September is sliding into October, and the college football slate is rolling into conference play with a juicy lineup of games for the weekend.
Here is The College Five.
(10) Utah Utes vs. USC Trojans - Utah Favored by four
Utah has started to pull out a 201-2012 Stanford impression, leaning heavily on defense and running the ball. The Utes allow just 9.7 points per game and are 8th in the country in yards allowed. A heavy dose of tailback Zach Moss keeps Utah in control of the ball.
USC is the opposite in every way. The Trojans’ defense is 80th in yards per game allowed and 41st in points allowed. The offense is driven almost exclusively by the passing attack, which collects 310 yards per game.
Utah is going to control this California game, choking out an offense that is deplorably out of balance and running the ball down the throat a lackluster defense.
Taking: Utah minus 4
(16) Oregon Ducks vs. Stanford Cardinal - Oregon favored by 10
Both of these teams desperately need this to be a great game.
Oregon is losing statement wins, as teams like Washington and Sanford are out or slipping out of the top 25, and a loss to Auburn dropped Oregon outside the top 15. Stanford showing signs of life could give some credit to a road win.
The Cardinal also need this to be a great game, after both USC and UCF beat them like a drum. Even a close loss could give a shocked fanbase some reasons to believe in this squad again.
Unfortunately, Stanford stinks. Oregon’s defense only allows 12 points per game, and the Cardinal manages just 21.3 points per game. The 44.3 the Ducks the average will be enough to disappoint both sides.
Taking: Oregon minus 10
(11) Michigan Wolverines vs. (13) Wisconsin Badgers - Wisconsin favored by 3.5
The Badgers are the better team by every stat. Look them up! Points scored, points allowed, yards on the ground and through the air, yards allowed turnover differential, all in favor of the Badgers, and by a pretty hefty margin.
Not only is Wisconsin collectively better, but the Badgers also have most of the best players. Jonathan Tayler is one of the top 10 best players in college football. Quarterback Jack Coan is proving to be a careful leader, completing 76 percent of his passes with a 5-0 touchdown to interception ratio. Linebacker Zack Baun is already responsible for two sacks and a forced fumble.
Michigan has stumbled through two games, slowly pushing past Middle Tennessee and narrowly avoiding disaster against Army.
Taking: Wisconsin minus 3.5
(8) Auburn Tigers vs. (17) Texas A&M Aggies - Texas favored by 3.5
The battle between rising young buck Bo Nix and developed vet Kellen Mond is going to be a close one. Both sides average over 30 points per game and run pass-first offenses. And while Texas A&M has more balance on offense, the Tigers have proven the ability to pull out big stops, drives and play when it matters on the road. In the end, it will come down to who can toss a perfect final five minutes. The Tigers already did just that to move past the Ducks.
Taking: Auburn plus 3.5
(7) Notre Dame Fighting Irish vs. (3) Georgia Bulldogs - Georgia favored by 14.5
Ian Book has to crush D’Andre Swift if the Irish want to win this game, it’s just that simple. The Georgia defense allows twice as many passing yards to rushing yards. The Irish allow an alarming 230.5 rushing yards. Both sides allow under 20 points per game.
For both sides, this is going to be the first real test of the season, and fortunately for Georgia, they are at home. But Book and Notre Dame are too good to slip into that sweet night. Book tossed for over 1,200 yards on the road, along with season bests in touchdowns and yards per attempt in 2018.
Expect a shootout.
Taking: Notre Dame plus 14.5