Week 5 Predictions – 2021
Last Week: Ohio State feasted on MAC raw meat and defeated Akron 59-7. Is the Buckeye defense improving or was it the level of competition that made the difference? For one week it doesn’t really matter but reality is every game left on the Buckeye schedule will be a bigger challenge than the Zips. After 4 weeks, Josh continues to remain on top of the Buckeye 50 staffers but 5 others just one game behind and everyone is within 3 games in the standings. And ‘The Bear’, ESPN’s expert is only 8-5 so far this year.
This Week’s Games: Ohio State plays their second conference game this week, traveling to New Jersey to take on an improving Rutgers squad. The Scarlet Knights shut out the Wolverines in the second half last week and pulled off the upset. Can they generate enough offense to defeat the Buckeyes? …. Our games start on Friday night this week as unbeaten Iowa tries to remain on top of the B1G West as they take on Maryland. Can the Turtles generate enough offense to get the win? …. Staying in the Big Ten, Michigan travels to Madison to take on the Badgers. Wisconsin just renamed the Camp Randall field after former Coach Barry Alvarez, will that be enough to motivate them to a win and avoid starting 1-3? …. One of the big games in the SEC will be #2 Georgia welcoming in Arkansas between the hedges. The Razorbacks have played very well at home, can they take their game on the road and get an upset victory? …. The other big game from ESPN country is Alabama and Ole Miss. Can Lane Kiffin be the first former assistant to defeat Nick Saban? …. In a game the playoff committee should be watching, Cincinnati goes South Bend. The winner of this game will move to the on deck circle in the race for the post season.
Buckeye Greats: As with the past, we will continue to include former Buckeye players in our prediction fun and we are thrilled to have Vaughn Broadnax back with us as a regular participant for the seventh straight year.
Here we go with our Week 4 Picks – Good Luck to All – Gregg
(11)Ohio State @ Rutgers
Buckeye 50 Reader Prediction – Melody Linley: Melody predicted a score of 52-12 Buckeyes. By far the closest of our follower predictions. Nice job Melody!
Andy: This game got scrappy last year, a game in which Ohio State was fortunate to be so up on the scoreboard going into half time because Rutgers outscored OSU 24-14 in the second half. Thankfully for OSU they had Justin Fields who was able to get the offense off to fast starts. So far this year whether it be CJ Stroud or Kyle McCord OSU has not shown that ability. Rutgers went into the Big House last week and took the Wolverines down the wire only losing to Michigan by a touchdown. This Scarlet Knights team is believing and fighting as if they can win thanks to head coach Greg Schiano. The matchup here to watch is how well Ohio State can do in the red zone, yeah I know enlightening stuff right? Why do I say this? Ohio State has the 7th best scoring offense in the nation and Rutgers has 7th best scoring defense in the nation. I believe this game will be chippy and Rutgers will be able to play up to the level of Ohio State by running trick plays and rolling out different formations on both offense and defense. Ohio State 31 Rutgers 24
Coach Rick: Ohio State needs to watch out in this game. I do not think the team up north is that good, so that explains the reason for the close game last week, but I do not want to take away from Rutgers. I think the OSU game will be close, with an OSU win in the end.
Cory: I never thought I’d say this but this week’s game against Rutgers will be a challenge. The Scarlet Knights are playing well under head coach, and former OSU defensive coordinator, Greg Schiano. They are 3-1 with their only loss coming by a score of 20-13 to Michigan in Ann Arbor, and Rutgers had their chance to win that game late. The Buckeyes cannot expect the Scarlet Knights to roll over like they once did. As of Tuesday’s press conference it looks like C.J. Stroud will be the starter at quarterback for the Buckeyes, and it’s good to see that the shoulder issue was nothing major. Defensively, we saw improvement in the Buckeyes but it’s hard to tell how much since it came against Akron. Nothing Rutgers does offensively should scare Ohio State, however, they are a balanced team and quarterback Noah Verdal is a veteran who won’t be fooled easily. Expect an Ohio State win but for Rutgers to keep it close. Ohio State 35, Rutgers 28
Gregg: Another week, another game. Another opportunity for the Buckeyes to show improvement. When you win a game 59-7 and DROP in the polls, there is no respect for your program. As a long time fan, I have not given up on them yet but realize they need to get better to get back into playoffs. Right now they have shown struggles on defense with minimal improvement. But what some may not have noticed, Akron scored on their opening drive and were shut out the rest of the game. So there was adjustments made that worked. I will be spending more time watching the offense though against Rutgers. This is probably the best defense they have seen so far this year. Will they be able to move the ball and score some points. Not sure who will be starting at QB for the Bucks but for this team it needs to not matter. OSU has a solid running game that should open things up for the passing. This is another legit test for the Buckeyes and they failed the first one. Go Bucks get the W! Ohio State 31 Rutgers 20
