College Football Picks: Week 5 Predictions for Every Game
Two showdowns between Top 10 teams highlight a Week 5 slate that should start to separate College Football Playoff contenders from pretenders.
Ohio State and Stanford travel to Penn State and Notre Dame, respectively, for pivotal clashes featuring undefeated schools. The Big Ten clash that pits Ohio State against Penn State includes a battle for a meaningful conference victory.
That's the prevailing sentiment elsewhere since most ranked teams in action—save for Washington and its date with BYU and a few other exceptions—will challenge a league opponent.
We've analyzed the matchups and offered a prediction for every game involving a Football Bowl Subdivision team.
Note: AP Top 25 teams are highlighted first within a specific time slot.
Thursday and Friday Games
North Carolina (1-2) at No. 16 Miami (3-1), Thursday, 8 p.m. ET
Quarterback Malik Rosier has been no better than decent this season, and N'Kosi Perry tossed three touchdowns in Week 4. Mark Richt has a competition on his hands, but the third-year coach probably won't reveal anything despite a favorable matchup with UNC's defense. While the 'Canes should win, they might not start quickly.
Prediction: Miami 30, North Carolina 20
Memphis (3-1) at Tulane (1-3), Friday, 8 p.m. ET
The only thing that causes the slightest bit of hesitation in picking this matchup is that Tulane is playing at home. The Green Wave took Wake Forest to the wire and wrecked Nicholls 42-17 earlier this season. However, their defense is outmatched by Memphis' No. 4 offense.
Prediction: Memphis 48, Tulane 24
UCLA (0-3) at Colorado (3-0), Friday, 9 p.m. ET
Friday night Pac-12 games have a tendency to get weird, but Colorado should defend home field. UCLA hasn't tallied more than 21 points in any game, and quarterback Steven Montez has helped the Buffs build a balanced scoring attack the Bruins likely cannot stop.
Prediction: Colorado 38, UCLA 27
Top Saturday Early Games
Louisiana (1-2) at No. 1 Alabama (4-0), Noon ET
In two games against FBS competition, Louisiana has surrendered 552 yards and 43 points per game. The Tua Tagovailoa hype train isn't slowing down in Week 5.
Prediction: Alabama 52, Louisiana 10
Syracuse (4-0) at No. 3 Clemson (4-0), Noon ET
Syracuse sprung one of last season's biggest upsets when it upended Clemson. Granted, it helped that Tigers quarterback Kelly Bryant missed time due to a concussion. Although the Orange are improved on both sides of the ball, the Tigers' switch to Trevor Lawrence at quarterback will propel a dynamic Clemson offense past 'Cuse.
Prediction: Clemson 42, Syracuse 27
No. 12 West Virginia (3-0) at No. 25 Texas Tech (3-1), Noon ET
Both offenses are cruising. The difference in this Big 12 clash will be seen in which defense performs the best. Texas Tech limited Oklahoma State to 17 points last week but remains susceptible against the run, allowing 4.6 yards per carry this season. West Virginia will sneak out a tight win.
Prediction: West Virginia 45, Texas Tech 38
Central Michigan (1-3) at No. 21 Michigan State (2-1), Noon ET
Whether Tony Poljan or Tommy Lazzaro has been under center, Central Michigan's pass offense has struggled. Michigan State can be beaten through the air, but there's no evidence of a breakout game from either quarterback.
Prediction: Michigan State 45, Central Michigan 13
Arkansas (1-3) vs. Texas A&M (2-2), Noon ET
The SEC schools will again convene in Arlington, Texas, for the annual matchup. Arkansas has dropped three straight games, scoring 47 total points during that streak. That's not going to cut it opposite a Texas A&M attack that averages 39.
Prediction: Texas A&M 38, Arkansas 17
Army (2-2) at Buffalo (4-0), Noon ET
If the visitors repeat their Week 4 performance, an upset will happen. Army dominated time of possession and took Oklahoma to overtime on the road. Buffalo, however, has ceded only 3.5 yards per rushing attempt. As long as the Bulls make a few third-down stops, they'll navigate a tricky matchup.
Prediction: Buffalo 31, Army 21
Other Saturday Early Games
Temple (2-2) at Boston College (3-1), Noon ET
Through four weeks, Temple has surrendered only 3.7 yards per carry and 4.4 per snap overall. If the visitors shut down AJ Dillon, Boston College will be scrapping for points. However, the same is likely to be true of the Owls, and they can't keep feeding touches to an elite talent like BC with Dillon.
