College Football Picks: Week 5 Predictions for Every Game

Brian Pedersen@realBJPFeatured ColumnistSeptember 29, 2016

College Football Picks: Week 5 Predictions for Every Game

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    Clemson hosts Louisville on Saturday night in the first Top Five matchup of the 2016 season.
    Clemson hosts Louisville on Saturday night in the first Top Five matchup of the 2016 season.Andy Lyons/Getty Images

    You know that old "it's a marathon, not a sprint" cliche that's so often used to describe sports seasons? Consider Week 5 a hill in the middle of the course that, depending on how some teams handle it, could push them way out in front or cause them to fall back to the pack.

    Major conference showdowns exist in the ACC, Big Ten, Big 12, Pac-12 and SEC as well as within some of the non-power conferences, games that by themselves won't determine division and league champions but will play a sizable role. There are still 27 unbeaten teams in FBS, but after this weekend, at least four will have fallen and probably several more.

    There are 63 games on the docket, ranging from a pair of league tilts Thursday to a Sun Belt midweek clash next Wednesday. We've made picks for each one. As games go final, we'll update with results so you can see how we did. 

Thursday Night Games

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    Texas Tech's Patrick Mahomes II leads FBS in total offense at 543.7 yards per game.
    Texas Tech's Patrick Mahomes II leads FBS in total offense at 543.7 yards per game.Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

    Connecticut (2-2, 0-1 American) at No. 6 Houston (4-0, 1-0), 8 p.m. ET

    Last meeting: Connecticut beat Houston 20-17 last November.

    Tom Herman's only loss as a head coach came at Connecticut last year, yet somehow Huskies head coach Bob Diaco didn't create a trophy to commemorate it. Cougars quarterback Greg Ward Jr. played sparingly in that game—one of just four under Herman where the team didn't gain 400 yards.

    Revenge factor aside, Houston's playing on short rest for the second time this season, but it has to get used to this since two more games—including the huge November showdown with Louisville—are on weeknights.

    Prediction: Houston 37, Connecticut 14

    FINAL: Houston 42, Connecticut 14


    Kansas (1-2) at Texas Tech (2-1), 8:30 p.m. ET

    Last meeting: Texas Tech won 30-20 at Kansas last October.

    Kansas has gone the entire Obama administration without winning on the road in Big 12 play, and that won't change against the No. 2 scoring offense in FBS. Patrick Mahomes II, who only had 383 yards of total offense last season against the Jayhawks, should surpass that total by halftime.

    Texas Tech has topped 50 points at home in eight straight games, averaging 60.8 points in that span.

    Prediction: Texas Tech 55, Kansas 30

    FINAL: Texas Tech 55, Kansas 19

Friday Night Games

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    Washington's Jake Browning is third in FBS in quarterback rating.
    Washington's Jake Browning is third in FBS in quarterback rating.Christian Petersen/Getty Images

    No. 7 Stanford (3-0, 2-0 Pac-12) at No. 10 Washington (4-0, 1-0), 9 p.m. ET

    Last meeting: Stanford beat Washington 31-14 last October.

    The Pac-12's best shot at getting a team in the College Football Playoff might depend on the winner of this North Division showdown running the table in the league, a path each narrowly kept alive last week. Stanford managed only three field goals until it found the end zone twice in the final 24 seconds at UCLA, while Washington needed overtime to win at Arizona.

    Stopping Christian McCaffrey is Washington's main goal. He had 300 all-purpose yards against the Huskies last season and has accounted for 54 percent of Stanford's offense.

    The difference will be at quarterback, where Washington sophomore Jake Browning (14 touchdowns on 95 attempts) will outperform Stanford's Ryan Burns.

    Prediction: Washington 27, Stanford 24

    FINAL: Washington 44, Stanford 6


    Toledo (3-0) at BYU (1-3), 10:15 p.m. ET

    Last meeting: None

    BYU's four games have been decided by a total of nine points—all against power-conference opponents—with Taysom Hill throwing six interceptions during a three-game skid. Toledo is no slouch, but it's seen just as much adversity as the Cougars.

    Prediction: BYU 31, Toledo 27

    FINAL: BYU 55, Toledo 53

Saturday Early Games

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    Ohio State has outscored its opponents 170-37 this season.
    Ohio State has outscored its opponents 170-37 this season.Scott Halleran/Getty Images

    Rutgers (2-2, 0-1 Big Ten) at No. 2 Ohio State (3-0, 0-0), noon ET

    Last meeting: Ohio State won 49-7 at Rutgers last October.

