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College football ’18: Week 5 Top 25 previews

Top 25

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 those Top 25 games for Week 5 (all times Eastern):

Key Games

No. 12 West Virginia (3-0) at No. 25 Texas Tech (3-1), Noon, Saturday

Scouting the Mountaineers: They’ve owned this series with four straight victories. Texas Tech can score, but West Virginia’s defense has yielded just 37 points through its three games and that unit should be taken seriously.

Scouting the Red Raiders: A 41-17 statement-type victory at then-No. 15 Oklahoma State last weekend was Texas Tech’s third in a row. It’s rushed for more than 220 yards in two of the last three games and scored 16 touchdowns on the ground this year.

Winner: West Virginia

No. 7 Stanford (4-0) at No. 8 Notre Dame (4-0), 7:30 p.m., Saturday

Scouting the Cardinal: They’ve won three straight in this series, but more importantly have already shown their mettle with victories over USC and Oregon. Last week at Eugene, Stanford rallied from 24-7 down to win in overtime. That kind of effort can carry a team the entire season.

Scouting the Fighting Irish: Ian Book appears to be the guy under center, and he should pose some problems for the Cardinal. These teams have played some close contests in recent years and this one seems like it will follow suit.

Winner: Stanford

Top 25
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No. 4 Ohio State (4-0) at No. 9 Penn State (4-0), 7:30 p.m., Saturday

Scouting the Buckeyes: Playing without Nick Bosa won’t be easy for Urban Meyer’s squad, but there is still plenty of talent for the visitors. Ohio State has won five of the last six in the series, but that defeat came at Happy Valley in a wild affair two years ago.

Scouting the Nittany Lions: It’s quite possible this game will feature plenty of points, so quarterback Trace McSorley and running back Miles Sanders will need to be at their best. Both defenses are susceptible to the big play, which could be the defense went it’s finished.

Winner: Ohio State

The Rest

North Carolina (1-2) at No. 16 Miami, FL (3-1), 8 p.m., Thursday

The Skinny: After throwing for 224 yards and three touchdowns last week against FIU, redshirt N’Kosi Perry could be set to start for the Hurricanes. Miami has averaged 52.3 points in three games since losing 33-17 to LSU in its opener.

Winner: Miami

Louisiana (1-2) at No. 1 Alabama (4-0), Noon, Saturday

The Skinny: It remains business as usual for the Crimson Tide, who have scored at least 45 points in each of their four games. There’s a good chance they’ll add to the that stretch against the Rajin’ Cajuns, who have allowed 86 points in their last two contests.

Winner: Alabama

Syracuse (4-0) at No. 3 Clemson (4-0), Noon, Saturday
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The Skinny: The Tigers are officially Trevor Lawrence’s team, which means Kelly Bryant’s time at Clemson has ended. It’s sad, but not surprising it all. Syracuse, which is 4-0 for the first time in 27 years, stunned the Tigers at home last year, but doing so at Death Valley is an entirely different animal.

Winner: Clemson



Central Michigan (1-3) at No. 21 Michigan State (2-1), Noon, Saturday

The Skinny: A much-needed road victory over Indiana should instill some confidence for the banged-up Spartans. Welcoming a struggling Mid-American Conference opponent to town can’t hurt, either. Michigan State has won nine straight home contests against MAC schools.

Winner: Michigan State

Tennessee (2-2) at No. 2 Georgia (4-0), 3:30 p.m., Saturday

The Skinny: The Bulldogs made another statement with a victory at Missouri last weekend. They seem ready for all comers, and now await a Tennessee team that seems improved from 2017’s 4-8 mark. But the Vols have allowed a combined 87 points to West Virginia and Florida already this year.

Winner: Georgia

No. 18 Texas (3-1) at Kansas State (2-2), 3:30 p.m., Saturday
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The Skinny: As the Longhorns continue to climb the Top 25 rankings following wins over previously ranked USC and TCU, this matchup could present a road block for Tom Herman’s crew. The Wildcats have allowed 67 points to Mississippi State and West Virginia, but they’ve also won the last five meetings with Texas at Manhattan.

