By Brad Carroll
There is a trio of notable games to get us started early with the Week 5 college football schedule, including a huge clash in the Pac-12 Friday night. On Thursday, Texas takes on a surprisingly good Iowa State team, and then on Friday, No. 14 Miami plays at Duke and No. 5 USC travels to play No. 16 Washington State, highlighted of course by quarterback Sam Darnold being in action.
As always, our four college football experts have you covered with previews, breakdowns and picks against the point spread for those three games below. Make sure to check back for our Saturday previews and picks and don’t forget to follow us on Twitter for all of our latest analysis and predictions.
Texas at Iowa State, 8, ESPN
The Spread: Texas -6.5
Brad’s Breakdown: Iowa State is probably better than you imagine, as the Cyclones are 2-1 on the season, with the lone defeat coming against rival Iowa in overtime. That loss looks even better now considering the Hawkeyes were one play away from knocking off Penn State last week. In the two wins, Iowa State rolled over Akron and Northern Illinois. The Cyclones average 41.3 points per game and put together 460 yards of total offense a game as well. Their defense is porous, however, as they allow 402 yards and just under four touchdowns a game. Texas is 1-2 with losses coming against Maryland and at USC, the latter of which went to overtime two weeks ago. The Longhorns got their lone win over San Jose State. Texas has to win this game, and it will, but Iowa State is going to make the Longhorns work for it.
Brad’s Final: Texas 35, Iowa State 31 (Iowa State)
Craig’s Final: Iowa State 24, Texas 20 (Iowa State)
Glenn’s Final: Texas 31, Iowa State 13 (Texas)
Matt’s Final: Texas 42, Iowa State 20 (Texas)
No. 14 Miami at Duke, 7, ESPN
The Spread: Miami -7.5
Brad’s Breakdown: The last time these two teams played at Duke, the Hurricanes won 30-27 after a 91-yard kick return for a touchdown that featured eight laterals and left no time on the clock. This matchup likely won’t have the same finish, but could be an exciting game nonetheless. Both teams are undefeated, with Miami at 2-0 and Duke 4-0. Miami has scored 93 points in its two wins, averaging 571 yards of total offense along the way. Duke’s last three wins have come against Northwestern, Baylor and North Carolina, averaging 40.5 points and 470 yards on offense overall. Both defenses have been solid as well, but this game could see a lot of points scored. Look for Miami to sneak out of Duke with another close victory.
Brad’s Final: Miami 38, Duke 31 (Duke)
Craig’s Final: Miami 31, Duke 21 (Miami)
Glenn’s Final: Miami 35, Duke 21 (Miami)
Matt's Final: Miami 35, Duke 24 (Miami)
No. 5 USC at No. 16 Washington State, 10:30, ESPN
The Spread: USC -4
Brad’s Breakdown: This is a huge matchup in the Pac-12 and will go a long way in determining just how good the Trojans are this season. We all know how good quarterback Sam Darnold is, but the team around him needs to step up their overall game for USC to truly be considered a national championship contender. USC is 4-0 but played two straight close games, against Texas, which went to overtime, and California, not exactly juggernauts. The offense hasn’t been that explosive either, as the Trojans average 37 points and 492 yards on offense. The defense is allowing 24.8 points and 370.3 yards per game, which is not what you want to see from a title contender. Washington State is explosive as ever in starting 4-0, which included a miracle-like comeback over Boise State in Week 2, where the Cougars ultimately won in triple overtime. Washington State, which should have a huge home field advantage, is averaging 43.8 points and 504.3 yards on offense. The defense, surprisingly enough, has been solid, allowing 18.5 points and just 262.3 yards per game on that side of the ball. This will also be a battle of great quarterbacks, as Darnold is on one side, while Luke Falk is on the other. This should be a great game late night Friday, but I don’t see USC dropping out of the playoff race just yet.
Brad’s Final: USC 42, Washington State 35 (USC)
Craig’s Final: USC 35, Washington State 28 (USC)
Glenn’s Final: USC 45, Washington State 20 (USC)
Matt’s Final: USC 45, Washington State 42 (Washington State)