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MC&J: Ole Miss-Alabama, Cincinnati-Notre Dame headline a tasty Week 5 national schedule

The first Saturday of October is loaded with interesting national matchups that will start to shape the College Football Playoff race.

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: SEP 18 Cincinnati at Indiana Photo by Michael Allio/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Last week ATS: 11-4 (5-1 National, 6-3 B1G)

Season ATS: 33-28-2 (15-10 National, 18-18-2 B1G)

If you didn’t catch yesterday’s B1G picks for this weekend, you can find them here.

National games:

No. 8 Arkansas v. No. 2 Georgia (-18) - 12:00 PM EST - ESPN

Arkansas has been amazing this year. The Razorbacks own the state of Texas after beating Texas and Texas A&M so far this year. Unfortunately for Arkansas, Georgia is on a whole different level than the Longhorns and Aggies. A tough matchup got even tougher when KJ Jefferson was dinged up in the win over Texas A&M last week. Against this Georgia defense, your quarterback needs to be 100%, and even that might not be enough.

Following a 10-3 win over Clemson, Georgia has absolutely destroyed their last three opponents. While Arkansas is a lot better than UAB, South Carolina, and Vanderbilt, I still don’t like the chances of the Razorbacks in this game. A huge part of the Arkansas offense is running the football. Georgia is amazing at stopping the run. If the Razorbacks can’t run the football, even more pressure is going to be put on Jefferson.

This game might be tight in the first half, but the Bulldogs will eventually pull away from an Arkansas team that might not have as much gas in the tank after an emotional win last week.

Georgia 41, Arkansas 17

No. 7 Cincinnati (-2) v. No. 9 Notre Dame - 2:30 PM EST - NBC

This game has to feel like the Super Bowl for Luke Fickell and Cincinnati. If the Bearcats win this game and run the table, they’ll likely be in the College Football Playoff. If Cincinnati loses, we’ll likely see Fickell at USC or somewhere else next year. The Bearcats have had a little extra time to prepare for one of their biggest games in program history, as they haven’t played since beating Indiana in Bloomington a couple weeks ago.

Even though it looks like Notre Dame blew Wisconsin out last week, the final score doesn’t tell the whole story. The Fighting Irish actually trailed in the fourth quarter before a kickoff return for a touchdown, as well as some gifts from Graham Mertz. Desmond Ridder isn’t going to be nearly as generous this week.

Eventually the other shoe is going to drop for Notre Dame. The Fighting Irish has been playing with fire pretty much the whole season it feels like with some of their close games. Cincinnati has already shown they can go on the road and overcome adversity after coming back against the Hoosiers. This just feels like a season of destiny for the Bearcats.

Cincinnati 31, Notre Dame 23

No. 12 Ole Miss v. No. 1 Alabama (-14.5) - 3:30 PM EST - CBS

Last year Ole Miss was about the only team who was able to somewhat solve Alabama. The Rebels scored 48 points and put up over 600 yards against the Crimson Tide. Ole Miss has picked up where they left off last year, averaging 635 yards per game through three games this year. Head coach Lane Kiffin at least was able to gain some inside information with the time he spent in Tuscaloosa on Nick Saban’s staff.

Even though it may seem otherwise, Alabama isn’t invincible. Florida pushed Alabama to the limit a couple weeks ago in Gainesville. While Alabama will have the home-field advantage this week, they’ll be going up against an Ole Miss team that might be better on both sides of the football than the Gators. I don’t think the Rebels are quite ready to pull the upset, but they certainly will expose some holes in Alabama’s game.

Alabama 44, Ole Miss 34

No. 3 Oregon (-8) v. Stanford - 3:30 PM EST - ABC

Heading into this week I was thinking that Oregon might be a double-digit favorite, so I was surprised to see the Ducks laying just a little more than a touchdown. The more I think about this, the more it makes sense. More often than not it seems like the Cardinal find a way to make Oregon’s life difficult.

