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Top 20 College Football Games: Week 5
By Jonathan Hull

12-8. When picking college games straight up, that kind of record is pretty porous. Yet, that's the record I posted last week it what was an absolutely horrid week of picking games. I went 5-11 picking the NFL and 12-8 in college. Pitiful.

But here I am, still picking games with a 56-24 overall record on the season. Take these with a grain of salt:

1. No. 25 Baylor (3-0) at No. 9 West Virginia (3-0)
Time/TV: 11 a.m. Saturday, FX
Last game: Baylor 47, La-Monroe 42; West Virginia 31, Maryland 42
Last meeting/series: This is the first meeting between the two programs.
Analysis: West Virginia is making their Big 12 debut and it should be one of the more entertaining games of the weekend. Baylor isn't as explosive without Robert Griffin, but the Bears still aren't lacking on the offensive side of the ball. Nick Florence has the offense clicking once again. However, West Virginia QB Geno Smith is seeing a RG3 like rise in both draft stock and Heisman hype. Smith has been stellar so far, and I trust West Virginia to make more stops than Baylor. One thing Big 12 schools that visit the Mountaineers at home this season will find out is that Morgantown is one of the best game-day atmospheres in all of college football.
Prediction: West Virginia 48, Baylor 35

2. No. 12 Texas (3-0) at Oklahoma State (2-1)
Time/TV: 7:50 p.m. Saturday, FOX
Last game: Texas 66, Ole Miss 31; Oklahoma State 65, La-Lafayette 24
Last meeting/series: Oklahoma State 38, Texas 26 (2011); Texas leads series 22-4.
Analysis: This is the first time Texas has been tested this season. It's the first time the Longhorns can prove they're worthy of their ranking. After having back-to-back disappointing seasons, the Longhorns have much to prove. The Longhorns are supposed to have a dominant defense, but Ole Miss was actually able to poke some holes in it at times. That's not good news when headed to Stillwater to face the always imaginative Oklahoma State offense. The Cowboys had a letdown against Arizona, but have otherwise been impressive. The Longhorns do get a shot at breaking into first-time Cowboys starter J.W. Walsh, who is an elite athlete at the QB position. I'm personally betting on Oklahoma State to pull the upset here. I'm not yet ready to believe the Longhorns are ready to start winning games of this magnitude once again.
Prediction: Oklahoma State 32, Texas 27

3. No. 14 Ohio State (4-0) at No. 20 Michigan State (3-1)
Time/TV: 3:30 p.m. Saturday, ABC
Last game: Ohio State 29, UAB 15; Michigan State 23, Eastern Michigan 7
Last meeting/series: Michigan State 10, Ohio State 7 (2011); Ohio State leads series 27-12.
Analysis: Perhaps no two teams in the Big Ten better represent how poor the quality of play in the conference has been this season than Ohio State and Michigan State. These are two teams many expected to be the class of the conference, and the problem is they still might very well be. Ohio State is undefeated, but has been unimpressive in wins against UCF, Cal and UAB. Michigan State can't score with regularity with RB Le'Veon Bell being the only offensive threat the Spartans possess. Both teams will likely struggle to put many points on the board, but it's Bell and a home crowd that gives Michigan State a slight edge.
Prediction: Michigan State 20, Ohio State 19

4. No. 18 Oregon State (2-0) at Arizona (3-1)
Time/TV: 10 p.m. Saturday, Pac-12 Network
Last game: Oregon State 27, UCLA 20; Oregon 49, Arizona 0
Last meeting/series: Oregon State 37, Arizona 27 (2011); Arizona leads series 21-13-1.
Analysis: Oregon State is the most surprising team in the country to me. I thought the Beavers would be battling to be one of the worst teams in the Pac-12. Instead, the Beavers are in the top 25 and looking impressive, despite having the youngest team in the conference. Their wins against Wisconsin and UCLA have Mike Reilly as an early favorite for Coach of the Year. It makes picking a game like this one difficult. Usually, it's pretty easy to go with the home team here, but Arizona is reeling against a 49-0 loss to Oregon. The Beavers have been pretty impressive defensively, so it won't be surprising if the Wildcats struggle to put points on the board for a second straight week. Not to mention, Oregon State has won 11 of the last 13 meetings with Arizona.
Prediction: Oregon State 24, Arizona 17

