By Ray Monohan
California and Arizona in the West, Florida State in the East. Coastal winners on both sides of the country offer just a sampling of the action in store for college football fans in week five.
Arizona State Sun Devils @ California Golden Bears
5Dimes Odds: California -2
The Arizona State Sun Devils and California Golden Bears have been two of the more underachieving programs in the Pac-10 (now the Pac-12) over the past few decades. Arizona State made the Rose Bowl for only the second time in the program's history in 1996, while California has not made the Rose Bowl since 1959.
Already this season, both programs have suffered stomach-punch losses in non-conference games. Arizona State trailed Missouri, 24-20, and had the ball on the Missouri 1 in the final minutes of regulation. However, a third-and-goal run was stuffed for a two-yard loss, and a fourth-and-goal pass from the 3 fell incomplete, denying Arizona State a touchdown and a lead. The Sun Devils forced a Missouri punt and got the ball back in the Tigers' third of the field, but they could not do anything on their ensuing possession and absorbed a four-point defeat.
Cal's agonizing loss came at Ohio State. The Golden Bears carried the run of play for most of the day but missed three field goals, the last one coming in a 28-28 tie with 4:25 left in regulation. What should have been a 37-28 win turned into a 35-28 defeat, the second loss of the season for coach Jeff Tedford's team.
In a battle between two underachievers, give the nod to the home team, which is Cal. This game should be close and unpredictable. Arizona State historically performs poorly on the road.
Prediction: California -2
Florida State Seminoles @ South Florida Bulls
5Dimes Odds: Florida State -17
Florida State should win because South Florida just doesn't have what it takes to win. The Bulls were optimistic about their season after a thrilling come-from-behind 32-31 win at Nevada in week two, but South Florida immediately squandered that momentum by losing at home to Rutgers, 23-13, in week three. The Bulls are simply not imposing enough on offense. They are undersized at many positions and are unable to make up for that physical deficiency in other areas. Quarterback B.J. Daniels does not throw the ball with the precision coach Skip Holtz needs. Daniels also makes questionable decisions and does not improve his performance in red-zone situations. The Bulls' running game isn't strong enough to take pressure off Daniels, and in the face of Florida State's fast and imposing defensive front, it's going to be even more difficult for South Florida to establish much of anything on the ground. The Bulls, if unable to run the ball, will set up Daniels for failure. Florida State will be able to crank up the heat on USF's quarterback and feast on South Florida's overwhelmed offensive line.
Prediction: Florida State -17
Oregon State Beavers @ Arizona Wildcats
5Dimes Odds: Arizona -2.5
This is a fascinating second-tier Pac-12 game between the resurgent Beavers – a mildly pleasant surprise in the league – and an Arizona team learning how to play within coach Rich Rodriguez's system. Winning two straight league road games would mark a remarkable achievement for Oregon State… but that's precisely why the odds are stacked against the Beavers. Arizona should be able to win this game at home.
Prediction: Arizona -2.5