College football crazies, buckle up. Week five of the 2018-2019 season is full of huge matchups, easily making this the biggest week of marquee games so far this year. Week four was slightly saturated; featuring only two top 25 matchups. Alabama beat the brakes off of Texas A&M in Tuscaloosa, and Stanford went into Eugene to take down the Ducks in overtime. This week we have five top-25 teams ready to go toe-to-toe, and plenty of other huge matchups. Alabama, Clemson, Georgia, and OSU all remain in the top-5, and LSU jumped Oklahoma for the 5th spot after the Sooners struggled to secure the victory against Army. The LSU Tigers have made the biggest climb so far this season in the polls, as they are the only team currently ranked inside the top-10 who started outside of the top-15. Below we’ll break down each marquee matchup, giving you the key information needed to choose your bets wisely for the Week 5 College Football Picks.
Florida at #23 Mississippi State – 6:00pm ET
Line: Miss St. -7.5
If for no other reason, this matchup is intriguing just because it is Florida Gator head coach Dan Mullen’s return to Mississippi State where he was the head coach before accepting the Florida position. The atmosphere will be electric, and the Bulldogs will be highly motivated to defeat their former ball coach. However, no one knows this Bulldogs offense better than Dan Mullen. These are his recruits he’ll be coaching against, and odds are he knows each player’s strength and weaknesses, something he’ll be able to expose to his Gators. The Gators are 3-0 when rushing for at least 200 rushing yards, their lone defeat coming against the Kentucky Wildcats. Ironically, the Bulldogs only loss suffered thus far is also against the Kentucky Wildcats, where star running back Benny Snell went Captain Insano and torched this Bulldogs defense for 229 yards rushing and four touchdowns. If the Gators can run the ball successfully and limit Bulldog quarterback Nick Fitzgerald, then Mullen should be in an excellent position to defeat his old ball club and make it very difficult for the Bulldogs to cover this spread.
Prediction: FL 24-20 Miss St
#12 West Virginia at #25 Texas Tech – 12:00pm ET
Line: WVU -3.5
Heisman candidate Will Grier has become must-see-tv. The ex-Florida Gator QB has the Mountaineers sitting 3-0 heading into Lubbock. So far this season Grier has completed 74.7% of his passes with 14 TDs to only three interceptions. Luckily for the Red Raiders, their superstar safety Jah’Shawn Johnson is back from his shoulder injury and ready to help provide his team a boost against this potent Mountaineers offense. WVU’s standout wide receiver David Sills is a big-time weapon, and if the Red Raiders can’t contain him, it could be a long afternoon. The Red Raiders are fresh off an upset victory over #15 Oklahoma State and look to win back-to-back games against ranked opponents for the first time since 2008. Texas Tech’s air raid offense leads the nation in passing yards per game, and total offense per game, which comes to no surprise. What is surprising however is that the Red Raiders are #1 among all power-5 teams in time of possession, something they usually lack a lot of. If the Red Raiders want to take down Grier and the Mountaineers, they must control the clock, and keep the crowd energized. The team has rallied behind their new head coach Kliff Kingsbury thus far this season; don’t be surprised if they do it again this weekend.
Prediction: WVU 34-37 Texas Tech
#4 Ohio State at #9 Penn State – 7:30pm ET
Line: OSU -3.5
You don’t want to miss this one. Between the history of the two programs, and the stars on each side at quarterback, what’s not to love? Penn State hasn’t been home underdogs often since head coach James Franklin took over the program in 2014. In fact, the last time the Nittany Lions were underdogs at home was against Ohio State in 2016. The Nittany Lions were 17.5point underdogs that matchup and ended up winning the game 24-21. Both teams are loaded with talent, and head coach of the Buckeyes Urban Meyer is back on the sidelines. OSU first-year quarterback Dwayne Haskins has been extremely impressive in his first four career starts, tossing 16 touchdowns, good for 2nd in the nation. Haskins has also been remarkably poised in the pocket, throwing only one interception this season. Penn State will have to get pressure on him to make at least a mistake or two to give their offense a chance. The Nittany Lions are led by a seasoned veteran in quarterback Trace McSorley who is in his third year at the helm of the offense. OSU’s defense boasts what many regard as the nation’s best player in Nick Bosa, but the superstar defensive end suffered an abdominal injury against TCU and will not be able to play this weekend. PSU junior running back Miles Sanders has been an outstanding replacement for a team who loss Saquon Barkley, as Sanders is sixth in the nation with 495 rushing yards. Expect this game to be everything you could want and more from a college football matchup. Two powerhouse programs going head-to-head to keep their CFB Playoffs hopes alive in one of the best environments football has to offer. OSU will take this game down to the wire, but the veteran presence of McSoreley along with the PSU home crowd will ultimately prevail.