Prediction: Boston College 27, Temple 17
Oklahoma State (3-1) at Kansas (2-2), Noon ET
Baylor picked up 447 yards of offense in a 26-7 victory and sent Kansas back to reality following its 2-1 start. The Jayhawks have a tolerable defense, but their scoring attack isn't nearly dangerous enough to compete with Oklahoma State.
Prediction: Oklahoma State 44, Kansas 14
Indiana (3-1) at Rutgers (1-3), Noon ET
Rutgers has returned to "unwatchable" territory. Since defeating Texas State to open 2018, the Scarlet Knights have mustered only 692 total yards and 30 points. Indiana will put together a blowout win if the offense bounces back.
Prediction: Indiana 42, Rutgers 20
Bowling Green (1-3) at Georgia Tech (1-3), Noon ET
While both programs hold a 1-3 record, this matchup should terrify Bowling Green fans. Opponents have thrashed the Falcons for 6.4 yards per carry—the third-worst mark in the nation—and Georgia Tech runs a triple-option offense. Yikes.
Prediction: Georgia Tech 49, Bowling Green 16
Virginia (3-1) at North Carolina State (3-0), 12:20 p.m. ET
If Virginia can snatch this road victory, Bronco Mendenhall's team is a quiet contender in the ACC's Coastal Division. Turnovers will likely have the biggest impact on an otherwise even matchup. NC State, which is 12-0 since the beginning of 2017 when the margin is zero or better, has ceded possession only once in each game compared to six giveaways for Virginia in four contests.
Prediction: NC State 34, Virginia 27
UMass (2-3) at Ohio (1-2), 2 p.m. ET
Make up your mind, UMass. Are you competitive or not? After dropping three straight games by 21-plus points, the Minutemen rolled Charlotte 49-31. Opportunity is there against a stumbling Ohio team—particularly its defense that allows 7.4 yards per snap—even though it's difficult to trust UMass.
Prediction: UMass 38, Ohio 30
UL Monroe (2-2) at Georgia State (1-3), 2 p.m. ET
This Sun Belt clash is a battle between two defenses in rough shape. They've both surrendered at least six yards per play three times in 2018. We'll lean on quarterback Caleb Evans and a more threatening UL offense. Georgia State hasn't yet topped 24 points.
Prediction: UL Monroe 31, Georgia State 23
Kent State (1-3) at Ball State (1-3), 3 p.m. ET
Ball State has struggled in two games since testing Notre Dame. By no means is a 1-3 Kent State squad clearly superior, but the performance of quarterback Woody Barrett has offered more promise than the Cardinals showed in the recent loss to previously winless Western Kentucky.
Prediction: Kent State 31, Ball State 21
Top Saturday Afternoon Games
Tennessee (2-2) at No. 2 Georgia (4-0), 3:30 p.m. ET
Pardon my volume: STOP DROPPING THE BALL BEFORE THE END ZONE. All right, better. As long as Georgia doesn't lose six fumbles at the 1-yard line—the Dawgs nearly did twice in Week 4—a Tennessee squad that surrendered 47 points to Florida isn't pulling an upset on the road.
Prediction: Georgia 45, Tennessee 14
Baylor (3-1) at No. 6 Oklahoma (4-0), 3:30 p.m ET
Prior to its matchup with Kansas, Baylor ceded at least 20 points to Abilene Christian and UTSA and then 40 to Duke. Unless the Bears' Week 4 showing marked a proverbial switch flipping, Oklahoma's high-powered offense will again be on display.
Prediction: Oklahoma 48, Baylor 24
Pitt (2-2) at No. 13 Central Florida (3-0), 3:30 p.m. ET
The last time Pitt faced an explosive attack, it gave up 51 points to Penn State. Two weeks later, the Panthers watched North Carolina put up 35. That's not a great sign heading into a date with the nation's No. 9 scoring offense.
Prediction: UCF 43, Pitt 28
No. 18 Texas (3-1) at Kansas State (2-2), 3:30 p.m. ET
Though any Texas offense will be the featured story whenever the program is thriving, defense is carrying the Longhorns right now. That trend will continue if their run defense keeps playing at this level. Kansas State isn't built to win as a passing team.
Prediction: Texas 27, Kansas State 17
Southern Miss (2-1) at No. 10 Auburn (3-1), 4 p.m. ET
Southern Miss has leaned heavily on Jack Abraham, who's averaged 35.7 pass attempts in three games. Quarterbacks have mustered only 6.6 yards per throw against Auburn, which should be able to rely on the running game and dispatch the Golden Eagles.
