2016 Week 5 NCAAF Weekend Preview

September 29, 2016

I’m not going to do the extensive background work to verify this, but I am pretty confident that last weekend Trent became the first prognosticator, myself and guests included, in four years of the head-to-head game to incorrectly predict all five games.

That’s probably harder to do than correctly predict all five. So congratulations, Trent, you’ve set a new low. Alas, you will never know your true struggle.

This week Trent’s new roommate, Nate, will try to get the guests back on the right track. Nate is new to the blog and this season first time prognosticators have done pretty well. In fact, the only other new guest in 2016 thus far, @BigRedTweeter, won.

Overall, here is the head-to-head prediction game records:

K. Becks: 14-6

Guests: 10-10

Nate gets an incredible slate of games to predict. For the first time since the opening weekend, four matchups feature ranked teams and three of those games are Top 10 clashes. I’ve been giddy since the fresh rankings were released last Sunday afternoon.

Here is a list of the five games to watch this weekend, as well as five more to keep an eye on.

5 Games to Pay Attention to This Weekend

#7 Stanford at #10 Washington (Friday, 9 PM ET)

The Pac 12’s two best shots at staying in the College Football Playoff conversation face off against each other in Seattle on Friday night, more than likely whittling that number down to one by Saturday morning. The Cardinal are the more battle-tested squad at this point, but going into Husky Stadium and coming away with a victory is not easy for any team.

Washington has found its way into the Top 10 as of this week, but how good are the Huskies in reality? Cupcakes Idaho and Portland State didn’t do much to prepare Chris Petersen’s squad for a team like Stanford, and the Huskies nearly ended its Playoff hopes before they ever got off the ground last weekend against Arizona. But let’s not bury Washington just yet. One of the hurdles that Petersen has had to get over since taking the job is finding a quarterback capable of running his type of offense. Jake Browning has proven to be that guy in 2016, bursting out of the gates with 14 touchdowns in the first three contests and having the third highest QBR in the country. But while Stanford could focus on Josh Rosen and the passing game and contain UCLA’s offense, the Cardinals won’t be able to do that against the Huskies. Washington is far more balanced offensively and more stingy defensively. This is one of the games that Christian McCaffery should be judged on the most – if he can break the Huskies, he’s Heisman worthy.

This may be the first real test for Washington, but it is also the second of four straight (maybe five, if Colorado if for real) difficult games for the Cardinals. Looking ahead isn’t something that David Shaw’s team is known to do and likely won’t since the Huskies are the only one of the teams in the Top 10. Still, this stretch will take a toll on Stanford physically and mentally, and if the team isn’t focused, Washington is good enough to spoil their season. I think Washington may still be a year away from being a true national title contender, but the Huskies will still win this one.

My Pick: 23-21 Washington

Nate’s Take: Stanford has a white running back and their mascot is a dancing tree. If that’s not the way to my heart I don’t know what is.

Stanford 34 Washington 20

#22 Texas at Oklahoma State (Saturday, 12 PM ET)

Texas’s rapid climb up the rankings was halted after just two games, but it’s clear that the Longhorns have an offensively minded approach to winning this season. Charlie Strong’s squad has yet to score fewer than 40 points this season, but that won’t score the opponent at all this weekend. Oklahoma State loves to light up the scoreboard as well.

While you feel for the Cowboys for the way they lost the game against Central Michigan Week 2, one has to wonder whether Oklahoma State would have ever been in the position to lose if the pass defense wasn’t so horrible. The Cowboys are nearly on Texas Tech level this season, allowing 274 yards through the air and giving up 9 passing touchdowns already, two more than the Red Raiders. But tied in the passing touchdowns allowed category with Oklahoma State is Texas, which hasn’t done anything to mitigate the hurt via interceptions. Since Oklahoma State has the No. 11 passing offense nationally, this could be an advantage for the home team. That being said, both teams have faced good passing offenses this season so the statistic may not tell the entire story.

Unfortunately, the last paragraph of information did nothing to help you determine which team is more likely to win this game. The problem is that it should be a tight one, with a lot of points scored and changes in possession. Those contests are extremely difficult to choose, and typically come down to an opinion on which team you think is better. In this case, I had a lot of faith in the Cowboys to start the season and wasn’t sold on Texas. So I’m picking Oklahoma State to get back on the right track in Stillwater in what should be an exciting shootout.

