College Football Picks: Week 5 Predictions for Every Game

Kerry Miller@@kerrancejamesCollege Basketball National AnalystSeptember 25, 2019

College Football Picks: Week 5 Predictions for Every Game

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    Virginia QB Bryce Perkins
    Virginia QB Bryce PerkinsRyan M. Kelly/Getty Images

    Week 4 of the 2019 college football season finally brought about a bit of carnage with eight AP Top 25 teams suffering a loss.

    Will Week 5 follow suit, or are we destined for a Friday and Saturday with little to no upsets?

    With five of the AP's top 16 teams idle this weekincluding No. 3 Georgia and No. 4 LSUthe slate feels a little lighter than usual. It's not quite "that one week in November when it seems like the entire SEC is facing FCS opponents" weak, but both marquee showdowns and looming upsets seem to be few and far between.

    No. 21 USC at No. 17 Washington and No. 18 Virginia at No. 10 Notre Dame should both be good games, though. And we do foresee at least one ranked team biting the dust at the hands of an unranked foeNo. 24 Kansas State at Oklahoma State—as well as four other games of that ilk that will be decided by a one-possession margin.

    But that's just the beginning of our 55 predictions for the games this week involving at least one Football Bowl Subdivision team.

    Games involving AP Top 25 squads are listed in ascending order of national ranking. Remaining contests are listed in chronological order.


    Gambling lines are courtesy of Caesars and are current through 11:59 p.m. ET on Tuesday. At time of publish, Caesars does not have lines posted for any FBS vs. FCS games.

AP Nos. 25-21

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    Kansas State RB James Gilbert
    Kansas State RB James GilbertVasha Hunt/Associated Press

    No. 25 Michigan State vs. Indiana (3:30 p.m. ET, Michigan State -14)

    Even against the likes of Eastern Illinois and Connecticut, Indiana has not run the ball well this season. Don't count on that suddenly changing against an elite Spartans front seven. This won't get as ugly as Indiana's 51-10 loss to Ohio State because Michigan State's offense is a far cry from what the Buckeyes bring to the table. But it's going to feel like this game is over by the time the Spartans get their third score.

    Prediction: Michigan State 31, Indiana 13


    No. 24 Kansas State at Oklahoma State (7 p.m. ET, Oklahoma State -4.5)

    Time to find out if Kansas State is a real threat to crash the Texas-Oklahoma duopoly atop the Big 12. The Wildcats got a nice road win over Mississippi State, but they committed three turnovers and only had 269 yards of total offense. A performance like that against Oklahoma State's offense would earn them a 20-point loss.

    This game's a tossup, but give me the home team with stars like Chuba Hubbard and Tylan Wallace. Even though Oklahoma State's defense is far from special, Kansas State doesn't appear to have the playmakers on offenseunless James Gilbert pops off for the type of day that Alex Barnes had against the Cowboys last year (181 rushing yards and four touchdowns).

    Prediction: Oklahoma State 31, Kansas State 23


    No. 23 Texas A&M vs. Arkansas [in Dallas] (noon ET, Texas A&M -23.5)

    Transfer quarterbacks getting a chance to prove something against their previous team usually makes for a fun storyline, but Arkansas' Nick Starkel enters this game against his former Aggies fresh off a five-interception home loss to San Jose State. In a word: yikes. And Texas A&M desperately wants to rally from last week's loss to Auburn in order to build up some positive momentum for the big showdown with Alabama on Oct. 12. This is going to get ugly.

    Prediction: Texas A&M 45, Arkansas 14


    No. 22 UCF vs. Connecticut (7 p.m. ET, UCF -43.5)

    UCF's regular-season winning streak ended at 27 games in last week's loss to Pitt, but the Knights are going to make damn sure that Connecticut's streak of losses to FBS opponents extends to 19 games. The Huskies had 145 yards of total offense in their most recent 38-3 loss to Indiana, and it will be painful to watch them try to move the ball against an angry UCF.

    Prediction: UCF 56, Connecticut 6


    No. 21 USC at No. 17 Washington (3:30 p.m. ET, Washington -10)

    For prediction, see No. 17 Washington.