Jason: The Buckeyes are hoping things are coming together. With a young football team that’s packed with talent, if anyone was going to get things right, it’s Ohio State. Since the loss to Oregon, Ohio State has found a formula on offense….run the football. The best way to keep a shaky defense off the field is ball control with the run. While they still can game break at any time, running the football may be the answer. CJ Stroud, who sat out the Akron game with a shoulder injury, can utilize star freshman RB TreVeyon Henderson to carry the load. He racked up 277 yards over Tulsa and against Akron, he ran for 93 yards on just eight carries. The Rutgers run defense has been solid so far, but they haven’t faced a back this dynamic and Ohio State has three with Henderson, Miyan Williams and Master Teague. Rutgers will absolutely play a grind it out style and hope to lengthen the game. The Scarlet Knights don’t have the athletes of Ohio State but they can control the time of possession and Ohio State hasn’t been that kind of team so far this season. The Ohio State defense has clearly been struggling but lost in all of that is the fact that the offense has clicked, ranking second in the country, averaging well over 500 yards in total offense. Ask Clemson and Oklahoma what it’s like to struggle offensively. Ohio State doesn’t fall into that category. Unless the Buckeyes get bit by the turnover bug, Rutgers just doesn’t have enough talent. It will be close for awhile but Ohio State will pull away to a comfortable 24 point win. Ohio State 45 Rutgers 21
John: The Scarlet Knights game Michigan all they could handle last week. Is that because Rutgers is that good, or is Michigan once again over rated. It will be interesting to see if the OSU D actually solved some of their issues last week, or if it was solely a result of playing on of the worst teams in D-1. While I think Rutgers is better than they have been in a long time, the Bucks just have too much talent on both sides of the ball. Ohio State 38 Rutgers 17
Josh: Rutgers will bring one of the more experienced defenses Ohio State will see this year, and it will be hard to forget the several trick plays they ran against Ohio State last year. Rutgers attempted to run a few last week against Michigan, but got stopped. If anything, it will be the Rutgers defense that keeps this in this game, but Ohio State will find its groove and rely on the legs of TreVeyon Henderson as the continue to get their quarterback situation sorted out. Ohio State 45 – Rutgers 20
Steven: Kyle McCord or CJ Stroud are in the mix to start at Rutgers. Whatever quarterback they trot out on the field will be fine if the Bucks continue to ride TreVeyon Henderson. Ohio State is now second in the nation in total offense, and top ten in scoring offense. Unfortunately, this is balanced by the fact that we are 89th out of 130 in total defense. Rutgers is basically flipped with the 99th ranked offense and 11th ranked defense. This will not be a walk in the park, although I believe that given Rutgers’ lack of offensive production, Ohio State will be able to build on the Akron win and let the secondary give the defensive line an extra second to get to the quarterback. The Scarlet Knights are fairly balanced, so there’s not just one thing the defense can key on the shut them down. If the Buckeyes can keep chunk plays to a minimum and limit their own mistakes, they should be able to dominate. OSU 41-29
Trout: Ohio State should win this game, but I feel it’ll be closer than Buckeye fans want. The Bucks are still trying to find their flow with the offense. Hopefully with a week off, Stroud will be healthy enough to play like he did in the second half of the Minnesota game. I’m not expecting him to be Justin Fields out there, but I have a feeling he will be a little better. However, the defense is still bad. And I feel like it won’t be fixed this year. It may improve, but it will still be a serious liability when the Bucks play the big boys in the Big Ten. That’s what will keep the Scarlet Knights in this game. Rutgers was able to slow down Michigan last week in the second half. Granted, we don’t know what Michigan really is, but they have looked good during these first four weeks. I see the Buckeyes offense looking a little more what we are used to, but their bad defense making this more of a game than it should be. The Buckeyes will most like pull away right at the end of the game. Ohio State wins, but the game will be a frustrating watch for fans. (Ohio State, 38-28)
Vaughn Broadnax (OSU 1980-83): After mixing up a little zone defense with stunts and blitzes, it showed that OSU can confound an inferior team. This week, however, the Buckeyes face a rejuvenated Scarlet Knight team was able to shut out the Wolverweasels in the second half. That means one of two things: Their defense is incredible, or TSUN’s offense is not all that. If OSU’s defense can pledge to not make Rutgers’ QB Noah Vedral a hero and make him resemble his jersey number “0”, then the Buckeyes win 42-17.
