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AP Top 25 Football Picks: Fresno State 42, Nevada 14
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By Associated Press
Published 7 months ago on
September 28, 2023

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It feels a little like March Madness in September as basketball blue-bloods command the spotlight in Week 5 of the college football season.

Ralph D. Russo Portrait

Ralph D. Russo

Opinion

No. 17 Duke (five), No. 24 Kansas (four), and Kentucky (eight) have won 17 total NCAA championships in men’s basketball. They have had sporadic — at best — success on the gridiron historically, but head into Saturday’s games a combined 12-0.

The Blue Devils get the biggest stage, facing No. 11 Notre Dame. For the first time, ESPN’s “College GameDay” comes to Durham, North Carolina.

The Jayhawks and Wildcats face conference rivals who have traditionally dominated them, though not as much recently, and all are among this weekend’s most intriguing games.

No. 11 Notre Dame at No. 17 Duke

The Fighting Irish can’t afford a hangover Saturday from a brutal loss to Ohio State.

Nothing about this 4-0 start looks fluky for coach Mike Elko, QB Riley Leonard and the Blue Devils, who are seventh in the country in average margin of victory at 26 points per game.

LINE: Notre Dame by 5 1/2. PICK: Duke 27-23.

No. 24 Kansas at No. 3 Texas

The Jayhawks are 4-0 for the second straight season and this time they might be built to sustain the success. Last year, they got to 5-0 before stumbling to a 1-6 finish.

If these Longhorns are different from the recent vintage, Quinn Ewers and Co. won’t be tripped up at home Saturday by Kansas three weeks after beating Alabama and the week before facing Oklahoma.

LINE: Texas by 16 1/2. PICK: Texas 45-24.

No. 10 Utah at No. 19 Oregon State

It’s a second straight week with a ranked opponent for both the Utes and Beavers as the Pac-12 gauntlet cranks up with a Friday night tilt.

Yet another week of the Cam Rising watch for Utah as it waits for the fifth-year quarterback to recover from a knee injury. Without Rising, the Utes have been hyper-conservative offensively. However, they’ve leaned into their excellent defense and gritted their way to a perfect start. For the Beavers, coming off a loss at Washington State, Pac-12 title hopes could dry up fast with another loss.

LINE: Oregon State by 3 1/2. PICK: Oregon State 20-19.

No. 22 Florida at Kentucky

This series was a layup for more than three decades for the Gators. Florida won 31 straight through 2017. Since, coach Mark Stoops’ Wildcats are 3-2 and have won two straight for the first time since 1976-77.

Florida fans probably don’t want to think of the Kentucky game as a barometer for the state of the program, but getting it regularly back in the win column starting Saturday would be really helpful for coach Billy Napier.

LINE: Kentucky 1 1/2. PICK: Kentucky 23-20.

No. 8 Southern California at Colorado

We’re going to do this one more week.

The Deion Sanders’ hype train was derailed at Oregon last week, and now Heisman Trophy winner Caleb Williams and the Trojans come to Boulder.

If the Buffaloes can pull off another TCU-type upset Saturday — the Horned Frogs were a three-touchdown favorite in the opener — the volume around Coach Prime’s team will crank up again.

If USC handles its business similarly to the way Oregon did against the Buffs, the spotlight should dim on Sanders’ program — at least for a few weeks.

LINE: USC by 21 1/2. Pick: USC 45-27.

The rest of Saturday’s games involving ranked teams and FBS foes, with lines by FanDuel Sportsbook:

No. 1 Georgia (minus 14 1/2) at Auburn

Tigers have the worst passing offense in the SEC … GEORGIA 24-7.

No. 2 Michigan (minus 17 1/2) at Nebraska

Cornhuskers have attempted fewer passes per game (20.8) than any other Power Five team … MICHIGAN 31-9.

No. 6 Penn State at Northwestern (plus 27 1/2)

Wildcats have allowed 11 sacks, second most in the Big Ten, and here comes Penn State DE Chop Robinson, who ate up Iowa last week … PENN STATE 35-14.

No. 7 Washington at Arizona (plus 17 1/2)

Can an improved Wildcats defense be the first to slow down Michael Penix Jr. and the Huskies? … ARIZONA 38-34, UPSET SPECIAL.

No. 9 Oregon (minus 27 1/2) at Stanford

The Farm has been a tricky place for the Ducks for the past 14 years. The Cardinal are 4-3 in the last seven meetings at home … OREGON 49-17.

No. 12 Alabama (minus 14 1/2) at Mississippi State

Crimson Tide’s winning streak in the series is 15, and the Bulldogs have not cracked double-digits in any of the last five … ALABAMA 31-14.

No. 13 LSU (minus 2 1/2) at No. 20 Mississippi

The top two offenses in the SEC by yards per play, LSU 35-31.

Iowa State at No. 14 Oklahoma (minus 19 1/2)

Cyclones have been competitive against the Sooners under coach Matt Campbell, with two wins, three one-possession losses, and no losses by more than 14 points … OKLAHOMA 35-10.

South Carolina (plus 12 1/2) at No. 21 Tennessee

Gamecocks stunningly ambushed the Vols late last season and took them out of the playoff chase … TENNESSEE 35-24.

No. 23 Missouri at Vanderbilt (plus 13 1/2)

Tigers looking for first 5-0 start since starting the 2013 season with seven straight wins … MISSOURI 28-17.

Nevada at No. 25 Fresno State (minus 24 1/2)

Bulldogs’ first game as a ranked team since November 2021 … FRESNO STATE 42-14.

TWITTER REQUESTS

Louisville (minus 3) at North Carolina State, Friday — @scottleightman: Cardinals offense is quietly one of the most explosive in the country, averaging 8.12 yards per play … LOUISVILLE 31-24.

Boise State (plus 3 1/2) at Memphis, Saturday — @DaytonRobison: Good running back matchup of Boise’s Ashton Jeanty and Memphis’ Blake Watson … BOISE STATE 24-21.

Texas A&M (minus 6 1/2) at Arkansas, Saturday — @nleibengood: Aggies have won 10 of 11 meetings since joining the SEC … TEXAS A&M 34-24.

Clemson at Syracuse (plus 6 1/2), Saturday — @Jellis1016: Orange often give the Tigers a tough time even though they haven’t had a win in the series since 2017; the last two games have been decided by a total of nine points … SYRACUSE 24-21.

San Diego State at Air Force (minus 9 1/2), Saturday — @yehonala04: Typically staunch Aztecs defense is last in the Mountain West against the run ay 4.12 yards per rush … AIR FORCE 28-14.

____

RECORD

Last week: Straight-up — 19-3; Against spread — 11-11.

Season: Straight-up — 74-22; Against spread — 39-57.

About the Author

Ralph D. Russo is the college football writer for the Associated Press.

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