Week Five College Football 2021 Preview

College Football Week Five Preview
Sep 18, 2021; Oxford, Mississippi, USA; Mississippi Rebels quarterback Matt Corral (2) passes against Tulane Green Wave at Vaught-Hemingway Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Marvin Gentry-USA TODAY Sports

Week five of the College Football season is here and this one should paint a clearer picture of the potential playoffs down the road.

Here is your Week Five College Football 2021 preview.

Week Five College Football Top 25 Matchups

No. 8 Arkansas at No. 2 Georgia

  • Game Info: Saturday, 12:00 p.m. ET (ESPN)
  • Prediction: Georgia 31, Arkansas 24

This week, the Arkansas Razorbacks entered the AP top 10 for the first time since 2012. Their reward: A visit from the number two team in the country, Georgia. The Razorbacks will try and take down their third-ranked opponent of the year with a powerful rushing attack and dynamic WR Treylon Burks on the outside. QB KJ Jefferson is expected to play despite suffering a bruised knee last week. 

Jefferson will face his biggest test yet as Georgia sports the nation’s top defense. However, the Bulldogs can do more than stop opposing offenses; they can also score points of their own. Led by QB JT Daniels, Georgia is averaging almost 53 points per game in its last three contests. Georgia will try and show off its balance in Saturday’s top-10 SEC battle.

The Razorbacks have won each of their games by at least 10 points but lost to Georgia by 27 last season. This one should be closer, but my belief is that Georgia is the best team in College Football.

No. 14 Michigan at Wisconsin

  • Game Info: Saturday, 12:00 p.m. ET (Fox)
  • Prediction: Wisconsin 13, Michigan 10

It’s a pick-em game according to Vegas, and with good reason. Wisconsin has two losses and has struggled in the passing game, but their run defense will test Michigan. The Wolverines have not won at Wisconsin since 2001

Michigan’s strong start has been a worthy early-season college football storyline, but the Wolverines are coming off their least-dominate game of 2021 — a 20-13 home victory over Rutgers. Now, Michigan hits the road for the first time this season, and at Wisconsin, where it’s lost five in a row since winning there in November 2001. Now, the Badgers have their own issues but allowed an average of 11.3 points while going 10-2 at home since the start of the 2019 campaign.

I think this will be a close one but I think Wisconsin shows up for the game at home and wins a defensive slugfest.

No. 12 Ole Miss at No. 1 Alabama

  • Game Info: Saturday, 3:30 p.m. ET (CBS)
  • Prediction: Ole Miss 65, Alabama 63

Ole Miss will head to Alabama this week with both teams ranked for the first time since 2016. Ole Miss is led by Heisman-contender QB Matt Corral. Corral has completed 68.8% of his passes for 997 yards and nine touchdowns with zero interceptions. He also has five rushing touchdowns on the season. 

Alabama has a Heisman-contending quarterback of its own in QB Bryce Young. Young has carried the recent tradition of elite Alabama quarterbacks with the help of WR Jameson Williams and WR John Metchie III on the outside. On defense, the Crimson Tide has NFL talent at every position, highlighted by arguably the nation’s best linebacker group.

My pick is that Ole Miss wins a shootout in one of the most explosive games we will see all year.

No. 6 Oklahoma at Kansas State

  • Game Info: Saturday, 3:30 p.m. ET (FOX)
  • Prediction: Oklahoma 20, Kansas State 13

The Sooners will try to avoid a third consecutive loss to the Wildcats, who didn’t last long in the Top 25 following last Saturday’s 31-20 loss at Oklahoma State. Oklahoma’s three FBS wins this season have come by a combined 15 points.

Originally I had Kansas State pulling off the upset here, but it appears that their QB Skylar Thompson is not going to make it back and I think that pushes this game into the Sooners favor.

Other Week Five College Football Contests

No. 5 Iowa at Maryland

  • Game Info: Friday, 8:00 p.m. ET (FS1)
  • Prediction: Iowa 31, Maryland 21

Two of the five Big Ten teams sitting at 4-0 meet for a prime-time matchup. The Hawkeyes were less-than-stellar in getting by Colorado State at home last weekend, but they still boast one of the nation’s best defenses, allowing an average of 11.0 points, 84.5 rushing yards, and 271.5 total yards. Maryland last started 5-0 in 2001. Taulia Tagovailoa has led the Terps to a surprising 4-0 start, and they won the last home meeting against the Hawkeyes in 2014. Iowa, however, hasn’t allowed more than 17 points in a game this season.

No. 13 BYU at Utah State

  • Game Info: Friday, 9:00 p.m. ET (CBSSN)
  • Prediction: BYU 35, Utah State 21

Jaren Hall (ribs) might return this week, but Baylor Romney proved a capable backup against South Florida. The Cougars are 0-2 as a favorite this season, and the Aggies have been in some shootouts. However, this will be BYU’s first true road contest of 2021. The Aggies faithful, meanwhile, should make up a frenzied environment as their team looks to rebound from a 27-3 loss home loss to Boise State. Could be a tough one, but I think BYU pulls away at the end.