Final Score: Ohio State 52 Rutgers 13
(5)Iowa @ Maryland
Andy: This is probably the biggest matchup of the week for the Big Ten conference. Iowa is off to a hot start, currently the 4th ranked team in the country including big wins over rival Iowa State and Indiana early have the Hawkeyes soaring. Maryland has quietly gone 4-0 this year, despite playing a tough West Virginia team and a scrappy Illinois team. Iowa has done this through a mixed offense throwing the ball 109 times to 145 rush attempts, the big players for Iowa being quarterback Spencer Petras and running back Tyler Goodson. Maryland is almost dead even in play calling, throwing the ball 152 times to 148 rush attempts. The bright shining star for the Terrapins has been quarterback Taulia Tagovailoa who has completed nearly 76% of his passes with a touchdown to interception ratio of 10-1. The big disparity in this game is scoring offense, Maryland coming in at 31st in the nation compared to Iowa who is tied at 70th in scoring offense. I think the matchup will be really fun to watch and could be a coming out party for Taulia. Maryland 31 Iowa 21
Coach Rick: Iowa
Cory: Iowa got off to a great start this season with consecutive wins over Indiana and Iowa State. Since then, however, the Hawkeyes have been less than impressive, including last week’s 24-14 win over Colorado State. The Hawkeyes face a tough test in their visit to Maryland this week. If you haven’t noticed yet the Terrapins are 4-0 and have a pretty good offense led by quarterback Taulia Tagovailoa. Tagovailoa was known more for his running last year but has become a great passer this year as he’s thrown for 1,340 yards with 10 touchdowns and just one interception. He is the kind of dynamic quarterback that can give an elite defense like Iowa trouble. If the game would happen to turn into a shootout the edge goes heavily into Maryland’s favor. Still, the Hawkeyes are so sound defensively it’s hard to imagine them slipping up against Maryland. The Terrapins don’t run the ball as well as they used to so Iowa can focus on stopping Tagovailoa. Iowa 31, Maryland 23
Gregg: Maryland is having a solid season and probably a bit of a surprise for the Big Ten this year at 4-0. But the wins have been over FCS Howard, Illinois and a pedestrian victory over Kent State. Iowa on the otherhand has been very consistant and as Joe-S-U noted in one of his early season write-ups “this is just one of those seasons that come along every few years when Coach Ferentz has it all together and the Hawkeyes have a great season. This seems to be shaping up as one of those seasons. I do think this will be a low scoring affair but in the end, Iowa remains unbeaten. Iowa 17 Maryland 13
Jason: Iowa has been all about the defense. To go along with an efficient offense, that’s why they sit 4-0 off to face a Maryland team that will challenge that talented secondary. Having only allowed over 200 yards through the air once and not allowing any kind of run game whatsoever, Iowa has been nothing short of stout on that side of the football. For the Terps, it’s bombs away, Taulia Tagovailoa is hitting 76% of his passes averaging over 300 yards per game with ten touchdowns and just one INT. If Maryland can hit on of few of those early, Iowa doesn’t have the explosiveness on offense to keep up. Unfortunately for Maryland, despite all the yards, they have struggled to put the ball in the end zone. Iowa will bend but not break in this football game and it will go into the fourth quarter with the outcome in doubt, but Iowa will get the stop they need to escape College Park with a major road win. Iowa 31 Maryland 27
John: Maryland’s offense has the potential to give a lot of Big Ten defenses fits. With this game at Maryland, I think the Terp’s are able to do just enough to pull the upset. Maryland 24 Iowa 21
Josh: We all know that Iowa has a good defense, and one of the better running backs in the country, but the the way to beat them is to get ahead of them early. They have two big wins against ranked teams from the start of the year, but those teams have proved to be not worth their ranking. Maryland has one of the more explosivie offenses in the country with tallent at the skill positions, and Taulia Tagovailoa leads the Big 10 in passing yards. I like the Terps at home in this one in an upset. Maryland 31 – Iowa 17
Steven: This has become the season of the breakout defenses. With many veteran quarterbacks moving on to the NFL, the defenses have come back with a vengeance. Iowa, a team that always seems to have a good defense, will be tested this week. Maryland has the top passing offense in the conference and is ranked top 10 nationally. This is a bit of a pick ’em, but I like what I see out of Maryland this year. Iowa has not played anyone near the caliber of the Terrapins, so this may be a bit of a wake up call for Iowa, and in turn the Big Ten west division. Iowa remains alone in the west with any chance of maintaining a presence nationally. That dream dies this weekend. Iowa gets thumped by a bunch of turtles. Maryland 33-17
Trout: This game will be close, but Iowa should win. Even though Iowa is ranked fifth in the nation right now, I don’t see them being there at the end of the season. Don’t get me wrong, their defense is great. But their offense is average at best. Maryland has shown flashes of being a good team, but have never put it together. I see the game being low scoring,because that’s the Hawkeyes’ MO. They play solid defense and then methodically move the ball down the field. Maryland will be able to get a few scores in, but I just don’t see it being enough to win the game. The Hawkeyes win and remain atop the Big Ten West. (Iowa, 24-17)
Vaughn Broadnax (OSU 1980-83): If there may be a cure for Iowa’s lack of offensive prowess you would think Maryland would be the cure. However, that was the old Maryland. This Maryland can play a little defense and can be explosive offensively. With it being Friday night and at College Park, I am going with the Terps to upset the Hawkeyes 31-21.
