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College Football Week 5 Picks

Max Meyer |
September 27, 2013 | 2:11 p.m. PDT

Senior Sports Editor


Can USC upset Arizona State on the road?
Can USC upset Arizona State on the road?
We are a third of the way through this year's college football season, and the conference rivalry games are starting to take place. Here are our experts picks on the best games for this week.

USC at Arizona State

Max Meyer (@TheMaxMeyer): USC 21, Arizona State 20

At first, I thought Arizona State was a no-brainer. However, the Sun Devils can't run the ball or stop the run. That bodes well for USC, because the only way they can have an effective offense is if they are led by Tre Madden and Justin Davis. Additionally, Taylor Kelly did not perform well in last year's game against USC, and I don't trust him enough to lead a one-dimensional offense over the Trojans. 

Darian Nourian (@dariannourian24): Arizona State 17, USC 10

In a crucial Pac-12 South game, Arizona State will be able to grab this one behind their home crowd. Neither USC's offense nor their highly-ranked defense has experienced a hostile environment this season, and the ASU fans should be tough for the players to handle. Also, the fact that the offensive line is struggling doesn't pose well for going against All-American Will Sutton and the Sun Devil defensive line.

Marc Sallinger (@marcsallinger): USC 28, Arizona State 14

Coming off two straight wins, the Trojans roll in to Tempe looking to secure their first conference win of the season. The hot seat that Lane Kiffin has been sitting on since last season seems to be cooling off slightly, but with a win this weekend, Kiffin can breathe a sigh of relief going into the USC bye week. The Trojan defense has by far been the most consistent and dominant part of the team, allowing an average of just 230 total yards a game. If the defense can hold its ground and the offense can put some points on the board, SC will walk out of Tempe with a 4-1 record.

Gabe Quintela (@gabequintela11): Arizona State 21, USC 17

I hate to pick against USC, but with the offense that has been displayed this season, it's hard to be optimistic against legitimate competition. ASU is a good team, they beat Wisconsin and played a decent second half against Stanford. Quarterback Taylor Kelly is a talent and if ASU's offensive line can hold the USC pass rush, he should be able to perform well. 

Mike Piellucci (@mikelikessports): Arizona State 27, USC 21

Let me be clear: I think USC is entirely capable of beating Arizona State. Frankly, Stanford is the only team on the schedule that I doubt USC could beat. But the way USC has played so far this season won't be enough to beat this ASU team at night in Sun Devil Stadium. I've come up on the wrong side of most of my 50-50 calls this season, and this game falls into that category for me. Here's hoping I'm wrong again.

Andrew Tweedy (@nyy_baseball): Arizona State 17, USC 10

The main concern in this game is the state of USC QB Cody Kessler's throwing hand after he got injured in last week's game against Utah State.  In a huge game for both teams, after USC barely scraped out a win against last week and ASU was mercilessly dismantled by national powerhouse Stanford, I think ASU pulls out the win with an inconsistent offensive performance by the Trojans.

#23 Wisconsin at #4 Ohio State

Max: Ohio State 31, Wisconsin 21

Braxton Miller is back, and Ohio State's offense will simply be too explosive for Wisconsin to handle. Wisconsin's rushing attack, led by Melvin Gordon, will be tough for the Buckeyes to stop, but overall the Buckeyes and their home-field advantage will be too much for the Badgers to handle. 

Darian: Ohio State 35, Wisconsin 21

Regardless of who starts at quarterback for the Buckeyes (Braxton Miller or Kenny Guiton), they will still be able to put up points with their explosive offense that currently ranks fourth in the nation, averaging 52.5 points per game. They have also been getting big leads early and not letting them up, like last Saturday's 76-0 win over Florida A&M. 

Marc: Ohio State 21, Wisconsin 17

The Big Ten title could be on the line in Columbus this weekend, as the winner between Wisconsin and Ohio State will jump out to a one-game lead in the loss column and will own the tiebreaker spot. Coming off a 76-point rout of Florida A&M, the Buckeyes look to keep up the momentum against a Badger team whose only loss has come at the hands of questionable officials' decisions against Arizona State. Braxton Miller should be back for the Buckeyes as well, looking to reaffirm his starting position after being injured the past two weeks. When all is said and done, the Ohio State Buckeyes will remain undefeated and the Big Ten title will be their's to lose. 

