Sports

College football Week 5: Picks and preview

College football trudges on. Will there be more COVID-19-related postponements before the weekend? We’ll see. Will the SEC again provide the week’s highlights? Probably a good bet.

Here’s our previews and predictions (spreads courtesy of BetOnline.ag) for the Week 5 action involving teams ranked in The Associated Press Top 25 and other intriguing matchups throughout the country.

All times Eastern

 

1 of 23

Louisiana Tech (2-0) at No. 22 BYU (2-0), Friday, 9 p.m., ESPN2

Rick Bowmer/Pool Photo-USA TODAY Sports

BYU is aiming to start 3-0 for the first time since opening with four consecutive victories in 2014. In their two games against Navy and Troy, the Cougars own a 103-10 scoring advantage and appear to have a big-play threat in receiver Gunner Romney (nine receptions, 272 yards, one touchdown in two games). COVID-19 issues have hindered Louisiana Tech’s program this season, but it has a chance to go 3-0 for the first time since 2012.

Prediction: BYU (-24)

 

2 of 23

South Carolina (0-1) at No. 3 Florida (1-0), Saturday, Noon, ESPN

South Carolina (0-1) at No. 3 Florida (1-0), Saturday, Noon, ESPN

Justin Ford/USA TODAY Sports

The Gators dropped 51 on Mississippi and now welcome old friend Will Muschamp and his Gamecocks to Gainesville. Florida has won the last two meetings in the series, but only by a combined 15 points. The Gators’ Kyle Trask, who threw for 416 yards with six touchdowns against Ole Miss last weekend, tossed four TD passes in last season’s 38-27 win at South Carolina.

Prediction: Florida (-18)

 

3 of 23

North Carolina State (1-1) at No. 24 Pittsburgh (3-0), Saturday, Noon, ACC Network

North Carolina State (1-1) at No. 24 Pittsburgh (3-0), Saturday, Noon, ACC Network

Charles LeClaire/USA TODAY Sports

One has to go back to 2000 for the last time Pitt opened 4-0. While the Panthers’ offense has looked good early, their defense should not be overlooked. They’ve allowed 30 points in three games, including 20 in a win over then-No. 24 Louisville last weekend. North Carolina State, meanwhile, has allowed 87 points over its first two games versus Wake Forest and Virginia Tech.

Prediction: Pitt (-14)

 

4 of 23

Missouri (0-1) at No. 21 Tennessee (1-0), Saturday, Noon, SEC Network

Missouri (0-1) at No. 21 Tennessee (1-0), Saturday, Noon, SEC Network

Jeff Blake/USA TODAY Sports

Tennessee lasted started 2-0 in 2017, so there is plenty of motivation for the Vols this weekend. Winning 31-27 at South Carolina to open its 2020 season showed Tennessee’s grit. a trait that will be needed to exceed in the SEC. The Vols have also won three of their last five meetings versus Missouri, which plays the second of three straight ranked opponents to open its season after losing to Alabama.

Prediction: Tennessee (-12)

 

5 of 23

TCU (0-1) at No. 9 Texas (2-0), Saturday, Noon, Fox

TCU (0-1) at No. 9 Texas (2-0), Saturday, Noon, Fox

Michael C. Johnson/USA TODAY Sports

A few weeks into the season and the Longhorns survived what might be the wildest game of 2020, a 63-56 overtime win at Texas Tech last weekend. Texas’ Sam Ehlinger threw five touchdowns in that contest and now will try to help his team earn some rare success against TCU. The Longhorns have lost five of the last six meetings with the Horned Frogs.

Prediction: Texas (-11 1/2)

 

6 of 23

No. 13 Texas A&M (1-0) at No. 2 Alabama (1-0), Saturday, 3:30 p.m., CBS

No. 13 Texas A&M (1-0) at No. 2 Alabama (1-0), Saturday, 3:30 p.m., CBS

Denny Medley/USA TODAY Sports

The main storyline of this matchup of late is Jimbo Fisher versus Nock Saban. Fisher is still looking for his first win in this newer rivalry, and the Aggies are 0-7 against the Crimson Tide since Johnny Manziel rolled into Tuscaloosa for the win in 2012. After one game, Alabama looks more than capable again of challenging Clemson and Ohio State for a national title.

