Week five of the college football season presents three top ten matchups from around the country, beginning on the west coast Friday night, and ending on the east coast Saturday night.
*All rankings from the coaches poll
#6 Stanford at # 9 Washington, Friday at 9pm on ESPN
With every other team in the North division either at or below .500, the winner of this contest likely plays for the Pac-12 title in December. Both teams survived scares in the south last week: Stanford scored a go ahead touchdown with 24 seconds en route to a 22-13 win at UCLA. Washington pulled out an overtime win at Arizona last week, topping the Wildcats 35-28. Washington entered the season in the top 15 as a possible dark-horse for the playoff. They have cruised through their schedule so far, beating Rutgers, Idaho and Portland State (FCS) before their victory in Arizona. Both junior safety Budda Baker and junior CB Sidney Jones are regarded as top NFL prospects for Washingotn, but for Stanford, it’s still all about Christian McCaffrey. The Heisman Trophy contender is the Cardinals’ main, and maybe only, source of offense. They need more from their QB Ryan Burns, who has only completed 52 percent of his passes for 239 yards, with 2 TD and 2 INT the last two weeks. The defense is still strong, only allowing 12 points per game. This one should not be one of the typical Pac-12 defensive disasters as both teams have strong units. Don’t be surprised if this one stays in the low 20s, even teens.
#14 Miami at Georgia Tech, noon on ESPN2
After starting the season outside of the top 25, Miami has a chance to crack the top ten with a win this week. They blew through their first three games of season, beating Florida A&M (FCS), Florida Atlantic, and Appalachian State. Mark Richt has his alma-mater playing well as the ‘Canes are in position to play for the ACC Championship coming out of the Coastal division. With a win in Atlanta on Saturday, they could set up a huge game at home against rival Florida State next week. Georgia Tech was soundly beaten by Clemson, unable to get the option going and lucky to only lose by 19 points. If Miami can take care of business in Atlanta, they will start to knock on the door of the playoff conversation.
#11 Tennessee at #20 Georgia, 3:30pm on CBS
After trailing 21-0 during the first half, the Vols outscored Florida 35-7 in the second half to win 38-28. Up next is a trip to Athens to take on a wounded Georgia. The third time was the charm for Ole Miss last week as they built another huge first half lead, this time on the Bulldogs in a 45-14 win. The Bulldogs had a rough day, not only losing the game, but losing RB Nick Chubb to an ankle injury. Chubb has yet to be officially ruled out for the game, but he is likely to miss the contest. Bulldogs QB Jacob Eason must bounce back from his rough day in Oxford if they are to have any chance of winning. Their defense must also improve as Tennessee lit up Florida last week. For Tennessee, this is the second of a brutal four game run; they travel to Texas A&M next week before hosting Alabama. The Vols can’t afford a letdown, and if they can get the win over Georgia, it would be a huge step toward clinching the SEC East.
#8 Wisconsin at #5 Michigan, 3:30pm on ABC
Last week, Wisconsin surprised with a 30-6 thumping of Michigan State on the road. They head east again to take on Michigan. The Wolverines hammered Penn State last week 49-10. Michigan had the ground game rolling against the Nittany Lions, rushing for 326 yards. Junior QB Wilton Speight has started off great for Michigan - through four games, the QB has nine TDs with only one INT. For Wisconsin, the Badgers made a QB change for last week. They started freshman Alex Hornibrook, and he gave them a boost in the passing game. Following a great performance by the Badger defense last week (six points allowed, four turnovers and a defensive TD), they won’t be short on confidence heading into the Big House. The Badgers are more “battle tested” having won against two ranked opponents, while this will be Michigan’s first game against a ranked foe.
#4 Louisville at #3 Clemson, 8pm on ABC
The biggest matchup of the weekend features two Heisman trophy candidates at QB. The preseason favorite, Clemson’s Deshaun Watson, has been knocked off the top by Louisville’s Lamar Jackson. Watson has struggled, by his standards, so far this season - through the first two games, he had just four TDs to go with three interceptions. After the victories over South Carolina State (FCS) and Georgia Tech last week, his ratio has improved to nine TDs and four INTs. Clemson WR Mike Williams has returned from his injury last season in dominating fashion. The Tiger defense has also performed well this season, giving up only 11 points per game, but they will have their toughest task of the season in Jackson and Louisville. After the 63-20 humiliation of Florida State two weeks ago, Jackson took over the top spot in the Heisman race. Last week’s 59-28 win at Marshall last week raised the Cards’ scoring average to 63.5 points per game. The game could go either way - Clemson’s offense needs to improve but the defense should be able to slow Louisville down a little. For Louisville, a win in Clemson means they are likely the ACC’s only hope to be in the College Football Playoff. They currently only have one ranked opponent on the schedule, a trip to Houston in November.
Others to Watch
#25 Texas at Oklahoma State, noon on ABC
North Carolina at #12 Florida State, 3:30 on ESPN
Oklahoma at #19 TCU, 5pm on FOX
#18 Utah at California, 6pm on PAC-12 Network
Missouri at LSU, 7:30 pm on SEC Network