Final Score: Iowa 51 Maryland 14
(14)Michigan @ Wisconsin
Andy: Entering this season I was really high on this Wisconsin team. I thought they had found their future QB in Graham Mertz and had a stout defense with a lot of experienced veterans returning. So far the defense has been good, but not great for Wisconsin.. Graham Mertz on the other hand has been awful for the Badgers completing just 56% of his passes and a touchdown to interception ratio of 1 TD to 6 INT. Wisconsin has tried to compensate by running the ball a little bit more than throwing the ball, but if we’re being honest they need to go back to their old ways of rolling out 6 and 7 offensive line fronts and ramming the ball down opponents throats with a strong run game. Michigan has their identity, they stole a page out of Wisconsins’ previous playbook. The Wolverines have run the ball 185 times while throwing the ball just 65 times. Michigan has looked very strong on defense as well with the fourth best scoring defense in the country while the Badgers have the 55th best scoring defense in the country. I just think Michigan has momentum, they have their identity on both offense and defense and Wisconsin is struggling.. I like Michigan this week. Michigan 34 Wisconsin 17
Coach Rick: I think Wisconsin will win this must watch game.
Cory: Multiple times I have proclaimed that Wisconsin finally found its quarterback in Graham Mertz and it would appear that I’m wrong. Mertz is completing just 56.8 percent of his passes with one touchdown and six interceptions. The promise that was once there is completely gone, and if Wisconsin thought it was tough against Penn State and Notre Dame, the Badgers are going to really hate playing against Michigan. The Wolverines haven’t given up more than 14 points in a single game this season. Michigan doesn’t force a lot of turnovers – just three so far – however they are one of the most sound defensive teams in the country, and that does not bode well for the Badgers. The only hope for Wisconsin is to establish a healthy running game early with Chez Mellusi and use that give Mertz some easy playaction passes, however, even that might be asking too much. Michigan 28, Wisconsin 10
Gregg: I don’t want to make this about Vegas, but not sure what the wise guys see that I don’t. I realize the Badgers are at home, but if you are a weak team, you are week at home too. This game may give us a comparison between Michigan and Penn State as I see the Wolverines handling Wisconsin much better than the Nittany Lions did. Michigan’s lines are playing very well and I see that being the difference. I am yet to be impressed with Mertz behind center for the Badgers. Take Michigan and the points! Michigan 31 Wisconsin 10
Jason: Wisconsin’s has really struggled to consistently run the ball again this season and QB Graham Mertz has been erratic, especially under pressure. The Badgers have really struggled in the red zone as a result, going just 1 for 4 in the 6 point loss to Penn State and had to settle for a pair of FG’s against Notre Dame before the epic collapse late. Mertz really struggled, throwing four picks against the Irish of which two were returned for TD’s and another pair of picks against PSU. Wisconsin, despite it’s struggles on offense, has played really good defense. Even with the meltdown against ND, it wasn’t the defense, who had six sacks and under 250 yards of offense, including just 3 on the ground. Rutgers shut down Michigan’s run game and likely will have an even more difficult time in this one. If Wisconsin cuts down on the mistakes, and Michigan doesn’t take the ball away, they can get this season back on track. If not, they will continue the downward spiral. The Badgers were the better team in the Penn State game for much of the football game and held an early fourth quarter lead vs ND before the collapse. This will be a tight game for four quarters as neither offense is explosive and in the end, the Badgers will find just enough to pull off the win at home. Wisconsin 24 Michigan 20
John: Michigan managed last week to make Rutgers look like a good football team, which historically has been no small feat. This week they face a salty Badger squad that got embarrassed last week by Notre Dame. I like UW in this one. Wisconsin 28 Michigan 17
Josh: This is Michigan’s game to lose. They have not had a turnover all season and is the only team in the country who can claim that. Wisconsin lost in a closer game than what the score indicated against Notre Dame. I anticipate an emotional let down game for the Badgers, and the Wolverines win this game in a close one. Michigan 28 – Wisconsin 24.
