USA Today

Week Five College Football Viewing Guide

Oct. 2 -- Take a look at our week five viewing guide for the college football weekend...

FRIDAY

Connecticut at BYU
7:15 P.M., ESPN2
BYU -18.5

In quite the obnoxious move last week, the Cougars sure made a mess of our narrative, getting shut out by Clench and the Fighting Wolverines of Michigan. There’s always the chance that UCLA is now a body-blow team (as explained here by Bruce Feldman) which left BYU with little in the tank for Michigan, but that also sounds a lot like revisionist rationalization. Whatever the case, Connecticut should provide just the respite the Cougars need after a brutal opening stretch to the season.

BYU 34, Connecticut 17

SATURDAY

Minnesota at No. 16 Northwestern
9:00 A.M., Big Ten Network
Northwestern -5

Suddenly, Stanford’s loss to Northwestern in the opening game of the season is looking almost like a respectable showing for David Shaw and company. Well, maybe not really, but let’s roll with it. The Wildcats have been altogether not bad this season, with a solid defense. Minnesota is one of those faceless Big Ten teams that is always about 7-5 or 8-4 and pretty crappy. I’d pretend to know more about either team, but even thinking about early morning Big Ten games makes me want to take a nap.

Northwestern 24, Minnesota 20

Iowa at No. 19 Wisconsin
9:00 A.M. ESPN
Wisconsin -7

Speaking of faceless Big Ten teams that are always about 7-5, say hello to undefeated Iowa! The Hawkeyes are somehow 4-0, which increases the likelihood that Kirk Ferentz just woke up from an 11-year nap. Yes, boys and girls, Ferentz is still the coach at Iowa, despite being nothing but mediocre since 2005, thanks to a contract that a) has him signed through 2020, b) pays him $3.5 million per year, and, critically, c) will pay him 75% of his remaining total salary if he is fired before the end of term. That’s incredible! Ferentz might be the richest man in Iowa by the time that contract is done.

Unfortunately, the road ends here for the Hawkeyes. Wisconsin isn’t very good either, but Iowa just doesn’t have the defensive talent to stop Wisconsin’s powerful rushing attack and their now surprisingly competent quarterback Joel Stave.

Wisconsin 31, Iowa 20

No. 23 West Virginia at No. 15 Oklahoma
9:00 A.M., Fox Sports 1
Oklahoma -7

Is there a single better name for an Oklahoma quarterback than Baker Mayfield? As a rule, if your name would fit just as perfectly in a history textbook as a Civil War general, you’re in good shape to be a quarterback in the Big 12 or SEC. West Virginia, which is in the Big 12 for some reason that I’m sure makes sense, comes to town this week, and the Mountaineers have played one of the weakest schedules in college football thus far, so it’s impossible to gauge them. The Sooners, on the other hand, have two solid enough wins and look like a real contender in a suddenly more open Big 12.

Oklahoma 35, West Virginia 25

Texas at No. 4 TCU
9:00 A.M., ABC
TCU -15

What new way will Texas find to lose a close game this week? Our money is on the Texas punter taking a safety with a one-point lead in the final minute, but we’re open to suggestions. The Longhorns have improved since the beginning of the year, though. Where in the opening week, they were so bad they got blown out against Notre Dame, the Longhorns are now just good enough to lose in absolutely agonizing, bamboo-shoots-up-the-fingernails fashion every week. TCU has some real problems defensively, since basically every starter is hurt, but the Horned Frogs should be able to score at will against Texas’ defense. We think the Longhorns will keep it close, though, since even Jeff Lockie would find some way to put together scoring drives against this TCU defense.

TCU 35, Texas 27

No. 13 Alabama at No. 8 Georgia
12:30 P.M., CBS
Georgia -2

Here is as clear a picture as we can provide about how overrated the SEC is, in perpetuity: Georgia is starting a quarterback right now who couldn’t win the starting job at Virginia (which is on pace to go something like 4-8 this season). And that quarterback, who, we’ll remind you, couldn’t win the starting job at VIRGINIA, is now probably one of the top three quarterbacks in the entire SEC. Alabama is starting a quarterback in Jake Coker who might as well have been the fry cook at Bojangles last year.

Being that this is an SEC game between two teams with pretty good running backs, this will likely turn into one of the ugliest slugfests you’ve ever seen. Since Alabama’s run defense is actually really good, and Georgia’s run defense has gone against precisely zero really good teams, we’ll go with the Tide.

Alabama 23, Georgia 17

Texas Tech at No. 5 Baylor
12:30 P.M., ABC/ESPN2
Baylor -15

Now, we’ve heard scuttlebutt that Texas Tech actually does field 11 guys on defense, and has a defensive coordinator and everything, but we’ll believe it when we see it. The Red Raiders gave up 55 last week to TCU, and we’ll bet it gets even uglier than that against Baylor.