Prediction: Alabama (-17 1/2)

 

7 of 23

No. 12 North Carolina (1-0) at Boston College (2-0), Saturday, 3:30 p.m., ABC

No. 12 North Carolina (1-0) at Boston College (2-0), Saturday, 3:30 p.m., ABC

Robert Willett/Pool Photo via USA TODAY Sports

North Carolina is the favorite here, but COVID-19 issues have kept the Tar Heels out of action since Sept. 12. Will there be any rust? Perhaps, but Carolina should not take the Eagles lightly, regardless. BC is trying to go 3-0 for the second time in three seasons, but to do so must avoid a fifth consecutive defeat to the Tar Heels.

Prediction: North Carolina (+13 1/2)

 

8 of 23

South Florida (1-1) at No. 15 Cincinnati (2-0), Saturday, 3:30 p.m., ESPN+

South Florida (1-1) at No. 15 Cincinnati (2-0), Saturday, 3:30 p.m., ESPN+

Kareem Elgazzar/The Enquirer via Imagn Content Services, LLC/USA TODAY

At the moment, this contest is still scheduled to be played even though South Florida was forced to postpone last week’s game due to COVID-19 issues after playing at Notre Dame (which has endured a COVID outbreak) the week prior. Cincinnati has looked strong in wins over Austin Peay and Army, and should not have too much trouble against a Bulls squad that lost 52-0 to the Irish.

Prediction: Cincinnati (-22)

 

9 of 23

No. 17 Oklahoma State (2-0) at Kansas (0-2), Saturday, 3:30 p.m., ESPN

No. 17 Oklahoma State (2-0) at Kansas (0-2), Saturday, 3:30 p.m., ESPN

Rob Ferguson/USA TODAY Sports

The Cowboys have been far from stellar in wins over Tulsa and West Virginia. After scoring 43 points total in those games, the offensive needs a true breakout game. All signs point to this being the weekend for that to happen. Kansas allowed 85 points in its first two contests, and and an average of 44.6 during a 10-game losing streak to Oklahoma State.

Prediction: Oklahoma State (-21 1/2)

 

10 of 23

No. 25 Memphis (1-0) at SMU (3-0), Saturday, 3:30 p.m., ESPN2

No. 25 Memphis (1-0) at SMU (3-0), Saturday, 3:30 p.m., ESPN2

Justin Ford/USA TODAY Sports

It’s been almost a month since Memphis last played. However, after COVID-19 problems hindered the Tigers and their opponents through September, they are finally ready to hit the field. And, the challenge could be pretty rough. SMU is off to a strong start, but this will be the toughest opponent its faced in 2020. Memphis has won six straight in this series.

Prediction: SMU (+2 1/2)

 

11 of 23

No. 7 Auburn (1-0) at No. 4 Georgia (1-0), Saturday, 7:30 p.m., ESPN

No. 7 Auburn (1-0) at No. 4 Georgia (1-0), Saturday, 7:30 p.m., ESPN

Brett Rojo/USA TODAY Sports

Auburn has beaten Georgia just three times in the last 15 meetings and most recently won at Athens in 2005. However, this might be the year the Tigers enjoy another moment of rare success in this series. Auburn looked strong on both sides of the ball during a 29-13 win over Kentucky last week. Georgia, meanwhile, beat Arkansas by 27, but, on a hunch, the Tigers might be the more complete team at the moment.

Prediction: Auburn (+6 1/2)

 

12 of 23

No. 18 Oklahoma (1-1) at Iowa State (1-1), Saturday, 7:30 p.m., ABC

No. 18 Oklahoma (1-1) at Iowa State (1-1), Saturday, 7:30 p.m., ABC

Kevin Jairaj/USA TODAY Sports

For the second straight season, Oklahoma must attempt to rebound from a loss to Kansas State. With last weekend’s 38-35 home loss to the Wildcats, pundits might be ready to write off the Sooners. A rebound win this weekend might put those concerns to bed, but playing at Iowa State should still be a test. The Cyclones pulled out a 37-34 win at TCU last week, but have lost 15 of their last 16 in this series.