Steven: Wisky cannot get out of their own way. It is pretty clear that quarterback play is truly the swizzle stick that stirs the drink. A quarterback can take a good team to great, (see Justin Fields for the Buckeyes last year) Clearly, Graham Mertz is not elevating his team. He’s hitting about 57% of his passes and is a turnover machine. He had 4 interceptions last week against Notre Dame. if a QB change is not before this game, it may well happen after. The matchup to watch, though, may be Wisconsin’s defense against Michigan’s run game. So far the Michigan rushing attack hasn’t been effectively contained. Wisky brings a solid run defense, and they will have to be on to the Michigan offense at bay. Even if they do challenge the run, Michigan seems to have finally found a decent quarterback. Cade McNamara is by no means a transcendent player, but as a game manager, he’s been solid. I don’t expect that he’ll be able to take over the game, (that’s RB Blake Corum’s job), he’s solid enough that he shouldn’t get rattled easily. This should be as good or better of a win for Michigan compared to Wisconsin’s match against Notre Dame. UM 42-13
Trout: As long as Graham Mertz is the quarterback for Wisconsin, they will lose this game. He started off with so much promise, but he has been straight up bad as of late. If the Badgers had a better quarterback, they could have won that game last week against Notre Dame. However, it’s not all on Mertz. Right now, Michigan is looking like the better team. They have played a bunch of nobodies, but they have beaten all those nobodies handedly. I think Wisconsin has a good defense, but I just don’t know if it’ll be enough to last against the Wolverines’ offense all four quarters. I see the game being close and low scoring going into the fourth, but at a certain point Michigan wears the Badgers down ,and pulls away. Michigan wins and hands Wisconsin it’s third loss of the season. (Michigan 31-17)
Vaughn Broadnax (OSU 1980-83): Wisconsin can’t seem to get out of their own way. If they can get things together, they might be dangerous. However, I think the weasels outscore them. Michigan wins 31-17.
Final Score: Michigan 38 Wisconsin 17
(8)Arkansas @ (2)Georgia
Andy: One of the breakout teams of the season has been the Arkansas Razorbacks, going 4-0 and coming off a huge win over Texas A&M. Georgia has been a staple in the top 10 since Kirby Smart took over as coach and this is likely his most talented team yet. Georgia’s defense has been center stage for the Bulldogs this season, being the top scoring defense in the country only allowing an average of 5.7 points per game to be scored against. On offense they’ve been much better than they usually have been currently boasting the 13th best scoring offense in the country. The Bulldogs have a balanced offense rushing for just over 700 yards and throwing for just over 1,100 yards, they also have arguably the best offensive line in the country. Arkansas has not been as balanced on offense, running the ball 188 times to just 84 pass attempts. Arkansas has just not been a scoring powerhouse on offense and in a matchup like this where the defense they’re going up against is a juggernaut I simply cannot ignore Georgia’s chances to win this game. Georgia 35 Arkansas 13
Coach Rick: Home team wins with what I do not think will be that close of a game.
