clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

Week 5 Watch Guide: Clemson-VaTech, Georgia-Tennessee and are the Cougs for real

New, comments

Another action packed week with 3 ranked match-ups on the slate

NCAA Football: Clemson at Louisville Jamie Rhodes-USA TODAY Sports

Another exciting weekend is in the books as we got some key questions answered Week 4. Alabama continued their SEC dominance rolling over Vanderbilt’s #1 ranked defense, 59-0 and Oklahoma State was humbled at home by the TCU Horned Frogs, 44-31. TCU’s defense came to play and after a tight week for Oklahoma in their match-up versus Baylor, it could be a tight three horse race as the season continues. In the Big 10, Penn State needed to ride running back and Heisman front runner Saquon Barkley in the fourth quarter and a last second score to beat Iowa on the road, 21-19.

That brings us to Week 5. We’ll be looking at three games in particular as the Trojans travel to Pullman, Georgia takes their #7 ranking to Knoxville for a battle with the Volunteers and a Saturday night matchup in Blacksburg between Clemson and Virginia Tech.

No. 5 USC at No. 16 Washington State, Friday, 10:30 p.m. (ESPN); USC -3.5

Questions: Are the Cougs for real?

Martin Stadium, the home of the Washington State Cougars, will be the stage for this big Pac 12 matchup. The Cougars are 4-0 for the first time since 2001 and the Trojans bring the nation’s second longest winning streak, 13 games, into town.

Cougars quarterback, Luke Falk, is off to a hot start completing 67.1 percent of his passes with 14 touchdowns and only one interception through 4 weeks. The Cougars have outscored opponents 87-19 in the first half this season and will look to continue that trend and try and pull upset against the visiting Trojans.

Washington State v Colorado Photo by Justin Edmonds/Getty Images

USC may be without their top rusher, Ronald Jones II, who could miss his second straight game with a contusion and a sprained ankle. That will increase the load on freshman, Stephen Carr, who rushed for 82 yards and a touchdown in USC’s 30-20 win last week at California. Quarterback Sam Darnold will be facing a tough Cougar defense that ranks 1st in pass defense in the Pac-12 but as arguably the best quarterback in college football, he’ll be relied on to step up in this marquee Friday night match-up.

USC has had a couple of close calls this season, last week needing 17 fourth quarter points to top the Golden Bears and the week prior with a double overtime win over the visiting Texas Longhorns. They’ll be tested defensively by Falk but have 11 takeaways this season which ranks 3rd in the country. I expect a shootout in Pullman, with Coach Mike Leach pulling a rabbit out of his hat to get a close victory and a big upset for the Cougars.

No. 7 Georgia at Tennessee, Saturday, 3:30 p.m. (CBS); UGA -7.5

Prediction: This will be a (fun) blowout.

The Georgia Bulldogs hot start looks to continue at Neyland Stadium led by freshman quarterback Jake Fromm and senior running back tandem Nick Chubb and Sony Michel. The host, Tennessee Volunteers are in desperate need of a statement game after back to back lackluster offensive performances, a Hail Mary loss to SEC East rival, Florida and a 17-13 home win versus UMass. The Bulldogs on the other hand, dismantled Mississippi State last week 31-3, and sit atop the SEC East rankings.

AutoZone Libery Bowl - Georgia v TCU Photo by Michael Chang/Getty Images

Tennessee will need to find a spark offensively as they played both quarterbacks last week, starter Quinten Dormady and Jarrett Guarantano, but neither was particularly impressive in their sluggish win. The load will fall to running back John Kelly, who leads the SEC with 112.5 rushing yards per game. They’ll be facing a stout Georgia defense that ranks 4th in total defense in the conference and is led by a three headed monster at the linebacker position. Roquan Smith leads the team with 27 tackles and is joined by Lorenzo Carter (3 sacks) and Davin Bellamy.

We’ll be looking at a reinvigorated Tennessee offense as Butch Jones knows the pressures on in this big match-up for the Vols. Unfortunately, it will not be enough even on their home turf. Georgia has too many weapons and after a heartbreaking loss 34-31 on a last second heave last year in Athens, payback is on their mind. Georgia rolls in the second half to get to 5-0.

No. 2 Clemson at No. 12 Virginia Tech, Saturday, 8 p.m. (ABC); CLEM -7.5

Statement: This one feels like must-see TV.

Saturday night, Lane Stadium will be rocking as the defending national champion, Clemson Tigers bring their stout defense into Blacksburg to take on the Hokies. It’s the first Top 12 AP match-up since 2009 when Virginia Tech pummeled Miami, 31-7, and the Hokies are trying to get back to the top of ACC but will have to get through the new top dog.

Virginia Tech freshman quarterback, Josh Jackson has had a phenomenal start to the season completing 65.2 percent of his passes with 11 touchdowns and only one interception. The Hokies haven’t been tested the past three games after an opening win versus their rival, West Virginia in the opener.

NCAA Football: West Virginia vs Virginia Tech
Virginia Tech quarterback Josh Jackson
Derik Hamilton-USA TODAY Sports

Clemson comes in battle tested and ready for another early season big match-up. The Tigers have already defeated No. 13 Auburn and No. 17 Louisville and will have to go through the Hokies Saturday night to keep their back-to-back championship hopes in good shape. The Tigers defense ranks third nationally in fewest yards allowed and second in sacks with 17. Quarterback Kelly Bryant has enjoyed some early success completing 67.9 percent of his passes and 9 total touchdowns (7 rushing) and will look to run the ball and control the clock Saturday night. The Tigers are averaging 272 rushing yards per game.

This will be Clemson’s first visit to Blacksburg since 2011 and after a close Tigers win, 42-35 last season, the Hokies would love to get some revenge and topple the Tigers on their home field. Virginia Tech hasn’t been ranked this high since 2011 and are trying to return to the upper echelon of the ACC. I think we’ll have a close game for three quarters but the Clemson defense is too dominant and will give the Hokies freshman quarterback fits as they pull away in the fourth quarter. Clemson moves to 5-0 with their third win over a ranked opponent.

Other Saturday games of note:

No. 24 Mississippi State at No. 13 Auburn, 6 p.m. (ESPN); AUB -9.0

Northwestern at No. 10 Wisconsin, Noon (ABC); WISC -15.5

No. 15 Oklahoma State at Texas Tech, 8 p.m. (FOX); OKST -9.5

Indiana at No. 4 Penn State, 3:30 p.m (BTN); PSU -18.5