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2010 College Football Picks: Week 5

There's a big one in the Pac-10 this week when Stanford travels to Oregon.
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Updated from 10/01/10

Update includes news that Michigan State coach Mike Dantonio will not attend his team's game Saturday.



) Did we learn anything, really, about the college football landscape last week? Alabama used its doppleganger rushing attack, headlined by Heisman winner Mark Ingram and fellow backfielder Trent Richardson, to just outlast the Arkansas Razorbacks in Fayetteville to prove, yet again, that they are Alabama.

And as many first divined in the preseason, Ohio State continues to look like the Tide's most likely rival to the BCS championship crown in January following its 73-20 beat down over a hapless Eastern Michigan squad.

Sure, Boise State and TCU continued keeping up their BCS-busting appearances, while Oregon, Florida and Nebraska each displayed consistency issues that will make fans feel a little queasy heading into the hearts of their conference schedules. But it's Texas that turned out to be the pretender of the bunch after being shot down the rankings by UCLA's aptly named "pistol" offense.

>>Against the Spread: NFL Picks, Week 4

Still, as most college football fans know, it's October and November that make or break the ultimate fortunes of the college football elite.

With that, let the


games finally begin.

Trey Burton, Florida

No. 7 Florida (4-0) at No. 1 Alabama (4-0), 8 p.m. ET (CBS)

: Now this game is starting to look a little bit like a reversal of last year's SEC title game. The Gators are coming off a whipping of a decent Kentucky team, while the Crimson Tide came from behind to beat Arkansas. A win here and before you know it, Florida will be in the national title conversation.

Frankly, Alabama Coach Nick Saban is concerned about this game: "They've (Florida) got a lot of team speed. They've got good players at all the skill positions. They've got a good offensive line. Defensively they're very active, run well, have a lot of team speed and they play outstanding on special teams. This is as good of an all-around team as we've played all year, and certainly have improved each week that they've played this year with a new quarterback (John Brantley), and also with a new guy coming in at quarterback some who really plays tight end, No. 8 Trey Burton. He's done some of the quarterback run stuff that (Tim) Tebow used to do."

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Corner's choice: Florida 27, Alabama 24

--William Hennelly

Andrew Luck, Stanford

No. 9 Stanford (4-0) at No. 4 Oregon (4-0), 8 p.m. ET (ESPN2)

The media has focused squarely this week on a set of prolific Pac-10 offenses set to take the field Saturday, and rightfully so. Oregon ranks third in the country in total offense at 560 yards per while leading the nation in scoring. Running back LaMichael James's 158 yards a game on the ground ranks second in the nation. And sophomore Darron Thomas has filled in nicely at a quarterback position left vacant after former Rose Bowl signal caller Jeremiah Masoli was given the boot following a wave of off-field incidents.

And while the Ducks' Cardinal counterparts are putting up similarly mind-boggling offensive stats this season, the way their respective machines are humming along could not be more different. It's that very juxtaposition that makes this match-up all the more enticing.

While Oregon coach Chip Kelly has remade expectations in the Pacific Northwest thanks to the spread offense, Stanford coach and ex-NFL quarterback Jim Harbaugh has made the classic pro style -- highlighted by a pound-it-out running game and play action passing sets -- his bread and butter. Already being hailed as a potential No. 1 draft choice, quarterback Andrew Luck has quickly supplanted the likes of Washington's Jack Locker and USC's Matt Barkley as the signal caller du jour in the Pac-10, compiling the conference's best quarterback rating in leading the Cardinal offense to the nation's fourth-best scoring offense at 48 points per game.

So, what does all of this mean for Saturday? Who knows. Something makes us here at the Corner think with all else equal, and if Thomas can convert through the air on the occasionally troublesome down and distance situations, the home squad will be the best bet. The Ducks' win against Arizona State last week proved Thomas can get the job done with his arm, though the defense's surrendering of nearly 600 yards of offense will be anything but comforting for the Eugene faithful. But look for something high-scoring and entertaining, and with a win likely resting on which team has the ball last.

Oregon 45, Stanford 38

--Sung Moss

Ryan Broyles, Oklahoma

No. 21 Texas (3-1) vs. No. 8 Oklahoma (4-0), 3:30 p.m. ET, ABC

When Longhorns coach Mack Brown made running the football a priority in the offseason, little did he know that he set in motion a series of events that would end with Texas still searching for an offensive identity during the meat of its schedule. Nor, we imagine, did he expect to have notched the team's worst home loss in recent memory with its nemesis in Norman next up in their annual matchup at the Dallas fair grounds.

