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2016 College Football Picks: Week Five

Mike Williams
2016 College Football Picks: Week Five
Current Record: 22-10

3 Louisville Cardinals vs. 5 Clemson Tigers
No team in college football has seen as meteoric of a rise as Louisville, who has gone from a team widely considered the third best team in the ACC Atlantic to perhaps the team to beat in the conference and a legit Playoff contender. They have been fueled by true sophomore quarterback Lamar Jackson, who has used 24 touchdowns in four games and a dominant showing against Florida State to rise to the top of the Heisman conversation. While Jackson's explosiveness and playmaking prowess has fueled the Cards, this team isn't one-dimensional. They have an experienced defense with tons of weapons, mainly outside linebacker Devonte Fields, once a TCU star. That defense will have to have a great showing on the road against one of the nation's best quarterbacks. All the hype surrounding Jackson has overshadowed the fact junior Deshaun Watson is still one of the best quarterbacks in the ACC and entire nation. Watson engineers a diverse Clemson offensive attack that includes steady tailback Wayne Gallman and plenty of weapons on the perimeter. That offense limped early in the season but appears to have things back on track, and should stretch Louisville all across the field. The pivotal matchup in this game, however, will be the Tigers defense versus Jackson. Clemson lost a ton of prime talent this offseason but still returns Carlos Watkins and plenty of help across their front seven. Even so, Jackson has absolutely shredded defenses all season long and the secondary has some holes he can exploit. If Clemson can contain Jackson slightly, it will put the Tigers in good position to grab a hold on this one. Louisville may be one of the nation's hottest teams, but they have to be in store for a poor outing, and this team hasn't shown what they can do on the road against a great team. I think the more experienced Tigers get the job done in a classic.
Clemson, 37 Louisville, 35

4 Michigan Wolverines vs. 8 Wisconsin Badgers
Entering the year, Wisconsin looked like your typical Wisconsin team: one that would run the ball behind a physical offensive line, make short passes and play tough defense. That formula has worked very well for the Badgers in the past but would it work against a brutal schedule? So far it has, as the Badgers are 4-0 with impressive wins over LSU and Michigan State. Their next two meetings will truly tell how good they are, as they get the top two teams in the conference, Michigan and Ohio State. On offense, Wisconsin will lean heavily on a healthy Corey Clement, who can dominate when he gets his openings, but has struggled with his health. Quarterback Bart Houston has done all he has needed to do to this point, but the Badgers may ask for more from the first-year starter to open things up for their running game. Michigan is superb defensively, headlined by do-it-all linebacker Jabrill Peppers and shutdown corner Jourdan Lewis, who missed the first couple games of the season. If Houston isn't able to move the ball through the air, the Badgers are going to have a tough time really getting going. If that does happen, the Badgers' defense will have to step up even more. So far the unit has been extremely impressive, despite lacking a ton of household names. Michigan has a pretty similar offense to the Badgers, although they do pass the ball better. First-year starter Wilton Speight has looked great early this season, but the Badgers' D will be the toughest opponent he has faced all year long. He will hope for his talented crop of receivers in Jehu Chesson, Amara Darboh and tight end Jake Butt to step up. Back De'Veon Smith will hope to also break open the game against a powerful Wisconsin defensive line. I have picked against Wisconsin in their last two big wins, and they have proven me wrong, which makes me hesitant to pick against them again. However, the Wolverines are the more talented team up and down their roster, and get the Badgers at home. That certainly doesn't lock in a Michigan victory 100 percent, but it is enough for me to sway towards the Wolverines becoming 5-0.
Michigan, 30 Wisconsin, 21

7 Stanford Cardinal vs. 10 Washington Huskies
As it stands right now, the Pac-12 is in a precarious position when it comes to the College Football Playoff. The Big 12 is struggling, which opens the Pac-12 to an easier road in to the four-team battle, but neither Stanford or Washington have beat anyone of significance. That will obviously change as these two teams collide in an intriguing late-night Friday clash. We know what we are getting from Stanford in this one: plenty of Christian McCaffrey. McCaffrey has looked great this season and is still very much in the mix for the Heisman. However, he isn't the lone playmaker Stanford can throw at the talented Huskies' defense. Quarterback Ryan Burns won't beat a defense single-handily but he is a smart, steady leader at the game's most critical position. Receiver Michael Rector can open things up on the perimeter, and the offensive line plays with ferocity. That should be enough to test Washington's defense, which has plenty of talent and has looked great this season, but hasn't played much. Budda Baker and Sidney Jones are the stars in the secondary, and they should life more difficult for Burns. On the other side, Washington will hope for a big day from budding sophomore Jake Browning at quarterback. Browning has been terrific this year, and appears to be taking the next step he needed to make as a signal-caller. He'll be joined by back Myles Gaskin and some speed at receiver, with Chico McClatcher and John Ross III. Gaskin is an explosive running back who has had some moments this season, but is still searching for consistency. It will be interesting to see how much success he has running the ball against a Stanford front seven that includes future NFL defenders Solomon Thomas and Harrison Phillips. Browning could have some success throwing the ball, however. Stanford hasn't let up a ton of yardage through the air this season but they haven't faced anybody who really excels in that aspect and they could be unprepared. Just a few weeks into the season, this game could very well decide the favorite in the conference. Even though it is in Seattle, I like Stanford in this one. They are the more proven team and it is hard to bet against a healthy and confident McCaffrey.
Stanford, 33 Washington, 28

Other Picks
1 Alabama, 35 Kentucky, 20
11 Tennessee, 31 25 Georgia, 24
9 Texas A&M, 38 South Carolina, 17
14 Miami, 27 Georgia Tech, 23
2 Ohio State, 45 Rutgers, 16

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