    Rutgers' best shot at pulling an upset—returning every kickoff for a touchdown—went out the door when all-purpose standout Janarion Grant went down for the year with an ankle injury against Iowa. Ohio State will play third- and fourth-stringers in the second half.

    Prediction: Ohio State 66, Rutgers 10

    FINAL: Ohio State 58, Rutgers 0


    No. 13 Baylor (4-0, 1-0 Big 12) at Iowa State (1-3, 0-1), noon ET

    Last meeting: Baylor beat Iowa State 45-27 last October.

    Come for Baylor's usual potent offense; stay to see if the Bears continue to impress on defense (13.5 points allowed per game). Iowa State's rotating quarterbacks will only create minimal confusion for their opponents.

    Prediction: Baylor 45, Iowa State 21

    FINAL: Baylor 45, Iowa State 42


    No. 14 Miami (Florida) (3-0, 0-0 ACC) at Georgia Tech (3-1, 1-1), noon ET

    Last meeting: Miami beat Georgia Tech 38-21 last November.

    Mark Richt went 13-2 against Georgia Tech when coaching Georgia, including an 8-0 mark at Bobby Dodd Stadium. Miami's fourth-ranked run defense looks well-equipped to shut down the triple-option.

    Prediction: Miami 27, Georgia Tech 19

    FINAL: Miami 35, Georgia Tech  21


    No. 22 Texas (2-1, 0-0 Big 12) at Oklahoma State (2-2, 0-1), noon ET

    Last meeting: Oklahoma State won 30-27 at Texas last September.

    Texas appears to have fixed its offensive woes, but the defense has underachieved so far. Cowboys quarterback Mason Rudolph will keep the Longhorns guessing and end a three-game conference losing streak.

    Prediction: Oklahoma State 38, Texas 34

    FINAL:  Oklahoma State 49, Texas 31


    No. 23 Florida (3-1, 1-1 SEC) at Vanderbilt (2-2, 0-1), noon ET

    Last meeting: Florida beat Vanderbilt 9-7 last November.

    Florida's second game in as many weeks in the Volunteer State will finish better than the last one, as long as the Gators don't inspire Vanderbilt's low-rated offense via another round of trash talk.

    Prediction: Florida 26, Vanderbilt 13

    FINAL: Florida 13, Vanderbilt 6


    Alcorn State (1-2) vs. No. 20 Arkansas (3-1) in Little Rock, Arkansas, noon ET

    Last meeting: None

    Losing to Georgia (2014) and Toledo (2015) in the state's capital has prompted Arkansas to wise up and schedule its annual FCS opponent in War Memorial Stadium. Smart move.

    Prediction: Arkansas 57, Alcorn State 16

    FINAL: Arkansas 52, Acorn State 10


    Northwestern (1-3, 0-1 Big Ten) at Iowa (3-1, 1-0), noon ET

    Last meeting: Iowa won 40-10 at Northwestern last October.

    Your #B1G noon snoozer of the week features teams that have collectively scored 72 points the last two games. Iowa will get back on track, while Northwestern makes last year's 10-win season look more like an outlier.

    Prediction: Iowa 28, Northwestern 13

    FINAL: Northwestern 38, Iowa 31


    Notre Dame (1-3) vs. Syracuse (2-2) in East Rutherford, New Jersey, noon ET

    Last meeting: Notre Dame beat Syracuse 31-15 in September 2014.

    Losing at home to Duke means having to fire your defensive coordinator, so what would head coach Brian Kelly do if Notre Dame fell to Syracuse? We won't find out, because as woeful as the Fighting Irish are on that side of the ball, the Orange are worse.

    Prediction: Notre Dame 41, Syracuse 27

    FINAL: Notre Dame 50, Syracuse 33


    UCF (2-2) at East Carolina (2-2), noon ET

    Last meeting: East Carolina won 44-7 at UCF last November.

    First-year head coaches Scott Frost (UCF) and Scottie Montgomery (East Carolina) have both impressed against solid competition. But East Carolina's passing game is the more advanced of the two and will be the difference.

    Prediction: East Carolina 35, UCF 27

    FINAL:  UCF 47, East Carolina 29


    SMU (2-2) at Temple (2-2), noon ET

    Last meeting: Temple won 60-40 at SMU last November.

