Week 5 in College Football starts conference play for many teams. Now is where contenders start to separate from pretenders in regards to the College Football Playoffs. Week 5 has had some of the craziest upsets over the past couple of seasons, including FCS Troy taking down LSU in 2017, despite being a 20 point underdog on the road.
We’ve been spoiled with top games to start off non-conference play this year such as Texas-LSU and Notre Dame-Georgia this past week. This week is no exception, as there are some interesting match-ups here as well. Two Top 5 teams in Ohio State and Clemson travel on the road against tough conference opponents. Alabama will be at home against Ole Miss (which should be an easy win) while LSU and Georgia are both on their respective bye weeks. So, with an interesting slate of games this week, which ones provide the most potential for an upset?
Arizona State at Cal
After beating #14 Washington in week 2 on the road, Cal’ has continued to rise in the polls. This game is crucial in determining how legitimate Cal’ truly is.
They’ll certainly have their work cut out for them as Arizona State is a bubble Top 25 team that has already notched a quality win on the road against Michigan State. However, they did lose at home against Colorado last week. ESPN gives Cal over a 60% chance to win the game which, in my opinion, seems a bit generous for a conference match-up between two very even teams. These units are very even, with their total yards gained average only 8 apart and total yards allowed only 20 apart. This contest will come down to who can make the big play, and I think that’ll be Arizona State with quarterback Jayden Daniels.
Prediction: Arizona State 38-34
Kansas State at Oklahoma State
Unlike California, Kansas State will be travelling to Oklahoma State to begin conference play. If you’ve ever watched Big 12 football, you know there’s a whole lot of scoring and not much defense. Both of these teams are averaging 44 points a game and a combined 987 yards. I would not be surprised if this one is a barn burner to the tune of over 100 points and 1,000 yards between the two teams. This one will most likely come down to who has the last possession, and I like to give the edge to Oklahoma State since they’ll have home-field advantage.
Prediction: Oklahoma State 62-56
Ohio State at Nebraska
I’m trying to have no bias in this prediction as a Penn State fan, but I think Ohio State is gonna have to put up a fight in this week 5 showdown in Nebraska. The Cornhuskers finally have a stellar coach in Scott Frost and are getting things together with him and Adrian Martinez after a shaky first year. Ohio State has looked impressive this season with new transfer QB Justin Fields, who has thrown for 880 yards and 13 touchdowns through his first 4 games.
The line at 17 points is a stretch and it seems no one is factoring in the aspect of Nebraska’s home atmosphere. Nebraska has a record 369 game sellout streak that dates all the way back to 1962. With this game slated for prime time, that is sure to continue and then some. I mean, what else is there to do in Nebraska? This game’s gonna be close and I’m not sure who will come out victorious.
Clemson at North Carolina
North Carolina enters this one with first-year head coach Mack Brown. They could be e a problem in the ACC in a few years, but Clemson currently has infinitely more talent and experience.
UNC has a true freshman quarterback in Sam Howell, who has recieved some looks after leading the team to wins over South Carolina and Miami to start the season. Since then, the Tar Heels have had two sloppy games against Wake Forest and Appalachian State. Meanwhile, Clemson and Trevor Lawrence have racked up four easy victories and there is no doubt they’ll likely go undefeated until they reach the playoffs. This one’s easy, to say the least.
Prediction: Clemson 52-27
Texas at West Virginia
The previous match-up between these two was one of the best games I watched last season. West Virginia – on the road in Austin – scored and went for two to take the lead over Texas with under 10 seconds left in the game. It brought back the well-known “Horns Down” reference when David Sills was penalized after scoring a touchdown.
Despite being on the road, Texas should have no problem handling West Virginia. They are still recovering after a majority of their offense left for the NFL, including QB Will Grier. Texas has looked impressive and was nearly able to take down LSU earlier this season. Had Joe Burrow not went god mode, they just may have pulled it off. This game shouldn’t be close.
Oh and by the way, did you know that Matthew McConaughey went to Texas? Just making sure you knew.
Prediction: Texas 45-24
Virginia at Notre Dame
With every Notre Dame loss, there’s always the return of the “Notre Dame is overrated” claim. Critics always point to Notre Dame’s lack of a conference when playing this card. This is a “show me something” game for a Fighting Irish squad looking to prove that they belong in the top 10.
Virginia, like Califorinia, is overrated in my opinion. They moved up in the rankings despite playing a sluggish game at home against Old Dominion last week, where they trailed 10-0 after the first quarter. Notre Dame needs to shoot out of the cannon and prove they are not a pretender, and I think that they will.
Prediction: Notre Dame 27-17