Viewers Guide, Picks: Week 5

We are back with the Viewers Guide and Picks for Week 5.

West Virginia (and QB Geno Smith) welcomes Baylor (and QB Nick Florence) for its first-ever Big 12 game

I ended up 19-6 straight-up and a woeful 8-15 against-the-spread. For the year, I am now 80-27 SU and 48-49 ATS.

In Big Ten games, I was 7-3 straight-up and also 2-6 ATS. Through three weeks, I am 36-10 straight-up and 17-21 ATS.

After that awful showing, we need to atone this week.

Just two match-ups with ranked teams this week with No. 9 West Virginia hosting No. 25 Baylor in its first-ever Big 12 game and No. 14 Ohio State visiting No. 20 Michigan State in Urban Meyer’s Big Ten debut as the OSU coach.

Here we go with the Viewers Guide and Picks for Week 5 of the college football season:

Thursday’s Game

* Stanford (-6 1/2) at Washington, 9 p.m. (ESPN) – This is the schools’ 81st meeting. The last two years Stanford has enjoyed the two largest margins of victory (41-0 at Washington in 2010 and 65-21 at Palo Alto) in the history of the rivalry. Of course, that all came on Andrew Luck’s watch. Stanford will make its first appearance since its upset of then-No. 2 USC (21-14). Washington has wins over San Diego State and I-AA Portland State but got swamped at No. 3 LSU (41-3). Could Stanford be in for a letdown? Stanford 31-20

Friday’s Game

* Hawaii at BYU (-27 ½), 8 p.m. (ESPN) – BYU dropped to 2-2 with last week’s 7-6 loss at Boise State. Hawaii is 1-2 with losses to USC (49-10) and Nevada (69-24). BYU has won eight of the last nine in the rivalry (including 41-20 last year at Hawaii) and is a perfect 8-0 against the Warriors in Provo. BYU 36-17

Saturday’s Games

* Penn State at Illinois (pick’em), noon (ESPN) – This is a match-up of 2-2 teams that seem to he heading in opposite directions. PSU comes in off nice wins over Navy and Temple, while Illinois is still smoldering from last week’s 52-24 home loss to Louisiana Tech. Penn State has won three of the last four meetings with Illinois, including a 10-7 home win last year. QB Matt McGloin seems to be taking to Bill O’Brien’s new offense. The Illini hope to have QB Nathan Scheelhaase back after he’s dealt with injuries. O’Brien and Illini coach Tim Beckman each make their Big Ten debut. Don’t look for a postgame hug after Beckman tried to pluck off PSU players when NCAA sanctions were announced in July. Penn State 27-20

* Minnesota at Iowa (-7), noon (ESPN2) – Iowa is looking for something, anything to jump start (or better yet, restart) its 2012 season. It doesn’t get much worse than losing at home to Central Michigan (32-31). Minnesota is looking for its first 5-0 start since 2004. It will be the 78th time since 1935 the Gophers and Hawkeyes will square off for the Floyd of Rosedale trophy, with Minnesota holding a 41-34-2 advantage with the trophy at stake. Minnesota has won back-to-back match-ups in 2010 (27-24) and 2011 (22-21) and heads to Iowa City looking for its first three-game win streak in the series since 1998-2000. This is still Iowa, isn’t it? Iowa in a tight one. Iowa 24-21

* N.C. State at Miami (Fla.) (-2 ½), noon (ESPNU) – Miami saved its season last week, rallying from down 17 in the second half to defeat host Georgia Tech 42-36 in overtime. The Canes can get to 3-0 in ACC play with a win over the Wolfpack, who also come in at 3-1 overall. N.C. State has won the last two in the rivalry, although they have not played since 2008 (38-28 home win for Pack). Miami 31-21

* Baylor at West Virginia (-13), noon (FX) – This battle of unbeatens will be WVU’s first-ever Big 12 game after spending the last 21 years in the Big East. QBs Nick Florence (Baylor) and Geno Smith (West Virginia) should light up the scoreboard at Mountaineer Field. Baylor is averaging 51 points in its 3-0 start, while WVU is averaging 47 points in its three wins. This is the schools’ first-ever meeting. West Virginia 37-27

* Indiana at Northwestern (-10 ½), noon (Big Ten Network) – Northwestern will look for its first 5-0 start since 2008. Indiana has had two weeks to stew since its 41-39 loss to Ball State. Northwestern leads the all-time series 45-34-1, including a 59-38 win at Bloomington last year. Indiana was winless in Big Ten play a year ago and has only won three conference games in the past four seasons combined. I like the variety in the Northwestern offense with the emergence of RB Venric Mark. Indiana is sorting through Cameron Coffman and Nathan Sudfeld at quarterback. Northwestern 31-17