    Head coach Chad Morris' halftime speeches need work, as opponents have outscored SMU 75-33 in the second half, including 27-0 versus TCU and 34-7 against Baylor. Temple must run the ball to be successful, as it is averaging 5.3 yards per carry in wins and 2.16 in losses.

    Prediction: Temple 30, SMU 20

    FINAL: Temple 45, SMU 20


    Georgia State (0-3) at Appalachian State (2-2), noon ET

    Last meeting: Appalachian State won 37-3 at Georgia State last October.

    The rushing numbers tell the story of this Sun Belt opener: Georgia State is last in run offense and run defense, while Appalachian State is in the upper half in both categories.

    Prediction: Appalachian State 44, Georgia State 21

    FINAL: Appalachian State 17, Georgia State 3


    Virginia (1-3, 0-0 ACC) at Duke (2-2, 0-1), 12:30 p.m. ET

    Last meeting: Virginia beat Duke 42-34 last November.

    Duke might have its most balanced offense in years with the way quarterback Daniel Jones has played (1,090 yards passing, five TDs). Virginia has allowed three teams to throw for more than 300 yards already this season.

    Prediction: Duke 38, Virginia 21

    FINAL:  Virginia 34, Duke 20


    Buffalo (1-2) at Boston College (2-2), 1 p.m. ET

    Last meeting: Boston College beat Buffalo 41-0 in October 2006.

    Boston College has scored 14 total points in a pair of ACC games and 68 in nonconference play. Buffalo is part of the latter distinction.

    Prediction: Boston College 34, Buffalo 14

    FINAL:  Boston College 35, Buffalo 3


    Oregon State (1-2, 0-0 Pac-12) at Colorado (3-1, 1-0), 2:30 p.m. ET

    Last meeting: Colorado won 17-13 at Oregon State last October.

    Colorado won at Oregon last week while its career passing leader, Sefo Liufau, sat out with an ankle injury. Backup Steven Montez likely thinks the starter should take his time healing.

    Prediction: Colorado 47, Oregon State 20

    FINAL: Colorado 47, Oregon State 6


    Ohio (2-2) at Miami (Ohio) (0-4), 2:30 p.m. ET

    Last meeting: Ohio beat Miami 34-3 last October.

    Our pick for the "best" winless team in FBS by virtue of its three one-score losses, Miami will eventually pick off someone. It will be Ohio, which has gotten a good chunk of its points from kicker Louie Zervos.

    Prediction: Miami 26, Ohio 22

    FINAL: Ohio 17, Miami 7

Saturday Midafternoon Games

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    Wisconsin looks for a road sweep of the Big Ten's Michigan schools after winning 30-6 at Michigan State.
    Wisconsin looks for a road sweep of the Big Ten's Michigan schools after winning 30-6 at Michigan State.Bobby Ellis/Getty Images

    Eastern Michigan (3-1) at Bowling Green (1-3), 3 p.m. ET

    Last meeting: Bowling Green won 58-7 at Eastern Michigan in November 2013.

    No pass is safe when these interception-prone teams meet, with 20 picks thrown between them. Eastern Michigan has lost 14 straight Mid-American Conference games.

    Prediction: Bowling Green 39, Eastern Michigan 31

    FINAL: Eastern Michigan 28, Bowling Green 25


    No. 8 Wisconsin (4-0, 1-0 Big Ten) at No. 4 Michigan (4-0, 1-0), 3:30 p.m. ET

    Last meeting: Wisconsin won 48-28 at Michigan in November 2010.

    Wisconsin's early-conference gauntlet continues with another game in the Great Lakes State, following its 30-6 win at Michigan State. Michigan is playing its fifth straight at home and has only turned it over twice. Vigilant care of the ball will be key to victory.

    Prediction: Michigan 27, Wisconsin 16

    FINAL: Michigan 14, Wisconsin 7


    No. 11 Tennessee (4-0, 1-0 SEC) at No. 25 Georgia (3-1, 1-1), 3:30 p.m. ET

    Last meeting: Tennessee beat Georgia 38-31 last October.

    Tennessee exorcised its Florida demons with help from its opponent's implosion, but it can't expect Georgia to do the same. Not after the Bulldogs got worked at Ole Miss, 45-14. They are in need of a quick rebound to stop their season from going off the rails. The SEC East will remain wide open after this one.

