College Football Week Five – Whos left in the Playoff hunt?
An eventful week four saw a number of teams faint playoff chances evaporate with the PAC 12 suffering most as Utah & Washington State both lost their 100% records. A one-loss PAC 12 team is highly unlikely to make the final four barring a bloodbath in the SEC and Big 10. Speaking of which Michigan’s hopes of a place are all but gone following that blow out loss to Wisconsin, which came hard on the heels of a disappointing performance against Army. They may not even make a New Year Bowl game now. UCF’s marathon regular-season streak has also gone with that 1 point loss to Pittsburgh, and Notre Dames chances are down to slim despite putting up a credible performance against Georgia.
Right now we could still make a case (with a lot of creativity) for 16 teams still having some semblance of a chance of making the final four, but for some, there is absolutely no room for error win out or you are out.
Anyway here are our predictions:
The Weekends Games
12 Penn St. @ Maryland +6.5
Penn State is one of the 16 teams who we think are still alive in the playoff sweepstake, and they make their first road trip of the season to divisional rivals Mayland as solid favourites. They struggled a bit in their last outing against Pittsburgh, however, that form has been franked thanks to the Panthers ending UCF’s long unbeaten run, while the Terrapins are coming off a big upset loss to Temple. This could be close for a while but we think Penn State can edge it and keep their playoff hopes alive
Penn State by 5 points or less
Arizona St. @ 15 California -4
Cal are the big surprise of the PAC 12 – and quite possibly the whole of FBS being 4-0 and technically at least in with a chance of the playoffs. ASU was also going well and briefly sampled the rarified heights of a top 25 ranking, before last weeks 34-31 home loss to Colorado. Prior to that they had only conceded 21 points in their opening three games they will probably lean on their defense again in this one. Cal is similarly defense orientated but has two nice wins already and remain undefeated. Were they to win out there is a case for them making the playoffs, given they would have taken down Washington, Oregon & Utah. Can’t see that happening but they should stay alive for another week by edging this one and covering the spread
Cal by 6 points+
Northwestern @ 8 Wisconsin -24.5
Wisconsin look like the main threat to Ohio State in the Big 10 this year, and after a couple of early blow out wins they made a statement in running up a 35-0 lead over Michigan, before taking their foot off the gas. Northwestern were Conference finalists in 2018 but have not followed through this year and it’s hard to see them getting anything out of this one. Still, 24.5 points is a lot and they might just keep it within the spread.
Wisconsin by 24 points or less.
Middle Tenn. @ 14 Iowa -24
At 3-0 and with a good, if narrow win at Big 12 Iowa State under their belts, the Hawkeyes are still in the playoff mix. They will pretty much need to go undefeated through and that’s a tall order looking at their schedule. Still they can live the dream for another week as they should win this with some ease.
Iowa by 25 points +
Rutgers @ 20 Michigan -27.5
The Wolverines hopes of a playoff place are pretty much gone but they should be good enough to take care of Rutgers whose only win was against an 0-4 UMass. Can they cover the spread? Probably as they need a big win to start climbing back up the rankings in the hope of getting a prestige Bowl invite.
Michigan by 28 points +
23 Texas A&M @ Arkansas +23.5
A&M is not a bad team but they have no path to the playoffs now with losses to Clemson & Auburn. Their schedule has been lopsided with two really tough games and a couple of cupcake ones, which they have won with ease. The Razorbacks are coming off of a bad defeat to San Jose but they are at home and should hold the Aggies to within the spread
Texas A&M by 23 points or less.
Texas Tech @ 6 Oklahoma -27
Oklahoma have looked impressive in their opening three wins and Jalen Hurts has fitted nicely into their high octane offense. TTU lost on the road against Arizona last week, and this is a monumentally more difficult trip. The spread looks about right and we thing the Sooners should just cover it.
