Baker’s Breakdown: Week 5 College Football Preview

Week 4 of the college football season saw six ranked teams lose and many more struggle against unranked teams. In Week 5, the football gods have blessed us with four matchups between ranked opponents, including two between top 10 teams. With many more upsets in store, let’s dive into some of the big games this week.

#8 Arkansas Razorbacks at #2 Georgia Bulldogs

The Razorbacks(4-0) dominated both sides of the ball in their statement win versus Texas A&M. Their schedule doesn’t get any easier as they travel to face the Bulldogs(4-0). Georgia is arguably the most complete team in the nation. Quarterback JT Daniels has hit his stride after struggling Week 1 while their defense is as suffocating as ever. The Bulldogs will have their hands full with Razorback’s receiver Treylon Burks, but Adam Anderson, Channing Tindall and co. should have no issue slowing down Arkansas. Quarterback KJ Jefferson played his best game of the season against A&M and will need a repeat performance in order to take down the mighty Bulldogs.

The Bulldogs defense will be too much for the upset-minded Razorbacks.

Prediction: Bulldogs 28, Razorbacks 10

Arizona State Sun Devils at #20 UCLA Bruins

The two best teams in the Pac-12 South face off in a pivotal game at the Rose Bowl. Both teams bounced back from losses with convincing wins and look to keep their momentum going. The Sun Devils (3-1) could really be 4-0 if not for some costly turnovers vs. BYU. A matchup to watch in this game is the Sun Devil run game against a Bruin defense that is only allowing 64 rush yards per game. Both running back Rachaad White and quarterback Jayden Daniels like to run the ball. They will need to get creative against a tough front seven if they want to have equal success running the ball. Arizona State’s top 10 defense will be tested against the best offense they have faced all year. Zach Charbonnet is a strong runner and Kyle Philips has the ability to take the top off the defense with his speed.

On the road, Arizona State won’t be able to consistently stop UCLA’s explosive offense.

Prediction: Bruins 31, Sun Devils 27

#21 Baylor Bears at #19 Oklahoma State Cowboys

One may argue that these are the two best teams in the Big 12. Both teams won at home vs. ranked opponents and now face prove-it games against each other. The Bears (4-0) love to pound the rock with their backfield duo of Abram Smith and Trestan Ebner. Ebner is also a threat in the return game. He has already returned one kickoff for a touchdown this season. For the Cowboys (4-0), quarterback Spencer Sanders has been mediocre despite their record. Like the Bears, the Cowboys like to run the ball. Jaylen Warren leads the way in the backfield and Sanders also contributes on the round. Baylor’s run defense is middle of the pack, and the Cowboys will need to plan their offensive game plan on running the ball because they won’t have much passing against a strong secondary.

In a game that should see a lot of run plays, whoever wins in the trenches will come away with the victory.

Prediction: Bears 24, Cowboys 20

#6 Oklahoma Sooners at Kansas State Wildcats

The Sooners (4-0) snuck past the Mountaineers in uninspiring victory and now travel to Manhattan, Kansas to play a team they haven’t beat in two years. The Wildcats (3-1) have been the kryptonite for the Sooners as of recent, but most likely will be without starting quarterback Skyler Thompson who is still recovering from a knee injury. Sophomore Will Howard will be under center and will need to rely on running back Deuce Vaughn, who possesses one of the better names in college football, who has run the ball well this season. For the Sooners, Spencer Rattler continues to struggle. There is a reason Rattler is a top NFL prospect, but he has yet to put up the numbers to back it up.

Oklahoma has yet to put together a complete game on both sides of the ball, and I don’t think it happens against Kansas State. Rattler will outperform Howard and lead the Sooners to victory.

Prediction: Sooners 34, Wildcats 27

#7 Cincinnati Bearcats at #9 Notre Dame Fighting Irish

Maybe I was wrong about the Irish. The Irish (4-0) dominated both sides of the ball against the Badgers. Backup quarterback Drew Pyne filled in well for Jack Coan, after he left with an injury, while their defense forced Mertz into 4 INTs, returning two for six. Their schedule doesn’t get any easier as they face off against a Bearcats team (3-0) who haven’t lost a regular-season game since 2019. Whether it’s Pyne or Coan under center, the Irish will continue to have a balanced offensive attack. Even though the Irish have struggled to run the ball, it has opened up the field for them to take deep shots into the end zone.

While quarterback Desmond Ridder is having a solid season for the Bearcats, they really pride themselves on their defense. They have forced nine turnovers through three games. They will look to do the same against whichever Irish quarterback they face. This is a de facto College Football Playoff elimination game for both teams. Expect a tense, physical game between two top 10 teams. The Bearcats’ strong defense will be the difference against an Irish team that has struggled to protect the quarterback.

Prediction: Bearcats 27, Irish 21

Game of the Week: #12 Ole Miss Rebels at #1 Alabama Crimson Tide

Heisman favorite Matt Corral leads Rebels (3-0) into Bryant-Denny Stadium to take on Bryce Young and the top-ranked Tide (4-0). It would be an understatement to say Corral has impressed this season. He leads the top-ranked offense in college in terms of yards and points per game and has 14 total touchdowns on the season. His counterpart Bryce Young has had a stellar start to the season too. With 15 touchdown passes to his name, Young appears to be the next great Alabama quarterback under head coach Nick Saban. Bama should get a boost on offense with the return of starting running back Brian Robinson Jr., who missed the last game with a rib injury.

In a game where defense will be optional, I don’t expect either offense to be slowed down on Saturday. Bama in a close one.

Prediction: Tide 44, Rebels 41