Alabama and Georgia Look Dominant - Who Is Going To Step Up and Challenge Them? - Week 5 Highlights
The best two teams in the country cemented their dominance in Week 5. Unless a miracle or shock result occurs before the end of season, they'll be in the College Football Playoff in December. And what of the others?
The race to challenge Alabama and Georgia is wide open with teams seemingly in prime position, slipping up. Ole Miss and Arkansas, having shown early season promise, have some way to go after convincing losses to the Crimson Tide and Bulldogs respectively. Oregon, having upset Ohio State in Columbus, lost at home to Stanford. Clemson and North Carolina now sit outside the Top 25 and one of the other current top four teams, Iowa and Penn State will fall back after the two meet in Iowa City this weekend,
Ohio State look ominous, unbeaten after their slip up to Oregon, and the Big Ten suddenly looks competitive with Michigan and Michigan State also on the rise at 5-0. Cincinnati are in the mix too after their impressive win over Notre Dame.
Who is going to step up?
Here's my highlights of the week:
No.3 Oregon 24-31 Stanford (OT)
The best placed PAC-12 team to make the Playoff for years, Oregon could have blown it in a surprise loss to Stanford. Down 17-7, the Ducks rallied behind quarterback Anthony Brown who ran in a touchdown to put Oregon 24-17 up. Cardinal QB Tanner McKee's touchdown pass to Elijah Higgins with three seconds left set up a tense overtime. His 14-yard pass to John Humphreys won it.
"The key word is resilience. It's the mark of a successful team, it's the mark of a successful person. How can you withstand the storms that life gives you? ... Our guys took it on the chin quite a bit but we fought back and made some big plays."
- Stanford head coach David Shaw.
No.7 Cincinnati 24-13 No.9 Notre Dame
Cincinnati's quest to become the first Group of 5 team to reach the Playoff hit new heights on Saturday. They ended Notre Dame's 26-game home winning streak in South Bend whilst notching up their thirteenth straight regular season win, moving to 4-0 for the season.
Bearcats QB Desmond Ridder threw for 297 yards and two touchdowns, rushing for another, as Cincinnati raced to a 17-0 lead at half time. Ridder is in the reckoning for the Heisman. He and Cincinnati's chances of reaching the Playoff won't be helped by the weak teams on the rest of their schedule. They will have to hope Notre Dame has a strong rest of season to make their record stand out to the Playoff voters. Kyren Williams ran in a touchdown for the Fighting Irish.
In the SEC...
No.12 Ole Miss 21-42 No.1 Alabama
This felt like men against boys. Ole Miss gambled on and squandered numerous fourth down opportunities against defending national champions Alabama. Lane Kiffin's "get your popcorn ready" mic drop moment before kick-off came back to haunt him. Where Ole Miss were ambitious and ultimately wasteful, the Crimson Tide were clinical. Mississippi's field-long first drive stopped just short of the goal line on fourth down. Alabama took over on downs and promptly marched up the field to score. 7-0 up and they would be out of sight before long, moving to a 35-0 lead.
Workhorse running back Brian Robinson rushed for a career-high 171 yards and four touchdowns while Bryce Young passed for 241 yards and two touchdowns. Linebackers Henry To'oTo'o and Christian Harris swarmed over Ole Miss, whose QB, Matt Corral looked like he was running for his life at times as the potent Rebels offense was restricted to 291 total yards.
No.8 Arkansas 0-37 No.2 Georgia
A dominant Georgia defense and running game handed Arkansas its first defeat of the season in ruthless fashion. The Bulldogs squeezed the life out of the Razorbacks, running for a total of 273 yards. Zamir White blocked a field goal attempt, returning it for a touchdown to add to the one he'd run in earlier. Quarterback Stetson Bennett threw only eleven pass attempts for the entire game, completing seven. His Arkansas counterpart, K.J. Jefferson passed for just 65 yards in a convincing shutout for Georgia.
No.10 Florida 13-20 Kentucky
Kentucky's Trevin Wallace scooped up a blocked Florida field goal and returned it for a touchdown which handed valuable momentum to the Wildcats. Florida's move up the Top 25 stalled as they fell to 3-2, while Kentucky moved into it with a 5-0 record.
No.22 Auburn 24-19 LSU
A miraculous conversion on 4th and 2 from Bo Nix in Death Valley gave Auburn their first win at LSU since 1999. Nix, a former five-star recruit, has been erratic this year but is hitting form and this win over their SEC rivals moves Auburn to 4-1 and up the Top 25.
Mississippi State 26-22 No. 15 Texas A&M
Mississippi State quarterback Will Rogers completed 46 of 59 yards for 408 yards and three touchdowns as Texas A&M's season is going from bad to worse. They fall to 3-2, out of the Top 25 and face No.1 Alabama this weekend.
The Big 12...