AP Nos. 20-16

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    Washington QB Jacob Eason
    Washington QB Jacob EasonTed S. Warren/Associated Press

    No. 20 Michigan vs. Rutgers (noon ET, no line due to Michigan QB injuries)

    The was-never-even-close loss to Wisconsin punctuated an ugly start to the season for Michigan, but a home game against Rutgers should be just what the doctor ordered. The Wolverines have smoked the Scarlet Knights by at least a three-touchdown margin in each of the previous four seasons under Jim Harbaugh. Say a prayer for this sacrificial lamb.

    Prediction: Michigan 54, Rutgers 10


    No. 19 Utah vs. Washington State (10 p.m. ET, Utah -5)

    Utah's run defense might be the best in the nation, but Mike Leach couldn't care less. Anthony Gordon is going to throw the ball at least 45 times against a secondary that just allowed USC's third-string quarterback to rack up 351 yards and three touchdowns.

    Will the Cougars be able to get any stops against Utah's offense, though? Given the 67-63 loss to a UCLA team that had scored exactly 14 points in each of its first three games, the odds aren't great. Utah probably won't play in another game all season with more than 60 combined points, but this one could flirt with reaching 100.

    Prediction: Utah 49, Washington State 41


    No. 18 Virginia at No. 10 Notre Dame (3:30 p.m. ET, Notre Dame -12.5)

    For prediction, see No. 10 Notre Dame.


    No. 17 Washington vs. No. 21 USC (3:30 p.m. ET, Washington -10)

    If you're into common-opponent logic, big advantage for Washington here. One week after USC lost in overtime to BYU, UW stomped the Cougars, 45-19. Huskies quarterback Jacob Eason was almost perfect, and both Sean McGrew and Richard Newton ran pretty much at will. Then again, Utah beat BYU by 18 and the Utes just lost to USC this past weekend, so maybe BYU isn't a great barometer for measuring Pac-12 teams.

    Still, it's hard not to like Washington at home in this one. The defense is solid, per usual, and the offense has averaged at least seven yards per play in each contest that didn't end in the middle of the night after a three-hour weather delay. The Huskies will dominate in the ground game en route to victory.

    Prediction: Washington 34, USC 23


    No. 16 Boise State (idle)

    Following UCF's loss to Pittsburgh, the Group of Five's spot in the New Year's Six is Boise State's to lose. And looking through the remaining schedule, it doesn't seem like the Broncos will lose it. Road games against BYU (Oct. 19) and Utah State (Nov. 23) won't be easy, but they should be favored every week the rest of the way.

AP Nos. 15-11

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    Iowa DE AJ Epenesa
    Iowa DE AJ EpenesaMatthew Holst/Getty Images

    No. 14 Iowa vs. Middle Tennessee (noon ET, Iowa -23)

    Middle Tennessee has some offense. In previous games against Michigan and Duke, the Blue Raiders amassed five touchdowns and a field goal. Impressive stuff from a Group of Five team that had to replace a four-year starter at quarterback this summer. But they allowed at least 40 points in each of those games against offenses that aren't very good. Expect a similar result here, albeit with fewer scoring drives against a stingy defense.

    Prediction: Iowa 42, MTSU 10


    No. 13 Oregon (idle)

    Oregon has not allowed a touchdown since Week 1, holding Nevada, Montana and Stanford to five field goals. If the Ducks keep defending like that, they'll win the Pac-12 and have a 12-1 overall record. But do they have enough offensive firepower to survive the inevitable defensive lapses? Both Auburn and Stanford held Oregon to 21 points. Maybe the Ducks can figure things out a bit in advance of next week's race to 14 against California.

    No. 11 Texas (idle)

    Can you fix a defense during one bye week? Texas fans certainly hope so, as the Longhorns have allowed 533.5 total yards and 37.5 points in two games against Power Five opponents. Sam Ehlinger is a stud and this offense is loaded with weapons, but it'd be nice if they could win a game in which they don't score at least five touchdowns.

AP Nos. 10-6

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    Auburn RB JaTarvious Whitlow
    Auburn RB JaTarvious WhitlowButch Dill/Associated Press

    No. 10 Notre Dame vs. No. 18 Virginia (3:30 p.m. ET, Notre Dame -12.5)

    Virginia's defense has been even better than anticipated. The Cavaliers are tied with Ohio State and Florida for the national lead in sacks (20) and have not yet allowed an opposing team to rush for 100 yards. No one has thrown for more than 240 yards against them.