Prediction: Auburn 45, Southern Miss 21
No. 14 Michigan (3-1) at Northwestern (1-2), 4:30 p.m. ET
The surprise, injury-related retirement of Northwestern runner Jeremy Larkin has major short-term implications. He's accounted for 473 of the Wildcats' 1,273 yards from scrimmage and five of their 10 touchdowns. Replacing that production this quickly opposite the nation's No. 3 defense is too much to ask.
Prediction: Michigan 42, Northwestern 17
Other Saturday Afternoon Games
Purdue (1-3) at Nebraska (0-3), 3:30 p.m. ET
For Nebraska's sake, hopefully Week 4 was indeed rock bottom. If not, Purdue's passing game is capable of ripping apart the Cornhuskers. Based on the overall season trend, the Boilers won't play as well defensively as they did to smash Boston College. But the offense should overpower Nebraska.
Prediction: Purdue 38, Nebraska 20
Florida State (2-2) at Louisville (2-2), 3:30 p.m ET
Willie Taggart has received a fair dose of criticism, but it pales in comparison to the situation Bobby Petrino has at Louisville. The first year post-Lamar Jackson on offense has been a disaster, and the Seminoles should find a rare painless win.
Prediction: Florida State 35, Louisville 10
Rice (1-3) at Wake Forest (2-2), 3:30 p.m. ET
After edging Prairie View A&M 31-28, Rice has conceded 40-plus points in three consecutive games. Wake Forest likely won't be able to silence the Owls offense, but those struggles for Rice on the defensive side of the ball will continue in Winston-Salem.
Prediction: Wake Forest 41, Rice 24
Cincinnati (4-0) at UConn (1-3), 3:30 p.m. ET
Perhaps it's a broken record at this point, but Connecticut is such a disaster on defense right now. Allowing 9.2 yards per play is beyond jaw-dropping. Cincinnati should cruise past UConn.
Prediction: Cincinnati 45, UConn 20
Old Dominion (1-3) at East Carolina (1-2), 3:30 p.m. ET
What does the early favorite for most shocking upset of the year have for an encore? Old Dominion stunned the college football world with its victory over Virginia Tech by putting together a sensational day on offense. If that happens again, an East Carolina team ranked 116th in yards per play probably can't keep up.
Prediction: Old Dominion 34, East Carolina 24
Coastal Carolina (3-1) at Troy (3-1), 3:30 p.m. ET
This is a measuring stick outing for Coastal Carolina, which has quality wins over UAB and Louisiana so far. Troy will be the most comparable good opponent. However, Coastal Carolina has surrendered six-plus yards per snap three times. Overcoming that trend on the road will be a challenge.
Prediction: Troy 33, Coastal Carolina 21
Western Michigan (2-2) at Miami (Ohio) (1-3), 3:30 p.m. ET
Miami took advantage of a hapless Bowling Green defense, but matching Western Michigan's pace is a different story. The Broncos have posted 500-plus yards and 34-plus points three times, while the RedHawks struggled offensively for three weeks before a potential outlier opposite that horrid BG defense.
Prediction: Western Michigan 41, Miami 17
South Alabama (1-3) at Appalachian State (2-1), 3:30 p.m ET
Appalachian State hasn't skipped a beat. Through three games, the Mountaineers have allowed the fourth-fewest yards per play in the country. Although South Alabama quarterback Evan Orth has excelled over the last two weeks, this matchup will be too much.
Prediction: Appalachian State 37, South Alabama 23
Tennessee State (2-0) at Vanderbilt (2-2), 4 p.m. ET
One week after taking Notre Dame to the wire, Vanderbilt had a letdown at home. South Carolina racked up 534 yards and 37 points to earn the meaningful SEC win. Considering how well the defense performed before then, though, a bounce-back game is in order.
Prediction: Vanderbilt 30, Tennessee State 16
Nevada (2-2) at Air Force (1-2), 4 p.m. ET
Road games at Florida Atlantic and Utah State tested Air Force. However, the running game has lacked explosiveness and has mustered only two 20-yard gains, and Nevada has given up only six in four contests. The Wolf Pack will win if they keep preventing explosive runs.
Prediction: Nevada 38, Air Force 30
Top Saturday Evening Games
Florida (3-1) at No. 23 Mississippi State (3-1), 6 p.m. ET
After recording eight-plus yards per play in three straight games, Mississippi State's offense disappeared during its loss at Kentucky. "Concerning" is an understatement. We'll still trust a dynamic offense given the equal defensive matchup, but the Bulldogs are close to losing the benefit of the doubt.
Prediction: Mississippi State 27, Florida 20
Utah (2-1) at Washington State (3-1), 6 p.m ET
Can Utah muster a decent scoring attack to complement its feisty defense? With enough opportunities, Washington State will eventually start to break down its Pac-12 foe. Unless the Utes are able to run the ball consistently, Wazzu should protect home field.
