Week 5 College Football Picks From WhatIfSports.com image

Week 5 College Football Picks

NCAA football predictions for every FBS game
By Paul Bessire, WhatIfSports.com
September 28th, 2009

Each Monday morning, we will preview every college football DI FBS game of the upcoming week. All of our college football content, including our most recent power rankings and links to the pre-season preview are located here.

The inputs to the 10,000 simulations of these games are based on a rigorous analysis of each team that considers strength-of-schedule-adjusted team and player ratings and then makes modifications for injuries and depth at each position. To see other picks like our Upset and Locks of the Week, as well as our season-to-date performance, click here.

Game of the Week: #27 LSU 20 @ #20 Georgia 26
The college football schedule lacks any huge matchups in Week 5, but there are some pretty big conference games, especially in the SEC with LSU @ Georgia, Auburn @ Tennessee and Alabama @ Kentucky (not to mention an interesting game between Arkansas and Texas A&M at Cowboy Stadium). LSU @ Georgia was our original Week 5 Game of the Week and it's still the biggest game on the schedule. However, four weeks into the season, despite the fact that each team has won the games we expected them to, we are predicting a different winner in this game than we thought in the pre-season.

Georgia went into Baton Rouge last season and beat 13th-ranked LSU in a 52-38 shootout. It was the highlight of an otherwise disappointing season for the Bulldogs and a crushing defeat to the Tigers, who lost three of their next five games after the game against Georgia.

This season, LSU is undefeated and ranked by some as one of the top five teams in the nation. The numbers would suggest otherwise. Playing against two teams, Washington and Mississippi State, that are 4-4 on the year and were 4-20 in 2008, LSU is only outscoring its opponents by six points a game on the road. What should be a vaunted running attack with a stable of great running backs is averaging just 3.8 yards-per-carry on 34.5 rushes-per-game in 2009. That's 77th best in FBS and about even with what their opponents are generating. Sophomore quarterback Jordan Jefferson and the passing game have been efficient, yet have not had to be counted on to make big plays with the game on the line (especially after the punt return team and goalline defense bailed out the Tigers last Saturday). LSU may be undefeated, but has not yet played like a top 25 team, let alone a top five team.

Georgia, on the other hand, shook off an early-season road loss to Oklahoma State, a legitimate top 20 team nationally, to win three impressive shootouts. In the past three games, including facing two excellent defenses in South Carolina and Arizona State, the Bulldogs are averaging 37.7 points. Joe Cox, Richard Samuel and A.J. Green have more than adequately replaced top NFL picks Matthew Stafford, Knowshon Moreno and Mohamed Massaquoi. Green, a true sophomore, leads the way with 428 yards receiving on 25 catches. He currently projects to gain 1,284 yards on 75 catches and score 12 TDs in the regular season. He may have a tougher week than usual facing fellow sophomore Patrick Peterson and the LSU secondary, but Green is still poised for a big game.

In 10,000 simulations, the Georgia Bulldogs make the most of their big play abilities and homefield advantage to win 62.2% of the time and by an average score of 26-20.

Other Notable Games in Week 5
In other SEC conference games worth watching this weekend, Auburn edges Tennessee 68.4% of the time and by an average score of 26-21; and Alabama goes to Lexington to throttle Kentucky 95% of the time and by an average score of 39-8. In the PAC-10, USC takes advantage of a beaten down Cal Bears squad by winning 68.4% of the time and by an average score of 25-21; and Stanford defeats UCLA 77.1% of the time and by an average score of 25-13. In the Big Ten, Michigan just gets by Michigan State in Lansing, winning 53.7% of the time and by an average score of 25-24; and, in its first road game of the year, Wisconsin takes Paul Bunyan's Axe by winning over Minnesota 84.1% of the time and by an average score of 29-18.

