By Brad Carroll
While the afternoon slate of the Week 5 college football schedule may have been a little light on big-time matchups, the night portion Saturday night is chock full of exciting games with College Football Playoff implications right down the line. There are two matchups featuring ranked teams playing each other, Mississippi State at Auburn and Clemson at Virginia Tech, plus No. 1 Alabama is in action against Ole Miss.
As always, our four college football experts have you covered with previews, breakdowns and picks against the point spread. You can check out our Thursday and Friday game previews and picks here and our early Saturday previews and picks here.
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No. 24 Mississippi State at No. 13 Auburn, 6, ESPN
The Spread: Auburn -9.5
Matt’s Breakdown: This is a typical game between SEC teams who aren’t great, but are certainly better than most teams in the country. Mississippi State got destroyed by Georgia just days after crushing LSU in a game which feels more like an outlier than a true depiction of the Bulldogs’ skill. Everyone’s talking about how much better Auburn’s offense looked last week, but that could be a product of playing Missouri instead of Clemson. If I had a choice I’d avoid this game, but Auburn looks like the pick here.
Brad’s Final: Auburn 28, Mississippi State 21 (Mississippi State)
Craig’s Final: Auburn 31, Mississippi State 21 (Auburn)
Glenn’s Final: Auburn 21, Mississippi State 17 (Mississippi State)
Matt’s Final: Auburn 35, Mississippi State 20 (Auburn)
No. 2 Clemson at No. 12 Virginia Tech, 8, ABC
The Spread: Clemson -7
Matt’s Breakdown: Clemson showed something last week which should terrify the rest of the country – the ability to find another gear when it needed to. The Tigers will need to be better from the start against the team it beat in last year’s ACC title game, and a game which might be the last thing keeping Clemson from another appearance in the College Football Playoff. But first, Kelly Bryant has to prove he’s for real against a strong Hokies defense which passed its only test of the year by holding West Virginia to 24 points. It’s a step up in class for Virginia Tech, which it likely won’t be able to handle.
Brad’s Final: Clemson 27, Virginia Tech 24 (Virginia Tech)
Craig’s Final: Clemson 34, Virginia Tech 24 (Clemson)
Glenn’s Final: Clemson 35, Virginia Tech 21 (Clemson)
Matt’s Final: Clemson 30, Virginia Tech 21 (Clemson)
No. 15 Oklahoma State at Texas Tech, 8, FOX
The Spread: Oklahoma State -10
Matt’s Breakdown: The Cowboys had become the darlings of at least one of our picks each week and had thrown themselves into the Big 12 title discussion before laying an egg against TCU last week. Mason Rudolph might still be the best quarterback of this vaunted class, but he took a giant step back against TCU, with his worst game of the season at the worst time. Playing Texas Tech is the best way to get back on track, however, as the Red Raiders want the game to become a shootout. If it does, look for Rudolph to have enough to get the Cowboys a win on the road.
Brad’s Final: Oklahoma State 42, Texas Tech 28 (Oklahoma State)
Craig’s Final: Oklahoma State 49, Texas Tech 34 (Oklahoma State)
Glenn’s Final: Oklahoma State 58, Texas Tech 55 (Texas Tech)
Matt’s Final: Oklahoma State 45, Texas Tech 31 (Oklahoma State)
Ole Miss at No. 1 Alabama, 9, ESPN
The Spread: Alabama -28
Matt’s Breakdown: Alabama is probably the best team in the country, but its games are often the hardest to pick because of the huge lines they are stuck with each time. Will they score enough early to get a big enough lead to beat the spread? Will they call off the dogs late with the spread hanging in the balance? Will they simply lose interest? Those are the only questions which matter in this game, which will be one-sided. Ole Miss has enough of a passing game to make this interesting late, and the Rebels could very well sneak in the back door here. I don’t think they will, but this one might require watching until the final whistle.
Brad’s Final: Alabama 56, Ole Miss 10 (Alabama)
Craig’s Final: Alabama 30, Ole Miss 7 (Ole Miss)
Glenn’s Final: Alabama 42, Ole Miss 13 (Alabama)
Matt’s Final: Alabama 42, Ole Miss 17 (Ole Miss)
California at Oregon, 10:30, FS1
The Spread: Oregon -13.5
Matt’s Breakdown: The computers love Oregon in this game, but they seem too bullish on the Ducks. Cal gave USC more of a fight than anyone thought the Bears would last week, and has a couple of notable, if not impressive, wins on its resume. Oregon scores a lot of points, but the 77 they put on Southern Utah skew their numbers considerably. Oregon barely held off a terrible Nebraska team and lost last week to Arizona State, which won’t be mistaken for a title contender anytime soon. Oregon might show itself to be better than they’ve looked, but there are too many signs here to think they’ll win by three sores.
Brad’s Final: Oregon 38, California 35 (California)
Craig’s Final: Oregon 42, California 30 (California)
Glenn’s Final: Oregon 45, California 24 (Oregon)
Matt’s Final: Oregon 40, California 31 (California)