College Football Picks Week 5: Breaking Down Weekend's Biggest Conference Tilts
For college football fans, this will surely be a weekend to remember.
With a slate full of intriguing clashes featuring conference rivals battling in hopes of taking another step toward contending for the national title, it'll be a critical weekend for a variety of perennial powers.
Heading into this pivotal Week 5 of the 2013 season, here's a look at who will come out on top in this weekend's most important conference tilts.
No. 21 Ole Miss at No. 1 Alabama
Before Nick Saban's Crimson Tide can even think about claiming their fourth BCS National Championship in five years, they'll have to get past one of the most challenging opponents on their schedule in No. 21 Ole Miss.
So far, Alabama has moved to 3-0, but outside of the team's victory over Johnny Manziel's Aggies, the Crimson Tide offense hasn't been overly impressive, averaging just 272 yards of total production in the team's wins over Virginia Tech and Colorado State.
That being said, Alabama's defense has seemed impenetrable against inferior opponents, so unless Bo Wallace and Jeff Scott, who anchor the nation's 21st-ranked rushing offense, can pull out a miracle, the Rebels won't move the ball enough to win.
It'll be close, but A.J. McCarron has made a name for himself as a quarterback who does nothing but pull out victories in close games, and he'll continue that trend in Week 5.
Prediction: Alabama 24, Ole Miss 20
No. 6 LSU at No. 9 Georgia
This weekend, Georgia has a golden opportunity to gain redemption after the team's Week 1 loss to Clemson in a very hostile environment.
It won't be easy, because Les Miles' Tigers have rolled to a 4-0 start, but LSU hasn't faced a team nearly as good as the Bulldogs, who have one of the nation's most powerful offenses.
Though Aaron Murray and Georgia's passing game gets most of the credit, the Bulldogs have an enviable backfield duo in Todd Gurley and Keith Marshall, so this is an offense that's dangerous in more ways than one.
At the other end of the field, the Tigers will be feeling the pressure as they have four more games against Top 25 opponents following the Georgia game, so a loss here would all but douse LSU's title hopes.
Jeremy Hill and Terrence Magee are a dangerous tandem on the ground, but if this turns into a duel between the two quarterbacks, Zach Mettenberger isn't the downfield threat that Murray is, and I think that'll be the difference on Saturday.
After defeating South Carolina, the Bulldogs demonstrated that this team is for real, and they'll continue to build toward a potential BCS national title berth in Week 5.
Prediction: Georgia 31, LSU 23
No. 23 Wisconsin at No. 4 Ohio State
This will be one of the biggest Big Ten tilts of the season because Ohio State, a team currently in prime position to challenge Alabama by season's end, is set to receive its first true test of the season in No. 23 Wisconsin.
And, as of now, Urban Meyer's team's dealing with a bit of drama in the days leading up to the game.
Not long ago, no one could've imagined star quarterback Braxton Miller being unseated as the team's No. 1, but since Kenny Guiton took over while Miller was out nursing his injured knee, ESPN's Austin Ward is suggesting that Meyer's got the makings of a looming quarterback controversy on his hands.
The fifth-place finisher in last year's race for the Heisman Trophy is also expected to slide back into the starting lineup, though Meyer is still evaluating how he practices this week and is comfortable enough with his backup that he currently lists his starter as Miller "or" Kenny Guiton.
That's because Guiton was dynamite during Miller's absence, tossing 12 touchdowns in three OSU wins, but one has to think the job is Miller's if he's healthy.
Now, with the Badgers and their 10th-ranked defense on tap, Meyer will have to seriously consider which guy gives the Buckeyes the best chance to win.
Regardless of who starts, Ohio State will have its hands full with Wisconsin's backfield duo of Melvin Gordon and James White, who each have over 550 all-purpose yards this season.
That being said, Ohio State's Jordan Hall and Ezekiel Elliott are more than capable of doing damage of their own if the Buckeyes' passing attack is ineffective.
And, while I have nothing against Joel Stave, his 50-percent completion rate in the bizarre loss to Arizona State suggests that he may not be able to get the job done against an elite defensive unit.
Yes, Wisconsin's defense has allowed just 10 points combined in its three victories, but the Badgers haven't faced an opponent anywhere near as talented as Meyer's group, so I expect to see the Buckeyes pull out a critical Big Ten victory at home on Saturday.
Prediction: Ohio State 27, Wisconsin 20
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