Week 5 is the kind of week you wait for entering the fall. Circle the wagons and clear your schedule as much as possible. This is such an amazing sport – you can expect the unexpected…but I expect a lot of great action, the thrill of victory and the agony of defeat. This Saturday will separate the contenders from pretenders in all likelihood. Let me say – this was the toughest week to narrow it down to 10 games so far. There are some games that missed the cut that would have been top 5 a week ago. Just an amazing slate - let’s get to it! Here are Week 5’s Top 10 Most Meaningful Matchups (and why)->>>
10. #22 Auburn @ LSU – 9:00 PM – ESPN: While this matchup has lost a little luster as LSU has not looked dominant to open season and both teams have suffered a loss plus a lackluster win, it’s always fun when the two Tigers of the SEC West get together. Expect a close game and it’s yet another hot seat game for Ed Orgeron. Auburn meanwhile may end up starting the QB that started this game for LSU last year! Late night in Death Valley is must see TV.
9. Boston College @ #25 Clemson – 7:30 PM – ACC Network: This is a big game despite Clemson’s involvement…which is not something we thought we’d be saying in 2021. The Tigers shouldn’t be ranked at 2-2 but Boston College – at 4-0 – will shoot up the top 25 and position themselves as co-favorite in ACC Atlantic with a win here.
8. #10 Florida @ Kentucky – 6:00 PM – ESPN: This “rivalry” is very one-sided, only one Kentucky win in 40 years but there have been some classic games. The Cats are 4-0 but it’s an underwhelming 4-0. Still, you wonder if Gators will overlook this game? I don’t think so. However, if Kentucky could pull the upset – they’d suddenly be well-positioned to have a really great season.
7. Arizona State @ #20 UCLA – 10:30 PM – FS1: Losses by both teams have kept this from the top 5 this week BUT this game will decide who will be frontrunner in PAC-12 South. Expect a high scoring game. Big test to see if Chip and the Bruins have fully turned the corner as a program – can they build further on the LSU win? Or can the Sun Devils realize their potential?
6. #21 Baylor @ #19 Oklahoma State – 7:00 PM – ESPN2: Did not see this being a big game a couple of weeks ago but impressive back-to-back wins by the Cowboys and the Bears’ big upset over Iowa State last week have made this basically a top 20 matchup. I *think* Oklahoma State is the better team but they’ve been uncharacteristically bad on offense. Expect a 23-19 kind of outcome here but the winner is in the mix in the Big 12.
5. #6 Oklahoma @ Kansas State – 3:30 PM – FOX: The Sooners are playing as bad on offense as anyone can remember…although their defense is much improved. Kansas State lost last week but overall looks solid…and is riding a two game winning streak against Oklahoma. If the Cats can keep it close (and I think they can), it’s going to get awfully uncomfortable for the Sooner faithful – and the QB controversy will grow in Norman (even though I think they’ve got the wrong main culprit for their struggles – it’s the offensive line and injured RBs).
4. #5 Iowa @ Maryland - 8:00 PM (FRI) - FS1: In the annals of “I did not see this being high on any game lists in August” – this one takes the cake. While Iowa was expected to be their usual solid selves, they’ve been arguably the most impressive team in the Big 10 while Maryland has finally won all their trap games and comes in 4-0. This is a big game for the Terp program but also for Iowa to show that they can move the ball on offense when they have to. The “Shell” should be rocking on Friday night – big game for Maryland football to possibly take next step.
3. #8 Arkansas @ #2 Georgia – Noon – ESPN: I went back and forth on which of these final 3 should be #1. I settled on this matchup of teams that is unexpectedly top 10 because I do believe Georgia is better and will win by two scores. However, don’t be surprised if Arkansas hangs in for a good, long time. They are legit but have to be a bit tired with the schedule they’ve faced. Georgia, to me, is probably the class of the country right now – but they haven’t been tested seriously since Week 1 – and that Clemson win is starting to look a lot less impressive. I expect the Dawgs to win but should be a fun, tough SEC game.
2. #7 Cincinnati @ #9 Notre Dame – 2:30 PM – NBC: The second of two top 10 matchups on the day, one has to feel like Notre Dame is extremely fortunate to be 4-0 but they dominated the fourth quarter last week against Wisconsin. Meanwhile, Cincy has looked really good to start the year – including a road win against Indiana – but this is a whole ‘nother kettle of fish. Still – the Bearcats are slightly favored and I think that’s right. I’m expecting a 27-23/24 type finish which will set the Bearcats up to be right on cusp of top 5 when rankings for the playoff come out in a couple weeks. Then they’ll need to root like crazy for Notre Dame and Indiana. Conversely, if Notre Dame can win this with a banged up Jack Coan at QB then we’ll have to view them as for real.
1. #12 Ole Miss @ #1 Alabama – 3:30 PM – CBS: I settled on this as the game of the day. Yes I’m an Alabama homer but, frankly, tell me a game that will be more fun and also have more meaning whichever team wins. If Ole Miss can pull it off (and I would definitely take them to cover the spread) it could signal that Alabama is taking a small step back this year and also put the Rebels in position to be the main challenger to the Tide for a trip to Atlanta – considering how the Aggies and both Tigers have looked. An Alabama win will say that order is still…in order…and that the Tide is the class of the SEC along with Georgia. As an Alabama fan, I can tell you, it’s going to be a miserable near-4 hours before this is over one way or the other. Fun!
Texas @ TCU – Noon – ABC: A sneakily important early season Big 12 matchup. Texas’ big loss to Arkansas doesn’t seem so surprising now. The Horns could possibly end up the best team in the Big 12 with Oklahoma and Iowa State struggling but the TCU bugaboo is still there – Tom Herman lost 3 of 4 times he faces the Horned Frogs and they are 2-1 to start year.
Indiana @ #4 Penn State – 7:30 PM – ABC: This would probably have made the Top 10 in a lot of other weeks. The Hoosiers have struggled to start year against a tough schedule but are still dangerous. Meanwhile, Penn State is looking to stake claim for Big 10 East supremacy with Ohio State looking somewhat vulnerable. They have to win this one and avenge their opening loss last year that seemed to put their season in a tailspin.
#14 Michigan @ Wisconsin – Noon – FOX: Are the 4-0 Wolverines for real? In 2019 and 2020 they crashed upon the rocky shoals of the Badgers. Meanwhile Wisconsin seems to be really down this year – but a win here could turn the whole season around.
#13 BYU @ Utah State – 9:00 PM (FRI) – CBS Sports Network: The best G5 game of the day features a BYU team primed for a run at a NY6 bowl and an Aggie team that is dramatically improved in just the first year of Blake Anderson. Should be a fun Friday nighter.
Liberty @ UAB – 7:00 PM – CBS Sports Network: Second best G5 game – can Liberty bounce back from…can’t believe I’m saying this…an “upset” loss to Power 5 Syracuse? UAB is always solid, although they seem a little more vulnerable this season in CUSA.
Friend, if you can’t find a thrilling game to watch this weekend…you’re blind. This Saturday, be sure to follow along with me on Twitter @ReadyCFB for witty remarks, live tweeting and questioning stupid things announcers say and/or coaches do!