College football is hitting full stride entering October, and we still have a lot to sort out over the next two months. If we’ve learned one thing over the past few years, it’s that the committee takes every game into account, from September to November—some teams had strong Septembers, others saw their playoff hopes dashed in a flash. Here’s what we learned from Week 5.
Ohio State and Penn State are the two best Big Ten teams
This game has been the game of the year in the Big Ten for the last three years—the winner of each game has overcome a double-digit deficit to win, and the last two winners have gone on to win the Big Ten.
As of now, Ohio State is in the driver’s seat to reach Indy, but it didn’t come easy—McSorley had a Colin-Kaepernick-versus-the-Packers-type game, rushing for 175 yards and throwing for 286 and two touchdowns, and the Buckeyes defense was shredded for almost 500 yards. But they made plays when it mattered most, including stopping a 4th and 5 play that will have Nittany Lion fans scratching their heads all season.
One thing that should have the college football world on edge is the fact that Dwayne Haskins grew up before our eyes in the fourth quarter—down 13 in the fourth, Haskins led two brilliant drives, including a 96-yard drive to win the game. Don’t look now, but the Buckeyes are in prime position to make the CFP.
Quarterbacks are running away with the Heisman race
At the start of the year, Bryce Love and Jonathan Taylor were Heisman front-runners—that narrative is long gone. The likes of Dwayne Haskins, Will Grier, Tua Tagovailoa, and Kyler Murray have emerged as the four-headed monster that will certainly give us the 2018 Heisman.
Haskins had already had his Heisman moment, leading the Buckeyes back from down 12 in the fourth quarter against Penn State. On the season, Haskins has completed over 70% of his passes, throwing 19 touchdowns to two interceptions. Over in West Virginia lies one of the most electric offenses in the country, with Will Grier throwing for 17 touchdowns through four games—it’s going to take an elite defense to stop this team, a department in which the Big 12 is lacking. I can’t wait to see this team match up against Texas, one of the few solid defensive Big 12 teams.
Onto the athletic quarterbacks—Tua is the most talented quarterback Nick Saban has ever had, and he is off to an unbelievable start—he’s completed 75% of his passes, and remarkably, over 20% of his passes have been touchdowns. Alabama is the title favorite, and he’s the driving force. And last but not least, the multi-talented Kyler Murray—after being drafted 9th overall in the MLB draft, Murray returned for a season at Oklahoma, and he has exceeded expectations. The Sooners are the Big 12 favorite once again, and Murray is right in the thick of the Heisman chatter.
Notre Dame is in prime position for the playoff
Don’t look now, but the Irish are about to make this CFP race very complicated. If Notre Dame is undefeated as seasons’ end, beating the likes of Michigan, Stanford, Virginia Tech, and USC, there is no way the committee can leave them out. That leaves three spots for five Power-5 champions. And that means one or more of the Alabama, Ohio State, Clemson, Georgia, or Oklahoma is going to be left out, and we’re going to have the controversial playoff debate like we do every year. The switch to Ian Book has proved effective for Brian Kelly and the Irish, and he looks poised to carry this team for the rest of the season.
The Red River Rivalry will decide one of the Big 12 Championship participants
I predicted at the beginning of the season that Texas would play Oklahoma for the Big 12 championship, and while it is still a possibility, West Virginia looks like a very strong contender right now, so this game could very well decide who goes to the title game. This rivalry extends back to 1900, with Texas leading the all-time series 61-46-5. The Sooners have been ranked the last 12 times these teams have met, and this is the first time in five years that both teams are ranked.
These teams absolutely hate each other, and they will meet almost exactly in between Norman and Austin on Saturday after College Gameday. Don’t look now, but the stakes haven’t been this high in a while.
The SEC is still the best conference
From 2006-2012, the SEC won seven championships in a row, and were the undisputed best conference—six years later, that narrative hasn’t changed. The SEC has six teams in the top 25, and four legitimate national championship contenders in Alabama, Georgia, LSU, and Auburn. Normally, Georgia runs away with the East division, but this year, Florida and Kentucky (the basketball school??) are for real—if you haven’t heard the name Benny Snell Jr., start listening. The Wildcat running back has worked his way into the shadow of the Heisman talk, and Kentucky is off to a 5-0 start—they haven’t won more than seven games since 2007, a mark that they will surely pass this year if they keep their play up.
College Football Playoff Predictions after Week 5
2. Ohio State
3. Notre Dame