    Prediction: Georgia 24, Tennessee 20

    FINAL: Tennessee 34, Georgia 31


    North Carolina (3-1, 1-0 ACC) at No. 12 Florida State (3-1, 0-1), 3:30 p.m. ET

    Last meeting: North Carolina won 37-35 at Florida State in November 2010.

    Running back Dalvin Cook is coming off a career-high 267 rushing yards against South Florida, and now he gets to go against UNC's porous run defense. The Tar Heels have allowed at least 182 rushing yards in each game.

    Prediction: Florida State 43, North Carolina 26

    FINAL: North Carolina 37, Florida State 35


    Illinois (1-2, 0-0 Big Ten) at No. 15 Nebraska (4-0, 1-0), 3:30 p.m. ET

    Last meeting: Illinois beat Nebraska 14-13 last October.

    The matchup that spawned this odd apparel choice isn't a great one on paper, as Nebraska is undefeated, while Illinois is going backward. The Cornhuskers' offensive balance will be too much for the Fighting Illini to handle.

    Prediction: Nebraska 34, Illinois 17

    FINAL: Nebraska 31, Illinois 16


    Wake Forest (4-0, 1-0 ACC) at North Carolina State (2-1, 0-0), 3:30 p.m. ET

    Last meeting: North Carolina State won 35-17 at Wake Forest last October.

    Is Wake Forest for real? Ask Indiana quarterback Richard Lagow, whom the Demon Deacons intercepted five times last week. But NC State's Ryan Finley leads FBS with a 76.3 completion percentage and hasn't been picked.

    Prediction: North Carolina State 29, Wake Forest 23

    FINAL: North Carolina State 33, Wake Forest 16


    Purdue (2-1) at Maryland (3-0), 3:30 p.m. ET

    Last meeting: Maryland beat Purdue 24-7 in the 2006 Champs Sports Bowl.

    Purdue has turned it over 10 times in three games, and its minus-six turnover margin is third-worst in the country. Maryland is plus-five and is one of two FBS schools yet to give the ball away after having 36 turnovers last season.

    Prediction: Maryland 40, Purdue 20

    FINAL: Maryland 50, Purdue 7


    Minnesota (3-0, 0-0 Big Ten) at Penn State (2-2, 0-1), 3:30 p.m. ET

    Last meeting: Minnesota beat Penn State 24-10 in November 2013.

    All eyes should be on the line of scrimmage and how each team controls it. Minnesota is seventh in tackles for loss per game (9.67), while Penn State is giving up 7.75 tackles for loss per contest. The Nittany Lions play much better at home, and Minnesota has yet to leave Minneapolis.

    Prediction: Penn State 23, Minnesota 18

    FINAL: Penn State 29, Minnesota 26 (OT)


    Kansas State (2-1) at West Virginia (3-0), 3:30 p.m. ET

    Last meeting: Kansas State beat West Virginia 24-23 last December.

    Kansas State's final nonconference game was halted at halftime because of lightning. The Wildcats could have used the extra reps to prepare for West Virginia quarterback Skyler Howard and his improved efficiency.

    Prediction: West Virginia 28, Kansas State 21

    FINAL: West Virginia 17, Kansas State 16


    Louisiana-Monroe (1-2) at Auburn (2-2), 3:30 p.m. ET

    Last meeting: Auburn beat Louisiana-Monroe 31-28 in September 2012.

    A fraction of a second away from losing to LSU last week, Auburn will continue to struggle offensively as long as it settles for field goals. The Tigers should give kicker Daniel Carlson a rest and work on improving their second-to-last red-zone touchdown rate (31.8 percent).

    Prediction: Auburn 42, Louisiana-Monroe 13

    FINAL: Auburn 58, Louisiana-Monroe 7


    Northern Illinois (0-4) at Ball State (3-1), 3:30 p.m. ET

    Last meeting: Northern Illinois beat Ball State 59-41 last October.

    The six-time defending Mid-American West Division champs are off to their worst start since 1999, while Ball State has matched its win total from last year. Rod Carey's tenuous job status as NIU head coach will take another hit.

    Prediction: Ball State 27, Northern Illinois 21

    FINAL: Northern Illinois 31, Ball State 24


    Akron (2-2) at Kent State (1-3), 3:30 p.m. ET

    Last meeting: Akron beat Kent State 20-0 last November.

