Week 5 of the college football season is lacking in huge matchups, but it is full of games that should give us a good grip of just exactly how good teams are after the first few weeks. We get a lot of looks at major conference matchups, which are often something that have a little bit more on the line.
Both Friday and Saturday have a lot of good games, so we will address both days here.
Penn State (-6.5) at Maryland
The last time that we saw these two teams, both had letdown performances after looking great through the first two weeks. Now both teams come into their first conference matchup off of a bye week, and they should both have plenty of tricks up their sleeve.
While both teams have overall looked better than I’d expected, especially until Week 3, I think that we have a little bit more to rely on for Penn State. No. 12 Penn State has the more talented overall roster, although I think that Maryland has more talent than most people would think.
In the first two weeks, Penn State rolled over two bad opponents while Maryland steamrolled a then-ranked Syracuse team. However, in Week 3, Penn State struggled with Pitt and Maryland lost to Temple. In a vacuum, both of these games look bad for both teams, but since then, Pitt beat UCF and has proven to likely be better than most thought.
I like the Nittany Lions to look sharp off of the bye week, and they just have more talent than the Terps. This game should not be too close late in the fourth quarter
Northwestern at Wisconsin (-24)
While this does not project to be a great game, I do think that this game will tell us a lot about the entire Big Ten. Northwestern has looked bad this season in every single game, and No. 8 Wisconsin has looked like one of the best teams in the country.
The biggest question in this game is, “Can Wisconsin back up its last performance with a similarly dominant win?” I believe that the answer is yes, but I am still a bit skeptical that Michigan is good at all.
Michigan had a 215-pound, former walk-on play snaps on the defensive line last week. Uh, that’s not very good.
The reason that I feel confident in Wisconsin here is that Northwestern doesn’t seem to have a pulse after getting blown out at home by Michigan State. I am a bit concerned about the letdown paired with the fact that Northwestern was horrible at the beginning of the season last year and then went on to win the Big Ten West. I like the Badgers to roll here.
USC at Washington (-10.5)
This one is pretty straight forward for me. USC is going to be starting a third-string QB, who almost transferred to Illinois, in a hostile environment with no starting experience. On the other side of the ball, you have Jacob Eason, a former 5-star QB who left Georgia after being injured and losing the job to Jake Fromm.
Eason has been outstanding so far, and I expect nothing less from him and the No. 17 Huskies in this game. I think this one will get ugly after a few turnovers for the No. 21 Trojans.
Kansas State at Oklahoma State (-4)
This is another straightforward choice to me, despite Kansas State coming in ranked No. 24 in the country. I get the home team and the team with the best playmakers on the field at QB, RB, and WR. Oklahoma State was able to hang in with Texas last week, and I expect this team to beat most teams in the middle of the Big 12 with such a high-powered offense.
I love the Cowboys to roll in this one, especially since their defense showed the ability to get a few stops vs. a much, much better Texas offense.
Ohio State (-17) at Nebraska
This game is either going to be incredibly high-scoring on one side or on both sides, and I think that the most likely outcome here is just one side. The Cornhuskers have struggled to stop the run and the pass this season, and now they are going to have to deal with one of the best offenses in the country. I see no way that they hold the No. 5 Buckeyes down at basically any point in this game.
For Nebraska, they need to create explosive plays on offense. This is something Ohio State gave up last year at a historic rate, and now they are third in the country at limiting explosive plays.
Has Ohio State played an offense as good as Nebraska? No, but Indiana, Florida Atlantic, Cincinnati, and Miami (Ohio) are not incompetent, and this is not a situation where Ohio State has not been challenged at all by decent skill players.
So far this season, I think that Ohio State looks like the most complete football team in the country, and I think that will show up yet again on Saturday night. I like the Buckeyes here to win going away.