* Arkansas at Texas A&M (-13 ½), 12:20 p.m. (SEC Network) – Texas A&M has a golden opportunity to get its first SEC win against reeling Arkansas. The Razorbacks have turned back the Aggies the last three years in the Cowboys Classic (47-19 in 2009, 24-17 in 2010 and 42-38 in 2011). A&M has looked good in wins over SMU and I-AA South Carolina State. Arkansas has lost three straight to Louisiana-Monroe, No. 1 Alabama and Rutgers. Welcome to the SEC, Texas A&M. Texas A&M 28-20

* Marshall at Purdue (-16 ½), 3:30 p.m. (Big Ten Network) – This will be the teams’ first meeting ever. Purdue comes in off a bye week after its narrow loss at Notre Dame (20-17). Marshall has the nation’s top-ranked passing offense (383.5 ypg). Purdue DL Kawaan Short will try to get after Marshall QB Rakeem Cato to keep those numbers down. Could be a high scoring affair as Marshall averages 41 points a game and Purdue averages nearly 40. The Boilers want momentum heading into their Big Ten opener against Michigan next week. Purdue 38-13

* Ohio State at Michigan State (-2 ½), 3:30 p.m. (ABC) – OSU QB Braxton Miller is getting some Heisman mention after his team’s 4-0 start. But he and the Buckeyes face a tough test against MSU’s stingy defense, ranked best in the Big Ten. MSU shut down OSU 10-7 last year, registering nine sacks in that win in Columbus. That was MSU coach Mark Dantonio’s first win in five tries against OSU, where he was the DC for the Buckeyes’ 2002 national championship team. This is Urban Meyer’s Big Ten debut and you know he wants to make a good first impression. Both teams struggled with winless teams last week (OSU vs. UAB before winning 29-15 and MSU vs. Eastern Michigan before winning 23-7). OSU had won seven in a row in the series before last year’s loss. ESPN’s College Game Day will be on hand. Can the Buckeyes contain MSU RB Le’Veon Bell, who already has two 200-yard rushing games this year? Hmmm. Ohio State 23-20 in a good old good one.

* Tennessee at Georgia (-13 ½), 3:30 p.m. (CBS) – Tennessee’s return to respectability was short-circuited by its Week 3 loss at home to Florida (37-20). Now the Vols will go down to Athens. Georgia has won two straight over UT (including 20-12 last year in Knoxville) and eight of the last 12. This game pits the top two offenses in the SEC. Georgia 30-19

* Clemson (-9 ½) at Boston College, 3:30 p.m. (ESPN2) – Clemson led Florida State for almost three quarters last week before falling apart in a 49-37 loss to the ‘Noles. The Tigers will try and regroup at BC, which is 1-2 with losses to Miami (Fla.) (41-32) and at Northwestern (22-13). Clemson RB Andre Ellington rushed for 117 yards and a touchdown in a 36-14 win over the Eagles last season. Clemson 29-13

* Cincinnati vs. Virginia Tech (-6 ½), at Landover, Md., 3:30 p.m. (ESPNU) – Virginia Tech rebounded from its upset loss at Pittsburgh (35-17) by defeating Bowling Green 37-0 last week. Cincinnati cruised past Pitt 34-10 in its opener. Tech has won the teams’ last two meetings in 2006 (29-13) and the 2008 Orange Bowl (20-7). Maybe I’m crazy, but I will take UC QB Munchie Legaux for the win. Cincinnati 27-23

* Arizona State at California (-2), 4 p.m. (FX) – ASU has been up and down, blasting Illinois 45-14, losing at Missouri 24-20 and crushing Utah 37-7 in its Pac-12 opener. Cal is battle-tested after losses to a pair of top-15 teams in Ohio State (35-28) and USC (27-9). A loss at home to ASU would make Cal 1-4 and would also make the seat under Jeff Tedford real hot. ASU has lost its last five trips to Berkeley. Cal won 47-38 at home last year. Should be a good one. Arizona State 41-35

* Florida State (-17) at South Florida, 6 p.m. (ESPN) – FSU got its first real test of the season last week and nearly failed it. The Seminoles woke up in the middle of the third quarter down 28-14 before exploding on Clemson for the win. QB E.J. Manuel threw for 380 yards and two TDs in that win. USF stumbles in at 2-2 after losses to Rutgers and Ball State. USF won the teams’ only previous meeting, pulling off a 17-7 upset in Tallahassee in 2009. Florida State simply has too much here. QB B.J. Daniels will need to play real well for the Bulls. Florida State 41-20