After a steady string of offensive success over the last few years-- headlined by current NFLers like Vince Young, Colt McCoy, Jordan Shipley, Jamaal Charles, Jermichael Finley and Cedric Benson -- the Longhorns are in unfamiliar territory, desperately scrambling for an offensive playmaker (any playmaker!) to be a go-to. But without one for the foreseeable future, look for the 'Horns to rely on their stout defense.

Of course, if last week's loss to UCLA also proved anything, it's that Texas's D can also be had by attacking the tackles directly and a little wearing down over four quarters. Looking to the do the most damage will be OU running back DeMarco Murray, whose 109-yard per game average has paced the Sooners throughout the season. But devote eight men in the box to contain Murray and expect wide out Ryan Broyles, who ranks first in the FBS in total receptions and fourth in receiving yards per game, to do his best to cement his claim on 2010's Biletnikoff trophy.

Oklahoma 21, Texas 10

--Sung Moss

James White, Wisconsin

No. 11 Wisconsin (4-0) at No. 24 Michigan State (4-0), 3:30 p.m. ET (ABC)

: The Badgers will bring a rugged ground game with the tandem of John Clay and James White, who have scored 10 touchdowns combined. The Spartans counter with quarterback Kirk Cousins, who threw for 290 yards and two TDs in a 45-7 rout of Northern Colorado, while freshman Le'Veon Bell rushed for 92 yards and three scores. On defense, linebacker Greg Jones picked off two passes.

These teams are somewhat mirror images in that they both sport strong ground games, efficient passing and solid defense. Expect some plastic to be cracking in East Lansing.

Wisconson Coach Bret Bielema offered his thoughts on the Spartans: "We've had very close games with them during my tenure here and,

we know that going up there is a tremendous challenge. I think they're rolling pretty good as a 4-0 football

team, as well. They've done a lot of good things offensively, defensively. Their quarterback is playing very, very well. And as always, Michigan State has a lot of great skill players on both sides of the football, and to me, they might feature the best defensive player from last year's film, and he's playing at a high level this year, Greg Jones.

He is a guy that is just really, really something special to watch and to see how he goes about his business."

Michigan State Coach Marc Dantonio will miss the game after he checked into the hospital because of a blood clot in his leg. Dantonio had hoped to return to the team and watch Saturday's game from the coaches box after suffering a heart attack on Sept. 19 following the Spartans' dramatic overtime victory over Notre Dame. But a routine postoperative checkup revealed the presence of the clot, and doctors advised him to stay off his feet for another game, according to the

Associated Press


Dantonio had confessed it was "surreal" watching his team from home, as offensive coordinator Don Treadwell took the reins. "I'm going to ease back into this much like anybody would after any injury," Dantonio had said, comparing his situation to a player recovering from an injury. So although Wisconsin comes in higher ranked, maybe the Green and White -- aiming for its first 5-0 start since 1999 -- go get one for their coach.

Corner's choice: Michigan State 24, Wisconsin 17

-- William Hennelly

Evan Royster, Penn State

No. 22 Penn State (3-1) at No. 17 Iowa (3-1), 8:05 p.m. ET (ESPN)

: These are two teams that probably have a bitter taste in their mouths. Penn State suffered a tough loss at Alabama in the second week of the season and had to come from behind to beat Temple last week. Meanwhile, the Hawkeyes, who had visions of BCS trophies, got mugged by current No. 14 Arizona last week, 34-27. Iowa is playing at Nile Kinnick Stadium, one of the toughest venues for a traveling team in college football. But Penn State travels well, and Iowa Coach Kirk Ferentz is used to rugged games with the Nittany Lions.

"We've had tough games with them orwe've gotten nailed pretty good," Ferentz said at his weekly press conference. "I'm expecting this thing to be a real 60-minute game, and hopefullywe'll be in there in the fourth quarter.

Legendary Penn State Coach Joe Paterno is impressed with the Hawkeyes' defense, which is top-ranked against the run in the country: "They come off blocks. They line up properly. They read well. They tackle very well. They're just a good, solid, well-coached defensive team with some kids that are strong. They do a great job in their weight room. Big time football team. And we've got to play better than we've played all year to even stay with them."

Iowa has won eight of the last 10 meetings, and is coming off a reinvigorating, 45-0 trouncing of Ball State, in which the Hawkeyes rolled up more than 500 yards of offense while limiting the Cardinals to just over 100. This one could be tight, but the crowd in Iowa City helps.

Corner's choice: Iowa 17, Penn State 16

-- William Hennelly