College Football Week 5: Previews and Predictions for the Top 10 Games

Josh SachnoffContributor IIISeptember 28, 2013

College Football Week 5: Previews and Predictions for the Top 10 Games

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    Chris Graythen/Getty Images

    Week 4 didn’t quite have the exciting factor going for it. This week of college football though, is going to be the best weekend yet. There are two big games in the SEC. LSU and Georgia will have a showdown in Athens, while Alabama hopes to avoid an upset against a surging Ole Miss squad. 

    Notre Dame will take on another difficult opponent at home against an Oklahoma team that hasn’t proven to the nation what they are capable of yet. 

    The night ends with a battle in the Big Ten between division opponents Wisconsin and Ohio State, as well as three Pac-12 matchups that could have Pac-12 title game implications on the line. 

    With all of the anticipation heading into Saturday, here are the best games to watch in Week 5:

No. 6 LSU at No. 9 Georgia

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    LSU senior quarterback Zach Mettenberger against Auburn on Sept. 21.
    LSU senior quarterback Zach Mettenberger against Auburn on Sept. 21.Chris Graythen/Getty Images

    No. 6 LSU @ No. 9 Georgia  3:30 p.m. ET  CBS

     

     

    ESPN College GameDay will make their way into Athens, something Georgia fans are probably dreading. The Bulldogs have lost the last five times GameDay has covered them. 

    Will a curse that began in 2008, finally end?

    Georgia has bounced back since their early season loss at Clemson, but LSU is proving to the nation that they're a SEC and national title contender. Senior quarterback Zach Mettenberger has looked impressive thus far by passing for 1,026 yards and 10 touchdowns. Running back Jeremy Hill has also been on a tear, as he’s rushed for 300 yards and five touchdowns in the Tiger’s last two games. 

    The Bulldogs were in a tight game with North Texas this past weekend, but eventually pulled away to win 45-21. The Georgia offense ranks ninth in the nation in passing yards with 360.7 yards per game.

    Quarterback Aaron Murray continues to look solid, as he passed for 408 yards and three touchdowns last week. Like LSU, Georgia has their own playmaker in the backfield with Todd Gurley, who is averaging 125.7 yards per game and 1.7 touchdowns per game this season. Wide receiver Justin Scott-Wesley has been dangerous in the passing game as well.

    It’s going to turn into a shootout “Between the Hedges” Saturday afternoon, so don’t expect much defense in this one.

    It will be rather close the entire game, but Les Miles and the Tigers will escape with a big SEC victory. 

    Prediction: LSU 38, Georgia 35

No. 14 Oklahoma at No. 22 Notre Dame

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    Senior Notre Dame wide receiver TJ Jones against Temple on Aug. 31.
    Senior Notre Dame wide receiver TJ Jones against Temple on Aug. 31.Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports

    No. 14 Oklahoma @ No. 22 Notre Dame  3:30 p.m. ET  NBC

     

     

    It’s a game that features two of the most historic programs in college football history.

    Last season, this is the game that proved Notre Dame was a real national title contender, as they knocked off Oklahoma in Norman 30-13. 

    The Sooners offensively did not look impressive, until their game against Tulsa on Sept. 14. Quarterback Blake Bell replaced starting freshman Trevor Knight, who was out with a knee injury, and showed that he wasn’t just a runner, but a good passer as well. Bell passed for 413 yards and four touchdowns.

    The Sooners rushing attack led by Brennan Clay ranks 16th in the nation in rushing yards per game (271.7), but the passing game should improve with Bell under center.

    The Oklahoma defense hasn’t played the toughest talent so far this season, but after last year’s problems, it’s impressive that they’ve held opponents to only 9.0 points per game. 

    The last two weeks, the Fighting Irish have snuck by their opponents by a combined 11 points. It will likely turn into another one of those games again against Oklahoma.

    Quarterback Tommy Rees failed to pass for over 300 yards for the first time this season against Michigan State last week, and the running game was basically shut down.

    Wide receiver Chris Robinson led the receiving corps with 54 yards against the Spartans, but don't be surprised if TJ Jones and tight end Troy Niklas become major playmakers in the passing game this week.

    Notre Dame hasn't been as tough on defense this season, but they looked much better against Michigan State by holding them to just one touchdown this past week.  

    Who are we kidding? It’s going to be a low-scoring game with defense being key. If The Sooner defense can contain or shut down Rees from getting the ball to his receivers, it will give them a solid chance of keeping Notre Dame off the scoreboard. 

    Oklahoma has a terrible 1-9 all-time record against Notre Dame, and it’s not likely much will change on Saturday.

