Week 5 Wrap Up:
Most Impressive Team Performance: The Penn State Nittany Lions entered Week 5 ranked #12 in the country yet were not taken seriously as a threat to win the Big Ten conference or National Championship. This was mainly because the conference they play in also houses Ohio State, Wisconsin, and Michigan, all of which were ranked higher than Penn State at some point this season. In Week 5, Penn State traveled on the road for the first time this season as they played their first conference game, and they made a statement. A 59-0 beating of Maryland announced that Penn State is a threat to anyone on their schedule for the rest of the season. They forced an interception on Maryland’s first possession of the game and followed up by scoring a touchdown on their very first offensive play. In fact, Penn State scored touchdowns on each of their first four possessions of the game and held a 38-0 lead by halftime. The offense was dynamic, recording over 600 total yards and only turning the ball over one time. Quarterback Sean Clifford threw for 398 yards and three touchdowns. The defense might have been even better, allowing only 68 total passing yards and 60 rushing yards on 34 attempts for a 1.8 yards per attempt average. Penn State will have a tune up game of sorts this Saturday when they host 1-3 Purdue before their biggest test thus far, when they travel to 14th ranked Iowa on October 12th.
Most Disappointing Team Performance: California was the only ranked team to lose to a team outside of the Top 25 in Week 5, therefore it would be easy to say they turned in the most disappointing performance. However, given the fact that I do not believe Arizona State is that bad, and Cal lost their starting quarterback due to injury in the first half, I will look elsewhere for this award. That puts the spotlight clearly on Virginia Tech. The Hokies used to be one of college football’s most electric programs. They appeared in a National Championship Game in 1999, while led by Michael Vick, and had been an elite program as recently as 2010 when they last won the ACC. However, times have changed for Virginia Tech and the 25 year streak of making a bowl game that they have painted on their field will be coming to an end this year. A 45-10 loss to Duke this past Friday night was humiliating. Virginia Tech had previously struggled to beat horrible Old Dominion and Furman teams before this loss. The 2-2 Hokies took a 3-0 lead in this game before giving up 31 consecutive points. They were lifeless on both sides of the ball all night long. Getting to six wins and extending their bowl streak is all that Virginia Tech has left to play for this season and with any more performances like this past week, it certainly will not happen.
Best Individual Performance: I had previously avoided giving awards to Alabama and their players due to the sheer amount of talent they have and the lack of competition they have faced to this point. However, the show put on by wide receiver DeVonta Smith cannot be ignored. In Alabama’s 59-31 win over Ole Miss, Smith had 11 catches for 274 yards and five touchdowns. The 274 yards set the school record. For a school that in recent years has produced NFL stars such as Julio Jones, Amari Cooper, and Calvin Ridley this is an even more impressive feat. The five touchdown grabs also tied the SEC single game record, that had not been done by any player in the conference since 2006. In only two conference games so far this season, Smith has 410 receiving yards and seven touchdowns. On a team where it is hard to stand out amongst all the talent, Smith has proved he is one of, not just the best receivers, but best players in the country.
Best Game: In a week that really only featured one good game involving a prominent team this award was an easy choice. The #1 ranked Clemson Tigers traveled to take on North Carolina on Saturday afternoon and nobody expected a close game, Clemson was favored by 27.5 points and ESPN gave them a 94.1% chance to win at kickoff. However, the top ranked Tigers suffered quite the scare. North Carolina scored first to lead 7-0 and following a Clemson touchdown they scored again in the second quarter to regain a 14-7 lead. After Clemson scored right before halftime to tie the score at 14, the defenses clamped down in the third quarter as no points were scored by either team. Clemson was finally able to take the lead for the first time with just under 10 minutes to play when they scored a touchdown on a 38 yard pass thrown by star Sophomore Quarterback Trevor Lawrence. North Carolina then embarked on a drive that took up almost the remainder of the game and scored a touchdown with only 1:17 remaining in the game. They elected not to kick the extra point and play for overtime, and instead went for a two point conversion and the win. However, a horrible play call as they ran an option play that was blown up in the backfield never stood a chance doomed North Carolina and following their failure to recover an onside kick sealed Clemson’s 21-20 win.
Week 6 Preview:
Team Who MUST Win: Week 6 is an important week for all teams, some are playing their sixth game which means that after this week their season is half over, and others are still playing to see what direction their season will take. The Michigan Wolverines entered the season with hopes that this would be the year they would take a step forward, win big games, beat Ohio State, and make the playoffs. Coach Jim Harbaugh came into the year with lots of pressure and expectations on his team, and through the first five weeks they have not lived up to any of them. A 3-1 record and #19 ranking might not be bad for some programs, but for Michigan and their five million dollar a year coach, it is not. Harbaugh faces a crossroads this weekend when his Wolverines host #14 Iowa at noon on Saturday. If Michigan cannot win, their hopes of a Big 10 and National Championships are completely over, and Harbaugh will all but certainly lose his job. Let’s face it, they will probably go on to lose to Notre Dame, Penn State and Ohio State. This is the biggest game of the season for Michigan, and if they win, they get to face the same dilemma next week.
Best Chance for an Upset: Let’s face it, there won’t be any major upsets in Week 6. For the purpose of this article, I will say the best chance is that #21 Oklahoma State is in danger when they travel to Lubbock to take on Texas Tech. I always like to look at the early kickoff times for ranked teams who are playing on the road for upsets. Teams tend to get slower starts while playing in earlier time slots and this is the first time Oklahoma State will be playing at 11am local time this season. Texas Tech started the season 2-0 before losing back to back games, including a 55-16 loss to Oklahoma last weekend. I think that under first year Head Coach Matt Wells, Texas Tech will be motivated and get off to a fast start. It may be just enough that Oklahoma State is not able to recover and will be knocked from the Top 25 this week.
Biggest Game: This one is easy. #7 Auburn and #9 Florida play on Saturday afternoon as both teams are 5-0 and looking to remain undefeated. Each team has played both close games and blowouts as they have navigated through the first five weeks leading up to this meeting in Gainesville, Florida. This will not be the most difficult game on either teams schedule as they both have yet to play LSU or Georgia. However, that adds even more importance to this game, with bigger tougher opponents looming, it is imperative that each team wins this weekend and remain with a perfect record. Both teams are well rested, coming off easy wins last weekend, and boast defenses ranked within the top 20 in the country which should lead to a low scoring game. Neither team’s quarterback had started a college game before this season. I think that Auburn goes on the road and gets a win, but it will be a close, hard hitting and exciting game throughout.