5. Wisconsin (3-1) at No. 22 Nebraska (3-1)
Time/TV: 8 p.m. Saturday, ABC
Last game: Wisconsin 37, UTEP 26; Nebraska 73, Idaho State 7
Last meeting/series: Wisconsin 48, Nebraska 17 (2011); The series is tied 3-3.
Analysis: Wisconsin is the most disappointing team in the Big Ten. The Badgers were the favorites to repeat as conference champions, but is yet to turn in an impressive performance this season. They barely picked up wins against Northern Iowa, Utah State and UTEP and lost to Oregon State. The offense has been completely unimpressive, ranking 102nd in the nation in points scored and 110th in total yards. Not to mention, Montee Ball is nicked up, but is expected to play against Nebraska. The Cornhuskers suffered a humbling defeat against UCLA, but have otherwise taken care of business. They're one of the least disappointing teams in a disappointing conference so far this season. I'll take them to beat Wisconsin rather comfortably.
Prediction: Nebraska 32, Wisconsin 20

6. No. 4 Florida State (4-0) at South Florida (2-2)
Time/TV: 6 p.m. Saturday, ESPN
Last game: Florida State 49, Clemson 37; Ball State 31, South Florida 27
Last meeting/series: South Florida 17, Florida State 7 (2009); South Florida leads series 1-0.
Analysis: This game ranks this high because I'm putting Florida State on upset alert. It has all the makings of an upset. Florida State is on top of the world with a lot of hype surrounding it after a win against Clemson. Meanwhile, South Florida was just nipped by mid-major Ball State and has lost its last two games. The Bulls have the pieces to give Florida State trouble and I think they will until the fourth quarter. I don't have the gall to call for an upset, though.
Prediction: Florida State 31, South Florida 23

7. Tennessee (3-1) at No. 5. Georgia (4-0)
Time/TV: 3:30 p.m. Saturday, CBS
Last game: Tennessee 47, Akron 26; Georgia 48, Vanderbilt 3
Last meeting/series: Georgia 20, Tennessee 12 (2011); Tennessee leads series 20-18-2.
Analysis: Georgia has been one of the most impressive teams in the country so far. The Bulldogs look like actual challengers to Alabama's and LSU's reigns atop the SEC, playing impressively on both sides of the ball. I do expect Tyler Bray and the Tennessee passing game to do some damage against the Bulldogs, but I also expect Georgia OLB Jarvis Jones to make more than a handful of big plays to put the Bulldogs over in the end.
Prediction: Georgia 35, Tennessee 24

8. Arkansas (1-3) at Texas A&M (2-1)
Time/TV: 12:21 p.m. Saturday, SEC Network
Last game: Rutgers 35, Arkansas 26; Texas A&M 70, South Carolina State 14
Last meeting/series: Arkansas 42, Texas A&M 38 (2011); Arkansas leads series 41-23-3.
Analysis: Arkansas is undoubtedly the most disappointing team in the SEC and maybe the country. The Hogs have been pitiful this season and are going to be lucky to make a bowl game at this point. Texas A&M probably should have beaten Florida, but couldn't hang on to a lead in the second half. The Aggies have been impressive in their two other games against lesser opponents, though. Arkansas can't seem to stop anyone and Texas A&M's offense is really rolling at this point with a defense that was surprising against Florida. As long as they don't have any second half letdowns again, the Aggies should pick up their first SEC win. Second half letdowns are a trend for this team right now, though.
Prediction: Texas A&M 42, Arkansas 38

9. No. 2 Oregon (4-0) at Washington State (2-2)
Time/TV: 10:30 p.m. Saturday, ESPN2
Last game: Oregon 49, Arizona 0; Colorado 35, Washington State 34
Last meeting/series: Oregon 43, Washington State 28 (2011); Oregon leads series 44-33-6.
Analysis: Oregon proved it belonged in the conversation of the nation's elite teams with its 49-0 domination of Arizona. Meanwhile, Washington State showed Mike Leach still doesn't coach defense in a loss to Colorado. If it wasn't for that, Colorado might be headed for a winless season. Instead, Washington State might be dubbed the worst team in the Pac-12 once again. This won't be close, but any time Leach is involved the game gains a little luster.
Prediction: Oregon 55, Washington State 10