Prediction: Oklahoma (-7)

 

13 of 23

Arkansas (0-1) at No. 16 Mississippi State (1-0), Saturday, 7:30 p.m., SEC Network (Alternate)

Arkansas (0-1) at No. 16 Mississippi State (1-0), Saturday, 7:30 p.m., SEC Network (Alternate)

Derick E. Hingle/USA TODAY Sports

The Bulldogs were the talk of the weekend after winning 44-34 at reigning national champion LSU. Mike Leach‘s “Air Raid” offense took the SEC by storm after one week, and K.J. Costello elevated his name as a quarterback to watch again after throwing for 623 yards with five TDs and two interceptions. Arkansas, meanwhile, has lost three straight and seven of the last eight versus Mississippi State.

Prediction: Mississippi State (-17 1/2)

 

14 of 23

Tulsa (0-1) at No. 11 UCF (2-0), Saturday, 7:30 p.m., ESPN2

Tulsa (0-1) at No. 11 UCF (2-0), Saturday, 7:30 p.m., ESPN2

James Guillory/USA TODAY Sports

After totaling 100 points in two road wins, UCF will play its home opener in front of a limited crowd. Quarterback Dillon Gabriel has looked good while throwing for 825 yards with eight touchdowns to just one interception over those two contests. Gabriel was picked off twice, however, last season when the Knights were upset 34-31 by Tulsa, which has actually won three straight in this series.

Prediction: UCF (-21 1/2)

 

15 of 23

No. 20 LSU (0-1) at Vanderbilt (0-1), Saturday, 7:30 p.m., SEC Network

No. 20 LSU (0-1) at Vanderbilt (0-1), Saturday, 7:30 p.m., SEC Network

Derick E. Hingle/USA TODAY Sports

Like Oklahoma, LSU must bounce back from an upset home loss. The Tigers did not have much of an answer for Mike Leach and Mississippi State’s “Air Raid” offense in a 44-34 loss (allowed 623 passing yards). Things should be different this week against Vandy, which managed just 255 total yards while playing Texas A&M close in a 17-12 loss. The Tigers are expected to have star defensive back Derek Stingley Jr. healthy for this contest.

Prediction: LSU (-21)

 

16 of 23

Virginia (1-0) at No. 1 Clemson (2-0), Saturday, 8 p.m., ACC Network

Virginia (1-0) at No. 1 Clemson (2-0), Saturday, 8 p.m., ACC Network

Geoff Burke/USA TODAY Sports

This is a rematch of the 2019 ACC Championship game that Clemson won 62-17. In fact, the Tigers have won four in a row during this series, though this will be the first time since 2013 that the programs will meet during the regular season. Virginia looked solid in beating Duke 38-20, but an upset in this contest seems quite unlikely.

Prediction: Clemson (-28)

 

17 of 23

Baylor (1-0) at West Virginia (1-1), Saturday, Noon, ABC

Baylor (1-0) at West Virginia (1-1), Saturday, Noon, ABC

Jerome Miron/USA TODAY Sports

Keep an eye on Baylor senior Trestan Ebner, who scored touchdowns rushing, receiving and two via kick returns in last weekend’s 47-14 win over Kansas. Now, Ebner will try to help the Bears going 0-5 all-time at West Virginia. The Mountaineers, who last to Oklahoma State last weekend, are trying to avoid a sixth consecutive Big 12 defeat.

Prediction: Baylor (-2 1/2)

 

18 of 23

Arkansas State (1-1) at Coastal Carolina (2-0), Saturday, Noon, ESPN2

Arkansas State (1-1) at Coastal Carolina (2-0), Saturday, Noon, ESPN2

Scott Sewell/USA TODAY Sports

Time for some Sun Belt fun. Coastal Carolina has never gone 3-0 during its first three seasons on the FBS level. Coastal has done a nice job of showing offensive balance via a small sample size. It hopes that continues this weekend when it tries to beat Arkansas State for the first time in four games. The Red Wolves haven’t played since that stunning 35-31 win at Kansas State on Sept. 12, so it will be interesting to see if they can build on that upset following some significant COVID-19-related downtime.

