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College Football 2016: Week 5 Preview
Friday, 2016 September 30 - 10:22 pm
Michigan has a monster game against Wisconsin; NCSU faces unbeaten Wake Forest.

Michigan vs. Wisconsin, 3:30 PM ABC
Wisconsin vaulted into the top ten in the polls after their destruction of MSU. But I don't think MSU is really very good this year, and Wisconsin has their vulnerabilities.

Wisconsin's strength is at linebacker. Star Vince Biegel, though, is out with a foot injury. There's still depth and talent at the position, though, and the defensive line features a 340-pound nose tackle. But Michigan's offense has faced an even better nose tackle at Colorado, and Michigan's talented stable tight ends will force the linebackers to play coverage and account for play-action. Plus, Michigan's offensive line is a good deal better than MSU's was. So while I don't think we'll see Michigan rush for 300 yards, they should still get a solid 150 yards, while doing most of their damage through the air. Michigan's tall and fast receivers might have a field day against Wisconsin's undersized secondary.

Meanwhile, Wisconsin's offense is banking on Alex Hornibrook to guide the team after benching the season starter Bart Houston. Hornibrook had some impressive throws in the win against MSU, but it many cases looked fortunate to avoid turnovers when throwing into tight windows. His wide receivers aren't terribly fast or athletic; he'll rely mostly on tight end Troy Fumagali, who's an excellent receiver and potentially a tough matchup for Michigan's linebackers. Look for Jabrill Peppers to get that assignment on a lot of passing downs.

Statistically this game looks like it could be close. But my gut says that Wisconsin's seemingly impressive wins against top-ten teams LSU and MSU were largely illusory, and that Michigan is the best team that Wisconsin has faced by a wide margin. Michigan's schedule has been fairly soft so far for sure, but Michigan has so many weapons that it's hard to see Wisconsin keeping up.

Prediction: Michigan 31, Wisconsin 11.

NCSU vs. Wake Forest, 3:30 PM ACC Network
Wake Forest finds themselves surprisingly at 4-0, but their wins include a 7-3 victory over Tulane and a 33-28 win over Indiana. Neither win is terribly impressive and NCSU will prove to be a big test for them.

NCSU, meanwhile, has shown that they usually win these kinds of games, where they're physically stronger and faster than the opposing team. It's just a matter of whether the team will be mentally prepared coming off a bye week. But I'm fairly confident in Ryan Finley's poise, and NCSU has shown the ability to run the ball effectively too.

Prediction: NCSU 38, Wake Forest 13.

Games to Watch on TV
Some huge games this weekend.

The Friday night game (on right now, as I write this) is #7 Stanford vs. #10 Washington. So far Washington has looked dominant, but I wouldn't count out Stanford in the second half.

There aren't too many great noon games on Saturday; you might want to keep an eye on Northwester at Iowa on ESPNU, or Miami at Georgia Tech on ESPN2. Or you can watch kittens being slaughtered as #2 Ohio State takes on Rutgers.

The fireworks start at 3:30 PM as Michigan takes on Wisconsin on ABC. NCSU plays Wake Forest on the ACC Network (or online on WatchESPN). #11 Tennessee plays #25 Georgia in the "neither-team-is-for-real" bowl on CBS. A pretty good UNC team might catch #12 FSU sleeping on ESPN. We'll find out a lot about #15 Nebraska as they play Illinois on ESPN2.

At 5:00 PM you may want to peek at #21 TCU playing now-unranked Oklahoma. Oklahoma could still be a dangerous team.

Your Game of the Week is #3 Louisville at #5 Clemson at 8:00 PM on ABC. Louisville has looked darn-near unstoppable on both defense and offense, while Clemson has looked more pedestrian. But you can't count out Heisman favorite Deshaun Watson for Clemson. Meanwhile, #17 Michigan State plays at Indiana on BTN, and this game might be closer than expected.

The late game is Arizona at UCLA on ESPN at 10:30; this might be an interesting contest too.
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