Week 5 Predictions
Sorry it’s a bit late. I know some of the games have already started for this week. Forutnately, I haven’t missed anything of great consequence. Before I get into this week’s picks, I want to bring attention to this quote from ESPN.com’s Rece Davis from his week 5 preview which, I think, perfectly sums up the college season thus far:
“At the moment, three teams are a cut above the rest: Florida, Texas and Alabama. A wad of 30 or so teams are capable of beating those three if they bring their A-plus games while the big three deliver B’s or B-minuses. Then there probably are 50 teams that can beat that middle tier under the same circumstances. The result? Chaos.”
1. More Chaos As LSU Becomes The Newest Top-5 Team To Lose
There has been an upset of at least one top-five team every week this season and I have no reason to believe it’ll stop now. I bet on LSU to lose once before and was wrong. I won’t be this time. Why? First of all, Georgia is a lot better than Vanderbilt. I was overly sold on LSU struggling against Washington and I see that I just wanted them to lose. This situation is very different.
Georgia’s defense is highly suspect. They allowed 88 points to South Carolina and Arkansas. But, the Bulldogs’ defense has been on fire since they laid an egg opening week against Oklahoma State, averaging over 37 points per game. If it’s going to be a shootout, I take Joe Cox and A.J. Green over Jordan Jefferson and the combo of Terrance Toliver and Brandon LaFell.
The key for this game will be Georgia’s ability to hold on to the ball. They have turned the ball over three times in each of their first four games. If nothing else, they’re consistent. They can have games like that against South Carolina, Arkansas and Arizona State, and get away with it. They can’t against LSU. The Tigers defense has forced 10 turnovers in the first four games, which they use to make up for the amount of yards they allow. They actually give up a lot of yards (333.5 per game), so Georgia has to be able to take advantage rather than giving LSU chances to take the ball away.
I also really like that this is a home game for Georgia. LSU is averaging a +21 margin at home versus a +6 average on the road. Home games are always big in college football, but they are huge in the SEC.
I also want to go ahead and say that this win will cause a prompt Miami-esque overhyping of Georgia, and I already know they will not deserve whatever ranking they achieve after this victory.
2. OU Will End Debate Over Whether Miami Is Overrated…They Definitely Are
I know Miami wants to have revenge and wants to reclaim their dignity after being spanked by Virginia Tech. I know they’re back at home. And I know Oklahoma is still missing Sam Bradford. I don’t care. Oklahoma is still a better team. Jacory Harris is a very talented QB, but Miami’s offense at this point is quite one-dimensional. With the exception of the Georgia Tech game, the Hurricanes have not run the ball much at all. They ran for only 90 against Florida State an 59 against Virginia Tech. 59. And Oklahoma’s defense is better than Virginia Tech’s. I think a one-dimensional Miami will struggle mightily against the Sooners defense.
And as good as Harris has been, Landry Jones has arguably been better. His QB rating his higher and he has more TD passes. Of course, you do have to keep in perspective that he’s compiled those stats against Idaho and Tulsa, while Harris has compiled his against Florida State, Georgia Tech and Virginia Tech. I’ll be very interested to see how Jones performs in his first real test, and I think he will rise to the occasion. The only chance I see for Miami is suddenly developing a running game so that the Sooners can’t just pin their ears back and run at Harris all day like VaTech did.
3. Big Weekend For Big Teams From Big East And Big Ten
Oh, you cursed Big 10, you will just not give me a reason to call you overrated. I’m sure I’ll be vindicated later this season, but that’ll have to wait at least one more week. The Big 10 has four ranked teams playing this weekend. They should all win, they should all win easily and they should all win big. I took a long look at Michigan-Michigan State because it’s a rivalry game and I wanted a reason to say it’ll be a good game, since I’m still very much not sold on Michigan. Their defense seems to have all kinds of weaknesses. But Michigan State has a pretty weak rushing game a good but not great passing game. Plus a defense that has lost despite the offense scoring 30 points twice this year already. I just can’t find a legitimate reason to say Michigan could lose this game.
Iowa goes against Arkansas State. I don’t need to paint out how easy a win that should be for them.
Ohio State goes against Indiana. Both teams are 3-1, but Indiana’s three wins are over Eastern Kentucky, Western Michigan and Akron. They’re 3-1 like the Broncos are 3-0. This should not be a close game.
And if Penn State can find their offense against anyone, it’s Illinois. Illinois is somehow only second-to-worst in the Big 10, allowing 28 points per game. And Juice Williams is right there with Jevan Snead among the most overrated QBs in the country. He still has not passed for a TD, and with an 87.74 passer rating, you have to wonder if he won’t get replaced in the middle of his senior season. At any rate, Penn State should dominate this game, and this could be a turning point for them and their offense.
The Big East is already off to a good start this weekend with West Virginia running wild on the Buffaloes of Colorado and Pittsburgh moving to 4-1 with a dominating performance over Louisville. Those two teams are looking good and giving the conference a lot of credibility. And I have to say, if you haven’t seen Pitt’s running back, Dion Lewis, he’s a really talented player. The freshman is averaging 5.7 yards per carry, has 8 TDs (7 rushing, 1 receiving) and hasn’t fumbled yet.
The Big East has two games left this weekend that should be cakewalks – South Florida at Syracuse and Cincinnati at Miami (OH). Assuming that happens, the four big teams in the conference will be a combined 17-2. Even the harshest critic of the Big East (which may well be me) has to admit that’s really good.
4. South Florida Will Show Why They Should Be Ranked
Even with starting QB Matt Grothe out last week, South Florida won over Florida State. And yet, somehow, did not crack the top 25. They should this week after they beat Syracuse. New starting QB B.J. Daniels is a big-play machine. He didn’t have the prettiest numbers against Florida State, but he managed to somehow pass for 215 yards on just eight completions. He added 126 with his legs for a total of 341 yards and two TDs. It will be hard to continue denying them a spot in the top-25 at 5-0.
And some spots should free up in front of them. With USC’s one bad choke loss behind them for the year, Cal will lose badly and fall out of the top 25. Auburn’s vaunted offense meets its first challenge of the season in Tennessee’s defense. It’s a bad time to be going out for its first away game of the season. I think Auburn will lose some of its luster this weekend. And I expect that even Georgia Tech will lose some of it shine as they struggle with Mississippi State. It won’t be enough to boot them from the rankings, but it will be enough for South Florida to hurdle them.
With all of the shuffling that could be going on at the bottom of the top-25, it’s a bad week for Missouri to have off. They’ll be the losers again.
5. Washington Will Rebound In A Big Way With A Win Over Notre Dame
If you haven’t heard, Washington has a really good QB in Jake Locker (1000+ passing yards and a 130.13 rating). If you’re living in an even deeper hole, Notre Dame has a really good QB in Jimmy Clausen (1100+ passing yards, 10 TDs, 1 INT and a 172.86 rating). If you also haven’t heard, Notre Dame doesn’t exactly have a lockdown defense. Since their opener against Nevada, they’re allowing almost 30 points per game. And they weren’t exactly facing the college football’s best offenses in Michigan State and Purdue.
Washington needs to play keep away like they did with USC. Control the clock and keep the ball out of Clausen’s hands. It’s always a risky proposition when you have Washington going on the road, especially to Notre Dame, but I think they’ll be out for blood after reaching the top-25 for one way-too-short week. I wish I had a more scientific reason for picking the Huskies, but in all honesty, I don’t. Call it a gut pick. But I feel really good about it.