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College Football Week 5: Schedule, odds, picks and game previews

College Park, Maryland, USA; Maryland Terrapins quarterback Taulia Tagovailoa (3) throws from the pocket during the first half against the Kent State Golden Flashes at Capital One Field at Maryland Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports

This is one of the biggest weekends of the 2021 college football season

There are three matchups between top-15 teams and a handful of others that feature top-ranked programs that should be on upset alert. We are still months away from finding out who makes the College Football Playoff (CFP), but this is a weekend that will either improve or damage teams’ resumes.


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Below, you’ll find the college football Week 5 schedule, game lines, a guide to PFF Greenline betting picks and a game preview for the most notable matchups. Please note that the lines are courtesy of our friends over at DraftKings Sportsbook and are subject to change up until kickoff.

Related content for you: Highest-graded players at every position through Week 4 of the 2021 college football season via Seth Galina

NO. 5 IOWA at MARYLAND

Friday, Oct. 1 | 8:00 PM EST | FS1

Spread: Iowa -4 (-105)
Total: 46
Moneyline: Iowa -180, Maryland +155

There isn’t a more underrated team in college football than the Maryland Terrapins, and their quarterback Taulia Tagovailoa is a key reason why. He is playing better than anyone in college football, regardless of position. Tagovailoa has earned a 93.3 PFF grade through Week 4 and is one of three Power-Five quarterbacks who have taken 100 dropbacks without recording a turnover-worthy play.

Maryland QB Taulia Tagovailoa in 2021
Game PFF Grade BTT:TWP
Week 1 vs. WVU 86.6 3:0
Week 2 vs. Howard 88.2 2:0
Week 3 at Illinois 91.4 3:0
Week 4 vs. Kent State 90.4 3:0

Tagovailoa’s decision-making and poise are much better than last season. Nonetheless, those traits will get tested on Friday night against one of the best coverage units in the country. Iowa defensive coordinator Phil Parker has bred this zone defense full of two- and three-star recruits into a juggernaut that is designed to force quarterbacks into making bad decisions. Outside corners Matt Hankins and Riley Moss are two heady playmakers in Iowa’s defense who have been on a tear to start the year.

Highest-graded outside CBs in the Power Five entering Week 5
Player PFF Coverage Grade on the Outside
1. Matt Hankins, Iowa 90.0
2. Roger McCreary, Auburn 89.8
3. Riley Moss, Iowa 85.4
4. Trent McDuffie, Washington 81.7
5. A.J. Hampton Jr., Northwestern 81.3

A true strength versus strength battle. 

Click here for PFF Greenline’s cover probabilities for side, total and moneyline.

NO. 8 ARKANSAS at NO. 2 GEORGIA

Saturday, Oct. 2 | 12:00 PM EST | ESPN

Spread: Georgia -18.5 (-110)
Total: 49
Moneyline: Georgia -1125, Arkansas +700

These two SEC teams are successful because of the defensive side of the ball, but for different reasons. For Georgia, it’s all about the sheer amount of physical talent on its roster. South Carolina Shane Beamer said it best a few weeks ago after the loss to the Dawgs:

“There wasn’t some magical scheme they came out with tonight. They’ve got five-star recruits everywhere and they play really physical … damn.” — Beamer when asked about Georgia’s defensive approach

While there is plenty to like within Georgia’s defense schematically, Beamer is right. This Georgia defense is one of the most physically gifted that college football has seen, which is why they lead the Power Five in team-defense grade, EPA per pass allowed, success rate against and yards per attempt against. 

Lowest yards per attempt allowed in the Power Five
Team YPA Allowed
1. Georgia 4.58
2. Arkansas 4.62
3. Texas A&M 4.89
4. Clemson 5.18
Power Five Avg. 6.59

Arkansas — the No. 2 team in yards per attempt allowed in the Power Five — is a little bit different. The Razorbacks win because of scheme, instincts and experience in addition to their physicality. Defensive coordinator Barry Odom runs a versatile system and plays multiple, but he is notorious for exposing passers with his 3-2-6 defense that minimizes passing lanes. He did that against Texas in Week 2 and Texas A&M in Week 4, and it’s likely he will do it again against Todd Monken’s pro-style offense. Arkansas ranks seventh in success rate against among Power-Five teams but is in the bottom half of that group in team-defense grade, which can be attributed to the system.

