Over a quarter of the way through regular season and a clear distinction between the top teams and the rest of the field is emerging. My playoff predictions are in ruins with Ohio St, LSU and Florida St all having lost at least once (FSU’s season is virtually destroyed after last week’s loss to NC State). My only saviour is USC who have been unconvincing but are still undefeated and are in a good position to get to the PAC 12 title game. Heisman Predictions are also destroyed with both Derrius Guice and JT Barrett having poor starts that will probably rule them out of winning the award. Hopefully, the likes of Alabama, Clemson and Penn St lose eventually, so my predictions have a better chance of coming through. Anyway, on with the best of Week 5…
No.5 USC Trojans at No.16 Washington State Cougars
This will be a good test for USC, on the road in Pullman where it is a lot colder than Los Angeles, against a high powered, air raid offense in Wazzu. Much of the attention will be on the 2 NFL bound quarterbacks in Sam Darnold of the Trojans and Luke Falk of the Cougars. Many people have Darnold going 1st overall due to his perceivance to be more ‘NFL ready’ as he runs a pro style offense. However, he has been less than impressive this season and is yet to recapture his form from last season.
Whereas, Falk is a strong armed QB who puts up impressive numbers, but that is mostly down to his one-dimensional, pass happy offense. He’s probably similair to Pat Mahomes who also ran an air raid offense at Texas Tech, and with a little refinement could become as good as or better than Darnold. I think what separates these teams will be USC’s superior running game with junior Ronald Jones being particularly impressive. Expect lots of points, as this could be a genuine upset if USC can’t match the Cougars’ offensive power, but I have to back USC who I can see winning the National Championship if Darnold clicks into gear.
No.7 Georgia Bulldogs at Tennessee Volunteers
My pre-season pick to win the SEC East, Georgia have justified that by looking dominant and securing impressive victories last week against Mississippi St and against Notre Dame in South Bend a few weeks back. They look head and shoulders above the rest of the division, and should have no trouble against a Vols team that was dreadful against Florida a few weeks ago and struggled against UMASS last week. The fact that this takes place in Neyland Stadium may give hope to the Vols, but the Bulldogs should have too much with dynamic RB duo Nick Chubb and Sony Michel. If Tennessee aren’t careful, then this could easily be a blowout. It will also send the Bulldogs on a collision course with Alabama in the SEC Championship, which would be great as they look like the only team that can stop the Tide at the moment.
No.2 Clemson Tigers at No.12 Virginia Tech Hokies
Is this the week that Clemson get beat? For 3 quarters last week, they struggled to beat Boston College until a 4th quarter explosion handed them a comfortable victory. I watched Virginia Tech play West Virginia in the season opener and liked what i saw. Freshman QB Josh Jackson has done well and could cause problems for the dominant Clemson defense. I’m still not convinced by Clemson QB Kelly Bryant either. I feel sorry for him having to take over from Deshaun Watson, but he still hasn’t produced a standout game yet. The Tigers will be full of confidence and should be able to go the regular season unbeaten, and potentially play Miami in the ACC championship.
However, the biggest factor in this game won’t be any of the players, it will be Lane Stadium in Blacksburg. This is one of the loudest venues in College Football and it will be buzzing at night. If Clemson aren’t totally committed and focused, then they could get overwhelmed and lose their chance of defending their title.
No.15 Oklahoma State Cowboys at Texas Tech Red Raiders
If there was ever a team you didn’t want to play after a crushing loss, then Texas Tech is that team. As mentioned previously, the Red Raiders run a similar air raid offense to Washington State (former HC Mike Leach is now the HC at Wazzu). This means that the OK State defense that got torn to shreads by TCU will face more pressure this week. Traditionally, a pass first team under Pat Mahomes last year, they seem to have added better run play to their offense, as evidenced by a spectacular 90+ yard run play against Houston last week. Nic Shimonek is looking like a more than capable replacement for the aforementioned Mahomes and could be in for a big game.
OK State need to hope that Mason Rudolph can put last week’s disappointment behind him and can put the Pokes on the road to recovery before the Bedlam game with Oklahoma. James Washington is a superstar in the making at WR and should be too good for the Red Raiders defense, which is consistently ranked as the worst in the country. Finding Washington in space will be the key for the Cowboys, otherwise they could be leaving Lubbock with their season in tatters.
A quick special mention to the 19 ranked San Diego St Aztecs who were impressive in beating Stanford 2 weeks ago, and last week beat Air Force in a torrential downpour. They could be the group of 5 representative in the New Year’s 6 Bowls if the USF Bulls mess up in the American. RB Rashaad Penny has put up impressive numbers in replacing all time NCAA rushing yard leader Donnel Pumphrey and is a Heisman outsider that could turn into a potential winner if Saquon Barkley and Baker Mayfield lose form.
Top Week 5 College Football Games