Prediction: Washington State 26, Utah 16
Virginia Tech (2-1) at No. 22 Duke (4-0), 7 p.m. ET
Following the injury to Josh Jackson, Virginia Tech is relying on Kansas transfer Ryan Willis to run the show. Perhaps he simply needs a competent supporting cast to play well, but Duke's 25th-ranked defense will be stingy. Plus, the dismissal of edge-rusher Trevon Hill removed the best pass-rushing threat from Tech's defense.
Prediction: Duke 28, Virginia Tech 20
Boise State (2-1) at Wyoming (2-2), 7 p.m. ET
Since easing past New Mexico State in the opener, Wyoming has totaled no more than 313 yards. Boise State probably won't shut down the Pokes, but the Brett Rypien-led scoring attack will put Wyoming's offense in a hole it can't overcome.
Prediction: Boise State 34, Wyoming 16
Iowa State (1-2) at TCU (2-2), 7 p.m. ET
Forget the records. As expected, both teams dropped games to a challenging nonconference and league opponent. Turnovers crushed TCU in losses to Ohio State and Texas, but Iowa State has only forced two takeaways in three games. Avoid those mistakes, and the Horned Frogs get back on a winning track.
Prediction: TCU 33, Iowa State 21
No. 4 Ohio State (4-0) at No. 9 Penn State (4-0), 7:30 p.m. ET
Try to find the glaring weakness for either team. Come up empty? This Big Ten showdown is about as even as it gets. Penn State, however small the issue may be, has been susceptible to 15-yard gains on the ground. If Ohio State's running game is a threat, an efficient day from quarterback Dwayne Haskins will buoy the Buckeyes.
Prediction: Ohio State 31, Penn State 27
No. 7 Stanford (4-0) at No. 8 Notre Dame (4-0), 7:30 p.m. ET
If your gut and head aren't aligning for this contest, you're not alone. Notre Dame seemed fortunate to win its first three games, and Stanford already has quality wins over San Diego State, USC and Oregon. But the numbers—whether third-down conversions, red-zone efficiency or run/pass matchups—all have negligible differences or favor Notre Dame.
Prediction: Notre Dame 34, Stanford 29
South Carolina (2-1) at No. 17 Kentucky (4-0), 7:30 p.m. ET
Kentucky will be competitive whenever the rushing attack is a problem for opponents. South Carolina, though, has shut down non-Georgia running games. Combined with UK's unspectacular third-down defense, the Gamecocks have a clear blueprint for a road win. But this will be a 60-minute slugfest up front.
Prediction: South Carolina 26, Kentucky 21
Other Saturday Evening Games
Arkansas State (3-1) at Georgia Southern (2-1), 6 p.m. ET
Surrendering 310 rushing yards to UNLV isn't a promising sign for Arkansas State entering a matchup with Georgia Southern. The Red Wolves should be able to ride quarterback Justice Hansen past an average secondary, but the run defense must avoid "sieve" territory on the road.
Prediction: Arkansas State 38, Georgia Southern 33
Northern Illinois (1-3) at Eastern Michigan (2-2), 6 p.m ET
The paycheck-collecting start to the season is over for Northern Illinois. Though the defense put up respectable fights opposite Utah and Florida State amid three power-conference losses, NIU never looked threatening on offense. Eastern Michigan's attack is rarely pretty, but it's effective enough to win at home.
Prediction: Eastern Michigan 27, Northern Illinois 22
Liberty (1-2) at New Mexico (2-1), 6 p.m. ET
New Mexico's rushing attack isn't as dangerous as years past, but Liberty's defense will regularly bend and eventually break. The Flames, who surrendered at least six yards per tote opposite both Army and North Texas, won't be able to handle this volume.
Prediction: New Mexico 37, Liberty 27
Florida Atlantic (2-2) at Middle Tennessee (1-2), 7 p.m. ET
Here's your scoreboard-breaker of the week, considering FAU and Middle Tennessee are giving up 40-plus points apiece. FAU quarterback Chris Robison has stumbled to an uneven start, but a secondary that cedes 8.1 yards per attempt will be a favorable matchup.
Prediction: Florida Atlantic 48, Middle Tennessee 34
Houston Baptist (1-2) at SMU (1-3), 7 p.m. ET
Over the last two games, Houston Baptist has allowed 628 yards and eight touchdowns through the air. Although SMU is still wavering between Ben Hicks and William Brown at quarterback, either one should be productive opposite the FCS visitors.