Cory: A lot of people have been asking if Arkansas is legit despite wins over Texas and Texas A&M. Well, we will find out one way or the other this week when the Razorbacks visit No. 2 Georgia. We’re still not sure what kind of team Georgia is. The Bulldogs opened the season with a close win over Clemson, which seemed good at the time but now that we’ve seen how bad the Clemson offense is you can’t take away a ton from that game. To Georgia’s credit they’ve been stout defensively in their other games, though the toughest of those three was South Carolina, which isn’t saying much. Georgia will need to slow down the Arkansas run game. The Razorbacks put up 197 rushing yards on Texas A&M, and previously gashed Texas for over 300 yards on the ground. Still, Georgia is a different beast than those teams.Georgia will also be boosted by the return of starting quarterback J.T. Daniels this week. Georgia 31, Arkansas 24
Gregg: Arkansas is coming off a huge win over the Aggies. Their reward, this week they have to take on #2 Georgia in Athens. And it will not get better for them as the Razorbacks go to Ole Miss next week, and still have to visit LSU and Alabama. No wonder Phil Steele had them picked in last place in the SEC West. But I am becoming a believer in them, partly because of my theory of older teams are beating younger teams. Arkansas returns 19 starters, and have a defense that is going to win them games. I think that includes this one and I am picking the upset. Arkansas 24 Georgia 22
Jason: Arkansas QB KJ Jefferson has been the king of the big plays, but he has lacked consistency and this is the best defense he has faced all year. The Hogs are good, but the Dawgs may be arguably the best team in the country. The Georgia defense won’t surrender the big play very often and although Arkansas may hit one or two, they won’t get many. Georgia will throw the ball all over the field against a vulnerable secondary and and the Georgia train keeps on rolling. Arkansas will hang for a quarter or two, but Georgia will pull away late for the win. Georgia 42 Arkansas 24
John: Since I picked the Hogs last week, it was no surprise that they upset A&M =. No such luck this week, as they face what may be the best defense in college football this year in the Georgia Bulldogs. Georgia 28 Arkansas 10
Josh: This is a great toss up game, but there are a few injuries to be concerned about on the Arkansas side. Georgia might have the best defense in the country, and this game will be a prove it game for their offense who still has some question marks. With this game in Athens, I think this gives the Bulldogs and edge and the win. Georgia 35 – Arkansas 24
Steven: Georgia, ranked second in the nation, has mowed through their schedule so far. Arkansas is a great story with a top ten win over Texas A&M last week. As myself, and many others suspect, A&M was overrated, and elevating Arkansas to the top 10 just because a win over an overrated team is just putting an SEC team there because, oh gosh, God forbids us from having less than 3 SEC teams in the top 10. And lest we not forget that they squeaked in a 4th SEC team this week with Florida (who is probably a better team than Arkansas) bringing up the rear at 10. The hogs get barbequed in Athens. MMMMM, barbeque. Some country style pork ribs sound good. UGA 48-21
Trout: The Bulldogs win, but it’ll be closer than people suspect. I don’t believe Georgia is as good as their ranking indicates. They barely beat a bad Clemson team, and they have played three terrible teams the last few weeks. I feel like they could easily be beaten by a team like the Razorbacks in the right circumstances. Having said that, talent-wise, they are the better team. And more often than not, talent wins out. I see the Razorbacks keeping step with them for most of the game.Matching the Bulldogs blow for blow. The game should come down to the last minute of the game. This game will potentially end with a last second field goal. Georgia wins, and keeps the perception alive that they are the second best team in the country. (Georgia, 24-21)
Vaughn Broadnax (OSU 1980-83): I am jumping all in on the Arkansas bandwagon. I am going with Razorbacks to upset the Bulldogs 27-21. Even if Georgia loses they just drop a couple of spots anyway.
Final Score: Georgia 37 Arkansas 0
(7)Cincinnati @ (9)Notre Dame
Andy: Cincinnati since hiring Luke Fickell has hung it’s hat on defensive play and solid special teams while moving the ball on the ground with a mobile quarterback and taking their passing matchups where they can. Notre Dame has it’s identity on their lines of scrimmage, they’re big and nasty and can overmatch almost any opposition. Cincinnati has the 8th best scoring defense in the country and the 12th best scoring offense, they’ve found a balance on offense between quarterback Desmond Ritter and running back Jerome Ford with 8 passing touchdowns and 9 rushing touchdowns. The Fighting Irish have less balance on offense with the Irish rushing attack only accounting for 3 rushing touchdowns compared to their 11 passing touchdowns. This game is a close toss up for me, but I like the team that has more talent overall which is Notre Dame. Notre Dame 24 Cincinnati 21
Coach Rick: Notre Dame has really surprised me this season. I would really like to see Cinci win, but I do not see that happening. Notre Dame by 14.