Louisville at No.24 Wake Forest

  • Game Info: Saturday, 1:00 p.m. ET (ESPN+)
  • Prediction: Louisville 45, Wake Forest 38

For the second time in three seasons, Wake Forest is trying to start 5-0. Credit coach Dave Clawson for keeping the Demon Deacons seriously competitive and relevant despite losing offensive stars Jamie Newman and Kenneth Walker III to the transfer portal in recent years. Current Wake quarterback Sam Hartman (955 passing yards, nine touchdowns, zero interceptions) is starting to earn some praise, but faces a Louisville squad that’s looking for a fourth straight win and allowed an average of 201.6 passing yards over the last three contests.

I think Louisville is sneaky good, with their only loss being against the best offense in College Football with Ole Miss. They should play good here and pull the upset.

Louisiana-Monroe at No. 16 Coastal Carolina

  • Game Info: Saturday, 230 p.m. ET (ESPN+)
  • Prediction: Coastal Carolina 42, Louisiana-Monroe 14

After outscoring four non-conference opponents 182-64, Coastal kicks off Sun Belt play riding a nine-game league winning streak. The Chanticleers’ most recent conference loss came 45-42 to Louisiana-Monroe on Nov. 23, 2019. However, the Warhawks are looking to snap a nine-game road slide that dates back almost two years. Coastal enters this week’s slate fifth in the nation averaging 6.3 rushing yards per carry.

No. 11 Ohio State at Rutgers

  • Game Info: Saturday, 3:30 p.m. ET (BTN)
  • Prediction: Ohio State 45, Rutgers 20

The Buckeyes rank second in the FBS with 559.3 yards per game, and the defense bounced back with eight sacks against Akron. Rutgers is an improved team under Greg Schiano, but the Scarlet Knights’ closest loss to the Buckeyes since joining the Big Ten is 22 points. Ohio State makes a statement to the rest of the Big Ten East. 

No. 3 Oregon at Stanford

  • Game Info: Saturday, 3:30 p.m. ET (ABC)
  • Prediction: Stanford 31, Oregon 28

Stanford already beat then-No. 14 USC and gave then-No. 24 UCLA a run for its money last weekend in a 35-24 loss. Can the Cardinal be seriously competitive once again against the Ducks? Who, however, is likely better than either of those Los Angeles-based Pac-12 teams. Oregon is yielding an average of 19.5 points and has won the last two meetings with Stanford by a combined 36 points.

But Oregon has struggled the last couple of weeks against poor opponents and I think Stanford pulls the upset here.

No. 10 Florida at Kentucky

  • Game Info: Saturday, 6:00 p.m. ET (ESPN)
  • Prediction: Florida 28, Kentucky 24

Dating back to November 1980, Florida is 39-2 against Kentucky and won six straight games at Lexington. These Wildcats, however, are looking to go 5-0 for the second time in four seasons. Florida might have issues with its passing game, but the Gators enter this week’s action ranked third in the country averaging 322.5 yards on the ground.

Louisiana Tech at No. 23 North Carolina State

  • Game Info: Saturday, 6:00 p.m. ET (ESPN+/ACC Net)
  • Prediction: NC State 42, Louisiana Tech 20

The Wolfpack earned a deserved spot in the Top 25 following its double-overtime home upset of then-No. 9 Clemson. Now, they get a break from ACC action to seemingly build on that victory, which was guided by a defense that’s allowed an average of 13.0 points and 249.3 total yards on the season. North Carolina State has won 19 straight non-conference home games and 32 of the last 33 such contests.

No. 21 Baylor at No. 19 Oklahoma State

  • Game Info: Saturday, 7 p.m. ET (ESPN2)
  • Prediction: Oklahoma State 21, Baylor 20

Who would have thought come the first weekend of October, Baylor and Oklahoma State would be undefeated and playing to remain atop the Big 12 standings. The Bears have outscored their first four opponents 171-63 following a two-point win over then-No. 14 Iowa State last weekend. The Cowboys, meanwhile, have won their first four by a combined 24 points while allowing an average of 87.0 yards on the ground. Baylor has won two of the last three meetings at Stillwater.

Mississippi State at No. 15 Texas A&M

  • Game Info: Saturday, 7:00 p.m. ET (ESPN)
  • Prediction: Texas A&M 24, Mississippi State 21

Texas A&M has won the last two meetings with Mississippi State, but the Aggies have totaled 20 points in their two games versus Power Five opponents. And, managed 272 total yards in last weekend’s 20-10 loss to then-No. 16 Arkansas. The issue appears to be at quarterback, where Zach Calzada (four touchdowns, three interceptions) might not be the answer with Haynes King hurt. The Bulldogs, meanwhile, have dropped two in a row to Memphis and LSU by a combined five points.

