College Football Picks: Week 5 Predictions For Every Game

Alabama QB Bryce YoungAlabama QB Bryce YoungKevin C. Cox/Getty Images

No. 5 Iowa (4-0) at Maryland (4-0), 8 p.m. ET (Friday)

At this point, it's pretty clear that Iowa's offense is lackluster, at best. The Hawkeyes are averaging below 300 yards of total offense per game, and their rushing attack has now been held to 1.7 yards per carry in two of their past three games.

But what appears to be even more clear is that this Iowa defense is exceptionally good. All four of the Hawkeyes' opponents have been held below 100 rushing yards and to 17 points or fewer, and that's going to be a substantial uptick in difficulty level for an undefeated Maryland offense that has faced a favorable schedule thus far.

Against West Virginia, Howard, Illinois and Kent State, Taulia Tagovailoa has averaged 335.0 passing yards with a 75.5 completion percentage and 10 touchdowns against just one interception. If he can come anywhere close to those numbers against Iowa, Maryland wins convincingly. But my guess is this game is going to play out more like Maryland's next-to-last game of the 2020 season, in which Tagovailoa threw three picks in a 27-11 road loss to an excellent foe (then-No. 12 Indiana).

Prediction: Iowa 23, Maryland 14


No. 4 Penn State (4-0) vs. Indiana (2-2), 7:30 p.m. ET

Indiana has had a lot of trouble this season against good, opportunistic defenses. The Hoosiers threw two pick-sixes in their Week 1 loss to Iowa, and they committed four turnovers in a Week 3 loss to Cincinnati.

Now they need to go on the road to face a Penn State squad that already has impressive wins over Wisconsin and Auburn. The Nittany Lions forced three turnovers against the Badgers, and it wasn't until the fourth quarter of a Week 4 blowout win over Villanova that they allowed their first passing touchdown of 2021. They should clamp down on Michael Penix Jr. and Co. in a relatively convincing home win.

Prediction: Penn State 34, Indiana 17


No. 3 Oregon (4-0) at Stanford (2-2), 3:30 p.m. ET

If you went to bed early on Saturday and woke up to find that Oregon beat Arizona by 22 points, believe me, that game was way closer than the final score. Wildcats quarterback Jordan McCloud threw two interceptions in the end zone, as well as a pick-six, and that series of bad decisions was effectively the difference in what was otherwise a neck-and-neck game.

So now we're left to wonder whether "won at Ohio State" or "barely won a home game against a team now on a 16-game losing streak" is the real Oregon.

Key pieces of the Ducks' defensive front seven have been dropping like flies because of injury, and there's little question that played a major role in their inability to win the battle in the trenches against Arizona. It didn't bury them against the Wildcats, but it could be their downfall at Stanford.

The saving grace for the Ducks is that Stanford's run defense has been quite bad. Both USC and Vanderbilt averaged 5.6 yards per carry against the Cardinal, and those offenses have otherwise had a lot of trouble getting going on the ground this season. If Mario Cristobal does the wise thing and leans heavily on CJ Verdell and the rushing attack that spurred them to victory over the Buckeyes, the Ducks should be able to get out of Palo Alto with a W.

Prediction: Oregon 38, Stanford 31


No. 2 Georgia (4-0) vs. No. 8 Arkansas (4-0), Noon ET

Buckle up for an incredible two-week run of SEC football showdowns. In addition to this week's massive Arkansas-Georgia and Ole Miss-Alabama clashes, we're also going to get Arkansas-Ole Miss, Alabama-Texas A&M and Georgia-Auburn in Week 6. By October 10, we'll have a much better idea of how likely it is for two teams in this conference to reach the CFP.

Let's not get too far ahead of ourselves, though, because this right here is easily one of the five most intriguing games thus far this season.

Arkansas' ability to win with defense was perhaps the most surprising development of September. The Hogs were frequently helpless on D last season, particularly late in the year when three of their final four opponents scored at least 50 points. But this year, Arkansas shut down Texas and Texas A&M, and they've only allowed one passing touchdown to date.

The Razorbacks have darn near rushed for as many yards (1,049) as the total number of combined passing and rushing yards its defense has allowed (1,069).

However, there's no question that Georgia has the better defense in this one, having held opponents to 185.3 total yards per game. This Bulldogs D has forced nine turnovers while allowing only one touchdown.

And if either quarterback is going to carve up the opposing secondary, it almost has to be Georgia's JT Daniels, right? Even before Arkansas' KJ Jefferson missed most of the second half against Texas A&M with a lower body injury, this was shaping up to be a considerable mismatch at the QB position.

Arkansas is looking like a very good team, and this game should be way closer than we would have expected it to be a month ago. But Georgia might be the best, most complete team in the country and it has home-field advantage. I just can't pick against the Dawgs in this one.

Prediction: Georgia 30, Arkansas 17


No. 1 Alabama (4-0) vs. No. 12 Ole Miss (3-0), 3:30 p.m. ET

Last year's Alabama-Ole Miss game was arguably the most entertaining of the entire season. Two elite offenses went back and forth and back again for 111 points and nearly 1,400 total yards of offense. They were tied at 7, 14, 21, 28, 35 and 42 before Alabama finally pulled ahead for a 63-48 victory.

And that's hardly the first time we've seen this SEC West rivalry turn into a fireworks display. In 2015, Ole Miss won 43-37. The following year, Alabama won 48-43. And though the games while Matt Luke was the Rebels' head coach got out of hand in a hurry, these teams have played six consecutive games with at least 69 combined points.

Considering the two current favorites to win the Heisman TrophyAlabama's Bryce Young and Mississippi's Matt Corralwill be running these offenses, why should we expect this game to be any different from what has become their norm?

Ole Miss is leading the nation in scoring at 52.7 points per game. The Rebels are also averaging 638.3 total yards per game79 more than the closest runner-up. Granted, they've faced Louisville, Austin Peay and Tulane. But it's no surprise at all that they've been moving the ball so effortlessly, given their potency on offense last year and Lane Kiffin's pedigree as an offensive guru.

Is the Ole Miss defense good enough to stop Alabama, though? How much of a factor will special teams be, where Alabama already has three touchdowns in 2021? And how concerned should we be that Ole Miss ranks last in the nation in penalty yards per game (106.7)?

Young and Corral will both put up huge numbers to remain the Heisman favorites, but if and when there's a key fourth-down stop, turnover, penalty or kick/punt return, my assumption is that Alabama will be the beneficiary more often than not. That plus home-field advantage will be the difference in this barn burner.

Prediction: Alabama 49, Ole Miss 36

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