Prediction: Arkansas State (-3)

 

19 of 23

Texas Tech (1-1) at Kansas State (1-1), Saturday, 3:30 p.m., Fox Sports 1

Texas Tech (1-1) at Kansas State (1-1), Saturday, 3:30 p.m., Fox Sports 1

Kevin Jairaj/USA TODAY Sports

This is a fun quarterback matchup. Texas Tech’s Alex Bowman is healthy and thrown for 755 yards with six touchdowns and, yes, four interceptions, through two games. Meanwhile, Kansas State’s Skylar Thompson has totaled 593 passing yards with three touchdowns and also ran for three TDs already this season. The key for the Wildcats is to not slip up following a second straight upset of Oklahoma from last weekend.

Prediction: Texas Tech (+2 1/2)

 

20 of 23

Virginia Tech (1-0) at Duke (0-3), Saturday, 4 p.m., ACC Network

Virginia Tech (1-0) at Duke (0-3), Saturday, 4 p.m., ACC Network

Geoff Burke/USA TODAY Sports

It took some time, but Virginia Tech’s season opener is in the books. The Hokies were solid while having little trouble completing a 45-24 win over North Carolina State. Since 2005, Virginia Tech is 7-0 at Duke, and appears in good shape to extend that success. Why? Because the Blue Devils have totaled 39 points as they try to avoid going 0-4 for the first time since 2006.

Prediction: Virginia Tech (-10 1/2)

 

21 of 23

Mississippi (0-1) at Kentucky (0-1), Saturday, 4 p.m., SEC Network

Mississippi (0-1) at Kentucky (0-1), Saturday, 4 p.m., SEC Network

Justin Ford/USA TODAY Sports

Ole Miss scored 35 points against Florida in Lane Kiffin‘s debut as coach. That’s the good news. The bad news? The Rebels allowed 51. A total of 446 yards came through the air. Kentucky totaled 384 yards in a 29-13 loss at Auburn. The Wildcats have lost five of the last seven meetings with Ole Miss, but the teams haven’t met since 2017.

Prediction: Kentucky (-6)

 

22 of 23

Charlotte (0-1) at Florida Atlantic (0-0), Saturday, 4 p.m., ESPNU

Charlotte (0-1) at Florida Atlantic (0-0), Saturday, 4 p.m., ESPNU

Melina Myers/USA TODAY Sports

It appears that Willie Taggart will finally get the chance to make his coaching debut at FAU. COVID-19 issues have plagued both of these programs thus far. Charlotte has not played since losing 35-20 to Appalachian State on Sept. 12. Florida Atlantic has won three of the last five meetings between these Conference USA foes.

Prediction: Florida Atlantic (-6 1/2)

 

23 of 23

Navy (1-1) at Air Force (0-0), Saturday, 6 p.m., CBS Sports Network

Navy (1-1) at Air Force (0-0), Saturday, 6 p.m., CBS Sports Network

Scott Taetsch/USA TODAY Sports

The first Commander-In-Chief matchup of the season. Air Force was not scheduled to play much football in 2020, but with the Mountain West reversing course and starting play later this month, it’s Game On for the Falcons. Air Force leads the all-time series 30-22 and has won the last three meetings at home. Navy, meanwhile, returns to action after scoring all its points in the second half to overcome a 24-point hole and win 27-24 at Tulane from Sept. 19

Prediction: Navy (-7)

Jeff Mezydlo has written about sports and entertainment online and for print for more than 25 years. He grew up in the far south suburbs of Chicago, 20 minutes from the Mascot Hall of Fame in Whiting, Ind. He’s also the proud father of 11-year-old Matthew, aka “Bobby Bruin,” mascot of St. Robert Bellarmine School in Chicago. You can follow Jeff at @jeffm401.


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