How Georgia quarterback JT Daniels fares against Arkansas’ defense will be the big deciding factor in this one. The windows will be smaller downfield against the Razorbacks, and that’s not an area of strength for Daniels. He has yet to complete a pass to a tight or closing window over 10 yards downfield and has two interceptions on such plays.

It wouldn’t be a surprise to see Georgia come out on offense with a similar game plan to the one it executed against Clemson in Week 1: Limiting risk in the passing attack by focusing on short, quick throws while letting the defense win the ball game.

Click here for PFF Greenline’s cover probabilities for side, total and moneyline.

NO. 14 MICHIGAN at WISCONSIN

Saturday, Oct. 2 | 12:00 PM EST | FOX

Spread: Wisconsin -1 (-110)
Total: 43.5
Moneyline: Wisconsin -120, Michigan +100

Wisconsin quarterback Graham Mertz has been a problem for the Badgers in 2021. He crumbled in big moments against Penn State and Notre Dame this year, posting eight turnover-worthy plays and a 24% quarterback-fault incompletion rate in those two outings. Those bad decisions and inaccurate throws led him to a 35.4 passing grade against the two top-10 teams. This week, it’ll be important for him to calm down against a stout Michigan defense that ranks sixth nationally in team-defense grade. 

Wolverines star edge defender Aidan Hutchinson — the highest-graded player at the position in the Power Five — is bound to get in Mertz's face on multiple occasions going up an underperforming Badgers’ offensive line

This has the makings of a classic ground-and-pound, low-scoring Big Ten game.

Click here for PFF Greenline’s cover probabilities for side, total and moneyline.

NO. 7 CINCINNATI at NO. 9 NOTRE DAME

Saturday, Oct. 2 | 2:30 PM EST | NBC

Spread: Cincinnati -2.5 (+100)
Total: 51
Moneyline: Cincinnati -120, Notre Dame +100

There’s some reason to worry about Notre Dame’s offense ahead of its showdown with a ferocious Cincinnati defense.

It’s no secret that the Irish’s offensive line is well below the program’s standards this year. It has a pass-blocking grade that's over 12 grading points lower than in any other season of the PFF College era. The offensive line has allowed 12 sacks overall through four games, which is already more than any of the seven seasons before that.

Remember, not all pressure is on the offensive line. Some of it’s on the quarterback too, and Jack Coan has been eating sacks and inviting in pressure. Coan has been charged with five sacks this season, tying for the second-most in the Power Five. Along with that, no Power Five quarterback has converted pressure to sacks at a higher rate than Coan this year.

Highest rate of pressures being converted to sacks in Power Five (min. 25 pressured DBs)
QB Pressure to Sack %
Jack Coan, Notre Dame 37.7%
Brandon Peters, Illinois 34.6%
Sam Howell, UNC 31.4%
Tanner Morgan, Minnesota 27.6%
Dorian Thompson-Robinson, UCLA 26.5%

A lackluster offensive line paired with poor pocket presence at quarterback can hinder offensive output. Throw in the fact that it's facing one of the best pass-rush units in the country, and there is real reason for concern. The Bearcats have the highest-graded pass-rush unit in college football, led by first-round draft prospect Myjai Sanders.

Click here for PFF Greenline’s cover probabilities for side, total and moneyline.

NO. 12 OLE MISS at NO. 1 ALABAMA

Saturday, Oct. 2 | 3:30 PM EST | CBS

Spread: Alabama -14.5 (-105)
Total: 80
Moneyline: Alabama -650, Ole Miss +460

Ole Miss and Alabama partook in one of the best offensive shootouts of the 2020 season, and they could very well do that again this Saturday. Both offenses have been a load for defenses in 2021 and rank second and third respectively among Power Five offenses in per-play efficiency.

Most efficient power five offenses through Week 4
Team EPA per play
1. Texas Longhorns 0.29
2. Ole Miss Rebels 0.26
3. Alabama Crimson Tide 0.25

Rebels quarterback Matt Corral has picked up where he left off in 2020, executing Lane Kiffin’s offense to near perfection. He has earned a 75.0-plus passing grade in each start en route to an 89.6 overall mark for the season. The former is something he has done in 77% of his starts since 2020, the highest among active FBS quarterbacks.

