Each week, The Game Haus will preview every college football game featuring teams in The Associated Press Top 25. We’ll also give an expanded look at three Top 25 matchups especially worth watching.
Here we go with our Week 5 Top 25 previews (all times Eastern):
No. 18 Virginia (4-0) at No. 10 Notre Dame (2-1), 3:30 p.m., Saturday
Scouting the Cavaliers: Looking to go 5-0 for the first time since 2004, Virginia lost a close one to the Irish back in 2015. The Cavaliers should be confident and playing care-free because not many probably think they can pull off the upset. That might not be true.
Scouting the Fighting Irish: Notre Dame proved it can play with the real big boys last week at Georgia, but its College Football Playoff hopes were likely dashed. This probably won’t be an easy bounce-back game, but the Irish seem too complete to lose at home.
Winner: Notre Dame
No. 21 USC (3-1) at No. 17 Washington (3-1), 3:30 p.m., Saturday
Scouting the Trojans: Despite injury issues at quarterback, the Trojans are a Week 5 Top 25 team again. It doesn’t seem to matter who is throwing the ball to Michael Pittman Jr., Tyler Vaughns and Amon-Ra St. Brown – combined 77 receptions and eight touchdowns.
Scouting the Huskies: They eye a third straight victory after falling at home to Cal. The Huskies last dropped back-to-back home Pac-12 games during the 2015 season, and we think that won’t happen again this year.
No. 5 Ohio State (4-0) at Nebraska (3-1), 7:30 p.m., Saturday
Scouting the Buckeyes: For the moment, the Buckeyes must be considered a serious national title contender. Justin Fields and the offense is worthy of the praise it receives, but Ohio State’s defense has not allowed a point in the second half of the last three games.
Scouting the Cornhuskers: It should be a wild scene in Lincoln, and that could help the home side. Still, Nebraska is not really in the same league at the Buckeyes – yet. Not after needing a rally to win an ugly game at Illinois last weekend.
Winner: Ohio State
No. 12 Penn State (3-0) at Maryland (2-1), 8 p.m., Friday
The Skinny: Both teams were idle last week, so each should be well prepared. Maryland has outscored its opponents 142-20 in two home games, but Penn State has allowed just 30 points entering its fist road game of 2019.
Winner: Penn State
Arizona State (3-1) at No. 15 California (4-0), 10:30 p.m., Friday
The Skinny: While a home loss to Colorado knocked the Sun Devils out of the Top 25, Cal continues to climb the rankings. The Golden Bears last started 5-0 in 2015, and have a talented quarterback in Chase Garbers (seven touchdown passes) to help do it again. His offensive line, though, has to keep him upright more after allowing 14 sacks through four games.
No. 23 Texas A&M (2-2) vs. Arkansas (2-2) (at Arlington, Texas), Noon, Saturday
The Skinny: The storyline in this SEC matchup is former Texas A&M quarterback Nick Starkel (seven touchdown passes, six interceptions) now starting at Arkansas. He also threw five picks against San Jose State last week, which should excite Aggie defenders.
Winner: Texas A&M
Middle Tennessee (1-2) at N. 14 Iowa (3-0), Noon, Saturday
The Skinny: It was 2015 when the Hawkeyes last opened with four straight wins. That should happen again this weekend, thanks to a defense that’s allowed 31 points and already pitched a shutout in 2019.
Rutgers (1-2) at No. 20 Michigan (2-1), Noon, Saturday
The Skinny: Perhaps Michigan is not as good as the so-called experts thought. It was actually easy to see the Wolverines’ struggles coming following last season’s terrible finish. At least a visit from Rutgers, outscored 272-57 during an eight-game Big Ten road losing streak, should make things better for the time being.
Texas Tech (2-1) at No. 6 Oklahoma (3-0), Noon, Saturday
The Skinny: Think Jalen Hurts like playing at Oklahoma? Just look at his numbers: 80.3 completion percentage, 880 passing yards, nine passing touchdowns, zero interceptions, 373 rushing yards, four rushing touchdowns. That would be a “Yes.”
Northwestern (1-2) at No. 8 Wisconsin (3-0), Noon, Saturday
The Skinny: Looking strong on both sides of the ball, the Badgers appear to be the team to beat in the Big Ten West at the moment. Don’t expect a setback against a Northwestern group that’s averaging 15.7 points per game.
Mississippi (2-2) at No. 2 Alabama (4-0), 3:30 p.m., Saturday
The Skinny: From 2014-16, these SEC foes had some entertaining matchups, with Ole Miss winning twice. However, the Crimson Tide have won the last two get-togethers by a combined score of 128-10. Expect another blowout.
Indiana (3-1) at No. 25 Michigan State (3-1), 3:30 p.m., Saturday
The Skinny: Michigan State might be a hard team to figure out offensively, but it still has one of the best defenses in the country – allowing 11 points and 228.3 yards per contest. Indiana last beat a Top 25 Big Ten team on the road in 2001 – at Michigan State.
Winner: Michigan State
No. 1 Clemson (4-0) at North Carolina (2-2), 3:30 p.m., Saturday
The Skinny: This is the first meeting between the schools since the 2015 ACC Championship Game. The Tigers won that contest, and the previous two matchups. Don’t expect that trend to end this week in Chapel Hill.
Towson (3-1) at No. 9 Florida (4-0), 4 p.m., Saturday
The Skinny: The Gators have yielded just three points in two 2019 home games. FCS Towson is pretty good, but putting up at least 10 in The Swamp could be a major chore for the visitors.
Mississippi State (3-1) at No. 7 Auburn (4-0), 7 p.m., Saturday
The Skinny: Auburn is looking for its first 5-0 start since 2014, when its initial loss that season came at Mississippi State. The Tigers have won seven of the last nine home meetings with the Bulldogs.
No. 24 Kansas State (3-0) at Oklahoma State (3-1), 7 p.m., Saturday
The Skinny: K-State last opened 4-0 in 2012, and it’s won two straight over the Cowboys. The Wildcats’ impressive defense should be tested, however, by an Oklahoma State team that averages 44.5 points.
Winner: Oklahoma State
Connecticut (1-2) at No. 22 UCF (3-1), 7 p.m., Saturday
The Skinny: The bad news: The Knights 27-game regular-season winning has ended. The good news: They should be able to bounce back against a Connecticut team that’s lost eight straight against ranked opponents.
Washington State (3-1) at No. 19 Utah (3-1), 10 p.m., Saturday
The Skinny: Injuries are again a concern for Utah quarterback Tyler Huntley (971 total yards) and running back Zack Moss (393 rushing yards). The Cougars, meanwhile, must find a way to rebound from blowing a 32-point lead to lowly UCLA.
Winner: Washington State