College Football Predictions Week 5: 25 Hunches for This Week's Games
It's that time of the season again.
Rivalries that have been going on for years will rear their ugly head this weekend in what should be epic games that we'll all have a stake in.
The Red River Shootout will return to the Cotton Bowl in Dallas right along with the Texas State Fair—the place where you will find food that will make your arteries scream "NO!"
Texas is looking for redemption after getting embarrassed at home by UCLA last Saturday and Oklahoma keeps squeaking out wins.
Just to the east, the Alabama Crimson Tide, fresh off a hard-fought win in Arkansas, will welcome in their SEC rivals, the Florida Gators.
Those aren't the only two games on the schedule this weekend, but it should be enough to get the college football juices flowing.
Let's get to the Week 5 college football preview and take a look at what lies ahead.
No. 25: UCLA Looking For Third Straight Win
The UCLA Bruins have picked up back-to-back wins that they really weren't expected to win.
Two weeks ago, at home, the Bruins knocked off Houston and quarterback Case Keenum.
A week later, down in Austin, the Bruins shocked the Longhorns. Well, embarrass them is more what they did.
UCLA will return home this weekend and should have an easier time than their previous two weeks as they welcome in a Washington State team that got blown out by USC last weekend.
Is this Bruins team better than we thought at the beginning of the season?
No. 24: Can New Mexico Possibly Pick Up Its First Win?
New Mexico has spent time chasing a lot of their opponents, or at least seeing a lot of their backsides.
Oregon, Texas Tech, Utah, UNLV. Four games, none of them were close.
This weekend, they will welcome in UTEP and be looking for their first win of the season.
The 3-1 Miners are coming off a hard-fought 16-13 win over Memphis one week after a 42-10 win over New Mexico State.
I don't see that zero in the win column changing this week.
No. 23: Which Kansas Team Shows Up?
From week to week, you never know which Kansas team is going to show up. It's hard to put your money on a team like that.
They will head to South Texas to take on Baylor. It's a winnable game, unless the JV squad shows up.
No. 22: Viva Las Vegas
Wedding chapel Elvis, skydiving Elvis, and, hey, maybe even football Elvis will show up for this one.
Colin Kaepernick and the Nevada Wolfpack will travel south to Las Vegas to take on the Rebels of UNLV.
UNLV has already dropped one game to a WAC team, 30-7 at the hands of Idaho, so this one may not be much fun, either.
No. 21: Irish Will Need More Than a Four-Leaf Clover
Notre Dame sits at 1-3 after their first four games and it may not get any easier, especially if Dayne Crist continues to struggle.
A trip to Boston College might fix things or it may not. What they could use as motivation is the fact that the Eagles got shut out by Virginia Tech the weekend before.
Maybe that four-leaf clover will come in handy after all.
No. 20: Put Up or Shut Up
The battle of unbeatens will take place in East Lansing, Mich., and it's a game that both teams need, especially Michigan State going into its showdown with Michigan the following weekend.
As for Wisconsin, it has Ohio State looming on their schedule in two weeks.
One has to wonder if the Badgers will suffer a letdown, especially after a yawner against Austin Peay last weekend.
No. 19: Auburn Takes The Weekend Off
Mississippi State, Clemson, and South Carolina three straight weekends. I guess a team deserves a weekend off after a tough three-game stretch like that.
That weekend turns out to be this one for Auburn as they welcome in Louisiana-Monroe. Should be a game to work on a few things on both sides of the ball.
Kind of like a pitcher in spring training.
No. 18: Taiwan Easterling Looking For Another Big Weekend
Florida State wide receiver Taiwan Easterling had a big weekend for Florida State, bringing in over 100 yards on just six catches against Wake Forest in a 31-0 blowout.
The Seminoles will be on the road against Virginia, so it's not out of the question that Easterling will have an even bigger weekend.
No. 17: Ole Miss Finding Its Groove?
The Ole Miss Rebels seem to be finding the groove at the exact right time. Whether that will transfer to their game against Kentucky this weekend is yet to be seen.
Their offense looked like they were fluttering in the wind over their first three games with losses to Jacksonville State and Vanderbilt, but it seems like they might have fixed their problems in a 55-38 win over Fresno State.
While the Bulldogs may not be a "big" opponent, it doesn't take much to find the right groove. If Ole Miss has truly found it at the right time, they may be a tough team to deal with.
No. 16: Are The Texas A&M Aggies a 3-0 Fraud?
The Texas A&M Aggies are unbeaten and that's not a lie, but they may not be for long.
They will travel to Stillwater, Okla., to take on the Oklahoma State Cowboys who are also unbeaten.
