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College Football Picks 2019: Week Five

Current Picks Record: 19-13 (1-4 Upset)
(#18) Virginia Cavaliers @ (#10) Notre Dame Fighting Irish
Ian Book, Notre Dame
While Notre Dame was unable to overcome Georgia this past Saturday, their Playoff hopes could still be alive if they are able to run the table the rest of the way. Of course, that would begin by beating a quality Virginia squad in South Bend this weekend. The Cavaliers haven't blown out opponents en route to a 4-0 start but they have won behind dual threat QB Bryce Perkins and a stingy defense. Perkins is a real pain for any defense, as a guy with a strong arm and the mobility to extend plays and make things happen. While the Irish have faced good opposing quarterbacks on the season, they haven't faced one with the playmaking ability of Perkins. It should be an interesting challenge for defensive coordinator Clark Lea and company, although this front seven has looked terrific so far in 2019. Perkins will probably have to have a huge game for this Cavaliers team because the rest of the offense is a little bit underwhelming. They've really missed graduated wide out Olamide Zaccheaus on the outside, a guy who could do a little bit of everything. On the other side of the ball, Notre Dame has a proven vet at QB in Ian Book, and they proved they could move the ball against an elite defense this past Saturday. Book will have to play well, as he has through the first month of the season to this point. The Irish rushing attack has lagged behind without much help beyond Tony Jones Jr., and they face a Virginia defense that is especially strong at linebacker. That UVA linebacker corps includes Zane Zandier, Jordan Mack and Charles Snowden, a trio that can play sideline to sideline and also rush the passer if needed. However, the Cavalier secondary is a little bit questionable, which was also made worse when corner Darius Bratton was lost for the year due to a torn ACL earlier in the campaign. Can the Cavaliers find a way to contain ND's top receiver Chase Claypool? Who matches up against tight end Cole Kmet, who had nine catches for 108 yards in the Georgia game? It seems as though Notre Dame also has a slight advantage on the sideline. While Bronco Mendenhall has done a superb job with Virginia and is a proven program builder, he hasn't played in many big games, particularly against a program like ND. Going into a hostile environment like South Bend and coming out victorious is going to be difficult to manage for Mendenhall and the entire coaching staff. With that being said, I still think UVA has a strong enough defense to keep things close deep into the fourth. Yet, Book and the rest of this Irish lineup just has too much talent, and should find a way to pull away.
The Pick: Notre Dame, 34 Virginia, 24

(#5) Ohio State Buckeyes @ Nebraska Cornhuskers
Even though this game doesn't quite have the allure it looked like it might in the preseason, Nebraska could still pose a stiff challenge to the fifth-ranked Buckeyes. Sure, Ohio State is playing nearly unstoppable football, but this is their first real challenge of the 2019 season. The Buckeye defense is in store for a real test, as they must find a way to contain Adrian Martinez and the rest of this explosive 'Husker offense. To this point, this OSU defense has looked much improved, applying constant pressure to opposing quarterbacks and not allowing the big plays they too often did in 2018. Yet, Martinez and his huge arm are quite the challenge through the air, and he can do some real damage with his legs. Defensive end Chase Young and the rest of the D-Line might be able to keep him relatively contained, but this Buckeye secondary is going to have to come ready to play. Ohio State has to be especially concerned about playmaker J.D. Spielman, who has 383 yards receiving, averaging 21.3 yards per catch. Spielman is a real demon in open space, so the Buckeyes are going to have to keep him inside and make some tough tackles. Defending the run most also be a top priority, as the Cornhuskers bring out a dangerous trio in their backfield with Maurice Washington, Dedrick Mills and Martinez. If the defense struggles, Ohio State could find themselves in a shootout, which puts even more pressure on the offense. The good news is that this offense has looked nearly unstoppable, posting averages of 53.5 points and 525 yards per game. Justin Fields has looked like the former five-star recruit when he first arrived at Georgia. His arm strength and legs make him a factor to make big plays every snap, and his explosiveness has really opened up the rest of this offense. J.K. Dobbins is averaging seven yards per carry as the feature back and faces a Nebraska rush defense that has struggled mightily the last few seasons. Unless linebacker Mohamed Barry has a huge game as the real star of this defense, Nebraska could really be in store for a tough one. This is also a team prone to allowing big plays through the air, and this Buckeyes' offense should be very aggressive. Those questions on defense, paired with the turnover problems the offense has suffered, could make for a tough day in Lincoln. With the way that Ohio State has been playing, it looks like they should keep on rolling this Saturday.
The Pick: Ohio State, 41 Nebraska, 28

(#21) USC Trojans @ (#17) Washington Huskies
Even though USC improved to 3-1 on the season with their victory last weekend, head coach Clay Helton still enters a road meeting with Washington possibly coaching his final game with the Trojans. To make things tougher, the Trojans will likely have to make-do with their third-string quarterback, as starter J.T. Daniels remains out for the year, while backup Kedon Slovis is questionable going through the concussion protocol. Matt Fink did do a great job running the offense last weekend, but this Washington defense is legit, and he will get nothing easy against a ball-hawking Husky secondary. The Trojans will certainly need other pieces to step up, namely back Vavae Malepaei or any one of these talented receivers. Michael Pittman, Tyler Vaughns and Amon-Ra St. Brown have given defenses fits this season under the new Graham Harrell offense, but they get their toughest test against UW. The 'SC defense also has something to prove, as they've been up-and-down all season long. They have talent all across the board, but they've struggled to tackle and play disciplined football. Washington struggled with consistency offensively early on, but they looked superb this past weekend and seem to only be getting better. Former Georgia transfer Jacob Eason still is prone to mistakes, but his arm talent really is something special. He has made some throws already this season that departed Jake Browning simply couldn't make. He will test a youthful Trojan secondary that could have real troubles containing all the weapons the Huskies can throw at you. Washington is also hopeful their rushing attack can get things going after some early struggles. Salvon Ahmed has proven he can do real damage when healthy, but he is doubtful for this one. If he can't go, UW will turn to junior Sean McGrew, who rushed for 110 yards against BYU on Saturday. Fink may be able to give 'SC a fighting chance, but it's hard to imagine him replicating what he just did a weekend ago. Along with the questions they have on defense, I don't see USC overcoming the Huskies in Seattle here.
The Pick: Washington, 30 USC, 21

Other Picks
Northwestern @ (#8) Wisconsin: Wisconsin, 24 Northwestern, 12
Texas Tech @ (#6) Oklahoma: Oklahoma, 52 Texas Tech, 34
Ole Miss @ (#2) Alabama: Alabama, 49 Ole Miss, 17
Iowa State @ Baylor: Iowa State, 38 Baylor, 34
Upset: Oklahoma State, 42 Kansas State, 31

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