Highest rate of games with a passing grade above 75.0 since 2020 (active QBs only, min. 8 games with 15-plus dropbacks)
Player Rate
1. Matt Corral, Ole Miss 77% (10/13)
2. Taulia Tagovailoa, Maryland 75% (6/8)
3. Spencer Rattler, Oklahoma 70% (7/10)
4. Brennan Armstrong, Virginia 67% (8/12)
5. Grayson McCall, Coastal Carolina 64% (9/14)

Consistency is what Corral has, and it's something the Crimson Tide need from their quarterback, Bryce Young. The first-year starter is coming off an incredible outing against Southern Miss that won him PFF Offensive Player of the Week honors. Unlike his first three games, Young played within the structure of the offense to near perfection. He averaged 14.4 yards per attempt from a clean pocket and earned a 94.2 PFF grade overall. Young carrying that consistency into Week 5 is pivotal for Alabama.

Click here for PFF Greenline’s cover probabilities for side, total and moneyline.

NO. 3 OREGON at STANFORD

Saturday, Oct. 2 | 3:30 PM EST | ABC

Spread: Oregon -8 (-110)
Total: 58
Moneyline: Oregon -335, Stanford +260

Oregon has to clean up some things before being mentioned in the same breath as the CFP. The main thing is the inconsistencies in the pass defense. There were a lot of weak spots in coverage when the team faced quality passing offenses — Fresno State and Ohio State — in Weeks 1 and 2. It specifically struggled in zone coverage, as Oregon's defense earned a sub-50.0 coverage grade that ranked last in the Power Five. The Ducks surrendered 20 explosive receptions of 15-plus yards in those first two weeks, the second-most in the Power Five. They’ve beaten weak competition the last couple of weeks and forced a load of interceptions, but until they can do it against a quality passing offense, it’s something to worry about.

So far in 2021, Stanford certainly fits the bill of a quality passing offense, as the Cardinals have the most efficient passing offense in the Pac-12 when Tanner McKee has been on the field. McKee has taken great care of the football, boasting only a 1.6% turnover-worthy play rate, and has thrown with excellent touch downfield. 

 PFF Greenline uses exclusive game and player data to make projections on NCAA game spreads, moneyline, and over/under.

Click here for PFF Greenline’s cover probabilities for side, total and moneyline.

NO. 10 FLORIDA at KENTUCKY

Saturday, Oct. 2 | 6:00 PM EST | ESPN

Spread: Florida -8.5 (-110)
Total: 55
Moneyline: Florida -335, Kentucky +260

These two teams have flowed in opposite directions to start the 2021 season. Kentucky was on a heater offensively the first two weeks before slipping back to reality in the last two while Florida started off slow and is now trending up.

Wildcats quarterback Will Levis went from a 90.8 passing grade in his first two games to a 53.0 mark in his last two against Chattanooga and South Carolina. What was different about Kentucky's thin win over the Gamecocks last week was Levis’ average depth of target. It was low (3.4 yards), which was nearly nine yards fewer than his mark over the first three weeks.

As for Gators quarterback Emory Jones, he put up the type of performance that Florida desperately needed to see in Week 4. Jones was much more accurate and composed as a passer, and he made plenty of plays on the ground. Jones ranks inside the top five among Power-Five quarterbacks in rushing grade (79.6), broken tackles (19) and 10-plus yard runs (13) entering Week 5.

Click here for PFF Greenline’s cover probabilities for side, total and moneyline.

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NO. 21 BAYLOR at NO. 19 OKLAHOMA STATE

Saturday, Oct. 2 | 7:00 PM EST | ESPN2

Spread: Oklahoma State -3.5 (-115)
Total: 49
Moneyline: Oklahoma State -180, Baylor +155

Baylor and Oklahoma State have been two surprise teams so far this year.

The Bears revamped their offense with the addition of Jeff Grimes (formerly of BYU) as their offensive coordinator. His wide-zone/play-action-centric offense has been the backbone of a hot 4-0 start. With play-action, quarterback Gerry Bohanon has led the team to 0.62 EPA per pass play while earning an 87.2 passing grade and completing 31 of 40 for 477 yards and five touchdowns. Grimes has bolstered their wide zone run usage nearly 50% to a Power Five high 67% usage rate, and they have been productive, averaging 7.0 yards per carry as a team on such plays. 