* Texas Tech (-2 ½) at Iowa State, 7 p.m. (Fox College Sports) – These 3-0 teams will do battle in Ames. Texas Tech has won seven of the last 10 in this rivalry, but Iowa State has won the last two (including a 41-7 shiner at Lubbock last year). Iowa State may have the most impressive win with its 9-6 “triumph” at Iowa. Flip a coin and it says … Iowa State 25-24

* South Carolina (-21) at Kentucky, 7 p.m. (ESPN2) – Not much has gone right for Kentucky, which comes in at 1-3 after a 38-0 whitewashing at Florida. South Carolina is 4-0 and ranked sixth nationally, boasting SEC wins over Vanderbilt (17-13) and Missouri (31-10). South Carolina outgained UK 639-96 in a 51-3 rout last year in Columbia. South Carolina 41-14

* TCU (-16 ½) at SMU, 7 p.m. (Fox Sports Net) – The teams play for the Iron Skillet. Last year, SMU pulled off a 40-33 overtime win at TCU. But, while TCU sits at 3-0, SMU has already suffered blowout losses to Baylor (59-24) and Texas A&M (48-3). TCU 31-10

* Texas (-3) at Oklahoma State, 7:30 p.m. (FOX) – It is getting to be nut crunching time in the Big 12. Oklahoma suffered its first loss last week. Texas comes in at 3-0, but Oklahoma State – its loss at Arizona notwithstanding – has the firepower to pull out the win, especially at home. Texas is 22-4 all-time against Oklahoma State, but the Cowboys have taken the Longhorns down two years in a row in Austin (33-16 in 2010 and 38-26 last year). Texas has won its last six trips to Stillwater, dating to a loss in 1997. I’m going to invoke the “Texas is just the better team principle” … I guess. Texas 33-27

* Wisconsin at Nebraska (-11 ½), 8 p.m. (ABC) – Wisconsin has yet to play a complete game and RB Montee Ball is banged up. Nebraska bounced back from its loss at UCLA with nice wins over Arkansas State and I-AA Idaho State. Plus, Nebraska will be itching for revenge after Wisconsin’s 48-17 rout of the Huskers in NU’s first-ever Big Ten game last year in Madison. Nebraska has RB Rex Burkhead back, RB Ameer Abdullah has emerged and QB Taylor Martinez is on point as well. Joel Stave, a redshirt freshman, will make his first road start at quarterback for the Badgers. The all-time series here is tied at 3-3. Nebraska 41-23

* Mississippi at Alabama (-31 ½), 9:15 p.m. (ESPN) – Top-ranked Alabama is impressing the experts with its attention to detail, something that has been lacking from most recent defending national championship teams. Translation: The Crimson Tide are playing lights out and are an odds-on favorite to repeat as champions this year. Ole Miss comes in to Tuscaloosa at 3-1, the lone blemish a home loss to Texas (66-31). Alabama’s only home loss to Mississippi was in 1988. Alabama has won eight straight in the rivalry, including 52-7 last year at Oxford. Alabama 45-10

* Oregon State at Arizona (-2 ½), 10 p.m. (Pac-12 Networks) – Oregon State boasts a pair of nice wins (Wisconsin and UCLA), but will travel down to Arizona. The Wildcats are still smoldering from their 49-0 loss at Oregon. The Beavers are a distant 113th in scoring (18.5 ppg) despite their 2-0 start. Arizona 27-19

* Oregon (-29) vs. Washington State, at Seattle, 10:30 p.m. (ESPN2) – Chip Kelly vs. Mike Leach. I imagine there will be some innovation going on here. Oregon looks like a well-oiled machine, though, right now. They have outscored their opponents 211-73 so far. Oregon 49-17

And in case you missed it, our Big Ten Blast with notes on each team:

Big Ten Blast: Revenge For Huskers?

Quickie Bowl Projections

We will try and update these each week. Here goes absolutely nothing:

* BCS National Title Game – Alabama vs. Oregon (they seem to be the top two right now)

* Rose Bowl – Stanford vs. Michigan State (MSU can afford a loss and still make it; Stanford would edge out USC on the head-to-head win to replace Oregon)

* Sugar Bowl – LSU vs. Texas (this would be a tailor-made double play ball sellout for the Sugar)

* Orange Bowl – Florida State vs. Louisville (Cardinals seem to be the class of the Big East; FSU rolling in ACC)

* Fiesta Bowl – West Virginia vs. Notre Dame (WVU leads way in Big 12 for now; Notre Dame on collision course with BCS bid, it seems)

* Capital One Bowl – Georgia vs. Nebraska

* Outback Bowl – South Carolina vs. Michigan

* Cotton Bowl – Florida vs. Kansas State

Enjoy this big weekend of college football and best of luck to your team!

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