    Kent State has gone 14 straight games without gaining 400 yards, but Akron is giving up 6.8 yards per play to FBS schools. Akron is just as capable of putting up points as it is allowing them, so this could be wild.

    Prediction: Akron 34, Kent State 30

    FINAL: Akron 31, Kent State 27


    Navy (3-0) at Air Force (3-0), 3:30 p.m. ET

    Last meeting: Navy beat Air Force 33-11 last October.

    Air Force is second in rushing, Navy fifth, and they've attempted 53 passes combined. The Falcons are much better at defending the run, giving up 2.01 yards per carry. The first leg of the battle for the Commander-in-Chief's Trophy might be over in two hours if it stays close.

    Prediction: Air Force 27, Navy 21

    FINAL: Air Force 28, Navy 14


    Tulane (2-2) at Massachusetts (1-3), 3:30 p.m. ET

    Last meeting: None

    Head coach Willie Fritz has already doubled Tulane's run production from a year ago in just four games, and its nine rushing touchdowns are two fewer than all of 2015. Massachusetts is third-worst at running the ball and doesn't throw it that well, either (87th).

    Prediction: Tulane 24, Massachusetts 16

    FINAL: Tulane 31, Massachusetts 24


    No. 9 Texas A&M (4-0, 2-0 SEC) at South Carolina (2-2, 1-2), 4 p.m. ET

    Last meeting: Texas A&M beat South Carolina 35-28 last October.

    A third straight 5-0 start for Texas A&M will come down to staying dedicated to the run, as it averages 7.04 yards per carry. South Carolina's offense can't keep up with the Aggies and isn't equipped to play from behind.

    Prediction: Texas A&M 29, South Carolina 15

    FINAL: Texas A&M 24, South Carolina 13


    San Jose State (1-3) at New Mexico (1-2), 4 p.m. ET

    Last meeting: San Jose State beat New Mexico 31-21 last October.

    San Jose State is allowing 39.5 points per game and has yielded six runs of 30 or more yards. New Mexico's option will feast on the Spartans' subpar defense.

    Prediction: New Mexico 38, San Jose State 24

    FINAL: New Mexico 48, San Jose State 41

Saturday Early Evening Games

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    Oklahoma is trying to avoid its first 1-3 start since 1996.
    Oklahoma is trying to avoid its first 1-3 start since 1996.Mark D. Smith-USA TODAY Sports

    Oklahoma (1-2, 0-0 Big 12) at No. 21 TCU (3-1, 1-0), 5 p.m. ET

    Last meeting: Oklahoma beat TCU 30-29 last November.

    Head coach Gary Patterson isn't the biggest fan of bye weeks and how one gave Oklahoma extra time to prepare while TCU played last Friday. That should be the least of his worries, though, after dealing with a Sooners run game that gained 333 yards on the Horned Frogs in 2015. His team has also managed only 20 first-quarter points this season.

    Prediction: Oklahoma 34, TCU 30

    FINAL: Oklahoma 52, TCU 46


    Troy (3-1, 1-0 Sun Belt) at Idaho (2-2, 0-0), 5 p.m. ET

    Last meeting: Idaho won 19-16 at Troy last October.

    Troy's top performance in its first 3-1 start since moving to FBS in 2001 came in the six-point loss at Clemson. Idaho has a pair of three-point wins over bad teams and blowout losses to better ones.

    Prediction: Troy 30, Idaho 20

    FINAL: Troy 34, Idaho 13


    No. 18 Utah (4-0, 1-0 Pac-12) at California (2-2, 0-1), 6 p.m. ET

    Last meeting: Utah beat California 30-24 last October.

    Davis Webb and his FBS-leading 1,837 passing yards and 18 touchdowns will put Utah's fondness for sacks (17) and interceptions (five) to the test. Cal's inability to stop the run (263.25 yards allowed per game) will force it to have to score on every possession to win.

    Prediction: Utah 37, California 28

    FINAL: California 28, Utah 23


    Old Dominion (2-2, 1-0 C-USA) at Charlotte (1-3, 0-0), 6 p.m. ET

    Last meeting: Old Dominion beat Charlotte 37-34 last October.

    Charlotte has one win against an FBS team since moving up in 2015 and has only been close twice since then. Old Dominion has 10 such victories in three seasons.