    Prediction: Notre Dame 27, Oklahoma 23

No. 21 Ole Miss at No. 1 Alabama

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    Alabama senior quarterback AJ McCarron against Colorado State on Sept. 21.
    Alabama senior quarterback AJ McCarron against Colorado State on Sept. 21.Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

    No. 21 Ole Miss @ No. 1 Alabama  6:30 p.m. ET  ESPN

     

     

    This is the most hype this SEC West Division matchup has received in a while.

    Both come in undefeated and Ole Miss will be hoping to pull off the huge upset and snap a nine-game losing streak to the Crimson Tide. 

    Ole Miss comes off a bye week after blowing out Texas on the road 44-23 on Sept. 14.

    The Ole Miss offense has weapons with quarterback Bo Wallace, running back Jeff Scott and receivers Evan Engram, Donte Moncrief and Laquon Treadwell.

    This will be their biggest test yet, though. A Rebel defense led by highly touted freshman Robert Nkemdiche will also have to step up and lock down an Alabama offense filled with weapons as well. 

    It took Alabama until the fourth quarter to pull away from Colorado State last week. It’s hard to underestimate an offense though, that consists of AJ McCarron, TJ Yeldon and Amari Cooper, who will likely return after missing last week with a toe injury.

    It’s been the defense and special teams that have been getting the job done. Christion Jones has proved to be a dangerous return man and the defense led by safety Vinnie Sunseri have put points up on the board for the Crimson Tide. 

    Even though Alabama is at home, it’s a bit of a trap game for them. They come off a game where they struggled to put away Colorado State until the final quarter, and they also don’t have a tough matchup until Nov. 9 when they host LSU.

    Hugh Freeze is doing a nice job with the Ole Miss program, but they won’t be able to take down the mighty Crimson Tide on the road. 

    Prediction: Alabama 35, Ole Miss 21 

No. 23 Wisconsin at No. 4 Ohio State

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    Ohio State running back Jordan Hall against Florida A&M on Sept. 21.
    Ohio State running back Jordan Hall against Florida A&M on Sept. 21.Greg Bartram-USA TODAY Sports

    No. 23 Wisconsin @ No. 4 Ohio State  8:00 p.m. ET ABC

     

     

    This Big Ten Leaders Division showdown may be what decides who makes the trip to Indianapolis in early December. 

    Last season, Ohio State barely made it out alive of Madison, as they escaped with a 21-14 overtime victory.  This year, a lot more is on the line for the Buckeyes as they attempt to keep themselves in the national title race.

    Braxton Miller returns from a sprained left knee injury and will start this week after backup Kenny Guiton played well in his two starts. The Buckeye rushing attack will continue to be led by Jordan Hall, who has rushed for 422 yards and eight touchdowns this season.

    Ohio State hasn’t necessarily been tested this season yet, but they are sixth in the nation in rushing with 311.0 yards per game and fourth in scoring with 52.5 points per game. The Buckeye offense will have to put points up because the defense is going to have its hand’s full. 

    Wisconsin would be undefeated if not for the controversial ending at Arizona State, but they didn’t let the loss affect them last week as they blew out Purdue 41-10 at home. 

    The Badgers are a lot quicker offensively than people give them credit for. They currently are third in the nation in rushing with 349.8 yards per game.

    Running backs Melvin Gordon, James White and Corey Clement give defenses headaches with their ability to explode out of the backfield. Jared Abbrederis will be Joel Stave’s main target when they aren't running the ball.

    The Wisconsin defense is giving up 10.5 points per game this season and have held their last two opponents, Arizona State and Purdue, to an average of just 80.5 rushing yards. 

    Miller will need to make a big impact in the running game for Ohio State, but will he still feel the affects of his knee injury?

    The Buckeye defense has to step up. They weren't at their best against a mediocre California team two weeks ago and need to be sound defensively if they want to prevent Wisconsin from getting into the end zone numerous times. 

    It’s going to be a tight game as usual, but in the end Ohio State makes a big play offensively to knock off the Badgers for a third straight year. 

    Prediction: Ohio State 34, Wisconsin 30

USC at Arizona State

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    Arizona State defensive tackle Will Sutton against Wisconsin.
    Arizona State defensive tackle Will Sutton against Wisconsin.Matt Kartozian-USA TODAY Sports

    USC @ Arizona State  10:30 p.m. ET  ESPN2

     

     

    Who would have imagined that this would be a bigger game for USC than for Arizona State?

    Both the Trojans and Sun Devils are already 0-1 in Pac-12 play with their losses coming against Pac-12 North opponents Washington State and Stanford. 

    USC still can’t seem to get their offense going and have put basically all of the weight on the defense’s shoulders, which is something that was almost unheard of last year.

    The defense had to hold off Utah State in a 17-14 win last week. The running game has been decent with Tre Madden putting up over 100 yards in three of USC’s four games. The passing game continues to be one of the worst in the country and Marqise Lee hasn’t been able to be himself because of it. 

    Arizona State was out of the game at Stanford before halftime even hit. This now becomes not only a big division game, but a statement game for Todd Graham’s Sun Devils.