Cory: Well, I keep doubting Notre Dame and the Irish keep on winning. Shows what I know, right? The Irish looked impressive in shutting down Wisconsin last week, though you do have to wonder if the Badger offense is just that bad. The Irish face perhaps their toughest test this week when they play host to No. 7 Cincinnati. The Bearcats are hoping to become the first non-P5 team to make it into the playoff but need to remain unbeaten to do so. Cincinnati comes in rested after a bye week, which followed a two-score win over Indiana on the road the week before. The Bearcats were in trouble in the first half of that game but really found their rhythm in the second half. Cincinnati is highly ranked but so far they haven’t been quite as dominant as they were last season. Combine with the fact that Notre Dame defensive coordinator Marcus Freeman used to coach at Cincinnati and you see that the Irish will have a pretty strong advantage in this game. Notre Dame 27, Cincinnati 17
Gregg: This should be a great game for college fooball fans to watch. I look forward to seeing the outcome here as this is probably a playoff elimination game for the loser. Of course it may not matter as they may just be trying to get 4 SEC teams in it this year. This is the biggest game of Coach Fickell’s coaching career, and they have had an extra week to prepare. Notre Dame has not looked like a top 10 team for me yet this year, but I have a feeling this may be the game they really bring it. I will give a slight edge to the home team to defend their turf and send the Group of 5 home losers once again. But I would be thrilled to see the Bearcats pull off a win. Notre Dame 35 Cincinnati 28
Jason: Notre Dame QB Jack Coan is still hurting. but he’s expected to play and an opportunistic Bearcat defense, who has six picks in the last two games, could give Coan troubles. The key for Cincinnati may be up front. Will they be able to control the line of scrimmage against a very good front four of Notre Dame? While Notre Dame struggled offensively against Wisconsin, Cincinnati’s defense isn’t nearly as talented, especially up front as the Badgers. The Bearcats are 3-0, although the none of the wins are overly impressive. Notre Dame may not be a top ten team either, only in ranking, but they have more depth and explosiveness than Cincinnati. The winner of this game will get high praise for the time being, while the loser fades into oblivion nationally. Cincinnati will come out looking to make a statement and will likely jump on ND early behind QB Desmond Ridder, but after the dust settles, the Irish defense will take over and a couple key stops in the second half will allow the Irish to take control and come away with the win. Notre Dame 38 Cincinnati 24
Joe-S-U: Notre Dame
John: Looking ahead to December. a Notre Dame win helps OSU’s long shot playoff hopes, as I think the Irish have more potentially losable games coming up than Cincy does. While I’d like to see Luke’s Bearcat’s get a signature win, I’m going with the Domers at home in a close one. Notre Dame 28 Cincinnati 24
Josh: This is a must win game for Cincinnati, who had a bye week to prepare for this one. As a fan of college football and Luke Fickell, I want the Bearcats to win, but I think this will be a back and forth game where the Irish will find a way to win in the end. I am going with the Irish, but I would love to be wrong. Notre Dame 38 – Cincinnati 34
Steven: Notre Dame, despite their 4-0 record, is probably the most overrated team in FBS, a position formerly held by Texas A&M. They haven’t been able to run effectively, and against a Luke Fickell defense it may get even tougher. I really like the Bearcat secondary. It will be tested this week by Notre Dame quarterback Jack Coan, who seems to have found a great landing spot with the Irish. He has led the team through a pretty solid first 4 weeks, but yet, the Irish has squeaked by in a couple of games they very easily could have lost, (the Irish barely beat hot garbage Florida State and Toledo). Coan is nursing a leg injury and may be out, which would hand over the reins to Freshman Drew Pyne. This tightens the margins even more. With Cincinnati’s balanced attack of veteran QB Desmond Ridder and RB Jerome Ford, I like the Bearcats to pull the slight upset. UC 31-21
Trout: I am picking the Bearcats to win in the upset. I just feel that the Notre Dame Fighting Irish are vastly overrated. They are average at best, and would get crushed if they played any of the other bluebloods of college football. The score for last week’s game is misleading. Notre Dame was able to score quick points against Wisconsin because they capitalized on mistakes by the Badgers’ offense. I think Cincinnati won’t make these mistakes. Fickell will have his team ready to play and they should be able to match what Notre Dame throws at them. This game will be very close, potentially coming down to the last drive. And I see the Bearcat offense doing just enough to beat the Irish defense. Bearcats win in a close, hard fought game, and they knock the Irish out of Playoff contention. (Cincinnati, 27-21)
Vaughn Broadnax (OSU 1980-83): I am rooting big for the Fighting Luke Fickells. Unfortunately, Notre Dame is as lucky as you can get. Hoping my prediction is wrong, I am going with Notre Dame over Cincy 24-21.
Final Score: Cincinnati 24 Notre Dame 13
(12)Mississippi @ (1)Alabama
Andy: Last year this game turned into an offensive fireworks show between Rebels head coach Lane Kiffin and former Tide offensive coordinator Steve Sarkisian the two teams combined for 111 total points and 1,370 yards of total offense. This year there is a big difference between the two teams, scoring defense. Alabama is currently 27th in the nation and Ole Miss is 61st in the nation. This will be a matchup of the quarterbacks, the redshirt freshman for Alabama Bryce Young is off to a white hot start, completing over 72% of his passes with 15 touchdowns to just 1 interception. The Rebels also have their own stud in Matt Coral who is completing 69% of his passes with 9 touchdowns to zero interceptions. With a big difference in defense I think the only way for Ole Miss to win this game is to establish a consistent run threat to keep the clock in their favor, and I think they can do it. The Rebels have had four different runners this season who already over 100 yards rushing and have accounted for 10 of the teams 11 rushing touchdowns. Can Alabama stave off the balanced offense of the Rebels? Alabama 45 Ole Miss 41
Coach Rick: Bama is in a league of their own. I have them winning by 17.