    And yet, because their offense is a hot mess, they needed fourth-quarter comebacks to win home games against Florida State and Old Dominion. That's not going to fly on the road against a Notre Dame team that just showed a lot of mettle in a close loss to Georgia. The Fighting Irish will win somewhat comfortably in a low-scoring affair.

    Prediction: Notre Dame 27, Virginia 14


    No. 9 Florida vs. Towson (4 p.m. ET, no line posted)

    If Florida had to lose quarterback Feleipe Franks for the season, at least it did so at the most ideal timeright before easy tuneup games at home against Tennessee and Towson. Kyle Trask made some great throws in the 31-point win over the Volunteers, but he also threw two picks and lost a fumble. Let's see if he can clean up those mistakes in what should be another blowout win.

    Prediction: Florida 48, Towson 20


    No. 8 Wisconsin vs. Northwestern (noon ET, Wisconsin -24)

    Wisconsin running back Jonathan Taylor has been outstanding, averaging 7.6 yards per carry with 10 total touchdowns through three games. But Northwestern has been one of the only teams capable of slowing him down. He has been held to 80 rushing yards or fewer just four times in his career, and two of those came against the Wildcatsincluding a 46-yard game last October that was his worst of the season by far.

    Even if Taylor struggles with this front seven for a third time, though, Wisconsin is leading the nation in total defense with an absurd mark of 171.3 yards per game. And among Power Five programs, only Georgia Tech (284.0) is averaging fewer yards per game on offense than Northwestern (305.3). The Wildcats might become the third team the Badgers shut out this season.

    Prediction: Wisconsin 27, Northwestern 7


    No. 7 Auburn vs. Mississippi State (7 p.m. ET, Auburn -11)

    Mississippi State has rushed for at least 200 yards in each of its four games. Meanwhile, Auburn hasn't allowed a rushing touchdown since Week 1 and has held three of four opponents below three yards per carry. It was a similar strength-against-strength battle when these teams met last season, and Mississippi State ran for 349 yards in the process of upsetting the eighth-ranked Tigers.

    There are three differences this year, though. MSU still has a mobile quarterback in Garrett Shrader, but he has not yet displayed an ability to throw the ball like Nick Fitzgerald could. Auburn will stack the box against him, and it will do so with an even better front seven than it had last year. Throw in the home-field advantage and I've got to pick the Tigers, even though I still don't trust Bo Nix.

    Prediction: Auburn 23, Mississippi State 20


    No. 6 Oklahoma vs. Texas Tech (noon ET, Oklahoma -27)

    With Kliff Kingsbury now coaching in the NFL, Texas Tech clearly is not the same offensive juggernaut it used to be. The Red Raiders only put up 38 points against UTEP's atrocious defense, and they were held to 14 in a loss against Arizona. It's nice that they had last week off to lick their wounds, but Oklahoma's runaway freight train of an offense also got an extra seven days to prepare for this one. Get ready for another Jalen Hurts field day.

    Prediction: Oklahoma 49, Texas Tech 21

AP Nos. 5-1

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    Clemson WR Tee Higgins
    Clemson WR Tee HigginsRichard Shiro/Associated Press

    No. 5 Ohio State at Nebraska (7:30 p.m. ET, Ohio State -18)

    If you gave up on Adrian Martinez after his opening-week dud against South Alabama, here's a heads-up that the dual-threat sophomore has averaged 219 passing yards, 76 rushing yards and 3.3 combined touchdowns over the past three weeks. He's a distant afterthought in the Heisman conversation at this point, but he has been rock-solid as of late.

    The problem for Nebraska is that Ohio State's Justin Fields has been even more lethal with the ball in his hands, and this Buckeyes defense is one of the best in the nation, allowing just 222 yards and nine points per game. The Cornhuskers allowed 34 points in their loss to Colorado and gave up 38 in last Saturday's near-loss to Illinois. Hard to imagine they'll slow down Ohio State or come anywhere close to keeping pace against that D.