    Prediction: Charlotte 28, Old Dominion 27

    FINAL: Old Dominion 52, Charlotte 17


    Kentucky (2-2, 1-1 SEC) at No. 1 Alabama (4-0, 1-0), 7 p.m. ET

    Last meeting: Alabama won 48-7 at Kentucky in October 2013.

    Kentucky has allowed just 17 points in its last six quarters. Alabama has managed that amount in five individual periods. The Wildcats' goal is to avoid getting so demoralized they can't handle Vanderbilt at home next week.

    Prediction: Alabama 59, Kentucky 10

    FINAL: Alabama 34, Kentucky 6


    Memphis (3-0) at No. 16 Ole Miss (2-2), 7 p.m. ET

    Last meeting: Memphis beat Ole Miss 37-24 last October.

    Ole Miss has played three ranked teams already and held three-score first-half leads on each of them. Memphis has outscored three bad opponents 155-27, with its starters routinely resting early. Being battle-tested holds more weight than playing lopsided laughers.

    Prediction: Ole Miss 40, Memphis 20

    FINAL: Ole Miss 48, Memphis 28


    Florida Atlantic (1-3) at Florida International (0-4), 7 p.m. ET

    Last meeting: Florida Atlantic beat Florida International 31-17 last October.

    The Shula Bowl is a front-runner for worst matchup of Week 5, and that was before FIU canned Ron Turner and his 10-30 record. These teams are 0-7 against FBS competition—five of those losses by at least 20 points. Maybe the coaching change will kick-start the Golden Panthers.

    Prediction: Florida International 24, Florida Atlantic 20

    FINAL: Florida International 33, Florida Atlantic 31


    UTEP (1-3, 0-1 C-USA) at Louisiana Tech (1-3, 0-1), 7 p.m. ET

    Last meeting: Louisiana Tech won 17-15 at UTEP last November.

    Not all 1-3 records are created equal. UTEP's three straight losses are by a combined 113 points, two of which were at home. Louisiana Tech's defeats (at Arkansas, Texas Tech and Middle Tennessee) were by a combined 19.

    Prediction: Louisiana Tech 57, UTEP 23

    FINAL: Louisiana 28, UTEP 7


    Middle Tennessee (3-1, 1-0 C-USA) at North Texas (2-2, 1-0), 7 p.m. ET

    Last meeting: Middle Tennessee beat North Texas 41-7 last November.

    The addition of Ole Miss transfer running back I'Tavius Mathers has balanced Middle Tennessee's offense. His 447 rushing yards and seven touchdowns are roughly what the Blue Raiders' top ball-carrier, Jordan Parker, had all of last season.

    Prediction: Middle Tennessee 34, North Texas 28

    FINAL: Middle Tennessee 30, North Texas 13


    Rice (0-4, 0-2 C-USA) at Southern Mississippi (3-1, 1-0), 7 p.m. ET

    Last meeting: Southern Mississippi won 65-10 at Rice last November.

    Rice is fourth-worst in total defense, giving up at least 31 points in every game. Southern Mississippi has managed 31 or more each week and won at Kentucky. Owls head coach David Bailiff's 10th season might be his last.

    Prediction: Southern Mississippi 52, Rice 20

    FINAL: Southern Mississippi 44, Rice 28


    South Florida (3-1, 0-0 American) at Cincinnati (3-1, 0-1), 7 p.m. ET

    Last meeting: South Florida beat Cincinnati 65-27 last November.

    South Florida still looks like the class of the East Division even after getting run over by Florida State, 55-35. But its defense is worn down after playing 187 snaps the last two weeks. Cincinnati won't go as fast but is just as capable of breaking off big plays, though it's anyone's guess who Bearcats head coach Tommy Tuberville will use this week at quarterback.

    Prediction: South Florida 40, Cincinnati 34

    FINAL: South Florida 45, Cincinnati 20


    Western Michigan (4-0) at Central Michigan (3-1), 7 p.m. ET

    Last meeting: Western Michigan beat Central Michigan 41-39 last October.

    Combined, they have three wins over power-conference teams, which would have been four had Central Michigan completed the comeback at Virginia last week. If Western Michigan can win at Northwestern and Illinois, it can also do so in Mount Pleasant.