10. Ole Miss (3-1) at No. 1 Alabama (4-0)
Time/TV: 9:15 p.m. Saturday, ESPN
Last game: Ole Miss 39, Tulane 0; Alabama 40, Florida Atlantic 7
Last meeting/series: Alabama 52, Ole Miss 7 (2011); Alabama leads series 45-9-2.
Analysis: Is there a more lopsided rivalry in the SEC? Alabama has lost to Ole Miss just nine times in a rivalry that dates back to 1894. The Rebels last win in the rivalry was in 2003, 43-28. Other than last season, the games have been pretty competitive since 2003, though. But Ole Miss is badly overmatched by the Tide. The talent levels aren't even similar.
Prediction: Alabama 56, Ole Miss 10

11. Minnesota (4-0) at Iowa (2-2)
Time/TV: Noon Saturday, ESPN2
Last game: Minnesota 17, Syracuse 10; Central Michigan 32, Iowa 31
Last meeting/series: Minnesota 22, Iowa 21 (2011); Minnesota leads series 61-42-2.
Analysis: The Floyd of Rosedale is once again on the line. This is a historic rivalry that typically produces some very close games. Iowa is once again losing games it shouldn't be losing and even the Hawkeyes' wins have been closer than expected. Minnesota is one of the three undefeated teams left in the Big Ten and could set up a showdown of undefeated teams against Northwestern next week with a win against Iowa. The Gophers have clipped the Hawkeyes the last two years, but those games have been at TCF Bank Stadium. Maybe Iowa can begin to turn its season around this week.
Prediction: Iowa 24, Minnesota 23

12. NC State (3-1) at Miami (3-1)
Time/TV: Noon Saturday, ESPNU
Last game: NC State 52, Citadel 14; Miami 42, Georgia Tech 36
Last meeting/series: NC State 38, Miami 28 (2008); NC State leads series 5-7-1.
Analysis: I must give credit where credit is due. The Hurricanes were very impressive in last week's win against Georgia Tech. NC State is yet to impress me this season. Both of these teams have to see this one as a potential trap game, though, with big games looming next week. NC State plays Florida State while Miami is preparing for Notre Dame. But, don't expect either to look past this week. This is a very important game for both teams in regards to their bowl eligibility. Like I said already, the Canes have the more impressive resume of the two. Miami is quietly improving and could be ready to make a lot of noise in the ACC sooner than any of us thought.
Prediction: Miami 31, NC State 20

13. No. 17 Clemson (3-1) at Boston College (1-2)
Time/TV: 3:30 p.m. Saturday, ESPN
Last game: Florida State 49, Clemson 37; Northwestern 22, Boston College 13
Last meeting/series: Clemson 36, Boston College 14 (2011); Clemson 10-9-2.
Analysis: This game will be telling of Clemson's resilliency. It seems like last season when the Tigers lost one game they lost focus for about a month and struggled. But they were a young team, so maybe experience will help. The Tigers really have to get better defensively, though. Boston College should provide a good test for them to improve in both of those areas.
Prediction: Clemson 48, Boston College 20

14. No. 15 TCU (3-0) at SMU (1-2)
Time/TV: 7 p.m. Saturday, Fox Sports affiliates
Last game: TCU 27, Virginia 7; Texas A&M 48, SMU 3
Last meeting/series: SMU 40, TCU 33 (2011); TCU leads series 44-40-7.
Analysis: The Battle for the Iron Skillet is one of the more illustrious rivalries in the state of Texas. These two have played all but six years since their first meeting in 1915. It's a rivalry, however, that has been dominated by TCU since SMU returned from the death penalty in 1989. The Frogs have won 10 of the last 12 meetings, although SMU pulled off one of the bigger upsets in recent memory for the program last season. But SMU has taken a step or two back this season with Garrett Gilbert -- a Texas transfer -- at QB. Gilbert is one of the most prolific passers in Texas high school history, but hasn't fared well at the college level. TCU isn't going to be a team easy to breakthrough against, either. The Frogs should make this a long day for Gilbert and the SMU offense. The SMU defense will likely have a tough go of it as well for that matter.
Prediction: TCU 42, SMU 14

15. Texas Tech (3-0) at Iowa State (3-0)
Time/TV: 7 p.m. Saturday, Fox College Sports
Last game: Texas Tech 49, New Mexico 14; Iowa State 37, Western Illinois 3
Last meeting/series: Iowa State 41, Texas Tech 7 (2011); Texas Tech leads series 7-3.
Analysis: Iowa State is often overlooked in the Big 12 more than any other team in the conference. But the Cyclones are incredibly well coached by Paul Rhoads. They've also beaten the Red Raiders in back-to-back seasons. Tech has gotten off to poor starts in both of those losses, but appears to be playing much better so far this season. The Red Raiders need to win this one because they begin a brutal five week stretch next week. Their next five opponents are Oklahoma, West Virginia, TCU, Kansas State and Texas. Nasty.
Prediction: Texas Tech 33, Iowa State 29