    Prediction: Ohio State 52, Nebraska 24


    No. 4 LSU (idle)

    Never imagined I'd be writing these words about LSU this decade, but the highest-scoring team in the nation (57.8 PPG) will have this weekend off to recharge its batteries. The following week (vs. Utah State) shouldn't be much of a test, but those October home games against Florida and Auburn will determine whether this is a championship-caliber offense.


    No. 3 Georgia (idle)

    After eking out a win over Notre Dame, Georgia has it pretty easy for the next month-plus. The Bulldogs are off this Saturday as well as on October 26, and the three games in between are against Tennessee, South Carolina and Kentucky. Seems like a safe assumption they'll be well rested and undefeated in advance of a November grind that includes Florida, Auburn and Texas A&M.


    No. 2 Alabama vs. Ole Miss (3:30 p.m. ET, Alabama -37.5)

    Ole Miss has allowed three consecutive opponents to throw for at least 300 yards. That includes a closer-than-it-should-have-been win over FCS school Southeastern Louisiana and a loss to California in which Chase Garbers threw for 357 yards, shattering his career high of 238. It's scary to think about what Tua Tagovailoa is going to do in this one.

    Prediction: Alabama 56, Ole Miss 10


    No. 1 Clemson at North Carolina (3:30 p.m. ET, Clemson -26.5)

    As far as entertaining finishes are concerned, North Carolina games are 4-of-4 this season. The Tar Heels have outscored their opponents 45-9 in the fourth quarter, coming from behind to defeat Miami and South Carolina and falling just short of completing comebacks against both Wake Forest and Appalachian State.

    They may well continue their tradition of winning the fourth-quarter scoring battle, but only because Clemson will already have its backups on the field, per usual when facing an unranked opponent. Travis Etienne and Lyn-J Dixon will run circles around a defense that has allowed at least four yards per carry in each game thus far.

    Prediction: Clemson 45, North Carolina 17

The 5 Best Unranked Battles

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    UCLA QB Dorian Thompson-Robinson
    UCLA QB Dorian Thompson-RobinsonYoung Kwak/Associated Press

    Iowa State at Baylor (3:30 p.m. ET, Iowa State -2.5)

    This one is intriguing, if only because no one knows what to make of either team yet. Baylor is undefeated, but it played one of the weakest nonconference schedules ever assembled and barely held on to beat Rice last Saturday. Iowa State needed three overtimes to survive its opener against Northern Iowa, but it also scored 72 points last weekend against Louisiana-Monroe.

    Is either one a legitimate contender in the Big 12?

    I'm leaning Baylor in a close one at home, but no outcome would be that surprising here. Both teams are wild cards.

    Prediction: Baylor 28, Iowa State 25


    Wake Forest at Boston College (3:30 p.m. ET, Wake Forest -7)

    Wake Forest's Jamie Newman is leading the ACC in passing yards, while wide receivers Sage Surratt and Scotty Washington are Nos. 1 and 2 in receiving yards. On top of that, freshman running back Kenneth Walker III has averaged 10 yards per carry on 31 attempts. The Demon Deacons haven't exactly faced a murderer's row, but they might be legit.

    Step one to proving they could win more than seven regular-season games for the first time in more than a decade is trekking up to Boston and stifling star running back AJ Dillon. Even if he has a solid day, though, BC's defenseyou know, the one that allowed 48 points and 567 yards in a loss to the Kansas Jayhawksprobably won't be able to slow down Newman and Co. 

    Prediction: Wake Forest 42, Boston College 27


    UCLA at Arizona (10:30 p.m. ET, Arizona -7.5)

    Make sure you've got an ample supply of caffeine on hand, because there's a good chance UCLA-fueled #Pac12AfterDark will go off the rails for a second consecutive week. A repeat of 67-63 probably isn't happening, but never say never with Khalil Tate, Dorian Thompson-Robinson and these mutually putrid defenses in play. DTR took a lot of big hits in that comeback win over Washington State while Tate got the week off, so advantage Arizona?

