College Football Week 5: Top 10 Storylines

Separation Saturday? More like Shakeup Saturday. It was not a good week to be in the Top 10. Several teams struggled, and more got beaten outright. Here’s a look at the top storylines across college football in Week 5.

10. Two Times too Much for Texas Tech

Texas Tech took TCU and their high octane offense to the wire last week, but the Red Raiders couldn’t keep pace with Baylor this week. The Bears had 49 points at halftime en route to a relatively easy 63-35 win. The three power teams of the Big 12, TCU, Baylor, and Oklahoma all flexed their muscles in conference games this week winning by an average of 30 points. Oklahoma State moved to 5-0 as well, but they don’t meet any of the Big 12’s big three until a November 7th game against TCU.

9. Cal Bears Rising

Cal moved to 5-0 and 2-0 in conference play. The Cougars jumped on Cal early, but the Bears came back behind four touchdown passed from Jared Goff. The defensive adjustments played a big part in the win as Cal outscored Washington State 21-7 in the second half of a 34-28 win. It’s about to get real interesting for Cal. The Bears next three games include road trips to No. 10 Utah and No. 7 UCLA before coming home to face No. 17 USC. If Cal can even take one of three in that gauntlet, they will be in the thick of the Pac-12 North race heading into November.

8. That Wolverine Defense

For the second consecutive week, the Michigan Wolverine defense allowed exactly 105 yards. Baylor had 333 yards of offense in the first quarter against Texas Tech. This time the victim was a reeling Maryland team who managed 76 yards passing and 29 yards rushing. With all of the three and outs it’s hard for any one player to pile up defensive stats for the defense, but at this rate they’ll keep piling up with wins instead. Next week should be a much better test as the Wolverines host an unbeaten Northwestern squad that dominated another opponent in a 27-0 shutout win over Minnesota. The Wildcats’ 176 yards allowed on defense seems like a shootout by comparison.

7. TCU Leaves Nothing to Chance

Some may have considered TCU lucky to escape Texas Tech with a win in Week 4 (link), but the Horned Frogs didn’t need any luck on Saturday as they blew the horns off of Texas. The final score was 50-7 and it wasn’t that close. TCU led 37-0 at halftime could have named their score. Trevone Boykin was sublime in his 20/35 and 332 yard performance with five touchdowns. TCU is going to remain in the playoff hunt all season, and Boykin will remain among the Heisman front-runners as well.

6. Sooners Looking more Complete

Oklahoma gave up 600 yards of offense to Tulsa two weeks ago. How would they handle an unbeaten, ranked West Virginia team? Quite well thank you. Oklahoma got off to a fast start with nearly 300 yards of offense in the first half. The Sooners withstood a rally in the third period from West Virginia before a calm, cool Baker Mayfield helped push the Oklahoma lead back to double digits (link). The Oklahoma pass rush was the big difference as they harassed Mountaineer quarterback Skyler Howard into three interceptions and West Virginia to five turnovers overall. Oklahoma gets Texas next week in what looks to be the most one sided Red River Rivalry in years.

5. Unbeaten, but not Unscathed

At 4-0 did anyone take Indiana seriously? Maybe, but teams will the rest of the year after the Hoosiers were one play away from forcing overtime with No. 1 Ohio State. For all the talk about the embarrassment of riches at quarterback for the Buckeyes, the best player on that offense is running back Ezekiel Elliot. Elliot put the Buckeyes on his back in the second half and rushed for 274 yards and three touchdowns on the night including this run that put the Buckeyes up for good (link). Ohio State proved last year they could win with different quarterbacks. Can they say the same thing about running back? Ohio State gets what amounts to a week off against Maryland next week. Might we see some changes in the offense to take some of the load off of Elliot? Can Indiana lose and move into the Top 25? They should.

4. The Crimson Tide is Alive and Well

Mark Twain said “reports of my death are greatly exaggerated.” Well, let’s get the dirt off the grave of the Crimson Tide. After losing at home to Ole Miss and looking less than dominant against ULM, Alabama faithful were gnashing their teeth this week heading into the Georgia game. Coming out of the game it’s Mark Richt who will be feeling the pressure. Alabama dominated every phase of the game. Jake Coker was efficient and effective. Running back Derrick Henry is a touchdown waiting to happen (link), and the maligned Crimson Tide defense shut down Georgia and added a score of their own on an Eddie Jackson interception return. What was supposed to be an indication of Georgia taking the next step was a return to form as Alabama dominated the Bulldogs.

3. There’s No Place Like Home… or is there?

We hear a lot about Southern Hospitality, but it’s in the Pac-12 that the home teams have been unusually hospitable. After Arizona State beat UCLA in Los Angeles, the road teams in Pac-12 games moved to 7-1 on the season. What home field advantage? This is the same UCLA team that walloped Arizona on the road, and the same Arizona State team that got crushed at home by USC last week. For those that want to point to Ohio State and Michigan State as teams that struggled and might be overrated, sometimes winning is enough. Especially this week when so many of the top teams struggled or lost outright.

2. Unluck of the Irish – Year of the Tiger?

There was nothing lucky about how well Clemson played in beating Notre Dame 24-22. This time the Irish fell short in their furious comeback attempt. In a soggy Death Valley stadium at Clemson, the Tigers jumped up to a big lead on Notre Dame, only to see the Irish tie the game with seven seconds left. The Clemson defense stopped the two-point conversion and knocked another team out of the Top 10. Is this the year Clemson finally joins the nation’s elite? The Tigers are always threatening, but never seem to get there. Clemson hasn’t had fewer than two losses in a season since 1983. Back to Back 11-2 seasons in 2012 and 2013 put Clemson in the Top 10 for the first time since 1990, but they would still be on the outside looking in of a Top 4 playoff spot. Florida State comes to Death Valley on November 7th, and the Seminoles are the only ranked team left on the Tigers’ schedule. Is this the year for Clemson?

1. If You’re not a Gator, You’re…

Gator Bait. Ole Miss went to The Swamp ranked No. 3 in the nation and extremely confident. The returned to Oxford humbled, but still controlling their own destiny in the SEC West after a 38-10 shellacking by the Florida Gators. Florida quarterback Will Grier played every down like he played the 4th downs against Tennessee when he was flawless. Kelvin Taylor ran like a man possessed.The Ole Miss offensive line had no answer for the Gator pass rush, and the talented Florida secondary made Ole Miss pay (link) With Georgia getting bashed by Alabama, Florida is alone at the top of the SEC East and looks to be the class of the East. Florida has back to back road games at Missouri and LSU before taking on Georgia on Halloween.

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