Boston College at No. 25 Clemson

  • Game Info: Saturday, 7:30 p.m. ET (ACC Network)
  • Prediction: Clemson 21, Boston College 14

Five weeks into the 2021 season and Clemson’s national title hopes are likely gone  following that double-overtime loss at previously unranked N.C. State last weekend. The Tigers have scored 38 points in their three games versus FBS opponents this season, and now host a BC squad that’s trying to open 5-0 for the first time since 2007. Clemson has won 30 consecutive home games and seven in a row there over the Eagles, but amid the craziness of 2021, take nothing for granted.

Western Kentucky at No. 17 Michigan State

  • Game Info: Saturday, 7:30 p.m. ET (SECN)
  • Prediction: Michigan State 45, WKU 25

The Spartans had to work to beat Nebraska in overtime last weekend, but would seem to be in good shape for their first 5-0 start since 2015. While Michigan State’s offense had its issues a week ago, its defense has been solid early on, allowing an average 18.0 points and bending without completely breaking. Western Kentucky, meanwhile, is 0-6 against Big Ten teams on the road since the start of the 2021 season. However, WKU gave Indiana a game win last weekend’s 33-31 home defeat.

Indiana at No. 4 Penn State

  • Game Info: Saturday, 7:30 p.m. ET (ABC)
  • Prediction: Penn State 34, Indiana 17

Ohio State should hopefully get their offense and defense going in this game against an overmatched Prior to the start of the season, this looked to be one of the premier matchups of 2021. However, Penn State, which has yielded just 60 points, might be the Big Ten’s best team while Indiana is off to a middling start and struggled to win at Western Kentucky last weekend. The Hoosiers beat the Nittany Lions for just the second time in 24 career meetings, in dramatic fashion, last season. However, they’ve never won at Beaver Stadium.

No. 22 Auburn at LSU

  • Game Info: Saturday, 9:00 p.m. ET (ESPN)
  • Prediction: LSU 42, Auburn 38

The big question surrounding this matchup is who will start at quarterback for Auburn? Bo Nix who was benched last week or TJ Finley who came in to help Auburn get the win against Georgia State? LSU, meanwhile, has won three in a row overall and will be looking for an 11th consecutive victory at home over Auburn.

Arizona State at No. 20 UCLA

  • Game Info: Saturday, 10:30 p.m. ET (FS1)
  • Prediction: Arizona State 42, UCLA 39

At this point, it seems the Pac-12 South Division is up for grabs. UCLA is the only division squad ranked at the moment, but it lost at home to upstart Fresno State and had to fight off a pesky Stanford group last week on the road. The Bruins have won the last two meetings against the Sun Devils by a total of 17 points. Arizona State, whose lone defeat came at then-No. 23 BYU on Sept. 18, has lost three straight road games against Top 25 opponents.

No. 18 Fresno State at Hawaii

  • Game Info: Saturday, 11:00 p.m. ET (CBS Sports Network)
  • Prediction: Fresno State 45, Hawaii 21

Fresno State ranks among the national leaders averaging 42.0 points and is third in the country at 397.6 passing yards per contest.

Jake Haener, who began his collegiate career at Washington, is a big reason for the team’s early success while completing 73.1-percent of his passes for 1,842 yards with 15 TDs and two INTs. Meanwhile, the Bulldogs have averaged 37.0 points during a six-game winning streak at Hawaii.

College Football – Upset Alert

No. 7 Cincinnati at No. 9 Notre Dame

  • Game Info: Saturday, 2:30 p.m. ET (NBC)
  • Prediction: Notre Dame 28, Cincinnati 14

Cincinnati’s quest to crash the College Football Playoff continues in South Bend against the Fighting Irish. The Bearcats are coming off a bye week with hopes of getting a non-conference road win to boost their playoff hopes. QB Desmond Ridder will lead Cincinnati against a Notre Dame defense that has struggled at times this season. Joining Ridder is a talented defense that features elite CB Ahmad “Sauce” Gardner.

Before Brian Kelly became the winningest coach in Notre Dame history (106 victories), he went 34-6 in three seasons with Cincinnati. After scoring 31 fourth-quarter points in last weekend’s 41-13 victory over then-No 18 Wisconsin, Kelly’s Irish face another stiff test against the Bearcats. It’s not certain if injured Notre Dame quarterback Jack Coan will play or not. If you ask Notre Dame fans they may say they are better with a more mobile QB due to their OLine play.

A lot of doubters out there still on Notre Dame, but if you are telling me they are an underdog at home, against a less talented Cincinnati team, I will take Notre Dame, every day of the week.

Should be another excellent week of College Football!

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