Gabe: Wisconsin 38, Ohio State 31

Wisconsin will be Ohio State's first real test this season. For that reason, I think Wisconsin has the advantage, especially running the football against Ohio State's young and inexperienced front seven. The Badgers have averaged 349 rushing yards per game this season, and running back Melvin Gordon has rushed for more than 140 yards in every game this year. 

Mike: Ohio State 31, Wisconsin 17

Urban Meyer has said that Braxton Miller is in line to start, and that's all I need to hear to pick the Buckeyes. Too much speed and too loud a home crowd for OSU, and far too little from Joel Stave to make me believe the Badgers can pull off this kind of upset. 

Andrew: Ohio State 24, Wisconsin 21

This game should be very interesting, since a Wisconsin upset over Ohio State is definitely possible. However, I think Braxton Miller's return from injury should give Buckeyes an offensive jolt.  Wisconsin star RB Melvin Gordon could make this one close with a pair of TD runs, but in the end I think Ohio State holds on for the win at home.

#6 LSU at #9 Georgia

Max: Georgia 27, LSU 21

The tiebreaker in a battle between two outstanding SEC teams is homefield advantage, which Georgia has. The quarterback battle between Aaron Murray and Zach Mettenberger will be fascinating, but Georgia running back Todd Gurley is the best player on either offense. Georgia will hand LSU their first loss of the season. 

Darian: Georgia 28, LSU 24

The Bulldogs win this close SEC matchup because Aaron Murrary will be able to outlast LSU quarterback Zach Mettenberger. Mettenberger will be feeling the pressure of his first SEC road start of the season in a hostile environment like the Georgia Dome. The Bulldogs also can't lose because then they would have two losses this early in the season, a death sentence for the BCS hopes of any SEC team. 

Marc: Georgia 24, LSU 21

The rematch of the 2011 SEC title game is by far the game of the week. LSU quarterback Zach Mettenberger will look to dominate his old team, coming back to play in between the hedges in Athens, Georgia for the first time since being kicked off the Bulldogs team in 2010. On the other side of the ball, LSU’s defense must have a big game in order to contain an explosive Todd Gurley and the rest of the Georgia running game. Georgia quarterback Aaron Murray will look to continue his quest for a Heisman on the biggest stage he will have played on so far this season. Georgia comes away with the close win at home. 

Gabe: LSU 42, Georgia 35

LSU's Zach Mettenberger and Georgia's Aaron Murray competed for the starting job at Georgia in 2009, Murray won that spot. Now Mettenberger returns to Georgia having thrown 1026 yards and 10 touchdowns already this season. LSU came out of nowhere for a lot of people this year, and Mettenberger has a little extra motivation to keep that hot streak going. 

Mike: LSU 24, Georgia 20

It's year five of Zach Mettenberger's college career and the jury's still out on what, exactly, he is. So, for once, it really may be justified to say that this is the most important game of his career as he squares off with his old team and fellow classmate Aaron Murray. LSU probably has more talent than Georgia, and certainly owns a stouter defense. If Mettenberger continues his strong play, LSU not only wins, but is on the short list of legitimate national title contenders.

Andrew: Georgia 35, LSU 31

In a huge SEC matchup, these two top-ten teams should produce one of the best games of the season.  Zach Mettenberger's return to Georgia makes for a very interesting storyline, but if Georgia's defense can make a couple late stops, Bulldogs QB Aaron Murray should be able to seal the win.

#14 Oklahoma at #22 Notre Dame

Max: Oklahoma 28, Notre Dame 17

I'm just not a believer in the Fighting Irish this year, even if they are playing at home. The Sooners offense led by exciting quarterback Blake Bell will cause a lot of problems for the Notre Dame defense. 

Darian: Oklahoma 34, Notre Dame 17

The Sooners are a two-dimensional team averaging over 200 yards on the ground and in the air. Although the Fighting Irish are coming off a 17-13 win over Michigan State, Notre Dames loses because Tommy Rees won't be able to get much going against an Oklahoma defense that features All-Big-12 cornerback Aaron Colvin.