16. Penn State (2-2) at Illinois (2-2)
Time/TV: Noon Saturday, ESPN
Last game: Penn State 24, Temple 13; Louisiana Tech 52, Illinois 24
Last meeting/series: Penn State 10, Illinois 7 (2011); Penn State leads series 15-4.
Analysis: Penn State has now won back-to-back games, while Illinois is coming off a brutal loss against Louisiana Tech. The Nittany Lions have been impressive on defense as expected, but the offense has found a playmaker in sophomore receiver Allen Robinson. Illinois has been disappointing thus far and I expect the Illini to struggle scoring and containing Robinson.
Prediction: Penn State 20, Illinois 13

17. Indiana (2-1) at Northwestern (4-0)
Time/TV: Noon Saturday, Big Ten Network
Last game: Ball State 41, Indiana 39; Northwestern 38, South Dakota 7
Last meeting: Northwestern 59, Indiana 38 (2011); Northwestern leads series 45-34-1.
Analysis: I mentioned it above, but who would have thought Northwestern and Minnesota might possibly meet next week with both having spotless records? I did predict Minnesota to lose to Iowa, but I fully expect Northwestern to be undefeated after this week. Junior RB Venric Mark has been a pleasant surprise for the Wildcats and leads a running game that ranks 27th in the nation. Indiana's offense has been impressive in its own right, but against the likes of Indiana State, Massachusetts and Ball State, which upset the Hoosiers two weeks ago. Northwestern is a bigger test than Ball State.
Prediction: Northwestern 37, Indiana 24

18. UCLA (3-1) at Colorado (1-3)
Time/TV: 6 p.m. Saturday, Pac-12 Network
Last game: Oregon State 27, UCLA 20; Colorado 35, Washington State 34
Last meeting/series: UCLA 45, Colorado 6 (2011); UCLA leads series 5-2.
Analysis: Colorado finally got a win this season with an comeback upset of Washington State. It's never good when a victory against Washington State is considered an upset, though. The Buffaloes could build off that victory, but UCLA isn't the right opponent for that to happen against. The Bruins were victim to an upset against Oregon State, but I maintain this is one of the top 25 teams in the country. UCLA has playmakers on both sides of the ball who are finally playing up to their potential. Jim Mora Jr. is also a Coach of the Year candidate.
Prediction: UCLA 38, Colorado 21

19. Missouri (2-2) at UCF (2-1)
Time/TV: Noon Saturday, FSN affiliates
Last game: South Carolina 31, Missouri 10; UCF 33, FIU 20
Last meeeting/series: This is the first meeting between the two programs.
Analysis: Missouri really needs a win to boost its confidence. The Tigers haven't faired well in either of their SEC games and have Vanderbilt coming to town next week followed by Alabama. The wins have to come now or the Tigers are going to struggle to get bowl eligible. UCF game Ohio State a challenge and the Golden Knights will likely give Missouri a scare as well. As for an upset, the Tigers better hope not.
Prediction: Missouri 30, UCF 24

20. Louisiana Tech (3-0) at Virginia (2-2)
Time/TV: 3:30 p.m. Saturday, espn3.com
Last game: Louisiana Tech 52, Illinois 24; TCU 27, Virginia 7
Last meeting/series: This is the first meeting between the two programs.
Analysis: Louisiana Tech is putting a lot of points on the board, averaging 54.7 per game while playing three FBS opponents. Virginia has the best defense the Bulldogs have seen this season, but the Cavaliers have got to start playing better offensively. La. Tech's defense is far from spectacular so the opportunity to put some points on the board is there for the Cavs, but I'm not sure they're ready to match the offensive prowess of the Bulldogs. Louisiana Tech's offense is impressive to watch. Senior QB Colby Cameron manages the offense extremely well, but the freshman RB tandem of Tevin King and Kenneth Dixon show the most promise. La. Tech is going to make noise as a mid-major for the next few years.
Prediction: Louisiana Tech 34, Virginia 30

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