We’re breaking down some of the biggest movers in our top 25 and revealing our TRACR projection model’s NCAA football picks for the rest of the biggest matchups.
The New No. 1
The showdown in South Bend lived up to the hype last week, but the Notre Dame Fighting Irish’s last-second loss was the Washington Huskies’ gain.
The Irish had crept up from seventh in the preseason TRACR rankings before moving up to the top spot after a 45-24 victory over North Carolina State and previous No. 1 Alabama’s 34-24 loss to Texas.
TRACR (Team Rating Adjusted for Conference and Roster) is a net efficiency metric that evaluates how well a team performs based on who it plays. The model, which is trained on over 10 years of data, is based on an EPA (expected points added) calculation weighed by who teams play. It rewards big wins over good teams and punishes losses to bad ones or even wins that are closer than expected.
A team with a TRACR of 0.0 is considered an average team in the FBS. The rankings, along with projected record, probability of running the table and chances of becoming a bowl-eligible team, are being updated throughout the season on our TRACR college football rankings page.
Notre Dame just needed one stop with 3 seconds left to finish off a huge victory over the Ohio State Buckeyes, who were No. 6 in the AP Top 25. Instead, DeaMonte Trayanum plowed in the go-ahead score to give the Buckeyes a thrilling 17-14 victory in South Bend.
As a result, the Irish have dropped to third in our latest TRACR rankings, while Washington (4-0) is the new No. 1 after beating Boise State, Tulsa, Michigan State and California by an average of 32.8 points.
The Huskies, who are averaging the third-most points on the college football season at 49.8 per game, are second only to Pac-12 rival USC (33.1) in offensive TRACR (32.0).
2023 OFFENSIVE TRACR LEADERS
- USC Trojans (33.1)
- Washington Huskies (32.0)
- Notre Dame Fighting Irish (30.4)
- Oregon Ducks (29.5)
- Miami (FL) Hurricanes (26.7)
- LSU Tigers (24.7)
- Louisville Cardinals (23.9)
- Florida State Seminoles (23.8)
- Oregon State Beavers (22.1)
- Duke Blue Devils (21.8)
USC (second in overall TRACR), however, has a below-average 1.6 defensive TRACR, while Washington ranks 16th in defensive TRACR at minus-1.2.
Washington at Arizona
Now the national championship-hopeful Huskies seek their first 5-0 start since 2017 on Saturday night when they visit the Arizona Wildcats (3-1).
Washington has won six in a row against the Wildcats since Casey Skowron’s 47-yard field goal as time expired game Arizona a 27-26 home win on Nov. 15, 2014.
Michael Penix Jr. leads the nation with 409.0 passing yards per game and 16 touchdowns against just two interceptions in 138 attempts. Only Caleb Williams of USC (223.1) has a higher quarterback rating than Penix (209.6).
Arizona could prove to be a tough test as the third-ranked defensive team overall in the country and seventh against the pass, per TRACR.
The Wildcats, ranked 31st in TRACR, could still be having nightmares about Penix after he was 36-of-44 passing for a school-record 516 yards and four touchdowns (he also added a rushing TD) in last year’s 49-39 home win over the Wildcats.
Arizona’s wins this year have come against Northern Arizona (38-3), UTEP (31-10) and Stanford (21-10), while the Wildcats lost 31-24 on the road to the Mississippi State Bulldogs in Week 2.
Notre Dame at Duke
Notre Dame (4-1) will play in one of the biggest games on the schedule again Saturday when it visits the Duke Blue Devils, who are seventh in TRACR.
Duke has won its four games by an average of 28.5 points, beating Lafayette, Northwestern and Connecticut after an impressive 28-7 home victory over then-No. 9 Clemson on Sept. 4.
This should be a fun matchup to watch when Notre Dame has the ball. QB Sam Hartman has thrown for 14 touchdowns and no interceptions, and Audric Estime ranks ninth in the country with 118.2 rushing yards per game.
They rank third in offensive TRACR behind USC and Washington, but Duke is fifth nationally in defensive TRACR behind only Michigan, Alabama, Arizona and Texas.
It’s projected to be the third closest contest of any top-25 matchup in Week 5 behind LSU at Ole Miss and Utah at Oregon State, and it’s the fourth highest-rated game on the slate, according to SmartRatings.
SmartRatings is an AI-based platform that calculates excitement ratings based on six primary variables: pace, parity, novelty, momentum, context and social buzz.
MOST EXCITING WEEK 5 CFB GAMES, PER SMARTRATINGS
- LSU at Mississippi (81)
- Utah at Oregon State (75)
- Kansas at Texas (69)
- Notre Dame at Duke (68)
- USC at Colorado (67)
So who are the underdogs? Which teams are the best bets? How do they compare to the expert picks and the sportsbooks’ college football betting moneyline odds?
Here are our model’s win probabilities for all the TRACR top 25 football games.
Week 5 College Football Picks
TRACR No. 1 Washington 93.4% over No. 31 Arizona
No. 2 USC 98.4% over No. 87 Colorado
No. 3 Notre Dame 64.0% over No. 7 Duke
No. 4 Oregon 99.3% over No. 110 Stanford
No. 5 Miami (FL) is idle
No. 6 Michigan 88.5% over No. 33 Nebraska
No. 8 Oklahoma 94.1% over No. 65 Iowa State
No. 9 Texas 83.1% over No. 36 Kansas
No. 10 Ohio State is idle
No. 11 Alabama 94.2% over No. 79 Mississippi State
No. 12 Florida State is idle
No. 13 Penn State 92.3% over No. 75 Northwestern
No. 14 Georgia 81.0% over No. 41 Auburn
No. 15 North Carolina is idle
No. 16 Louisville 83.9% over No. 57 North Carolina State
No. 17 Texas A&M 82.9% over No. 45 Arkansas
No. 18 LSU 63.3% over No. 27 Ole Miss
No. 19 Oregon State 54.1% over No. 22 Utah (Friday night)
No. 20 Florida 79.9% over No. 47 Kentucky
No. 21 UCLA is idle
No. 23 Wisconsin is idle
No. 24 Kansas State is idle
No. 25 Maryland 93.3% over No. 97 Indiana
Miami (FL) has soared into the top five after holding the eighth spot last week. Miami, which beat No. 17 Texas A&M 48-33 on Sept. 9, won its fourth straight to open the season at Temple on Sept. 14. The Hurricanes are off this week before taking on Georgia Tech on Oct. 7.
Although it beat No. 15 (AP) Mississippi 24-10 in Week 4, Alabama’s performance didn’t move the needle in terms of our model. The Crimson Tide dropped two spots to 11th in TRACR. After routing Middle Tennessee and losing to Texas, the Tide have bounced back with wins over South Florida and the Rebels.
On the outside of the rankings looking in are No. 26 Syracuse, No. 27 Ole Miss, No. 28 Tennessee, No. 29 Clemson and No. 30 TCU. The Horned Frogs regrouped after losing to Colorado in the opener, rolling past Nicholls, Houston and SMU in their last three.