playing well, coming off of a convincing dismantling of previously unbeaten Auburn in Death Valley last week. Going into Georgia and winning will be tough for Les Miles’ team, but if they can learn anything from Clemson it’s that the Bulldogs’ defense isn’t what it once was.
Clemson ran for nearly 200 yards and passed for 270 more against Georgia. LSU has averaged 221 yards per game on the ground and has a stable of competent backs to keep their legs fresh. Controlling the clock with an effective running game will keep Murray and Gurley on the sidelines.
Look for the Tigers to impose their will on the ground, which will allow Zach Mettenberger to pick apart a porous Georgia secondary that is ranked 93rd in the nation in efficiency, per NCAA.com.
Prediction: LSU 31, Georgia 24
No. 23 Wisconsin at No. 4 Ohio State
Braxton Miller has missed most of the Ohio State Buckeyes’ last three games, but you wouldn’t have noticed from looking at the scoreboard. Senior backup Kenny Guiton set a school record with six touchdown passes against Florida A&M in a 76-0 rout last weekend.
But the Wisconsin Badgers are no cupcake for Urban Meyer's Bucks to steamroll, though it’ll be hard for their conference rivals to slow down their spread offense no matter who is behind center.
The Badgers’ third-ranked rushing offense—349.8 yards per game—will be tested to the max at Ohio Stadium against the Buckeyes’ ninth-ranked rush defense—79.8 yards per game allowed. Something has to give.
Bet on Myer and the stocked Buckeyes to have better success against the Badgers' running game than others have found this season. On offense, Miller is expected to start, per Chip Patterson of CBS Sports. With their top quarterback back in the saddle, the Bucks will roll at the Horseshoe to record their first big win of the year.
Prediction: Ohio State 28, Wisconsin 20