Week 5 of the college football season is loaded with goodies, including a Friday night appetizer of two games involving ranked teams. But the main course comes Saturday with three games that will have major College Football Playoff implications, including a headliner of No. 1 Alabama vs. No 12 Ole Miss in the SEC on CBS Game of the Week.
A Lane Kiffin vs. Nick Saban showdown is guaranteed to be entertaining, but it's not the only high-profile SEC game pitting a coach against his former boss. No. 8 Arkansas and second-year coach Sam Pittman will continue their brutal schedule with a trip to No. 2 Georgia to take on Pittman's old boss, Kirby Smart, and the Bulldogs. With victories against Texas and Texas A&M under their belt, it's clear the Razorbacks should be taken seriously.
Outside the SEC, a game between No. 7 Cincinnati and No. 9 Notre Dame could make or break the College Football Playoff hopes for both. Those are just a few of the marquee games in store for Week 5 as we inch closer to the midway point of the 2021 season.
Let's look at the biggest games and their spreads to try to figure out what it all means. Odds via Caesars Sportsbook
No. 12 Ole Miss at No. 1 Alabama (-14.5): Buckle up and get ready for offense, because if there's one thing both these teams know how to do, it's score. Alabama won 63-48 last season at Ole Miss in what amounted to a moral victory for the Rebels. Now, with former Alabama offensive coordinator Kiffin his second year leading the Ole Miss program, his team is aiming for a real victory. The Crimson Tide are still elite offensively but are still looking for their top gear. The Ole Miss defense appears better, but is it better enough? Alabama's status as a heavy favorite is a sign of respect for the home-field advantage of being at Bryant-Denny Stadium and a sign of the uncertainty over how much the Ole Miss defense has truly improved.
No. 8 Arkansas at No. 2 Georgia (-18): Sam Pittman's coaching tenure at Arkansas began last season with a 37-10 loss to Georgia. But in the year since, the former Bulldogs offensive line coach has somehow managed to turn the Razorbacks from an SEC doormat into a national contender. Now he'll return to Sanford Stadium for the first time since spending four seasons helping Georgia coach Kirby Smart build a national power. The two may have deep respect for each other, but this has the makings of an old-fashioned SEC slugfest, and the oddsmakers are strongly in favor of the Bulldogs on their home field.
No. 7 Cincinnati at No. 9 Notre Dame (-2): If it's not the most important game in Cincinnati program history, it's got to be close. The Bearcats can follow up their 38-24 win at Indiana from Sept. 18 with a road win against Notre Dame that will put them squarely in the College Football Playoff conversation. It's a tall order, though, because this Fighting Irish team -- though certainly imperfect -- has proven to be especially clutch early this season. The Fighting Irish also have Marcus Freeman, the architect of last season's Cincinnati defense, calling the defensive shots for them now.
Boston College at No. 25 Clemson (-14.5): With Clemson struggling, the ACC Atlantic looks wide open. Boston College is 4-0 and beat a quality Missouri team last week behind a solid rushing attack. Gaining yards on the ground will be a challenge against Clemson, and the Tigers will be out for blood after losing to NC State last week. But BC nearly upset Clemson last season when the Tigers were on their game, and the Eagles will bring some confidence from that contest into this one.
No. 22 Auburn at LSU (-3.5): After three straight LSU victories in the series decided by a total of eight points, Auburn smacked LSU 48-11 last season. A convincing victory over the defending national champions wasn't enough to save Gus Malzahn's job, though. That means LSU will be welcoming first-year Auburn coach Bryan Harsin into a night game at Death Valley with Auburn coming off a narrow home win over Georgia State. It's a tough spot for an SEC newcomer, but the stakes are high. The winner of this one will enter contending status in the SEC West -- at least until they play Alabama.
Best of the rest
No. 5 Iowa (-4) at Maryland
No. 14 Michigan at Wisconsin (-1):
No. 13 BYU (-8.5) at Utah State
No. 10 Florida (-8) at Kentucky:
Indiana at No. 4 Penn State (-10.5)
Arizona State at No. 20 UCLA (-3.5)
Texas (-4.5) at TCU
Which college football picks can you make with confidence in Week 5, and which Top 25 favorite will go down hard? Visit SportsLine to see which teams will win and cover the spread -- all from a proven computer model that has returned almost $3,300 in profit over the past five-plus seasons -- and find out.