By Brad Carroll and Matt Straub
There isn’t a barnburner matchup during the early slate of Week 5 college football games on Saturday, but that doesn’t mean the possibility for some excitement doesn’t exist. Two College Football Playoff contenders will be in action, one at home and one on the road, in conference games, while Florida State, Florida, Michigan State and Iowa will all look to get back into the national spotlight, with some just hoping for a win.
Our four college football experts have you covered as always, with previews, breakdowns and picks against the point spread for the biggest games of the early Saturday schedule. Check out our Thursday and Friday previews and picks here and our Saturday night game previews and picks here.
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Northwestern at No. 10 Wisconsin, 12, ABC
The Spread: Wisconsin -14.5
Matt’s Breakdown: For all the talk about Mr. Barkley at Penn State, it’s actually Wisconsin freshman Jonathan Taylor who leads the Big 10 in rushing. This one is going to be a battle between “traditional” Big 10 teams who don’t like to pass too much, which plays into Wisconsin’s hands. As long as the Badgers don’t have to play catch up, they can build on their 275 yards gained on the ground per game in this one. And they won’t have to play catch up. Wisconsin runs through Northwestern on the way to 4-0.
Brad’s Final: Wisconsin 42, Northwestern 23 (Wisconsin)
Craig’s Final: Wisconsin 34, Northwestern 17 (Wisconsin)
Glenn’s Final: Wisconsin 28, Northwestern 21 (Northwestern)
Matt’s Final: Wisconsin 35, Northwestern 17 (Wisconsin)
Vanderbilt at No. 21 Florida, 12, ESPN
The Spread: Florida -10
Matt’s Breakdown: The program which gave college football Steve Spurrier now can’t find a quarterback anywhere. This week the Gators are going to try Luke Del Rio, who was average at best when he played a year ago. Florida looked putrid again last week against Kentucky, blowing through all the goodwill it had gained by pulling off a miracle against Tennessee. The good news in Gainesville? Vandy got exposed last week by Alabama. Avert your eyes if this game hits your television.
Brad’s Final: Florida 28, Vanderbilt 21 (Vanderbilt)
Craig’s Final: Florida 27, Vanderbilt 14 (Florida)
Glenn’s Final: Florida 23, Vanderbilt 10 (Florida)
Matt’s Final: Florida 24, Vanderbilt 13 (Florida)
No. 7 Georgia at Tennessee, 3:30, CBS
The Spread: Georgia -8
Matt’s Breakdown: While teams like Alabama and Oklahoma get all the hype, the Bulldogs might be the best team no one is talking about. Georgia has looked dominant on its best day and good on its worst one, while Tennessee looked like a team which had quit on its season before barely fighting off UMass last week. Jake Fromm has been remarkably efficient for Georgia behind center, and should pick apart the Vols Saturday. Meanwhile, Georgia’s defense should be in for an easy day against an outmatched Vols’ offense.
Brad’s Final: Georgia 30, Tennessee 20 (Georgia)
Craig’s Final: Georgia 30, Tennessee 21 (Georgia)
Glenn’s Final: Georgia 24, Tennessee 21 (Tennessee)
Matt’s Final: Georgia 35, Tennessee 17 (Georgia)
Florida State at Wake Forest, 3:30, ABC
The Spread: Florida State -7.5
Matt’s Breakdown: It’s sad to see what has happened to Florida State, which many thought would contend for a national championship this year. Losing quarterback Deondre Francois has hurt the whole offense, as Florida State now averages just 72 yards rushing. If you look at the records, you might think Wake Forest is the pick here, but the Demon Deacons haven’t beaten anyone, and a hobbled Florida State team is still better than Wake’s victims, which include Boston College and Utah State (and those are the “good” wins.) Florida State has enough to win this one.
Brad’s Final: Florida State 31, Wake Forest 14 (Florida State)
Craig’s Final: Florida State 24, Wake Forest 14 (Florida State)
Glenn’s Final: Florida State 35, Wake Forest 10 (Florida State)
Matt’s Final: Florida State 28, Wake Forest 10 (Florida State)
Iowa at Michigan State, 4, FOX
The Spread: Michigan State -3.5
Matt’s Breakdown: Iowa lost Saturday, but showed it could play with the country’s elite by taking Penn State to the last play of the game. Michigan State, meanwhile, made Notre Dame look good. The Spartans would be best-served to find a go-to running back, but Michigan State has a host of problems on offense which can’t be fixed by one player. Akrum Wadley is such a player for Iowa, while the Hawkeyes have more than enough on defense to do more than cover here. The only thing which could slow Iowa down is a hangover from such a brutal loss. This looks like an upset special.
Brad’s Final: Iowa 28, Michigan State 24 (Iowa)
Craig’s Final: Iowa 17, Michigan State 6 (Iowa)
Glenn’s Final: Iowa 24, Michigan State 20 (Iowa)
Matt’s Final: Iowa 27, Michigan State 24 (Iowa)