My Pick: 48-41 Oklahoma State

Nate’s Take: Hope you bought your tickets to the gun show! True frosh Shane Buechele and NFL touted Mason Rudolph are two Big 12 gunslingers capable of getting any NRA card carrier rock hard.  Speaking of rock hard and guns, Charlie Strong’s biceps… I mean c’mon. While I typically try to avoid pissing off anyone with arms that big, Mike Gundy is a man… he’s 40… and he’s bringing the mullet back to college football! Mullet Mafia! Make the Mullet great again! Cowpokes get the W!

Texas 27 Oklahoma State 33

#11 Tennessee at #25 Georgia (Saturday, 3:30 PM ET)

Oh, what an interesting SEC battle we have in Athens, Georgia this weekend. No one is quite sure what to expect quarter-to-quarter from Tennessee, let alone game-to-game. And quite frankly, the same can be said of the Bulldogs. If Georgia were to upset the Volunteers at home, it would further muddy what already looks to be a messy SEC East race.

In 2016, there have been two pretty well-defined Tennessee teams to take the field. There’s good Tennessee, which played at Bristol Motor Speedway and destroyed Virginia Tech and also came in relief during the second half of the Florida game last weekend, punishing the Gators in the third and fourth quarters. Then there’s bad Tennessee, which struggled to beat Appalachian State and Ohio at home and dug a deep 21-3 hole against Florida for good Tennessee to work itself out of in the second half. When will this good team/bad team dynamic finally come back to bite the Volunteers? Perhaps this weekend. The Bulldogs may have looked outmatched against Ole Miss last Saturday, but it was also a wakeup call to freshman quarterback Jacob Eason. The college game is much faster than high school and your time to react to the defense much less. Expect Eason, who will someday be one of the best in the SEC, to look better because last weekend.

If Tennessee wants to win this game, it cannot come out sluggish as it has in three of its past four contests this season. Georgia was embarrassed last weekend, but should be fired up for this one will feed off of the home crowd if the team can get out to a sizable lead. If Eason is more accurate throwing the ball and the defense can get a few stops when the Volunteers appear to be ready to break things open, the Bulldogs will turn the SEC East on its head with the top three squads all having a loss.

My Pick: 34-30 Georgia

Nate’s Take: If Super Smash Bros has taught me one thing in life, it’s that Kirby is hard as hell to kill. Despite a beat down from Ole Miss last week, expect Kirby Smart to puff around, throw in a couple down B’s, then hit Tennessee’s Butch Jones with his signature finishing move… Swallow the opposition whole, stumble to the edge of a cliff, plummet to near murder suicide, spit out the opposition, and narrowly survive with a much-needed victory. Bulldogs get the W!

Tennessee 20 Georgia 21

#8 Wisconsin at #4 Michigan (Saturday, 3:30 PM ET)

If the Badgers were to take out another Top 10 team away from home this weekend, their first four game performance would be nothing short of incredible. The Wolverines haven’t exactly played terrific competition yet, but there aren’t many reasons to suggest that Michigan won’t be Wisconsin’s toughest test to date.

In a battle between the Big Ten’s top two defenses, it wouldn’t be a surprise for this one to resemble the clashes that former coaches Barry Alvarez and Lloyd Carr used to have. Neither one of these teams want to give up a yard on the ground, which is exactly how Wisconsin was able to stifle the Spartans last weekend. The problem is that the offensive outburst against Notre Dame was probably more fluke than regularity for the Spartans. The Wolverines, on the other hand, have a more dynamic offense than both Michigan State and LSU. Wilton Speight has been a godsend for Jim Harbaugh, providing balance and stability to an offense that struggled at times to find that last year. This is the kind of game where Speight could become a campus legend – chances are it will be a low scoring game where one of the signal-callers will be called upon to step up with a clutch drive late in the fourth quarter.

While Wisconsin’s rise to Top 10 team has been quick and unexpected, Harbaugh is the kind of ornery mind who couldn’t possibly let his team underestimate the Badgers. Unfortunately for fans in Madison, the Badgers won’t be sneaking up on anyone in this primetime battle. That may have been one of their biggest advantages in the last two big games, but the hunters have become one of the hunted now. The Big House will be rocking on Saturday night and I see the home team winning a classic.