Oklahoma by 30 points +
18 Virginia @ 10 Notre Dame -12.5
The first all ranked clash of the night serves as an elimination matchup. Virginia are 4-0 which has included a good win at Pittsburgh to open and a disappointing performance against Old Dominion last week. Whatever the result of this one they remain favourites for the ACC Coastal but would really need this one to have any playoff hopes as this is their only real marque game. Notre Dame at 3-1 is just about alive in the playoff race thanks to their valiant effort at Georgia, however, a second loss and they might not even make a New Year Bowl. If both teams play like they did last week then ND should be at least two TDs too good for the Cavaliers.
Notre Dame By 14 Points +
21 USC @ 17 Washington -10.5
The nights other all ranked clash is an all PAC 12 affair with two one-loss teams looking more towards the Rose Bowl than a playoff place now. USC was a tad lucky (in our opinion) to beat Utah last week, and being on the road are justifiable underdogs. The Huskies only loss has been to 4-0 Cal and that was by 1 point in a much-delayed game. Washington should take this one but the spread looks a bit rich.
Washington by 10 points or less
Ole Miss @ 2 Alabama -37.5
The Tide have done what they needed to do in their opening 4 wins scored points and kept their opponents quiet with a solid if unspectacular (by their standards defense). The only issue here is by how many points they will win? Well the spread is big but we would make Ole Miss 6 TD underdogs if we were forming the line so Alabama to cover.
Alabama by 40 points +
Indiana @ 25 Michigan St. -14
Michigan stats find themselves back in the top 25 thanks to a pretty convincing win away to Northwestern. Indiana may be 3-1 but with their schedule, anything less would have been a disaster and they might actually be a worse team than Northwestern (we will find out for sure in November). This could be a low scoring game and the Spartans should cover the spread.
Michigan State by 17 points +
1 Clemson @ North Carolina +27.5
Clemson has looked awesome so far this year and the final score in this one should depend on how long they leave their starters out on the field for. They should easily cover the spread.
Clemson by 28 points +
Towson @ 9 Florida -36.5
FCS Towson are 3-1 in the CAA and their only loss was in a shoot out against divisional rivals Villanova who are 4-0. So they are no mugs, but this is a who;e new level. The spread has given them a bit of respect and given Florida will be starting their back up QB due to Franks season-ending injury we will take a punt and pick Towson to hold the Gators to 5 clear TDs.
Florida by 36 points or less
24 Kansas St. @ Oklahoma St. -4.5
Kansas are in the rankings thanks to a nice road win over a pretty good Mississippi State. OSU went on the road themselves last time out and kept it sort of close against Texas but were a tad flattered by the score. This is a tough one to call but we think the Cowboys should edge it at home and just about cover the spread.
Oklahoma State by 5 points +
Miss. State @ 7 Auburn -10
Auburn is nicely poised to make a move in the playoff race, and they have two really good wins over ranked opposition (including No 11 Oregon). Another win here looks likely and this will set up another elimination clash with Florida next week. Miss State will be going to a nice bowl game, but they are pretty much best of the rest in the SEC.
Auburn by 11 points +
Connecticut @ 22 UCF -42.5
UCF has finally had their winning streak broken, however, it will now focus their minds on getting back to the task of earning the at large place to the Cotton Bowl. The spread says it all and they should cover it.
UCF by 43 points +
5 Ohio St. @ Nebraska +17
Nebraska were trendy tips (including by us) as dark horses in the Big 10, however, it is not panning out that way as they are 3-1. Still that narrow loss to Colorado doesn’t look quite so bad now and they might just give the Buckeyes a game. Ohio State don’t seem to be missing last years start QB Dwayne Haskins or long-time Head Coach Urban Meyer as much as expected. This one was close last year and Nebraska QB Adrian Martinez does lead the Big 10 in offense so we are sticking with an Ohio win but not by the spread.
Ohio State by 14 points
Washington St. @ 19 Utah
Washington state lost in a crazy game last week – when they led by 32 points at one stage. They won’t find Utah easy to score against and the Utes were unlucky to lose at USC last week. We had Utah down as the PAC 12’s Rose Bowl team pre-season and we think they will take this one to keep that hope alive.
Utah by 7 points +