    Prediction: Arizona 52, UCLA 41

The Rest of the Slate (1/2)

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    SMU WR James Proche (3)
    SMU WR James Proche (3)Tom Pennington/Getty Images

    Buffalo at Miami-Ohio (noon ET, pick'em)
    Prediction: Buffalo 24, Miami-Ohio 23

    BYU at Toledo (noon ET, BYU -2.5)
    Prediction: BYU 28, Toledo 21

    Central Michigan at Western Michigan (noon ET, Western Michigan -17)
    Prediction: Western Michigan 31, Central Michigan 14

    Holy Cross at Syracuse (noon ET, no line posted)
    Prediction: Syracuse 58, Holy Cross 10

    Kansas at TCU (noon ET, TCU -15.5)
    Prediction: TCU 34, Kansas 23

    Northern Illinois at Vanderbilt (noon ET, Vanderbilt -6.5)
    Prediction: Vanderbilt 27, Northern Illinois 24

    Delaware at Pittsburgh (12:30 p.m. ET, no line posted)
    Prediction: Pittsburgh 41, Delaware 10

    Akron at Massachusetts (3:30 p.m. ET, Akron -7)
    Prediction: Akron 30, Massachusetts 25

    Coastal Carolina at Appalachian State (3:30 p.m. ET, Appalachian State -16)
    Prediction: Appalachian State 38, Coastal Carolina 19

    Florida Atlantic at Charlotte (3:30 p.m. ET, Charlotte -1)
    Prediction: Charlotte 35, Florida Atlantic 27

    Georgia Tech at Temple (3:30 p.m. ET, Temple -9)
    Prediction: Temple 31, Georgia Tech 20

    Minnesota at Purdue (3:30 p.m. ET, pick'em)
    Prediction: Minnesota 29, Purdue 26

    SMU at South Florida (4 p.m. ET, SMU -7.5)
    Prediction: SMU 41, South Florida 17

    Cincinnati at Marshall (5 p.m. ET, Cincinnati -3.5)
    Prediction: Marshall 24, Cincinnati 21

The Rest of the Slate (2/2)

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    UAB QB Tyler Johnston III
    UAB QB Tyler Johnston IIIPhil Long/Associated Press

    Arkansas State at Troy (6 p.m. ET, Troy -6)
    Prediction: Arkansas State 35, Troy 31

    East Carolina at Old Dominion (6 p.m. ET, Old Dominion -3)
    Prediction: Old Dominion 23, East Carolina 20

    Louisiana at Georgia Southern (6 p.m. ET, Louisiana -3.5)
    Prediction: Louisiana 31, Georgia Southern 28

    New Mexico at Liberty (6 p.m. ET, Liberty -7)
    Prediction: Liberty 49, New Mexico 34

    Louisiana Tech at Rice (7 p.m. ET, Louisiana Tech -8)
    Prediction: Louisiana Tech 38, Rice 23

    Nicholls State at Texas State (7 p.m. ET, No line posted)
    Prediction: Nicholls State 24, Texas State 20

    South Alabama at UL Monroe (7 p.m. ET, UL Monroe -16)
    Prediction: UL Monroe 42, South Alabama 24

    Stanford at Oregon State (7 p.m. ET, Stanford -4)
    Prediction: Stanford 28, Oregon State 21

    UAB at Western Kentucky (7 p.m. ET, UAB -3)
    Prediction: UAB 27, Western Kentucky 20

    UTEP at Southern Miss (7 p.m. ET, Southern Miss -26)
    Prediction: Southern Miss 40, UTEP 17

    Colorado State at Utah State (7:30 p.m. ET, Utah State -24)
    Prediction: Utah State 49, Colorado State 24

    Kentucky at South Carolina (7:30 p.m. ET, South Carolina -3)
    Prediction: Kentucky 24, South Carolina 21

    NC State at Florida State (7:30 p.m. ET, Florida State -5)
    Prediction: Florida State 30, NC State 28

    Fresno State at New Mexico State (8 p.m. ET, Fresno State -18)
    Prediction: Fresno State 41, New Mexico State 21

    Houston at North Texas (8 p.m. ET, North Texas -7)
    Prediction: North Texas 35, Houston 17

    UNLV at Wyoming (8 p.m. ET, Wyoming -10)
    Prediction: Wyoming 26, UNLV 17

    Hawaii at Nevada (10:30 p.m. ET, Nevada -2)
    Prediction: Nevada 41, Hawaii 35


    Kerry Miller covers college football and men's college basketball for Bleacher Report. You can follow him on Twitter, @kerrancejames.