My Pick: 21-20 Michigan

Nate’s Take: Don’t get it twisted Jim Harbaugh – Jake from State Farm is and always will be America’s khaki wearing sweetheart. While every part of me would love a Michigan loss, it is hard to PICK against the nose PICKer extraordinaire, Jim Harbaugh. Michigan, unfortunately, gets the W!

Wisconsin 21 Michigan 41

#3 Louisville at #5 Clemson (Saturday, 8 PM ET)

The ACC’s marquee matchup of the season isn’t Clemson vs. Florida State – instead, it’s this one, where a potential Heisman Trophy candidate will look to continue a tear that is rewriting the record books on a weekly basis. The Tigers will have a chance to prove to the nation that they belonged at the No. 2 spot to start the season, because few teams are playing better than Louisville right now.

This isn’t to deny that Lamar Jackson has been a freak of nature through the first four games of Louisville’s season. But when you take a closer look at the statistics, it’s not a complete shock that he’s been able to pass and run rampant on the defenses he’s faced thus far. Of the Cardinals’ four opponents, Florida State ranks best in total defense, at No. 86 nationally. The other three? All outside of the top 100, starting with No. 111 Syracuse. Clemson, meanwhile, is No. 3 in the country. So if there is a team capable of slowing down Jackson, the Tigers seem to be a pretty good bet to be the one, right? That is, of course, if Clemson playing Auburn, Troy, South Carolina State and Georgia Tech isn’t the reason the Tigers have been so stifling. In other words, this may be the Game of the Week, but there is still a lot we don’t know about both teams.

If Louisville wants to win in Death Valley, Jackson will need to continue his streak of incredible performances against a defense that may be one of the best in the country. It won’t be impossible, but it’s the toughest task he’s faced this season. Not only is Clemson good enough to slow down Louisville’s best offensive weapon – Dabo Swinney’s offense has a stud quarterback, too, that hasn’t quite found his rhythm yet. Deshaun Watson has played in his fair share of big games, and I think that experience will be the difference in the fourth quarter.

My Pick: 31-26 Clemson

Nate’s Take: Any reliable college football pick should be analyzed through the lens of Madden. Michael Vick is unanimously the greatest Madden player of all time. Vick himself recently tweeted Louisville QB Lamar Jackson is better at this point of his college career. Through the transitive property of equality, Lamar Jackson is a football god. God spelled backwards is dog. If there is one person in this world that knows about dogs it is Michael Vick. Coincidence? I think not. Cards get the W!

Louisville 42 Clemson 35

5 Games to Flip To

North Carolina at #12 Florida State (Saturday, 3:30 PM ET)

The cat is out of the bag – everyone can score a lot of points on the Seminoles. Next up is the Tar Heels, which can keep pace with anyone in the country.

Oklahoma at #21 TCU (Saturday, 5 PM ET)

With the Sooners out of the Playoff picture and Baker Mayfield’s Heisman hopes dashed, the only thing left to send Oklahoma into a complete tailspin would be starting off on the wrong foot in the Big 12 title race.

#18 Utah at California (Saturday, 6 PM ET)

Kyle Whittingham has built a winning culture at Utah that can withstand the transition of recruiting classes, even in the Pac-12. This won’t be an easy game, but apparently anything is possible for the Utes,

South Florida at Cincinnati (Saturday, 7 PM ET)

These two teams are the top candidates to dethrone Houston in the AAC. At the very least, both have solid offenses so this should be a back and forth battle with plenty of scoring.

Oregon at Washington State (Saturday, 9:30 PM ET)

Neither one of these teams has had the start to the season that they would have hoped for, but the potential for a ton of scoring is reason enough to watch. Expect both to take chances in an effort to avoid falling further behind in the Pac-12 standings.

If you would like to become a guest prognosticator like Nate did this week, please let me know in one of the following ways: email me at kbecks@aroundthecorn.com, send me a message on Around The Corn’s Facebook page, post a comment under this article or send me a tweet @KBecks_ATC. Opportunities to become a guest prognosticator will be filled on a first-come, first-served basis. Thanks everyone.

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