Week 5 means conference play starts in earnest, outside a few remaining power programs who are trying to get their cupcake on.
Screw those programs. Let’s revel in the handful of games this weekend that actually look interesting, and trust us: there are only a handful. That includes a couple of SEC showdowns, a Pac-12 trap game and one very interesting in-state match-up. There’s also a Big Ten game in which you can receive free tickets to attend, which shouldn’t instill any confidence in the fans who have to watch it at home.
Tennessee vs. No. 12 Georgia, ESPN: 12:00 p.m.
Tennessee will win a game against a ranked opponent this year–probably. Perhaps it won’t be versus Georgia (and almost definitely not against Alabama), but they’ll spring an upset that’ll launch them to a bowl and plenty of hype next season. But hey, let’s assume they have a shot against the Bulldogs. While the Volunteers’ offense hasn’t necessarily clicked (they’re 62nd nationally in passing yards and 98th in rushing), their defense hasn’t been egregious, limiting a high-gaining Oklahoma team to only 308 yards. And against the run they’re only allowing an average of 129 yards per play so far this season. True, they’re playing Georgia, whose entire offense relies on the run game, but maybe, just maybe, that Oklahoma game prepped Tennessee enough to handle Gurley and company.
Arkansas vs. No. 6 Texas A&M, CBS: 3:30 p.m.
Speaking of offense, there’s another SEC contest in the conference’s opposite timezone that should feature plenty. And that’s saying something, because after Week 1 of the season who knew that Arkansas Kool-Aid Man Bret Bielema, who has yet to win an SEC game, even had one? He apparently does: the Razorbacks’ run game sprang alive versus Texas Tech and featured two 100-yard-plus backs in Alex Collins and Jonathan Williams. Texas A&M, in case you forgot, is nasty, too: quarterback Kenny Hill has picked up where Johnny Football left off, getting support from a bevy of backs and receivers. It goes without saying that whoever’s defense hangs in there the longest will win; however, don’t be surprised if it’s Arkansas’, as the Razorbacks’ 11 have been tested more often this season.
Minnesota vs. Michigan, ABC, ESPN2: 3:30 p.m.
Cincinnati vs. No. 22 Ohio State, Big Ten Network: 6:00 p.m.
It’s gotten to the point where every week I ratchet up the levels of loathing leading up to every Ohio State game. I watched Cincinnati in their opener two weeks ago when Gunner Kiel looked like some rural viking god who could throw the ball to Mt. Olympus and knock Zeus off his perch. Deep down, I have no confidence in the Buckeyes. This team got trounced by Virginia Tech in Columbus, the same Hokies who couldn’t beat Georgia Tech. Perhaps I’m over-reacting (the Bearcats only barely beat Miami [Ohio] last week), but what about this incredibly young and untested secondary inspires any confidence in defending Kiel and his arsenal of receivers? I’m searching and I can’t find a reason. Don’t be surprised if the Buckeyes drop their first game against an in-state rival since 1921 when Ohio State lost to Lena Dunham’s alma mater, Oberlin, 7-6.
Oregon State vs. No. 18 USC, ESPN: 10:00 p.m.
The Beavers appear to be USC’s Pac-12 stumbling block, the lesser program who can give them fits. Almost every major college football program has one: Clemson had Maryland, Ohio State has Illinois. In all reality, the Trojans should trounce the Beavers off depth and star power alone. However, that’s not how it’s shaken out, as OSU and Southern Cal have split the series 2-2 dating back to the 2008 season. What’s working in the Trojans’ favor this game is those two previous losses came in Corvallis. Saturday’s game takes place in the Coliseum. Add in the fact that the Beavers’ schedule has only been slightly better than basura, and SC appears able to overcome whatever kooky rural Oregon voodoo’s plagued them against Oregon State recently.