Prediction: OSU 33-38 PSU
#7 Stanford at #8 Notre Dame – 7:30 pm ET
Line: ND -5.5
It’s not often that you see a top-10 team who’s already beat a ranked opponent and is undefeated bench their starting quarterback, but that’s exactly what Notre Dame has done. Brandon Wimbush has simply been erratic with his accuracy all season long, and Chip Kelly had enough. Last week, the head coach chose to start Junior Ian Book over Wimbush against Wake Forest on the road, and the offense exploded. Book had 325 yards passing along with two touchdowns and also ran for another three. Book’s passing ability has added a significant spark to this previously stagnant offense. The Fighting Irish will also get back Dexter Williams, their presumed starting running back to start the year that has yet to be able to suit up due to injury. The return of Williams will add critical depth to the ND rushing attack. The Cardinals, on the other hand, have been defying the odds all season. Many predicted them to lose to USC early in the season, a game in which they easily won. Then, last week the Cardinals went on the road to Oregon to upset the Ducks in Eugene in overtime. Stanford’s aerial attack has been much improved this season, as K.J. Costello has looked much more comfortable throwing the football. He’s averaging 9.3 yards per attempt, which is good for second best in the conference, and 20th in the nation. It’s impossible to talk about the Cardinals, and not mention world-class running back Bryce Love. Love finished second last season in the Heisman race and was the preseason favorite to win the award this year. Injuries and an up-and-down offensive line have slowed his pace dramatically, but the senior is still a big play waiting to happen at any time. If the Irish let Love run wild, and the passing game opens up for Costello, they could be in for a long night. Vice versa, if the Cardinals O-Line doesn’t play up to it’s potential, this Irish defense will wreak havoc and fire up the home crowd.
Prediction: Stanford 17-20 ND
#20 BYU at #11 Washington – 8:30 pm ET
Line: Wash -17.5
The Huskies are still keeping their playoff hopes alive with each victory since starting their season with a loss to Auburn. Last week Washington took down a soundly coached Arizona State team 27-20, in a much closer game than what most people had anticipated. The Cougars, however, are oozing with confidence after this went into Wisconsin and took down the Badgers. BYU plays very sound and positional defense, they won’t take many gambles defensively, but they won’t beat themselves either. Washington will struggle to find chunk yardage plays and will have to rely on the arm and precision of senior quarterback Jake Browning. The Cougars, fly-sweep action offense, is incredibly unique and has proven to be effective thus far this season. The Washington defense will have to be prepared for a style of play they’ve yet to face, and Washington has struggled to cover the spread when they’ve been big favorites. Two weeks ago they failed to cover a 46-point spread, and last week they couldn’t cover the 18-point spread against Arizona State. The smart bet here is that Washington will win this game, but not cover the 17.5point spread.
Prediction: Wash 27-17 BYU
#19 Oregon at #24 California 10:30pm ET
Line: Oregon -2.5
Don’t let the loss to Stanford fool you; this Oregon team is talented, far more talented than the teams they’ve had the past few years. The Ducks have one of the best signal callers in all of college football in quarterback Justin Herbert. Last week against Stanford Herbert was 26-28 passing in regulation before he struggled in overtime. Even though Herbert has been brilliant early on this season, the Ducks have turned the ball over far too often. The Ducks have eight giveaways this season against FBS opponents, and a -3 turnover margin overall. The Golden Bears have the nations 5th ranked passing defense in terms of efficiency and have intercepted seven passes on the season. While the Bears haven’t been their usual offensive juggernaut they’ve been in the past, the offense has been opportunistic enough at crucial moments in games so far to keep them in the running for the Pac-12 title. The Ducks will come out looking to make a statement, but this Cal defense will be well rested and prepared for the task of slowing down Herbert and the Ducks after having two weeks off. Cal is one of 21 teams left unbeaten, and they look to continue that trend going forward. Expect Justin Wilcox’ #24 Bears to be ready to play Saturday night, and make things extremely difficult for this Ducks potent offense.
Prediction Ore 24-27 Cal