By RahimAli Merchant
It’s that time of the week where I tell you about which games to pay close attention to. If you thought last week was crazy full of upsets that featured unranked opponents beating ranked opponents, then you’re in for another wild weekend in Week 5 of college football! This week gives us the most top 25 versus top 25 matchups of the season thus far. It also provides us with a lot of new teams in the Top 25, who we look to continue observing as the season goes on. So let’s take a look at what we have in store for ourselves as fans of college football!
TOP 25 VS. TOP 25:
4 Ohio State versus 9 Penn State:
Ohio State’s coach Urban Meyer returned to the team last week in their 49-6 victory over Tulane, but this week marks the first of many important games for the Buckeyes. They missed out on the playoff last season after losing to Oklahoma and Iowa. They faced TCU instead of Oklahoma this year, and they beat them 40-28. Ohio State is 4-0 and plays the Nittany Lions who are also 4-0.
This game is more important for Penn State, who has the tougher road ahead. After this game, Penn State plays Michigan, Michigan State, Wisconsin, and Iowa. Ohio State only has two tough opponents in Michigan and Michigan State. This could be the make or break game of the season for Penn State, as they want to be a part of the playoff. Let’s see who will take this Week 5 college football matchup.
8 Notre Dame versus 7 Stanford:
Notre Dame hasn’t been as impressive as we all thought. I mean, yeah they beat Michigan on opening weekend, but that was by a touchdown. They also beat Ball State and Vanderbilt by an average of 6.5 points. Those games shouldn’t have been that close, and I am worried for Notre Dame. They still have to play Florida State, Virginia Tech, USC, and Syracuse. The only team out of those four who may be ranked is Syracuse and/or Virginia Tech, but for Notre Dame to be an Independent trying to make the playoff, there is no room for error. A loss to Stanford will still keep them ranked, but their playoff hopes will not be.
Stanford is currently 4-0 after their most recent win over No. 19 Oregon (38-31). That win gives them the lead in the Pac-12 North, but they still have to play Washington and California to capture the division. This Week 5 college football game will help prepare them for tough opponents like Washington, who is still projected to win the North. With a win over Notre Dame, it could land them in the playoff if everything works out the way they need it. I personally think Notre Dame is a bit overrated. Stanford can pull this off, but the Pac-12 discussion is for another week.
11 Washington versus 20 BYU:
Washington’s one loss against Auburn doesn’t look impressive anymore, because Washington hasn’t looked all that dominate for a team who is supposed to win the Pac-12. They still have to face Stanford, Oregon and maybe the eventual Pac-12 South champ. But with the early loss, they need to take care of BYU, who is still riding high off their upset victory over Wisconsin a couple weeks back.
BYU pulled off a win over Arizona, barely lost to California, upset Wisconsin, and now look to upset Washington. With their loss against California, their hopes of making the playoff are over, but they always love to play spoiler. This Week 5 college football matchup could be a close one.
12 West Virginia versus 25 Texas Tech:
This will be West Virginia’s first real test of the season, and it’s a big one. Now that TCU and Oklahoma State have lost, West Virginia is next in line to take down Oklahoma. But first let’s keep the attention on Texas, who although lost their opener against Maryland, is 3-1 and right back in the hunt for the Big 12 title.
West Virginia still has to play TCU, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, and Texas Tech. Texas already beat TCU easily and looks to handle West Virginia. But let’s not forget that the one both of them want (Oklahoma) is sitting comfortably at 6 in the rankings. Although the Sooners struggled against Army, they still lead the conference and are the team to beat. Texas has a date with the Sooners next week, and West Virginia has the rest of the season to prepare for them. So let’s see where we end up by the end of this week.
19 Oregon versus 24 California:
This game is more important for Oregon, who lost 38-31 to Stanford. They look to stay in the picture for the Pac-12 North title. Even with their loss to Stanford, there is still a slim chance for that to happen, especially with big wins of Stanford and Washington. Unfortunately, they will not be in the playoff conversation.
However, California could be! They are 3-0 and have a lot more to prove in the Pac-12. If they manage to beat Oregon, that will put them even higher. They still have to face and grab wins over USC, Stanford and Washington. This will be an exciting Pac-12 game. Make sure to plan your Saturday night around this one.
BOUNCE BACK GAMES:
Virginia Tech versus 22 Duke:
I’ll be honest, I didn’t think Virginia Tech was all that good anyways, but after losing to Old Dominion by two touchdowns, I’m kind of feeling bad for them. That game changed the whole image of the team, and they really need this win over Duke to give themselves some confidence. Regardless, they will not win the ACC without getting by Duke and Miami first.
