After five weeks, the big picture in college football is slightly becoming more clear. Possible title contenders are falling out of the ranks of the unbeatens, and ever-confident BCS busters continue to chug along with the hopes of garnering some national respect.
Whatever happens, there should be some close finishes in the upcoming week. A couple of top-5 teams will be tested in key conference games, and ten other ranked teams will be playing on the road. Without further, here are my previews and predictions for Week 6.
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#25 Maryland (4-0) @ #8 Florida State (4-0, 2-0 ACC), 12:00 P.M. (ESPN/WatchESPN) Maryland has never won a game at Doak Campbell, but they will have to here to keep their Atlantic Division hopes alive. Coming off a bye week, the ranked Terrapins, led by quarterback C.J. Brown, can pull off the upset by starting fast on offense and shutting down FSU QB Jameis Winston. But if Winston gets going early against the untested Terps defense, the Seminoles will again send Maryland packing with a loss. Florida State 31, Maryland 23
Illinois (3-1) @ Nebraska (3-1), 12:00 P.M. (ESPNU/WatchESPN) Four games into the year and the Cornhuskers have not been able to stop anybody on defense, the Jackrabbits of South Dakota State included. That will have to change this week as Big Ten play opens up against Illinois, but the Illini have had troubles on that side of the ball as well. Expect this one to be a high-scoring affair, but Ameer Abdullah and Nebraska getting the slight edge at home. Nebraska 41, Illinois 34
Michigan State (3-1) @ Iowa (4-1, 1-0 Big Ten), 12:00 P.M. (ESPN2/WatchESPN) A big conference game for both teams, the Spartans and Hawkeyes have impressed so far in 2013. As long as MSU can find some consistent play at quarterback, their offense should be enough to take the win. For Iowa, receiver and punt-returner Kevonte Martin-Manley has been one of the bigger playmakers in the nation, and could change this game. In the end, look for Michigan State’s defense to be the difference maker. Michigan State 23, Iowa 17
North Carolina (1-3, 0-1 ACC)) @ Virginia Tech (4-1, 1-0 ACC), 12:30 P.M. (GamePlan/WatchESPN) Boasting what many think in the country, the Virginia Tech defense has rallied this team to a 4-1 record after the opening loss to Alabama. Meanwhile, the Tarheels have some serious problems on that side of the ball, after giving up 55 to East Carolina last week. QB Logan Thomas and the Hokies should have a pretty consistent day on offense versus UNC, and look for their defense to seal this one. Virginia Tech 27, North Carolina 13
Minnesota (4-1, 0-1 Big Ten) @ #19 Michigan (4-0), 3:30 P.M. (ABC/ESPN2) Under new starting quarterback Mitch Leidner, Minnesota could surprise many in this game. If Leidner plays a great game, then they could pull off the upset depending on the play of the Wolverines’ defense. Although if Michigan gets off to a fast start, look for them to cruise along at home to their conference win of the year. Michigan 35, Minnesota 20
Georgia Tech (3-1, 2-1 ACC) @ #14 Miami (4-0), 3:30 P.M. (ESPNU/WatchESPN) The Jackets will need a win in this one to keep up in the Coastal Division race, while the Canes enter the week undefeated and with high hopes in the conference. If Miami’s defense can shut down the triple option much like Virginia Tech did last week, then they win this handily. QB Stephen Morris will probably play this week, but look for the running game with Duke Johnson to be a big factor for Miami this week. Miami 34, Georgia Tech 24
#24 Ole Miss (3-1, 1-1 SEC) @ Auburn (3-1, 1-1 SEC), 7:00 P.M. (ESPNU/WatchESPN) The Rebels were shut down by Alabama last week, but get a better matchup this week at Auburn. The Tigers are dangerous behind Nick Marshall and Tre Mason, and will be hungry to stay in the SEC race. However, expect Jeff Scott and Ole Miss to be firing on all cylinders after a horrid performance last week, winning a close win over Auburn. Ole Miss 27, Auburn 24
#22 Arizona State (3-1, 1-1 Pac-12) vs Notre Dame (3-2), 7:30 P.M. (NBC) (Game Played in Arlington, TX) Thanks to an inconsistent offense, the Fighting Irish have not had the same success as they did in 2012. Tommy Rees will have to play much better against the Sun Devils to have a chance, but the ASU rush game also might be enough to take Notre Dame out of the contest. Look for ND to play better than last week, but suffer loss number three to Arizona State. Arizona State 28, Notre Dame 23
#4 Ohio State (5-0, 1-0 Big 10) @ #16 Northwestern (4-0), 8:00 P.M. (ABC) Braxton Miller played very well in his first game back versus Wisconsin last week, and will again this week. Although Northwestern, with an appearance from College Gameday, get HB Venric Mark back this week and are explosive on offense as well. This game could come down to defense, in which the Buckeyes have the advantage. Look for Corso to put on the Buckeyes’ headgear early Saturday, and for Ohio State to improve to 6-0. Ohio State 34, Northwestern 23
#15 Washington (4-0, 1-0 Pac-12) @ #5 Stanford (4-0, 2-0 Pac-12), 10:30 P.M. (ESPN/WatchESPN) In a matchup between Pac-12 unbeatens, Washington travels to Stanford for a tough matchup versus the Cardinal. Tailback Bishop Sankey gives the Huskies a chance to win this game, but Stanford’s Kevin Hogan-led passing game is starting to catch fire. Don’t overlook Washington, but expect the home team to take a victory and remain in the top five. Stanford 37, Washington 30