Iowa State did a good job of stopping the Baylor offense as the game progressed last week, but the Bears had enough success early on to hold onto the W.

As for Oklahoma State, it’s been all about the defense. Last week, the coverage unit made as many plays on the ball as first downs allowed in coverage (seven). Overall, on the year, Oklahoma State has allowed the 11th-lowest catch rate on throws of 10-plus yards among Power-Five programs. It is also sixth in explosive run rate against.

Click here for PFF Greenline’s cover probabilities for side, total and moneyline.

INDIANA at NO. 4 PENN STATE

Saturday, Oct. 2 | 7:30 PM EST | ABC

Spread: Penn State -10.5 (-110)
Total: 52.5
Moneyline: Penn State -450, Indiana +340

Penn State will be seeking revenge this weekend after last year’s upset loss to Indiana that derailed its entire season. 

The Nittany Lions have exceeded expectations thus far in 2021, especially when it comes to the quarterback position. Sean Clifford has earned an 85.6 passing grade through four games and has yet to give the opposition a chance at taking the ball away with zero turnover-worthy plays in that stretch. The big improvement from his 2019 and 2020 seasons is that he's not using the deep passing game to win, as Clifford has been great throwing to the short and intermediate levels of the field. His passing grade on throws of 19 yards or less is among the 10 best in the FBS.

Penn State’s defense has proven to be well-rounded with standout performers at each position group, such as edge defender Arnold Ebiketie, who is the fourth-highest-graded edge defender when rushing the passer in the Power Five this season. He’ll face one of the weaker offensive lines in college football this week.

Highest pressure rate allowed in the Power Five
Team Pressure Rate Allowed
Power Five Avg. 27.2%
62. Syracuse Orange 39.8%
63. Indiana Hoosiers 42.3%
64. Kansas State Wildcats 48.3%
65. Nebraska Cornhuskers 55.1%

Indiana quarterback Michael Penix Jr. is used to this kind of pressure on a weekly basis, and he overcame the heat in the Hoosiers’ big win over the Nittany Lions in 2020, but it’s not going to be easy to do it again. He made some crucial mistakes under pressure against Iowa and Cincinnati this year, leading to a 37.7 PFF grade when under pressure this year (81.5 when clean).

Click here for PFF Greenline’s cover probabilities for side, total and moneyline.

THE REST OF THE FBS SLATE:

 

VIRGINIA at MIAMI (FL)

Thursday, Sep. 30 | 7:30 PM EST | ESPN

 

HOUSTON at TULSA

Friday, Oct. 1 | 7:30 PM EST | ESPN

 

NO. 13 BYU at UTAH STATE

Friday, Oct. 1 | 9:00 PM EST | ESPN

 

TENNESSEE at MISSOURI

Saturday, Oct. 2 | 12:00 PM EST | SEC Network

 

CHARLOTTE at ILLINOIS

Saturday, Oct. 2 | 12:00 PM EST | BTN Network

 

PITT at GEORGIA TECH

Saturday, Oct. 2 | 12:00 PM EST | ACC Network

 

DUKE at NORTH CAROLINA

Saturday, Oct. 2 | 12:00 PM EST | ESPN2

 

MINNESOTA at PURDUE

Saturday, Oct. 2 | 12:00 PM EST | BTN Network

 

TOLEDO at UMASS

Saturday, Oct. 2 | 12:00 PM EST

 

TEXAS at TCU

Saturday, Oct. 2 | 12:00 PM EST | ABC

 

MEMPHIS at TEMPLE

Saturday, Oct. 2 | 12:00 PM EST | ESPNU

 

WESTERN MICHIGAN at BUFFALO

Saturday, Oct. 2 | 12:00 PM EST | CBS SPORTS NETWORK

 

LOUISVILLE at NO. 24 WAKE FOREST

Saturday, Oct. 2 | 12:30 PM EST | ESPN3

 

APP STATE at GEORGIA STATE

Saturday, Oct. 2 | 2:00 PM EST | ESPN+

 

USC at COLORADO

Saturday, Oct. 2 | 2:00 PM EST | Pac-12 Network

 

UL-MONROE at NO. 16 COASTAL CAROLINA

Saturday, Oct. 2 | 2:30 PM EST | ESPN+

 

