Who's Next? A Few Week Five College Football Predictions

Jeffrey McDanielCorrespondent ISeptember 26, 2008

Not so fast.

While USC’s upset loss to Oregon State may have opened the door for a number of teams in this week’s Top 25, we’ve only been playing for three weeks.

With four of the modified Top 10 teams playing ranked teams this weekend, only Missouri, Texas Tech and BYU are completely safe from the upset bug. That's only because they are idle this week. 

This season is far from being decided.  Last year, I predicted that the National Champion would have two losses.  I’m not so sure that that won’t happen this year too.  But, let’s not get too far ahead of ourselves.

Here are this week’s picks.

No. 24 TCU travels to second-ranked Oklahoma this week for what might prove to be a tougher test for the Sooners than they expected.

Oklahoma has scored more than 50 points in each of their first three games this season.  Quarterback Sam Bradford has thrown for over 800 yards and 12 touchdowns. 

DeMarco Murray, has split the rushing load with Chris Brown, leads the Sooners in rushing.  His lowest yardage output of the season was 88 yards against Cincinnati three weeks ago.

TCU has won both of the last two meetings in Norman, and they have an offense every bit as dominant as Oklahoma’s.

Where they might have trouble is in running the football. Oklahoma has limited their first three opponents to only 190 yards combined. Granted, those opponents were Chattanooga, Cincinnati and Washington. 

If TCU can find success running the football, they have a chance in a shootout, but Oklahoma’s offense is potent, and can score at will.

Oklahoma wins this one running away in the fourth quarter, 45-28.  The Sooners face another huge test in two weeks against No. 7 Texas.

Eighth-ranked Alabama comes into Saturday night’s game at No. 3 Georgia riding a wave of momentum.  They thumped Clemson in Week One, 31-10, and followed that with a narrow escape against Tulane, 20-6, before beating Western Kentucky and Arkansas by an average of 35 points. 

When Nick Saban arrived in Tuscaloosa, this is exactly the kind of game fans had in mind.  Glen Coffee is coming off a 162-yard, two-touchdown performance against Arkansas.

Georgia played very well last week at Arizona State.  Matthew Stafford has thrown for nearly 1,000 yards and five touchdowns already, and its games like this one that will determine just how worthy a candidate he is for the Heisman. 

Then there’s Knowshon Moreno.  Moreno has rushed 455 yards and nine touchdowns in just four games.  He might be a future Heisman candidate someday soon.

The game will actually hinge on how these offenses fare against the opponents defense.  Both Alabama and Georgia have stingy units. 

The Crimson Tide hasn’t given up more than 14 points in a single game all season, and shut down Clemson’s dual running threat to just 20 total yards.  Georgia seemed almost bored at times against Arizona State. 

Ultimately, Georgia is just a little bit better.  They have more playmakers, and in a game as good as this one should be, playmakers make all the difference.  Georgia wins, 21-17.

Penn State is having another fine season, and it’s all attributed to their HD offense.  With a solid run/pass attack, the Nittany Lions are already being crowned Big Ten Champions well before the end of the year.

They haven’t scored fewer than 45 points all season, and they blew out Oregon State, which as we all know by now knocked off No. 1 USC.

Juice Williams has been solid so far, passing for over 700 yards and seven touchdowns.  Illinois played fairly well against Missouri to open the season, but barely got past Louisiana-Lafayette in Week Two. 

That inconsistency puts Penn State over the top.  If the Illinois team that was two fourth quarter interceptions away from possibly beating Missouri shows up and plays for 60 minutes against Penn State, they still won’t beat Penn State.

The Nittany Lions should roll in this one.  The Illini defense just can’t keep up with Daryll Clark who has only thrown one interception all season.  Penn State 41-21.

I wouldn’t be doing my job if I didn’t say something about Tennessee’s trip to No. 15 Auburn.  The Volunteers and Tigers are both coming off disappointing losses, and if either of these teams wants to cling to hopes of an SEC Championship, they simply can’t lose.  Last Season, Tennessee earned a trip to Atlanta with two conference losses, and from their win over Georgia through their dramatic, overtime victory over Kentucky, every play mattered.  With an inexperienced quarterback running a new offense, Tennessee just can’t take that kind of drama all season.  Beating Auburn will give them a little breathing room, because I think both Georgia and Florida will lose at least two conference games, and Vanderbilt might beat both of them. 

Auburn is in the same boat.  Since LSU has the inside track to Atlanta, Auburn needs to win out.  They have a pretty easy schedule the rest of the way.  Their only key road games are at Vandy next week and at Alabama on November 29.  They renew The Deep South’s Oldest Rivalry with Georgia on the plains this season, and they have revenge on their minds.

I’ve said this before in this space.  Tennessee’s defense is good enough to keep them in every game the rest of the way.  It really is up to the offense.  If Jonathan Crompton can figure out how to run the offense, Tennessee can shake things up in the SEC.  This week might be a good time to start.  Auburn’s run defense is solid, though they did give up big stretches of ground to Charles Scott, which freed up Jarrett Lee to throw all over the field in the second half of last week’s game.

Tennessee shakes off the offensive cobwebs, but Auburn wins in dramatic fashion 24-23.