    The offense led by quarterback Taylor Kelly is eighth in the country in passing yards per game with 361.3. Wide receiver Jaelen Strong has been key to the success of the Sun Devil passing attack and running back Marion Grice has scored six touchdowns in three games.

    The defense led by defensive tackle Will Sutton hasn’t lived up to expectations yet by giving up an average of 36.0 points in their past two games. 

    The Trojan defense will be able to contain the Sun Devil offense, but it won’t be enough. USC won’t be able put up enough points and Lane Kiffin’s squad will suffer their second conference loss. 

    Prediction: Arizona State 27, USC  17

The Other Five

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    Stanford starting quarterback Kevin Hogan against Arizona State on Sept. 21.
    Stanford starting quarterback Kevin Hogan against Arizona State on Sept. 21.Stephen Lam/Getty Images

    No. 12 South Carolina at UCF  12:00 p.m. ET  ABC

     

     

    South Carolina will be in for an interesting non-conference game at UCF. The Gamecocks are solid offensively with quarterback Connor Shaw, but starting quarterback Blake Bortles has looked good for the Knights so far this season.

    UCF will be looking to get their second big win in a row, as they went into Happy Valley and upset Penn State 34-31 on Sept. 14, but the offense must hold off All-American defensive end Jadeveon Clowney.

    UCF will hang tight early, but the Gamecocks will come away with the win.

    Prediction: South Carolina 38, UCF 24

     

    Iowa at Minnesota   3:30 p.m. ET ABC/ESPN2

     

     

    Its the battle for Floyd of Rosedale and a game with bowl implications on the line. Iowa is on a three-game winning streak and getting win number four against undefeated Minnesota to begin conference play would be big for their bowl eligibility. The Hawkeye offense still isn’t wear it needs to be and relies heavily on running back Mark Weisman.

    The Golden Gophers are one of the worst passing teams in the country, but are one of the best running teams in the country with David Cobb, Rodrick Williams Jr and Mitch Leidner.

    Iowa has not defeated Minnesota on the road since 2008, but the two game losing streak at TCF Bank Stadium will end on Saturday. 

    Prediction: Iowa 30, Minnesota 27 

     

    No. 10 Texas A&M at Arkansas  7:00 p.m. ET  ESPN2

     

     

    The Aggies blew out the Hogs last year in College Station 58-10. Arkansas won’t only be seeking revenge on Texas A&M, but will have motivation to bounce back after blowing a 24-7 lead against Rutgers last week.

    Johnny Manziel though, will be too much for the Razorback defense and it will get ugly for the second straight year. 

    Prediction: Texas A&M 45, Arkansas 21

     

    Arizona at No. 16 Washington  7:00 p.m. ET  FOX

     

     

    Both teams come in undefeated, but Washington has proved themselves against Boise State and Illinois already. Arizona has had an easy schedule and has yet to be challenged this season. 

    The Wildcats have a lethal rushing attack with potential All-American Ka’Deem Carey, who sat out the opening game, but still managed to rack up 299 yards and four touchdowns in two games. A defense which struggled all of last year though, will face their first dangerous offense of the season.

    Washington is ranked 17th in the nation in passing and ninth in the nation in rushing. Quarterback Keith Price is clearly playing at another level this season and Bishop Sankey has been spectacular in the backfield as he’s rushed for 446 yards and five total touchdowns this season.

    The Huskies defense consisting of defensive end Hau’oli Kikaha has looked tough this season and have held opponents to just 10.0 points per game. 

    Arizona seems to blow out Washington when they are at home, but when they make the trip to Seattle it’s been difficult for them.

    Prediction: Washington 45, Arizona 28

     

    No. 5 Stanford at Washington State (Seattle)  10:00 p.m. ET ESPN

     

     

    Surprising enough, this was actually a close game in 2012 as Stanford escaped with a 24-17 victory. This is a neutral site game at CenturyLink field in Seattle, the exact place where Washington knocked the Cardinal off last year on Sept. 27. 

    Stanford has a better quarterback under center now with Kevin Hogan though, and Tyler Gaffney will be in the backfield. The defense, as usual, consists of a solid defensive line and physical linebacking corps led by Shane Skov

    Mike Leach already has his team playing much better this season, and they would be undefeated if not for a 31-24 opening weekend loss at Auburn. The big momentum changer though, was the following week at USC, when they upset the Trojans 10-7.

    Unlike Stanford, Washington State is an air it out team and is averaging 328.8 passing yards per game. Connor Halliday has already passed for 1,288 yards this season and Gabe Marks has been his go to target.

    Stanford comes in off a big home win against Arizona State, but don’t think the Cardinal won't be tested. It will be a closer game and they won’t pull away until the fourth quarter. 

    Prediction: Stanford 31, Washington State 23