While there may not be many "must-watch" games, there are several intriguing matchups in non-conference play this week. In what should be a fun game to watch between two teams that have been pleasant surprises thus far, Texas A&M beats Arkansas - Jerry Jones' alma mater - 70.4% of the time and by an average score of 34-24 at Cowboy Stadium. Sam Bradford or not (after Landry Jones peformance against Tulsa and Miami's disspointing output at Virginia Tech, it doesn't really matter), Oklahoma defeats the Hurricanes 67.8% of the time and by an average score of 26-21. Air Force and Navy square off in in their own version of the Armed Forces Bowl, won 55.7.% of the time by Navy. And, inconsistent Georgia Tech goes to Mississippi State and escapes with a win just 60.1% of the time and by an average score of 20-18.

To see other picks like our Upset of the Week and Lock of the Week, as well as our season-to-date performance, click here.

Week 5 Scores for Every FBS Game

MatchupHome Win%Avg Score
Kent State @ Baylor95.0 6.2-34.4
Texas Southern @ Rutgers95.0 8.6-35.6
Southern Methodist @ TCU95.0 8.9-40.6
Washington State @ Oregon95.0 8.7-39.0
South Carolina State @ South Carolina95.0 5.8-34.4
California-Davis @ Boise State95.0 4.8-57.8
New Mexico @ Texas Tech94.0 7.9-30.1
Utah State @ Brigham Young91.016.9-36.4
Florida International @ Louisiana-Monroe84.111.6-27.2
Arkansas State @ Iowa82.612.7-27.2
Colorado @ West Virginia81.713.5-26.8
Virginia @ North Carolina81.1 6.2-16.5
Northwestern @ Purdue80.614.5-29.7
Memphis @ UCF77.6 8.4-18.2
UCLA @ Stanford77.112.9-25.1
New Mexico State @ San Diego State72.1 8.6-17.3
Arkansas @ Texas A&M70.423.9-33.5
Tulane @ Army67.713.3-21.2
Western Michigan @ Northern Illinois65.814.6-22.2
Kansas State @ Iowa State65.120.5-28.8
Washington @ Notre Dame62.221.8-28.7
LSU @ Georgia62.219.7-25.7
East Carolina @ Marshall61.715.2-20.1
Oregon State @ Arizona State59.712.8-18.8
UNLV @ Nevada57.221.0-25.8
Air Force @ Navy55.723.4-27.4
Michigan @ Michigan State46.324.6-24.1
Georgia Tech @ Mississippi State39.919.7-18.4
Florida State @ Boston College35.918.4-15.4
Wyoming @ Florida Atlantic32.819.1-15.7
Oklahoma @ Miami (FL)32.226.3-21.1
USC @ California31.624.5-20.6
Auburn @ Tennessee31.626.3-21.0
North Carolina State @ Wake Forest27.423.1-17.9
Pittsburgh @ Louisville23.925.7-18.4
Central Michigan @ Buffalo23.922.6-13.6
Ohio @ Bowling Green21.915.5- 9.8
Temple @ Eastern Michigan21.321.4-13.0
Mississippi @ Vanderbilt16.922.7-11.6
Wisconsin @ Minnesota15.928.7-17.6
Clemson @ Maryland11.925.7-10.6
Colorado State @ Idaho11.429.4-17.3
Hawaii @ Louisiana Tech11.033.6-21.2
Southern Miss @ UAB10.630.6-15.7
Penn State @ Illinois 8.527.5-11.5
Toledo @ Ball State 8.533.3-13.7
Ohio State @ Indiana 7.328.5-11.5
Virginia Tech @ Duke 5.033.1-10.4
South Florida @ Syracuse 5.033.9-10.5
Houston @ UTEP 5.041.1- 7.5
Tulsa @ Rice 5.036.2-11.7
Cincinnati @ Miami (OH) 5.044.5- 8.1
Alabama @ Kentucky 5.039.2- 7.6

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Paul Bessire is the Product Manager of Content and Quantitative Analysis for WhatIfSports.com, a division of FOX Sports Interactive specializing in NCAA Matchup analysis and college football sim games. With any comments, questions or topic suggestions, Paul can be reached at BtB@whatifsports.com. Thanks!

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