Duke, however, may have a chance to do so. With a win over Virginia Tech, they will officially move into a tie for first place atop the ACC Coastal division with a 4-0 record. Duke’s game with Miami could be the winner of the ACC Coastal, but who will win this game with Virginia Tech? Can VA Tech rebound or will Duke take over the Coastal division?
TCU versus Iowa State:
You can officially kiss the playoff hopes goodbye for TCU. I mean, it’s okay to lose to Ohio State, but losing in back-to-back weeks does not help your chances. I do believe TCU can beat Iowa State and possibly spoil the hopes of other teams in the Big 12, but they will not be there. TCU was one of the favorites to beat Oklahoma, and it may still happen.
I know we all saw Iowa State take Oklahoma to their limits and come up short, but Iowa State needs this game to help them get back on track and hopefully be eligible for a bowl game. With both teams still needing to play West Virginia, Texas Tech and Oklahoma State, it’s not going to get any easier from here. TCU still has their matchup with Oklahoma, and Iowa State still needs to play Texas. Every win is essential in the Big 12. Who comes out on top?
23 Mississippi State versus Florida
Mississippi State was supposed to be one of the better SEC teams, but Kentucky might just be better this year. That game was crucial for Mississippi State, and they needed to win if they wanted any chance to win the SEC West. Let’s be honest, I don’t think Miss State ever had a chance in the West. Not with LSU, Auburn, and Alabama ahead of them. They also still have to face Texas A&M, and it would be tough for Miss State to have won all those games. So in a way, Kentucky had done them a favor.
Florida also lost to Kentucky for the first time in 37 years. They are hoping they can continue to win big games and eventually jump Kentucky and Georgia in the East. That will also be hard for them because they still have LSU and Georgia on their schedule. We can only imagine how many fights the Gators will give to try and knock off anyone of them. This game is important because of that slim chance either one of them has to win their division in the SEC. It will definitely give one of them the edge, but how will Mississippi State bounce back?
Texas A&M versus Arkansas:
Texas A&M has two losses to two of the top three teams in the rankings (Alabama – Last Week and Clemson – three weeks prior). Though their chance to make the playoff is long over, A&M is out to prove they are still one of the best. Getting a huge win over Arkansas before they take on Kentucky will really help them settle down.
For Arkansas, it’s about not finishing last in the conference. But who are we kidding? Arkansas will be lucky if they get one conference win. It doesn’t get any better after this week. Arkansas has a date with Alabama. Don’t worry, that will not be on the games to watch list, unless… Arkansas beats A&M and gets all our heads nodding for approval.
Oklahoma State versus Kansas:
Oklahoma State was supposed to be the team that could beat Oklahoma. They were able to silence the critics when they destroyed Boise State (ranked at the time), but proved they aren’t ready for Oklahoma just yet. OK State lost to Texas Tech by more than three scores. Like seriously, it wasn’t even close. But they still have a chance to win the Big 12 if they manage to win the games that matter most.
This game with Kansas matters because it’s one the Cowboys need to get themselves back on track before they have to take on Texas, Oklahoma, and West Virginia. Kansas won two games back to back for the first year in like forever, but they still struggle to win any games in the Big 12. Whatever slim chance Oklahoma State has, this game is one that they need to have.
GAMES OF INTEREST
3 Clemson versus Syracuse:
Clemson may be the 3rd ranked team, but they are having quarterback issues that aren’t like the one’s with Alabama. QB Kelly Bryant lost the starting job to true freshman Trevor Lawrence. This decision might have come at the wrong time, as they continue to run through the ACC. If you haven’t heard by now, Bryant wants to transfer, and it will be granted. I don’t necessarily think the change will affect the team’s chances to win the ACC title and be in the playoff. But a win over Syracuse is crucial. Syracuse was the only loss Clemson took last year, aside from their loss in the playoff.
Syracuse is playing well this season, as they currently sit 4-0 along with Clemson. However, they haven’t had any real competition as of yet, which is the sole reason why they aren’t ranked in the top 25. Another big win over Clemson could be useful for Syracuse. If Clemson lets this Bryant issue affect them, we could be talking about another upset.
17 Kentucky versus South Carolina:
Kentucky has been a surprising team this year. They beat Florida to snap a 31-game losing streak. They also beat Mississippi State last week. If they want any chance to compete in the SEC title game, they have to stay focused on the opponents they have in front of them now. Even though they are tied for first with Georgia in the SEC East, they shouldn’t be looking forward to that matchup just yet.
First is South Carolina, who are trying to prove they can be a candidate as well. They have already lost to Georgia and will probably play one less game due to a cancellation from the Hurricane, so this game and all SEC games are very pivotal to South Carolina if they want any chance to make it to the title game. Keep an eye out for an upset here, if South Carolina plays the way we expect them too.
So who will get upset and who can continue to stay undefeated? Tune in Saturday to find out what your favorite college football team does!