Marc: Oklahoma 28, Notre Dame 14

The Oklahoma Sooners are off to their first 3-0 start since 2011 and are coming off a bye week to prepare for this Notre Dame matchup. However, Notre Dame is riding a great deal of momentum after beating Michigan State in a close 17-13 battle. Earlier in the season, dual-threat Michigan quarterback Devin Gardner tore the Notre Dame defense apart by putting up 376 yards of total offense. This week, Oklahoma QB Blake Bell will look to put his quick feet to use and move the ball against a defense that has struggled against mobile quarterbacks. Oklahoma leaves South Bend with one more win under their belt. 

Gabe: Oklahoma 24, Notre Dame 21

Oklahoma, coming off a bye week, has had a good opportunity to prepare for this Fighting Irish team. The Sooners just have more playmakers on offense and should be able to put enough points on the board for their defense to carry them in this game. Oklahoma is getting penetration from their defensive line and they are leading the Big 12 in total defense at the moment. Look for them to get the win this weekend. 

Mike: Notre Dame 17, Oklahoma 14

We know Notre Dame has a nasty front seven with just enough skill on offense to be an 8- or 9-win team. This OU team, though, is all question marks and head scratchers, flush with their typical talent but having proven nothing so far after a ton of defections on the defensive side of the ball. How Blake Bell plays could determine whether the starting quarterback spot is finally settled, or if the door creaks back open for redshirt freshman Trevor Knight. With so many variables in play, I'll play it safe and take the Irish.    

Andrew: Oklahoma 24, Notre Dame 17

In the Sooners first real test of the season, they look to go into South Bend and grind out a tough win. The Irish have struggled thus far in the season, but have faced some quality teams in Michigan and Michigan State.  Oklahoma QB Blake Bell will slingshot his strong performance against Tulsa last week and put up three touchdowns to sink the Irish.

Arizona at #16 Washington

Max: Washington 35, Arizona 17

Here's a secret: Arizona's offense isn't nearly as good as it was last year. Washington running back Bishop Sankey will continue his blazing start to the season, as the Huskies prove why they have to be considered one of the top teams in the Pac-12 this season. 

Darian: Washington 42, Arizona 28

I'm taking the home teams in these big in-conference match-ups because fans understand, just as much as players, how important these games are. Washington also wins this game because the Arizona defense will be unable to stop quarterback Keith Price, running back Bishop Sankey and the Huskies' offensive attack.

Marc: Washington 35, Arizona 17

The battle of undefeated Pac-12 teams rolls into Washington as both teams look to keep their untarnished record alive. Keith Price is playing better than ever, completing 77 percent of his passes so far this season. Also, Huskies running back Bishop Sankey is averaging 148.7 yards per game, a number Arizona will have to keep in check if they want to have any chance at a win. Once this game is over, Washington will be rolling with a 4-0 record. 

Gabe: Washington 35, Arizona 21

It's hard to see Arizona beating a very solid defensive team in Washington, especially on their home field. The Huskies have only given up 30 points this season (Illinois scored 24 of them) and Arizona doesn't pose a very versatile attack, as quarterback B.J. Denker has only thrown for 326 yards in three games. 

Mike: Washington 37, Arizona 23

2012's breakout rusher meets 2013's as Ka'Deem Carey squares off with the wonderfully named Bishop Sankey. That's the storyline, anyway. The truth is that the Huskies do plenty of damage in the passing game, too, with Keith Price, Kasen Williams and Austin Sefarian-Jenkins. They also have more talent across the board and their din of a home crowd behind them. The buildup will have much more tension than the actual game.

Andrew: Washington 31, Arizona 24

Washington has looked strong thus far on offense, but will face a good challenge in an Arizona defense which has been much improved this season.  While Arizona QB B.J. Denker should be able to put up some good numbers against the Washington D, the raucous home stadium will prove to be too unnerving for the Wildcats to pull off a comeback win this week.


1. Max 12-3 

2. Gabe 10-5 

3. Andrew 9-6

4. Darian 8-7 

4. Marc 8-7

4. Mike 8-7 



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