Baylor 63, Texas Tech 35

Urban Meyer (USA Today)

No. 1 Ohio State at Indiana
12:30 P.M., ABC
Ohio State -21

THE Ohio State University has played like a pretty good Big Ten team this year, which is to say they look like a team that would go 9-3 in any other conference. The defense has been pretty good, but the Buckeyes have yet to really get into a flow offensively, with Cardale Jones and J.T. Barrett both taking turns looking like every effort should have been made to get Braxton Miller back as a quarterback. It’s too talented of a team to look like this all season, but right now, Ohio State looks a little vulnerable.

Well, a little vulnerable if Ohio State was in any other league than the awful Big Ten. Indiana, like Iowa, is undefeated, but the best team the Hoosiers have played was probably Wake Forest, which is a very bad team. We wouldn’t be stunned if Ohio State lost its last two regular season games this year against Michigan State and Michigan, but until that point, the Buckeyes are going to roll.

Ohio State 41, Indiana 17

Washington State at No. 24 California
1:00 P.M., Pac-12 Network
California -19.5

Last year, these two teams combined for nearly 120 points, and the end result was a 60-59 victory for California. Since then, Washington State has somehow looked even worse than last year, when the Cougars went 3-9 and looked dreadful, while Cal looks like a semi-respectable team. Even with all that, though, neither defense is very good, and we’re expecting another ridiculous shootout that will make scoring seem somewhat boring.

California 55, Washington State 45

No. 3 Ole Miss at No. 25 Florida
4:00 P.M., ESPN
Ole Miss -7.5

We like Ole Miss. Ole Miss seems like a legitimately talented team with solid play on both sides of the ball. For an SEC team that uses creative recruiting strategies, Ole Miss seems all right. But when Ole Miss does silly things like remain tied with Vanderbilt deep into the third quarter at home, we get a little upset with Ole Miss, because it makes us think that the entire SEC narrative is just complete hooey.

So Vanderbilt’s defense, which is no great thing, was able to hold down Ole Miss’s offense last week, and Florida’s defense is an order of magnitude better. Of course, if there is any offense in the conference worse than Vanderbilt’s, it’s Florida’s, so this game could be very similar to last week. Since it’s at Florida, we’ll say it even ends up closer.

Ole Miss 24, Florida 20

Arizona State at No. 7 UCLA
4:30 P.M., FOX
UCLA -13.5

Too many points.

UCLA 38, Arizona State 28

No. 21 Mississippi State at No. 14 Texas A&M
4:30 P.M., SEC Network
Texas A&M -7

Guys, we’ve got to ask: is there a really good team in the SEC? LSU looked pretty bad against Syracuse. Ole Miss struggled with Vanderbilt. Mississippi State barely beat Auburn, which is on a grim march to 6-6. Texas A&M looked pretty inept in an overtime win over Arkansas, which famously lost to Toledo and Texas Tech in back-to-back weeks. Alabama still employs Lane Kiffin. Who’s rising to the top of this pile?

Looking at this game, Texas A&M strikes us as one of the least bad teams in the SEC this year (probably just a little of that Big 12 glow still around them), while Mississippi State is one of the more overrated. Christian Kirk is going to score a couple of his many career touchdowns in this game.

Texas A&M 34, Mississippi State 24

No. 6 Notre Dame at No. 12 Clemson
5:00 P.M., ABC
EVEN

Brian Kelly’s anger train travels south this weekend to western South Carolina to take on the Clemson Tigers, who inexplicably pronounce their school’s name as if there’s a hidden “p” between the “m” and the “s”. Notre Dame’s roster is currently held together with a combination of chewing gum, baling wire, and the force of Brian Kelly’s eternal rage. Clemson actually has a pretty good defense (11th in the country in yards per play allowed). A loss here for the Irish makes it improbable that they’ll make the College Football Playoff, which would be good for all free-thinking people.

Clemson 21, Notre Dame 17

Oregon at Colorado
7:00 P.M., ESPN
Oregon -8

Mark Helfrich looks like a Target cashier who won a reality show competition to be Oregon’s head coach. Now, that has nothing to do with Oregon’s issues this season, but it needed to be said. The Ducks were terrible last week against Utah in all phases of the game, but most importantly on offense, where Jeff Lockie looked like the worst quarterback in the Pac-12 by a fairly wide margin. If Vernon Adams is out for the game with a broken finger, which seems likely according to the most recent reports, Oregon can and will do the unthinkable.

Colorado 35, Oregon 31

Arizona at No. 18 Stanford
7:30 P.M., Pac-12 Network
Stanford -13.5

Arizona could be in for a very long season. With Scooby Wright now out for four more weeks (probably not a good idea to rush a guy back from injury when his knee isn’t 100%, Rich), Anu Solomon likely out with a concussion, the Wildcats are left with the option of starting a quarterback who can’t throw in Jerrard Randall and hoping Stanford is as bad defending the zone read as UCLA was last week. Unfortunately, Stanford isn’t that bad, and on offense, the Cardinal are going to roll all over the Wildcats.

Stanford 34, Arizona 13

Last week ATS: 5-6. Season to date ATS: 28-27. UCLA picks ATS: 4-0


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