    Prediction: Western Michigan 30, Central Michigan 29

    FINAL: Western Michigan 49, Central Michigan 10


    Houston Baptist (2-2) at Western Kentucky (2-2), 7 p.m. ET

    Last meeting: None

    The Hilltoppers average 20.0 points against SEC schools and 38.5 against everyone else. Houston Baptist, in its fourth season of football, is decades away from being power-conference worthy.

    Prediction: Western Kentucky 63, Houston Baptist 16

    FINAL: Western Kentucky 50, Houston Baptist 3


    Missouri (2-2, 0-1 SEC) at LSU (2-2, 1-1), 7:30 p.m. ET

    Last meeting: Missouri beat LSU 20-15 in the 1978 Liberty Bowl.

    No SEC team looks more different from a year ago than Mizzou, with offensive coordinator Josh Heupel ramping up the tempo and turning quarterback Drew Lock into a version of his Heisman runner-up self. But it's how LSU adjusts itself, particularly on offense, in the wake of Les Miles' firing that will dictate the outcome.

    Prediction: LSU 34, Missouri 22

    FINAL: LSU 42, Missouri 7


    Marshall (1-2) at Pittsburgh (2-2), 7:30 p.m. ET

    Last meeting: None

    Marshall has allowed 124 points and 1,214 yards its past two games, and those were at home. Pittsburgh's pass defense is second-worst in FBS, but the thunder and lightning of rushers James Conner and Quadree Henderson will be more than enough to end a two-game skid.

    Prediction: Pittsburgh 51, Marshall 24

    FINAL: Pittsburgh 43, Marshall 27


    Incarnate Word (1-3) at Texas State (1-2), 7:30 p.m. ET

    Last meeting: None

    Arkansas and Houston outscored Texas State 106-6 the last two weeks, but the Bobcats should rebound well against a program that started playing football in 2009.

    Prediction: Texas State 45, Incarnate Word 23

    FINAL: Texas State 48, Incarnate Word 17

Saturday Night Games

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    Can Lamar Jackson keep his run going against Clemson's stout defense?
    Can Lamar Jackson keep his run going against Clemson's stout defense?Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports

    No. 3 Louisville (4-0, 2-0 ACC) at No. 5 Clemson (4-0, 1-0), 8 p.m. ET

    Last meeting: Clemson won 20-17 at Louisville last September.

    Both teams have at least one more major regular-season test later on, but it's hard not to consider the first Top Five matchup of the season a playoff play-in game. Louisville's absurd offensive numbers have come with little resistance from its opponents, something that should change against Clemson and its third-ranked defense. Quarterback Lamar Jackson will look human for the first time in 2016.

    Prediction: Clemson 27, Louisville 20

    FINAL: Clemson 42, Louisville 36


    No. 17 Michigan State (2-1, 0-1 Big Ten) at Indiana (2-1, 0-0), 8 p.m. ET

    Last meeting: Michigan State beat Indiana 52-26 last October.

    Michigan State hopes it got its seemingly annual #SpartyNo performance out of the way against Wisconsin. The Spartans can still think about the conference title and the playoff as long as they don't turn it over four times again.

    Prediction: Michigan State 28, Indiana 17

    FINAL: Indiana 24, Michigan 21 (OT)


    No. 19 San Diego State (3-0) at South Alabama (2-2), 8 p.m. ET

    Last meeting: South Alabama won 34-27 at San Diego State last September.

    SDSU's Donnel Pumphrey leads FBS with 599 rushing yards despite having last week off. He should have no trouble joining the 5,000-yard club against a South Alabama run defense that gives up 240 yards per game.

    Prediction: San Diego State 34, South Alabama 20

    FINAL: South Alabama 42, San Diego State 24


    Louisiana-Lafayette (2-2, 1-0 Sun Belt) at New Mexico State (1-3, 0-1), 8 p.m. ET

    Last meeting: New Mexico State won 37-34 at Louisiana-Lafayette last November.

    Louisiana-Lafayette used to be the class of its league, but now it's afforded no better than second-tier status. NMSU will have no problem contributing to the Ragin' Cajuns' decline.

    Prediction: New Mexico State 40, Louisiana-Lafayette 36

    FINAL: New Mexico State 37, Louisiana-Lafayette 31 (2 OT)


    Arizona State (4-0, 1-0 Pac-12) at USC (1-3, 0-2), 8:30 p.m. ET

    Last meeting: USC won 42-14 at Arizona State last September.