No.21 Baylor 14-24 No.19 Oklahoma State
Both teams came in with unbeaten 4-0 records and an opportunity to challenge Oklahoma at the top of the Big 12. Baylor were up 17-14 with just over two minutes left when the Cowboys' running back Jaylen Warren put the game away with a one-yard touchdown run and move Oklahoma State to 5-0.
No.6 Oklahoma 37-31 Kansas State
Oklahoma are hovering on the fringes of the Playoff places without really hitting their peak, but notched up an important win against a competitive Kansas State team who shocked them last year. The Sooners have now won their last three games by under seven points. Spencer Rattler, booed last week, threw for 243 yards and two touchdowns as Oklahoma move towards the Red River Rivalry showdown with Texas this weekend.
Texas 32-27 Texas Christian University
Oklahoma's rivals, Texas, move into the Red River game on form after a good win against a TCU team that has given them problems in recent seasons. The Longhorns look like a different team with Casey Thompson at quarterback. Bijan Robinson was dominant on the ground, rushing for 216 yards as Steve Sarkisian's team moved to 4-1 and back into the Top 25.
The Big Ten is heating up...
Indiana 0-24 No.4 Penn State
What a turnaround. Penn State were 0-5 this time last year and moved to 5-0 after shutting out a potentially dangerous Indiana team. Hoosiers QB Michael Penix Jr. limped off and Penn State continues to improve by the week. Nittany Lions wide receiver Jahan Dotson continues to impress, catching a touchdown pass for the sixth game on the trot. Penn State travel to Iowa this weekend for a showdown at the top of the Big 10, and potential decider to see who makes the Playoff. Iowa had routed Maryland 51-14 on Friday.
No.11 Ohio State 52-13 Rutgers
They couldn't, could they? Having slipped out of the spotlight after a shock home loss to Oregon, Ohio State have racked up over 50 points in their last two games and moved to 4-1 with a convincing win over Rutgers. C.J. Stroud was back at quarterback for the Buckeyes, passing for 330 yards and five touchdowns. Ohio State has unearthed another gem at running back in Treveyon Henderson who ran for a 44-yard touchdown. Ohio State are ominously moving into form and aren't ready to hand over the Big Ten crown just yet.
No.14 Michigan 38-17 Wisconsin
Michigan are off to a great start. 5-0 and averaging 39 points a game, compared to 28 last season. They were too much for a Wisconsin team that was thought of as a Big Ten contender in preseason. The Wolverines knocked Wisconsin QB Graham Mertz out of the game and have Nebraska and Northwestern next. They could be 7-0 in a couple of weeks and a win over Ohio State could move them into previously unthought of Playoff contention.
Western Kentucky 31-48 No.17 Michigan State
Don't rule Michigan State out of the Big Ten conversation this year. Payton Thorne threw for 327 yards and a touchdown as the Spartans beat the uniquely nicknamed Hilltoppers of Western Kentucky to move to 5-0.
In the ACC...
No.23 North Carolina State, fresh from their upset win over Clemson, beat Louisiana Tech 34-27, while No.25 Clemson survived a late rally from Boston College to edge out the Eagles 19-13, a nervous performance that wasn't enough to keep them in the Top 25.
No.24 Wake Forest, with Sam Hartman impressing at quarterback, beat Louisville 37-34 in a thriller and could be the best team in the ACC.
Games to look out for this week:
No.6 Oklahoma vs. No.21 Texas - The Red River Rivalry is back with fans this year. 100,000 of them at The Cotton Bowl. Steve Sarkisian's Longhorns have been outperforming the Sooners in recent weeks. Can they topple Lincoln Riley's Arkansas and put themselves in the Big 12 driving seat? No.13 Arkansas @ No.17 Ole Miss - a big game for both teams in Oxford after losses to the top two teams in the country. Mississippi QB Matt Corral will need to improve on the six interceptions he threw in last year's matchup.
No.2 Georgia @ No.18 Auburn - "The Deep South's Oldest Rivalry" will be decided by how Auburn QB Bo Nix handles the Bulldogs' swarming defense. Here's this week's AP Top 25... Rank Team Record 1 (1) Alabama 5-0 2 (2) Georgia 5-0 3 (5) Iowa 5-0 4 (4) Penn State 4-0 5 (7) Cincinnati 4-0 6 (6) Oklahoma 5-0 7 (11) Ohio State 4-1 8 (3) Oregon 4-1 9 (14) Michigan 5-0 10 (13) Brigham Young 5-0 11 (17) Michigan State 5-0 12 (19) Oklahoma State 5-0 13 (8) Arkansas 4-1 14 (9) Notre Dame 4-1 15 (16) Coastal Carolina 5-0 16 (-) Kentucky 5-0 17 (12) Ole Miss 3-1 18 (22) Auburn 4-1 19 (24) Wake Forest 5-0 20 (10) Florida 3-2 21 (-) Texas 4-1 22 (-) Arizona State 4-1 23 (23) North Carolina State 4-1 24 (-) SMU 5-0 25 (-) San Diego State 4-0