Neither team has faced a tough three-game stretch to start the season, but both teams will have something to prove when they open their game on Saturday.
Should both be considered 3-0 frauds?
No. 15: Northwestern 5-0?
Say what you want about Northwestern's schedule so far, and sure it's not the toughest of schedules, but Northwestern has been winning the games it's supposed to win and it's unbeaten going into its game against Minnesota this weekend.
The way the Gophers are looking, this may not be much of a test for the Wildcats. Unless this team isn't as good as they seem?
No. 14: Denard Robinson or Tate Forcier?
Much to Michigan fans dismay, their star quarterback Denard Robinson went down with an injury in their 65-21 blowout win over Bowling Green.
Disgruntled, and still somewhat angry, backup quarterback Tate Forcier found his way into the game last Saturday and performed admirably.
He connected on all 12 of his passes for 110 yards and a touchdown.
Head coach Rich Rodriguez has yet to make a decision on whether Denard Robinson will be good to go or whether he will be out for this game.
If Robinson can't go, do you trust Tate Forcier to hold down the fort until their star is ready to return?
No. 13: ACC Matches Up The Best Offense With Second Best Defense
This should be one heck of a showdown in the ACC on Saturday.
The conference's best scoring offense, Clemson, will face off against the conference's second-best defense, Miami.
The Tigers are averaging 39 points per game while Miami is giving up just 13 points per game.
No. 12: The "Wake Me When It's Over" Game Of The Week
I think the BYU mascot is pointing me in the direction of the nearest hotel. Either that or the nearest place I can catch a nap during this game.
The BYU Cougars and the Utah State Aggies will do battle on Saturday. The battle of an "underachiever" and a "might have been."
BYU has lost three straight to Air Force, Florida State, and Nevada, none of which was really "close."
As for Utah State, sure it gave a battle to Fresno State but it got a surprise beating from San Diego State last weekend. A game that was over by the end of the first half.
No. 11: Boise State Keeps Rolling Along
Boise State is matched up against New Mexico State this weekend. The same New Mexico State team that has gotten worked over by San Diego State, UTEP, and Kansas respectively.
This won't be close.
No. 10: Red River Shootout
Ah, yes. It's that time of year again where Oklahoma fan merges with Texas fan in the same place at the same time.
It's the battle between "I don't like you" and "well I don't like you, either." Guess that's kind of obvious though, wouldn't you say?
If you've never seen the caravans coming down from Norman, Okla., or up from Austin, Texas, it really is a sight to behold.
This game doesn't quite have the same feel to it as it once did or even did last year. Colt McCoy is gone, Sam Bradford is gone. Garrett Gilbert is in, as is Landry Jones. Just doesn't make you run out and buy tickets does it?
The Longhorns are coming off an embarrassing loss at home to UCLA and Oklahoma has looked less than stunning in their four wins, sneaking out of just about every one of them.
Turnovers, sloppy play, and low scoring might be the name of the game in this one.
No. 9: Showdown In Eugene
This is a game that a lot of people, especially out west, will have their eyes on.
The Stanford Cardinal will travel north to Eugene, Ore., to take on the fifth-ranked Ducks, who have been impressive all season long.
Well, with exception to having almost 600 yards run up on them against Arizona State this past weekend. A game they, by all rights, should have lost.
As for Stanford, it comes into this game playing about as good as any team in the conference, or the nation for that matter, save for a few.
The Cardinal returned home after outplaying, and working over, Notre Dame this past weekend and have been looking forward to seeing just how good they are against their conference rival.
This should be a fun one to watch.
No. 8: Trey Burton The Guy To Watch Against Alabama?
Trey Burton became a one-man wrecking crew against Kentucky last weekend, breaking Tim Tebow's school record.
Burton took direct snaps on offense and scored six touchdowns, leading the Gators to a 48-14 win.
This weekend, they will need Burton to show off once more as they travel to Tuscaloosa, Alabama to face the top-ranked Crimson Tide.
Make no mistake, the Tide know about Burton and have studied him on film plenty this week so they know to key in on him.
But film doesn't always help you defend the player in game situations.
No. 7: RJ Choppy In The House
This is a guy I got a chance to meet at the Byron Nelson Classic in Irving, Texas, a few months ago and someone I got a chance to know over the last few months.
ESPN Radio's RJ Choppy, from right here in Dallas, was good enough to stop by and give his thoughts on some of the big games, including the one right in both of our backyards.
We're speaking of course about the Red River Shootout between the Texas Longhorns and Oklahoma Sooners.
He gives his pick for that game and a few others.