Cory: I’m not sure how good Ole Miss is, and I’m not sure their season will end up being anything special. However, I do think that their game against Alabama this week will be very entertaining. Both teams feature excellent offenses, and if there’s one thing Ole Miss does well is that the Rebels play up to Alabama. Ole Miss has a balanced offense but their led by their star quarterback Matt Corral, who’s got nine touchdowns and no interceptions. Corral is currently considered the favorite to win the Heisman. We’ll see if the Crimson Tide have anything to say about that. Alabama 45, Ole Miss 38
Gregg: I want Alabama to lose, we NEED Alabama to lose, college football would be better if Alabama losses. Kiffin has a chance to give Saban his first loss against a former assistant, where Saban is 23-0. I think this will be closer than most think but Alabama still finds a way to make this a comfortable victory. Alabama 41 Mississippi 35
Jason: The Bama offense has been real good against Miami, Mercer and Southern Miss, but playing a team with a pulse like Florida and they looked human. Florida just didn’t have enough offensively to pull off the upset. Ole Miss does. QB Matt Corral may be the best QB in the country and did hit Bama for nearly 650 yards of offense a year ago in a loss. This year is different and the D is improved. They are more bend, don’t break, but still improved over a year ago and the Rebels can score it at a high level. Ole Miss has a great team with an outstanding offense and a big-time playmaker of a quarterback, but it’s not like they’ve faced a murderers row of opponents. Bama has their flaws and Nick Saban has so eloquently pointed that out, but overall they are balanced on both sides of the football. They are still looking to really put it all together. This game could be a coming out party for the Tide with a dominant win or it could be the beginnings of a Heisman Trophy campaign for Corral. The outcome of this one is probably somewhere in the middle. Bama has the better defense and defense still wins championships. Corral will be good, but not quite good enough and the Tide continue to roll. Alabama 49 Ole Miss 38
John: While Alabama has looked mortal already this season, the dark side is still strong with them. Until someone knocks off the Tide, I’m not picking against them. Alabama 31 Ole Miss 21
Josh: Nick Saban is still undefeated against his former assistant coaches. Last year was a high scoring affair and showed the doubt in the Alabama defense which other teams exploited. This year, there are still holes in the defense, but they have a really explosive offense. They dont have the same running back depth like they have before, so Ole Miss needs to slow down the passing game and Bryce Young to have a chance. It is hard to pick against Nick Saban. I am going with the Tide but a close game. Alabama 49 – Ole Miss 42.
Steven: Until anyone gives Alabama a game, no one is going to pick against them, including me. Ole Miss has had a nice start to the season, but have been feasting on some lesser teams. Dominating is good, but dominating Louisville, Austin Peay and Tulane isn’t taking on Murderer’s Row. It’s time to step up a league and come down to earth. Mississippi quarterback Matt Corral has been passing a ton but has been sacked 6 times already by pretty inferior competition. If the line doesn’t step up, Alabama’s defensive front will have a field day. Ole Miss may be able to score a bit, but the Tide defense should be able to limit their possessions enough to have the game wrapped up by halftime. ‘Bama 44-28
Trout: I think Alabama wins this game comfortably. The Crimson Tide still look like the best team in the country, and I don’t think there is a team out there right now that could beat them. The Rebels should be able to put up some points and keep the game close for a while. I think Ole Miss can be a good team, but they will never be in the top echelon of college football under Lane Kiffin. He’s an average coach that has somehow failed upwards throughout his career. it’ll be a good, close game for a while. but I just don’t see the Ole Miss Rebels keeping up with Alabama for all four quarters. At some point in the second half, Alabama starts to pull away, and the Rebel will be unable to catch up. The Crimson Tide win and remain the best team in the country. (Alabama, 49-28)
Vaughn Broadnax (OSU 1980-83): Ole Miss has an outstanding offense and Alabama has shown some kinks in their armor. This will probably be a score fest with the last team who has the ball wins. My prediction is that Lane Kiffin will not be the first former Nick Saban assistant to beat him. Alabama wins 48-45.