It’s crazy to say even though they came to Columbus and beat Ohio State, but I’m not sold on Oregon being a top-5 team. The Ducks struggled with Arizona last week before 17 points in the fourth quarter put some distance on the Wildcats. I’m a little worried about Stanford not being able to run the football like they used to. Even if they can’t get a lot going on the ground, I still like Tanner McKee to at least put a scare into Oregon.

Oregon 35, Stanford 31

No. 6 Oklahoma (-10.5) v. Kansas State - 3:30 PM EST - FOX

Something is off with Oklahoma. The Sooners have pretty much no big-play ability this year. In the last two games, Oklahoma has only scored 39 points. Normally the Sooners score 39 points in a game. Spencer Rattler has been accurate this year, the problem is he is only averaging around 10 yards per completion this year.

Skylar Thompson has Oklahoma’s number. If Thompson is able to play on Saturday, he’ll be going for a third win against the Sooners. Thompson hasn’t played since the second game of the season due to injury, leaving Will Howard to take the snaps for the Wildcats. It sounds like it’ll be raining on Saturday afternoon in Manhattan, which will likely add to the usual shenanigans that Kansas State throws at Oklahoma.

Oklahoma 27, Kansas State 24

No. 10 Florida (-8.5) v. Kentucky - 6:00 PM EST - ESPN

In a season that has already been unpredictable, the next shocker might just be Kentucky beating Florida. Then again, it might not be much of a surprise considering how the Wildcats have played the Gators lately in Lexington. In the last three meetings between the schools in the Bluegrass State, the Wildcats have won one of those games, and Florida have taken the other two by eight points or less.

Florida has the best loss of the season so far this year after nearly beating Alabama. The Gators are moving the football, especially on the ground, where they are averaging over 300 yards per game. Kentucky has given up less than 100 yards per game on the ground through four games. I’m worried about the Gators if they can’t run the football and have to rely on throwing the football with Emory Jones, who has thrown five interceptions already this year. Kentucky will make Florida pay for some of their mistakes on Saturday night.

Kentucky 23, Florida 20

No. 21 Baylor v. No. 19 Oklahoma State (-3.5) - 7:00 PM EST - ESPN2

I don’t really want to pick this game since I hate both schools, but I can’t see how I can’t not pick a game between two ranked teams. In a perfect world, both these teams would be 0-4 right now instead of 4-0. At least we don’t have Art Briles coaching Baylor anymore or else this game would be even more unbearable.

Baylor hasn’t quite played the schedule that Oklahoma State has so far this year. Even though the opposition has been weaker, the Bears have found the groove, mixing the run and the pass together. The only concern for Baylor is they have been a little leaky against the run. At least the Bears don’t have to worry about trying to slow down Chuba Hubbard.

Oklahoma State has played four tight games already this year, with their biggest win coming by just 11 points. It feels like this is going to be a game that is close in the fourth quarter, so the points are definitely intriguing here. As is the opportunity to root against OANN’s favorite head coach, Mike Gundy.

Baylor 33, Oklahoma State 30

No. 22 Auburn v. LSU (-3.5) - 9:00 PM EST - ESPN

Are we sure the wrong team isn’t favored here? I know this game is under the lights in Baton Rouge so that explains a lot of why LSU is favored. I just don’t think LSU is that good. Ed Orgeron is just southern Clay Helton, and the only reason he hasn’t been fired yet is because Joe Burrow and Joe Brady bought him a grace period because of the national title in 2019.

Even though Auburn did struggle for most of the game against Georgia State, the Tigers turned it on when they needed to. Quarterback Bo Nix isn’t going to be scared by the atmosphere at Death Valley, especially after playing under the lights at Penn State earlier this year.

I just think Auburn is better on both sides of the football. Not only can they mix the run and the pass on offense, they are pretty stout on defense. LSU quarterback Max Johnson has put up big numbers, but you have to look deeper into what he has done. Eight of Johnson’s 15 touchdowns came against McNeese State and Central Michigan. Auburn brings Johnson and the Tigers back down to earth.

Auburn 31, LSU 27