College Football Week 5 Recap
By: Jason Earle
Two top ten matchups in a weekend that failed to disappoint. Here’s a look at who’s hot and who’s not as we near the halfway mark of the 2016 season.
Clemson (5-0, 2-0): The Tigers pulled off a huge victory over third ranked Louisville on Saturday night in a game that puts them in great position to capture their second consecutive playoff appearance. Louisville and a road contest at Florida State on October 29th are this team’s only real battles. If Clemson wins out including their likely ACC title game, they’ll be a 13-0 lock.
Michigan (5-0, 2-0): A statement win from the Wolverines. Michigan hasn’t been an elite team in college football since their 2011 campaign that led them to an overtime win in the Sugar Bowl over Virginia Tech. A win over #8 Wisconsin tells the nation that Michigan is for real. As long as the Wolverines don’t slip, the duel in Columbus on November 26th will likely determine a playoff contender from the Big Ten, but this is a league that could see two teams competing for the title in January.
Washington (5-0, 2-0): A whopping 44-6 win over Stanford makes the Huskies the favorite to win the Pac-12. After struggling against a bad Arizona team on the road, this blowout victory is just what they needed. However, Washington still faces road tests in Oregon and Utah, so there is still plenty of work to do before we talk about this team cracking the top four.
Stanford (3-1, 2-1): The blowout loss to Washington all but eliminates the Cardinal from playoff contention. They have no more currently ranked opponents on their schedule, so they still hold a chance to claim the Pac-12 championship, but this weekend’s result is likely to scar their résumé and will leave them out of playoff contention.
Michigan State (2-2, 0-2): The Spartans have yet to look impressive really in any of their games this season. They only beat Furman by 15, Notre Dame is no longer a great win, and they got crushed by Wisconsin only to be followed by a poor loss to Indiana. They are 0-2 in the Big Ten, and they have yet to take on Ohio State or Michigan, the two powerhouses of the league. Michigan State is in big trouble just four games into the year.
Texas (2-2, 0-1): After soaring to #11 in the polls after a big week one win over Notre Dame, Texas has begun to fall apart taking consecutive road losses. The Longhorns have allowed at least 47 points in three of their four contests, and they have yet to get into the thick of their Big 12 schedule. This team needs to get back on track, and a home win over Oklahoma next week would certainly help.
North Carolina (4-1, 2-0): North Carolina needs to be talked about. They fell off the radar with a week one loss to Georgia, but a road win at Florida State puts them right back on the map. They go to Miami on the 15th in what will likely be their toughest game remaining on the schedule aside from the ACC Championship. If the Tar Heels can remain consistent through a mediocre ACC schedule and go to the conference title game with a lone loss in week one, they’re an upset away from making a case for a playoff spot.
1. DeShaun Watson (Clemson): Watson and Jackson are the two frontrunners for the trophy, and Clemson’s victory over Louisville this weekend definitely did Watson some favors. If the two are all but deadlocked by the end of the year, you have to believe this game will be a big factor.
2. Lamar Jackson (Louisville): Jackson did not play bad. But I think the nation finally realized that he may actually be human. Though the win gives DeShaun Watson a slight edge, Lamar Jackson’s performance this season cannot be ignored. He’ll be right up there throughout the whole season.
3. J.T. Barrett (Ohio State): It’s going to be hard for anybody to pass the two leaders at this point, but if Barrett can continue to carry the Buckeyes to victories, he should be a definite contender.
2. Ohio State
9. Texas A&M
Until Alabama loses (if ever), they will probably hold on to the number one spot. Though Clemson and Michigan gained huge Ws this week, Ohio State has yet to win a game by less than 21 points, so it’s hard to strip them of their #2 ranking. Houston needs to keep winning until one of the top four teams slips up. If the Cougars lose to a team that’s not Louisville, they won’t be in the playoff. Even if their lone loss is to the Cardinals, their chances would be slim. Louisville is by all means still in the picture, but they need to win out. Washington just defeated the toughest team on their schedule by 38 points. They just need to play the way they did Friday night for the rest of the season, and they’ll be title contenders, despite the somewhat weak Pac-12 schedule. Wisconsin took a disappointing loss at The Big House, but it was still a good showing, and they have a very good chance to take the western division of the Big Ten. Texas A&M and Tennessee are sitting pretty and undefeated for the time being, but the brutal SEC schedule is soon to begin, including the battle between these two next week in College Station.
1 Alabama vs 4 Michigan
2 Ohio State vs 3 Clemson
Alabama over Clemson