    Count USC head coach Clay Helton as the most happy that September is over. Four of his next five games are at home, and none of the opponents are currently ranked, though Arizona State is close. Another win should get the Sun Devils into the Top 25, but what's more likely is Trojans QB Sam Darnold will have a breakthrough game against the nation's worst pass defense.

    Prediction: USC 44, Arizona State 27

    FINAL: USC 41, Arizona State 20


    Oregon (2-2, 0-1 Pac-12) at Washington State (1-2), 9:30 p.m. ET

    Last meeting: Washington State won 45-38 at Oregon last October.

    Jonesing for your next #Pac12AfterDark weirdness fix? Look no further. Oregon comes in having been beaten at home by Colorado's backup quarterback making his first career start. WSU's Luke Falk threw for 505 yards and five touchdowns in Eugene last season.

    Prediction: Washington State 48, Oregon 44

    FINAL: Washington State 51, Oregon 33


    Utah State (2-2, 0-1 Mountain West) at No. 24 Boise State (3-0, 0-0), 10:15 p.m. ET

    Last meeting: Utah State beat Boise State 52-26 last October.

    Having swept Pac-12 schools in its last two games, Boise turns its focus to dominating the MWC's Mountain Division. That will start by containing Utah State's run game and finish with the Broncos' aerial attack.

    Prediction: Boise State 38, Utah State 17

    FINAL: Boise State 21, Utah State 10


    Wyoming (2-2) at Colorado State (2-2), 10:15 p.m. ET

    Last meeting: Colorado State won 26-7 at Wyoming last November.

    The Bronze Boot is on the line in this rivalry clash that dates to 1899. Colorado State has yielded eight rushing touchdowns in its two losses. That's not a good sign with prolific Wyoming rusher Brian Hill (six career 200-yard games) headed to Fort Collins.

    Prediction: Wyoming 30, Colorado State 26

    FINAL: Wyoming 38, Colorado State 17


    Arizona (2-2, 0-1 Pac-12) at UCLA (2-2, 0-1), 10:30 p.m. ET

    Last meeting: UCLA won 56-30 at Arizona last September.

    Arizona is down to its second-string quarterback and No. 3 running back and now faces its two biggest problems under head coach Rich Rodriguez: UCLA and natural grass. The Bruins' struggling run game will find its footing for head coach Jim Mora's fifth straight win over the Wildcats.

    Prediction: UCLA 34, Arizona 19

    FINAL: UCLA 45, Arizona 24


    Fresno State (1-3) at UNLV (1-3), 10:30 p.m. ET

    Last meeting: Fresno State beat UNLV 31-28 last October.

    Fresno State head coach Tim DeRuyter is on termination watch after his team blew a 31-point home lead to Tulsa, while UNLV fell at home to future FCS school Idaho. Last year's game ended in a sudden downpour, which might be the only thing that would make this matchup intriguing.

    Prediction: UNLV 33, Fresno State 21

    FINAL: UNLV 45, Fresno State 20


    Nevada (2-2) at Hawaii (1-3), 11:59 p.m. ET

    Last meeting: Nevada beat Hawaii 30-20 last October.

    Much has been made of Hawaii's ridiculous travel this season, which has taken it to Australia and Michigan. What about Nevada, which has been to Indiana twice and barely had time to unpack from Purdue before heading for Honolulu. Jet lag rears its ugly head.

    Prediction: Hawaii 28, Nevada 24

    FINAL: Hawaii 38, Nevada 17

Next Wednesday Night's Game

7 of 7

    Favian Upshaw is one of four Georgia Southern players with at least 200 rushing yards.
    Favian Upshaw is one of four Georgia Southern players with at least 200 rushing yards.Todd Bennett/Getty Images

    Georgia Southern (3-1, 2-0 Sun Belt) at Arkansas State (0-4, 0-0), 8 p.m. ET

    Last meeting: Georgia Southern beat Arkansas State 48-21 in the 1986 FCS national championship game.

    Two of the top #FunBelt contenders have had different starts to this season, with Arkansas State off to its worst start in 15 years. Seeing how many yards Georgia Southern's No. 4 rushing offense can put up is the main attraction of this midweek affair.

    Prediction: Georgia Southern 39, Arkansas State 31

    FINAL: Arkansas State 27, Georgia Southern 26


    All statistics courtesy of unless otherwise noted. All series history information courtesy of unless otherwise noted. Follow Brian J. Pedersen on Twitter at @realBJP.


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