Winner: Kansas State


Baylor (3-1) at No. 6 Oklahoma (4-0), 3:30 p.m., Saturday

The Skinny: Some Sooner fans might be concerned after last weekend’s overtime win over Army at home. The Cadets’ option-attack has been known to give even the best of opponents fits, but Oklahoma survived to remain undefeated. Baylor is better than the 1-11 team from 2017, but not enough to avoid a fourth consecutive loss in the series.

Winner: Oklahoma

Pittsburgh (2-2) at No. 13 UCF (3-0), 3:30 p.m., Saturday

The Skinny: The Golden Knights had to work at times to put away Florida Atlantic last week, and they might actually have an easier time with Pitt this time. UCF has scored 56 points twice already this year, and Penn State dropped 51 on the Panthers earlier this month.

Winner: UCF

Southern Miss (2-1) at No. 10 Auburn (3-1), 4 p.m., Saturday

The Skinny: Through four games, Auburn has yielded just 50 points and twice held an opponent under 10. That doesn’t bode well for Southern Miss, which has some talent on offense but been outscored 171-42 in its last three games against Top 25 teams.

Winner: Auburn

No. 14 Michigan (3-1) at Northwestern (1-2), 4:30 p.m., Saturday

The Skinny: Three straight easy home victories have the Wolverines feeling pretty good about themselves, but they should be in for a test here. Northwestern has dropped two straight at home and no longer has the services of its leading rusher, but it’s had two weeks to prepare for Michigan. Will that be enough?

Winner: Michigan

Florida (3-1) at No. 23 Mississippi State (3-1), 6 p.m., Saturday
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The Skinny: Gators coach Dan Mullen returns to Mississippi State where he guided the Bulldogs to eight bowl appearances in nine seasons. Awaiting will be his former program, which looks to rebound after being dropped at home by Kentucky.

Winner: Mississippi State




Virginia Tech (2-1) at No. 22 Duke (4-0), 7 p.m., Saturday

The Skinny: Part of the Top 25 for the first time since 2015, Duke will try to start 5-0 for the first time since 1994. Backup quarterback Quentin Harris has proved a capable injury replacement while the Blue Devils have held three of their opponents to 14 or fewer points. The Hokies, minus injured quarterback Josh Jackson, must find a way to bounce back from an inexcusable loss to Old Dominion.

Winner: Duke

South Carolina (2-1) at No. 17 Kentucky (4-0), 7:30 p.m., Saturday

The Skinny: Last weekend’s victory over then-No. 14 Mississippi State propelled the Wildcats into the rankings for the first time since 2007. They are also 2-0 in the SEC for the first time since 1977. South Carolina should pose a challenge, but Kentucky looks like the real deal.

Winner: Kentucky

No. 20 BYU (3-1) at No. 11 Washington (3-1), 8:30 p.m., Saturday

The Skinny: The Cougars get another chance to take down a Top 25 team on the road. This time, the Huskies won’t take them lightly, as perhaps Wisconsin did in Madison. Washington has regrouped following its opening loss to Auburn and should be ready for all BYU will throw its way.

Winner: Washington

Mississippi (3-1) at No. 5 LSU (4-0), 9:15 p.m., Saturday

The Skinny: LSU last opened with five straight victories in 2015, but could receive a stiff test in trying to accomplish that feat again. Ole Miss has the potential tp pile up the points, but it was held to seven versus Alabama and has dropped four in a row and seven of eight at LSU.

Winner: LSU

No. 19 Oregon (3-1) at No. 24 California (3-0), 10:30 p.m., Saturday
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The Skinny: The Golden Bears, who make their season debut in the Top 25, started 3-0 in 2017, then went 2-7 the rest of the way. A defense that’s yielded 58 points through three games should be challenged by the potent offense of the Ducks, who must move on after allowing a potential victory over Stanford to slip away last weekend.

Winner: Oregon


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