Top col­lege games: Who wins Ohio State vs. Penn State, Stan­ford vs. Notre Dame and oth­ers?

USA TODAY Sports Weekly - - INSIDE - USA TO­DAY Ed­die Ti­manus

Games to watch in Week 5:

Syra­cuse at No. 2 Clem­son

Sept. 29, noon ET, ABC Danny Sheri­dan’s line: Clem­son by 23

Early re­sults in­di­cate there aren’t many vi­able chal­lengers for the Tigers in the At­lantic Coast Con­fer­ence. The Or­ange (4-0, 1-0 ACC), who man­aged to trip up Clem­son (4-0, 1-0) in the Car­rier Dome a year ago, are un­beaten and could be it. That set­back ul­ti­mately didn’t de­rail the Tigers’ path to the Col­lege Foot­ball Play­off, but they cer­tainly haven’t for­got­ten the re­sult.

Last sea­son’s up­set was made pos­si­ble in part by the ingame in­jury to Clem­son QB Kelly Bryant. Clem­son didn’t have a ready re­place­ment then, but now it does in fresh­man Trevor Lawrence. Syra­cuse, how­ever, still has dy­namic veteran Eric Dungey di­rect­ing its at­tack. He has ac­counted for 13 touch­downs, nine by air and four on the ground, though he has yet to en­counter a de­fense ap­proach­ing Clem­son’s ta­lent level in his se­nior cam­paign.

Pre­dic­tion: The Tigers have shown more ex­plo­sive­ness with Lawrence, who en­tered last week’s game against Ge­or­gia Tech early in the sec­ond quar­ter and guided Clem­son to five touch­downs in six pos­ses­sions.. The Or­ange will hit some plays, but not nearly enough.

Clem­son, 42-24

No. 12 West Vir­ginia at Texas Tech

Sept. 29, noon ET, ESPN2 Danny Sheri­dan’s line: West Vir­ginia by 41⁄2

Al­though the Big 12 race is still young, West Vir­ginia (3-0, 1-0) con­tin­ues to look the part of fa­vorite Oklahoma’s pri­mary threat. But all of the Moun­taineers’ road trips in this league are long, and this likely track meet with the red-hot Red Raiders could pose an early test to their stamina.

Texas Tech (3-1, 1-0) has re­versed its for­tunes since an open­ing-day set­back against Mis­sis­sippi. This is due in part to coach Kliff Kings­bury’s de­ci­sion to turn his high-oc­tane of­fense over to fresh­man QB Alan Bow­man, but some im­prove­ments on the de­fen­sive side have also helped Tech up­end un­beaten op­po­nents Hous­ton and Oklahoma State, the lat­ter on the road, in back-to-back weeks. WVU QB Will Grier, how­ever, has been just as im­pres­sive, lead­ing a romp past Kansas State in last week’s con­fer­ence opener de­spite a few early mis­takes.

Pre­dic­tion: Don’t blink. With strong arms and fast re­ceivers on both sides, this could turn into the most fun watch of the day. It might come down to who has the ball last.

West Vir­ginia, 52-45

No. 4 Ohio State at No. 9 Penn State

Sept. 29, 7:30 p.m. ET, ABC Danny Sheri­dan’s line: Ohio State by 41⁄2

It might seem pre­ma­ture to de­clare this the Big Ten East cham­pi­onship game, but most signs point to it. With both chal­lengers from Michi­gan al­ready tagged with a non-league loss along with West Di­vi­sion fa­vorite Wisconsin, these are also the con­fer­ence’s most likely Play­off can­di­dates.

Af­ter sur­viv­ing an open­ing­day scare against Ap­palachian State in over­time, the Nit­tany Lions (4-0, 1-0) have used big sec­ond halves to put away their next three op­po­nents. A slow start would not be ad­vis­able against the Buck­eyes (4-0, 1-0), who have looked as ex­plo­sive as any team in the coun­try not named Alabama with QB Dwayne Hask­ins emerg­ing as an early Heis­man Tro­phy con­tender. Penn State QB Trace Mc­Sor­ley has been around the block him­self, how­ever, and he ap­pears to have found his go-to ball­car­rier in RB Miles San­ders.

Pre­dic­tion: Ohio State pre­vailed last sea­son with a late rally in Colum­bus and even­tu­ally claimed the Big Ten crown. Will the change of venue make a dif­fer­ence for the Nit­tany Lions with an amped-up crowd in prime time? Pos­si­bly, but re­cent his­tory sug­gests the Buck­eyes know how to make the key plays when needed most.

Ohio State, 37-34

No. 7 Stan­ford at No. 8 Notre Dame

Sept. 29, 7:30 p.m. ET, NBC Danny Sheri­dan’s line: Notre Dame by 4

Af­ter some­how get­ting out of Ore­gon with a win, the Car­di­nal (4-0) have to tap into the re­serve tank for an­other rough road as­sign­ment. The Fight­ing Irish (4-0), who ap­pear to have found them­selves a new No.-1 sig­nal caller, re­turn home with their Play­off as­pi­ra­tions very much alive.

Notre Dame’s of­fense found an­other gear with the switch to QB Ian Book. His suc­cess is in part at­trib­ut­able to fac­ing Wake For­est’s leaky se­condary, but his su­pe­rior ac­cu­racy to Bran­don Wim­bush can’t be over­looked. Be­sides get­ting some for­tu­itous breaks in Eu­gene, Ore­gon, Stan­ford showed it could move the ball quickly when nec­es­sary. The com­bi­na­tion of QB K.J. Costello and WR JJ Arcega-White­side is of­ten the most ef­fec­tive mode of trans­port.

Pre­dic­tion: A long jour­ney af­ter an over­time #Pac12AfterDark clas­sic will al­most cer­tainly take its toll on the Car­di­nal. With its new­found of­fen­sive spark, the Irish should pre­vail at home.

Notre Dame, 31-21

BYU at

No. 11 Wash­ing­ton

Sept. 29, 8:30 p.m. ET, Fox Danny Sheri­dan’s line: Wash­ing­ton by 17

The Huskies (3-1) have han­dled ev­ery test since a tough open­ing loss to Auburn. Noth­ing has come eas­ily, how­ever, and this date with a resur­gent BYU squad could be an­other grind. The Cougars (3-1), who have al­ready put a dent in one Play­off con­tender’s re­sume, will try for an­other huge road up­set.

The veteran tan­dem of QB Jake Brown­ing and RB Myles Gaskin con­tin­ues to make the timely plays for Wash­ing­ton. The at­tack as a whole has been ef­fi­cient if not ex­plo­sive, and the same for­mula that helped the BYU de­fense win at Wisconsin could serve the Cougars well again. BYU fig­ures to be bet­ter rested than the Huskies af­ter a rel­a­tively easy clash with McNeese last week, and its back­field duo of QB Tan­ner Mangum and RB Squally Canada is also bat­tle tested.

Pre­dic­tion: Wash­ing­ton will be in for an­other tus­sle, with the Cougars cer­tain to take their best shot, but the Huskies have more weapons and should do enough to pro­tect their home turf.

Wash­ing­ton, 27-20


Ohio State quar­ter­back Dwayne Hask­ins, be­ing tack­led by Tu­lane’s De’An­dre Wil­liams, left, and Juan Mon­jar­res, had five TD passes in last week’s game.

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