After a slop-fest of a Big 12 game Thursday night, and a couple of good matchups Friday night, week 5 of the College football season is in full swing. We enter the heart of the conference slate with a number of intriguing story lines, but not all that many surprises up to this point in the season. For the most part, the top dogs remain in the hunt for the crystal ball, with the exception of Florida State who looks lost after losing Deondre Francois in week 1. Bama looks like Bama, Clemson looks like Bama, and Penn State escaped Iowa last week to remain in the race. Washington has yet to be tested, and Georgia is surprising some folks with a Freshman Quarterback in Athens.
On paper, it looks like it could be a dud of a day leading up to primetime in Blacksburg. A few top teams are off this week, while a few others will look to beat up on some conference bottom feeders. That said, there are a few matchups that should keep us entertained throughout the day beginning at Noon Eastern.
We crack our first beer in Madison, where the Undefeated Badgers play host to Northwestern. While these are never two of the most exciting teams in College football, they always seem to play each other tough. Wisco has looked tough this year climbing up to #10, but they have yet to see a quality opponent, which is what they will get tomorrow. Alex Hornibrook, hilarious name aside, has turned into a really good quarterback for Wisco. The lefty doesn’t jump off the screen talent wise, but he has turned into a solid signal caller. He can throw the deep ball, and generally makes wise decisions with the rock. Northwestern on the other hand, will try to run the ball and control time of possession with stud running back Justin Jackson.
This is not necessarily a big 10 rivalry game, but these two teams have split the last 26 meetings. They generally play tough games, which is why it is strange to see the point spread at 16 points. I don’t think Northwestern has the talent on both sides of the ball to pull of an upset here, but I do like them to cover that number. Hornibrook will be good, but unable to repeat his elite performance from last week in BYU. I look for the Badgers to control the game, and roll to a comfortable 14 point win. We’ll go 28-14 Badgers, as they look to stay a top the Big 10 West.
While I am not sure what # beer you will be on as that game finishes up, it will definintely be time to crack open another one and flip over to CBS for some 3:30 SEC action. Always one of the highlights of Saturday, today we get undefeated and #7 ranked Georgia on the road in Knoxville to take on the Volunteers. UGA is coming off an absolute beatdown of Missisippi State in Athens last weekend, in a game a lot of people thought they would struggle in. Riding Freshman signal caller Jake Froman, the Dogs have been extremely impressive to this point, including a win on the road in South Bend in primetime. While Froman has been strong, we all know what seperates Georgia is their insane ability to recruit multiple 5 star Running backs at a time. This year, they have 3 backs averaging over 5 yards a pop, whick allows them to stay fresh and control time of possession. We all know about Nick Chubb who seems to be fully recovered from a gnarly Knee injury last year, but lookout for D’Andre Swift who has been unstoppable. Those two combined with the speedster, Sony Michell will make it really tough on Tennessee. If we remember back to Week 1, Georgia Tech absolutely gashed them on the ground all night long, and they were lucky to squeeze out a win there. Some equally bad luck saw them lose on a hail mary to Florida two weeks ago, and a very underwhelming performance home to winless UMASS last week should have the Vols rearing to go today. They trot out a stud RB in their own right, in John Kelly who is already almost halfway to 1000 yards this season.
This is another situation where it is tough to see such a wide spread in a game that is usually close down the stretch. Tennesee needs this one to keep their SEC hopes alive, and Butch Jones may need this one to keep himself off the unemployment line. That said, Georgia is just a much better team at this point. The three headed monster at Running back takes the pressure off of the Freshman QB and Froman does enough to keep drives alive. Like the Dawgs here, laying 8.5 on the road. 31-20 Bulldogs.
As we move into the evening hours and probably following another beer run, we keep it in the SEC for Auburn and the Bulldogs of Mississippi State. Both teams come in at 3-1 and both have looked really good, and really bad at certain points this season. Especially Missippee State, who went into Death Valley and beat the crap out of LSU, only to get stepped on in Athens a week later. Meanwhile, we have seen Auburn look unstoppable against the like of Mizzou, but unable to do anything against Clemson. To me, the inconsistency’s come from shaky QB play on both sides. You expect more from both Jarrett Stidham and Nick Fitzgerald as the season goes on, as they have both proved they can play at a high level against top defenses. The difference tomorrow comes down to the defensive side of the ball, where Auburn has a clear advantage. They were able to hold Clemsons high power offense in check in Week 2 and looked dominant against Missouri last week. For Mississippi State, we just never know what to expect. As far as tomorrow, look for the bad version to show up against a stout Auburn front. Ill take Auburn at home giving the 7.5. 23-13 Tigers.
For those of us who can stay conscious and awake, the better games come on starting at 8. College gameday is coming to us from Blacksburg, VA which is an absolute treat to watch a primetime game in. Sure, it isn’t a Thursday night, but Lane Stadium will be rocking with the defending national champs rolling into town. The Hokies have had this game circled for a year, since dropping the ACC championship game last year. This Va Tech team is better than last year, and the home crowd will make a big difference, especially with the freshman qb Kelly Bryant playing in a tough environment. For Clemson, they have looked every bit as good as they did last year despite losing the best player in college football to the NFL. Bryant has been sharp, and the talent pool runs as deep as any program in the nation. Dabo and Brent Venables continue to coach em up on D, as they personally erased Lamar Jackson’s name from Heisman contention the other week. Last week, they struggled for much of the game against lowly Boston College, but it would only be natural for that to have been a trap game in between two college gameday showings on the road. Despite that, they were able to eek out a 34-7 W over the eagles. The target remains squarely on the Tigers back, as VT will come out guns ablazing tomorrow night. They have not been tested since a Week 1 win against West Virginia, and have seemingly been preparing for this matchup since then.
Clemson is tough, we all know it, but this is a statement game for Justin Fuente. Josh Jackson is a rising star at quarterback, and I think they have enough talent on defense to keep Clemson in check with the home crowd behind them.
That said, there is a talent gap between these two programs, and it isn’t even all that close. As is the case with most other programs in the land, especially the ones that don’t play in Tuscaloosa, Clemson has depth that goes unmatched. You can hang tough for three quarters, but similar to what we have been seeing with Bama for years, they will wear you out and beat you up down the stretch. I think Kelly Bryant makes enough plays with his feet for Clemson to win the ballgame, but I really like Virginia Tech to cover the number at home. Home dogs in primetime college football games are generally the right play, especially teams looking for revenge, and to make a statement like the Hokies this weekend. Justin Fuente will have his team ready, and an admirable performance will keep it close, but Clemson pulls it out 27-23 in Blacksburg.
So there it is. Wherever you choose to spend your Saturday, make sure the beers are flowing and the clicker is close by. Those are the games I like best tomorrow, but there are certainly some others to keep an eye on throughout. Florida and Vandy could get interesting, and Texas Tech and Oklahoma State will be shootout on FOX Saturday night. (Bonus pick- OVER) Should be a fun weekend filled with Sports, with the Presidents Cup going on in New York City. Hope you all enjoy.