EASTERN MICHIGAN at NORTHERN ILLINOIS

Saturday, Oct. 2 | 2:30 PM EST | ESPN+

 

NO. 11 OHIO STATE at RUTGERS

Saturday, Oct. 2 | 3:30 PM EST | BTN Network

 

TROY at SOUTH CAROLINA

Saturday, Oct. 2 | 3:30 PM EST | SEC Network

 

FIU at FAU

Saturday, Oct. 2 | 3:30 PM EST

 

SYRACUSE at FLORIDA STATE

Saturday, Oct. 2 | 3:30 PM EST | ACC Network

 

TEXAS TECH at WEST VIRGINIA

Saturday, Oct. 2 | 3:30 PM EST | ESPN2

 

UCF at NAVY

Saturday, Oct. 2 | 3:30 PM EST | CBS Sports Network

 

TULANE at ECU

Saturday, Oct. 2 | 3:30 PM EST | ESPN+

 

CENTRAL MICHIGAN at MIAMI (OH)

Saturday, Oct. 2 | 3:30 PM EST | ESPN+

 

OHIO at AKRON

Saturday, Oct. 2 | 3:30 PM EST | ESPN3

 

BOWLING GREEN at KENT STATE

Saturday, Oct. 2 | 3:30 PM EST | ESPN+

 

NEVADA at BOISE STATE

Saturday, Oct. 2 | 3:30 PM EST | FS1

 

SOUTH FLORIDA at SMU

Saturday, Oct. 2 | 4:00 PM EST | ESPNU

 

ARK STATE at GEORGIA SOUTHERN

Saturday, Oct. 2 | 4:00 PM EST | ESPN+

 

ARMY at BALL STATE

Saturday, Oct. 2 | 5:00 PM EST | ESPN+

 

WASHINGTON STATE at CAL

Saturday, Oct. 2 | 5:30 PM EST | PAC-12 Network

 

LA TECH at NO. 23 NC STATE

Saturday, Oct. 2 | 6:00 PM EST | ESPN+/ACC Network Extra

 

UNLV at UTSA

Saturday, Oct. 2 | 6:00 PM EST | ESPN+

 

SOUTHERN MISS at RICE

Saturday, Oct. 2 | 6:30 PM EST | ESPN3

 

AIR FORCE at NEW MEXICO

Saturday, Oct. 2 | 6:30 PM EST | FS2

 

MISSISSIPPI STATE at NO. 15 TEXAS A&M

Saturday, Oct. 2 | 7:00 PM EST | SEC Network

 

MARSHALL at MIDDLE TENNESSEE

Saturday, Oct. 2 | 7:00 PM EST 

 

LIBERTY at UAB

Saturday, Oct. 2 | 7:00 PM EST | CBS Sports Network

 

KANSAS at IOWA STATE

Saturday, Oct. 2 | 7:00 PM EST | FS1

 

WESTERN KENTUCKY at NO. 17 MICHIGAN STATE

Saturday, Oct. 2 | 7:30 PM EST | FS1

 

BOSTON COLLEGE at NO. 25 CLEMSON

Saturday, Oct. 2 | 7:30 PM EST | ACC Network

 

UCONN at VANDERBILT

Saturday, Oct. 2 | 7:30 PM EST | ESPNU

 

NORTHWESTERN at NEBRASKA

Saturday, Oct. 2 | 7:30 PM EST | BTN Network

 

LOUISIANA at SOUTH ALABAMA

Saturday, Oct. 2 | 8:00 PM EST | ESPN+

 

NO. 22 AUBURN at LSU

Saturday, Oct. 2 | 9:00 PM EST | ESPN

 

OLD DOMINION at UTEP

Saturday, Oct. 2 | 9:00 PM EST | ESPN+

 

WASHINGTON at OREGON STATE

Saturday, Oct. 2 | 9:00 PM EST | PAC-12 Network

 

ARIZONA STATE at NO. 20 UCLA

Saturday, Oct. 2 | 10:30 PM EST | FS1

 

NEW MEXICO STATE at SAN JOSE STATE

Saturday, Oct. 2 | 10:30 PM EST

 

NO. 18 FRESNO STATE at HAWAI’I

Saturday, Oct. 2 | 11:00 PM EST | CBS Sports Network

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