No. 6: Michigan at Indiana
RJ Choppy: I still can't take Michigan seriously. Then again, I never take Indiana seriously. And I won't start this week. Pick: Michigan 34-7
Todd: While I'm not 100 percent sold on Michigan myself, I don't see them going on the road and losing to Indiana. Pick: Michigan 28 Indiana 17
No. 5: Wisconsin at Michigan State
RJ Choppy: Upset alert! Sparty playing for Coach D following his heart attack will be emotional and ready to go. Now, before you go betting all your dough on MSU, realize that Wisconsin's offensive line is probably heavier than half of the NFL teams.
We all know that running the ball is how you win on the road, especially in the Big 10+1. Pick: Wisconsin 24-20
Todd: Wisconsin had trouble against Arizona State two weeks ago, though so did Oregon this past weekend and if it hadn't been for seven turnovers, the Sun Devils would have had that game.
Michigan State is playing at home and will be emotional over almost losing their head coach. Pick: Michigan State 27 Wisconsin 21
No. 4: Texas vs. Oklahoma
RJ Choppy: Way to let the fans down Texas. How in the world are we supposed to expect Bevo to come to Dallas, after escaping Lubbock, and getting drilled by a UCLA team who's QB threw for 27 yards, and beat the Sooners? Well, we can't.
But, can we expect Oklahoma to do anything, either? They got lucky to beat Cincinnati. Neither team is going to beat Nebraska, at least that's how it looks right now. Pick: OU 28-11
Todd: I agree completely, RJ. Texas got embarrassed at home and while they're going to be looking to prove that last weekend was a fluke, Oklahoma is going to be licking their chops because this is the first year in a while they have a real shot to win this game. Pick: Oklahoma 27, Texas 14
No. 3: Florida at Alabama
RJ Choppy: Don't let the rankings fool you, this is not a battle of two top 10 teams. Rather a matchup of the best team in the land vs. a great program living off the good name of Tim Tebow.
There was only one team in the nation that could have come back and beat Arkansas on the road last week, and it was Alabama. Florida has great athletes, but they're young.
Their quarterback is young, and youth does not win in the SEC. Florida's defense will keep it close, but Alabama is the better team. Pick: Bama 28-17
Todd: Alabama fans are apparently upset that College Gameday is, once again, on the West Coast instead of covering their game. They'll just have to deal with that.
Alabama was lucky to come back and win that game. Arkansas led for most of it and couldn't hang on, but that's credit to the Tide for knowing how to come back and win that game.
As for Florida, they're a good team, John Brantley is a good quarterback, but Alabama is that much better on this day. Pick: Alabama 24 Florida 21
No. 2: Stanford at Oregon
RJ Choppy: Man, I wish this game was in Palo Alto, Calif. I usually go with the team that has the best player on the field, but when it comes to Oregon, they have so many good players that are as speedy as it gets, its tough to pick against them, especially at home.
If this game was at Stanford, I might have the guts to pick them. But in Eugene, with that sick crowd smelling their first BCS title, its going to be very tough for Andrew Luck to will his team to the win.
We'll see, maybe Luck locks down the top overall pick in the NFL Draft. Pick: Oregon 34-31
Todd: I get to use my first, "NOT SO FAST MY FRIEND," of the day. Stanford has been playing good football but, then again, so has Oregon.
You make a good point to say that Oregon has a lot of good players and a lot of speed on both sides of the ball. That could definitely create problems for Stanford.
All in all, while Oregon has the home crowd, Stanford will dig a little deeper and will pick up the win. Pick: Stanford 35 Oregon 29
No. 1: Helmet Stickers
Time to hand out helmet stickers to those that will have big games on Saturday. There will be four stickers given out: two on offense, two on defense.
Richetti Jones (Oklahoma State) — The junior defensive lineman is facing a Texas A&M offensive line that has given up 10 sacks so far on the season. Look for him to pick up one or two on Jerrod Johnson on Saturday.
Nick Fairley (Auburn) — The junior defensive lineman has eight and a half tackles for a loss. With his Auburn team facing Louisiana-Monroe on Saturday, that number is sure to climb.
Ronnie Hillman (San Diego State) - The Aztecs' running back has had a heck of a start to his 2010 season, rushing for 532 yards and eight touchdowns through just three games.
BYU is giving up over 133 yards per game, so it could be a perfect game to let Hillman run free.
Kealoha Pilares (Hawaii) — With the Hawaii Warriors facing off at home against Louisiana Tech, not to mention the Warriors having one of the better passers in the nation, this game will give wide receiver Kealoha Pilares plenty of chances to improve his numbers, which are already outstanding.
Through four games, Pilares has 21 catches for 465 yards and seven touchdowns for a 22.14 yards-per-catch average.