Prediction: SMU 37, Houston Baptist 24
UTEP (0-4) at UTSA (1-3), 7 p.m. ET
This Conference USA tilt is a clash of weaknesses. UTSA has a horrid pass defense but appears solid against the run. UTEP isn't much of a threat through the air but relies on the run. Which unit bends the most? Like Week 4, we'll favor a tested UTSA squad that lost to Arizona State, Baylor and Kansas State.
Prediction: UTSA 26, UTEP 20
Hawaii (4-1) at San Jose State (0-3), 7 p.m. ET
All season long, we'll wonder whether this is the Saturday a porous Hawaii defense melts down. That likely won't happen opposite San Jose State—the nation's No. 124 offense—but Hawaii quarterback Cole McDonald should throw five touchdowns just to be safe.
Prediction: Hawaii 38, San Jose State 22
Charlotte (2-2) at UAB (2-1), 7 p.m. ET
UAB remains perfect at home since the program returned in 2017, boasting an 8-0 record in Birmingham. Charlotte's inefficient defense will allow the streak to continue, provided UAB doesn't allow 49ers quarterback Chris Reynolds to rule the air.
Prediction: UAB 36, Charlotte 24
Arkansas-Pine Bluff (1-3) at Florida International (2-2), 7:30 p.m. ET
Two weeks ago, South Dakota State scored 90 points on Arkansas-Pine Bluff. Once your skull has resumed normal tilt position, eyebrows are relaxed and your jaw is closed, you'll understand why we're picking Florida International to win a blowout.
Prediction: FIU 58, Arkansas-Pine Bluff 14
Louisiana Tech (2-1) at North Texas (4-0), 7:30 p.m. ET
Through three games, Louisiana Tech has ceded 6.6 yards per pass attempt with two touchdowns and two interceptions. That's pretty good! But to stop North Texas quarterback Mason Fine, the secondary better be special. With a victory, the Mean Green might hop into the AP Top 25.
Prediction: North Texas 42, Louisiana Tech 24
Marshall (2-1) at Western Kentucky (1-3), 7:30 p.m. ET
Western Kentucky is a competitive bad team. Though quarterback Davis Shanley might be correcting the issue, the Hilltoppers haven't been explosive on offense. Marshall can be defeated that way, but we'll need to see it from WKU to believe it.
Prediction: Marshall 33, Western Kentucky 21
Saturday Night Games
No. 20 BYU (3-1) at No. 11 Washington (3-1), 8:30 p.m. ET
BYU deserved all the praise for its upset of Wisconsin in Madison, but the Cougars haven't displayed an offense that is consistently capable of navigating top competition. Washington, on the other hand, has arguably the best defense in the country. As long as turnovers don't give BYU easy scoring chances, the Dawgs should win handily.
Prediction: Washington 38, BYU 17
Ole Miss (3-1) at No. 5 LSU (4-0), 9 p.m. ET
The last time Ole Miss encountered a nationally competent defense, it mustered only 248 yards and seven points. LSU surrendered 330 passing yards to Louisiana Tech but still a meager 6.6 yards per attempt. The Tigers will improve to 5-0.
Prediction: LSU 31, Ole Miss 23
Oregon State (1-3) at Arizona State (2-2), 10 p.m ET
Two straight losses is never a good thing, but Arizona State limited a talented Washington offense to 4.4 yards per rush in Week 4. Anything close to the same level of effectiveness should overwhelm an Oregon State team heavily reliant on its running game.
Prediction: Arizona State 31, Oregon State 20
No. 19 Oregon (3-1) at No. 24 Cal (3-0), 10:30 p.m. ET
Cal's high-powered offenses of recent years are just that—history. This isn't a scoring attack built to thrive on pace and volume, unlike Oregon. The Golden Bears will be competitive if the secondary continues to play well, but a letdown on the back end opposite Oregon quarterback Justin Herbert is a recipe for disaster.
Prediction: Oregon 48, Cal 27
USC (2-2) at Arizona (2-2), 10:30 p.m. ET
At this moment, we are reevaluating how to project Khalil Tate—the pass-first, non-running threat. Consequently, fully expect the breakout game of the season from Tate. That's the way this goes. But given his usage trend, there isn't a lot of confidence that Arizona will be able to keep up with USC.
Prediction: USC 38, Arizona 24
Toledo (2-1) at Fresno State (2-1), 10:30 p.m. ET
This is an awesome nonconference clash to end the night. Toledo's high-powered offense travels to face Fresno State's sturdy defense. The decisive factor will likely be the opposite matchup, which ever-so-slightly favors the home team because Toledo's run defense has been abysmal against FBS competition.
Prediction: Fresno State 37, Toledo 34