Statements were made this weekend as some of the top teams in the nation went head to head in college football Week 5.
Some of these statements were made by individuals, while others were of the team-centric variety. All of them were blasted across the national landscape with force enough to create ripples that will last longer than this weekend.
These were the biggest takeaways from college football Week 5.
Miami’s defense dominant in blowout win
The famous Miami turnover chain deserves overtime pay after being so heavily worked on Thursday night as the Hurricanes hosted North Carolina.
The Hurricanes forced six turnovers in this game — three forced fumbles and three interceptions — and scored three defensive touchdowns. This outstanding, opportunistic defensive effort led the way during the team’s 47-10 blowout win — a win that saw the Miami offense convert just 14 total first downs.
Granted, it’s not like Miami imposed its will on a top club. North Carolina has just one win to its credit. But this was still a very strong showing by the team’s defense, which has now forced 12 turnovers on the season.
The Crimson Tide cupcake parties are getting out of hand
There is no doubt that Alabama is the No. 1 team in the nation. In fact, before Saturday’s 56-14 blowout win over Louisiana, one Las Vegas sports book had the Crimson Tide as double-digit favorites over every other ranked team right now, per CBS Sports.
With that being said, it’s a joke that ‘Bama keeps lining up these sweet little cupcake opponents every year. So far in 2018, the Tide has already thrashed Arkansas State and Louisiana, and later on this year, Citadel will be coming to Tuscaloosa.
Okay, sure. We get it. Alabama also has some challenging opponents on its schedule. But these gimme blowouts are just ridiculous. They are essentially open practice sessions for the best team in the nation, and fans deserve a heck of a lot better than that.
Dabo Swinney will need to work some magic going forward
Clemson was lucky to escape with a win at home Saturday against Syracuse. The Orange just ran out of steam against a vastly superior overall roster. If not for a fourth-quarter meltdown by Syracuse, the Tigers would have lost, without a doubt.
Having come out of this week with a win was huge. Obviously. The Tigers are still undefeated and in control of the ACC, not to mention their own destiny as it pertains to the College Football Playoff.
However, head coach Dabo Swinney has some serious issues he now has to address. First and foremost, there’s no guarantee Trevor Lawrence (injured while getting blasted in the second quarter) is going to be available next weekend when the Tigers hit the road for a date with Wake Forest. Swinney told reporters after the game that Lawrence had “concussion-like symptoms,” which could necessitate an extensive recovery time.
Since Swinney made the decision to start Lawrence in Week 5 — a decision we wholeheartedly supported — Kelly Bryant has opted to transfer. And it really doesn’t seem likely he’ll change his mind about that.
This means that Clemson might have to rely on Chase Brice, who was very shaky Saturday, for an undetermined amount of time.
Needless to say, things got complicated in a hurry for Swinney.
Will Grier continues to sparkle as West Virginia remains undefeated
Will Grier and the Mountaineers pretty much won their Week 5 game against Texas Tech in the first half. They went into halftime up 35-10 and won by the score of 42-34, the only score in the second half coming on a game-sealing pick-six by cornerback Keith Washington.
On the one hand, it was frustrating to see the West Virginia offense bog down so much in the second half. But honestly, a lot of that was a symptom of offensive coordinator Jake Spavital taking his foot off the gas pedal.
Rather than focus on that, it’s more fun to highlight what Grier and his receivers accomplished in that explosive first half.
The senior quarterback was dropping dimes on NFL-caliber throws, completing 21-of-29 passes for 278 yards, 3 touchdowns and no interceptions. He finished the game with 370 yards passing and the three scores, bumping his season total up to 1,487 yards, 17 touchdowns and just three interceptions. Those are Heisman-type numbers, folks.
Jimbo Fisher needs to dial it back a few notches
We get it. It’s not easy instilling a brand new culture into a program that’s been soft for years. That’s what Jimbo Fisher is attempting to do — and what he seems to have done very well so far — at Texas A&M.
Yet on Saturday against Arkansas, which was a heck of a lot more competitive than it really should have been against the Aggies, Fisher crossed a line getting his message across.
Fisher was upset with junior linebacker Tyrel Dodson, who had just gotten into an altercation with an Arkansas player. In response, the coach violently grabbed Dodson’s facemask and yelled at him in close proximity.
That’s not the kind of thing we need to be seeing from anyone, let alone men of influence and power. Trading violence for violence isn’t the way to go when attempting to teach young men the right way to act.
UCF is a top-10 team
The UCF Knights continue to blow opponents out of the water. Following up a huge blowout over Florida Atlantic last week, the Knights were unstoppable on Saturday hosting Pittsburgh, winning 45-14.
McKenzie Milton accounted for six touchdowns the second week in a row to lead UCF to victory. The Knights racked up 568 yards and 31 first downs. But it’s not all about offense with this team. Including the last game when the Owls put up 36 points in a barn burner, UCF is allowing just 16.75 points per game.
This is the way you expect a top team to play. Just as they did last year, the Knights continue to blow their competition away. Hopefully this year, unlike 2017, the playoff committee will finally recognize this team’s merit.
Michigan still seems off
Previewing this weekend’s action, Michigan’s road trip to Northwestern seemed like the perfect time for the Wolverines to finally make a big statement. It was the first road game since they were taken out by Notre Dame in Week 1, and the three home games in between were all against pretty weak competition.
Well, Michigan did make a statement in the 20-17 win. The statement was: We’re okay.
Sure, the Wolverines were outstanding on defense after Northwestern’s opening wave of action, which put 17 early points on the board. But the Wildcats entered this game without their starting running back and had only won a single game all year.
Michigan should have been able to impose its will on this depleted Northwestern squad and dominate. It did not. Instead, we’re left to believe that Jim Harbaugh’s team is once again a decent — but certainly not top-notch — B1G team.
Oklahoma’s passing offense is practically unstoppable
The Oklahoma Sooners have lost absolutely zero percent of their potency on offense with the departure of Heisman winner Baker Mayfield. One week after Army took this team to overtime by possessing the ball and running the clock down as much as possible, the Sooners were once again dominant Saturday against Baylor.
The combination of quarterback Kyler Murray and receiver Hollywood Brown is arguably the best in college football. These two combined for five receptions for 132 yards and two touchdowns, but Murray also spread the ball around liberally, throwing four more touchdowns to three more receivers while finishing with 432 passing yards on the day.
Even counting last weekend’s bare-bones offensive showing (Oklahoma only ran 38 plays in regulation), the Sooners have scored 48.6 points per game this year. Murray is so hard to stop, as he can burn you with his legs as well as his arm, and he gives the Sooners a chance to win every weekend.
Bill Snyder made the wrong choice at QB
Kansas State had a great shot to take down Texas on Saturday in a game that was ultimately won by the Longhorns, 19-14. The big factor in this loss by the Wildcats was quarterback Alex Delton, who was awful.
Remember, head coach Bill Snyder pulled Skylar Thompson last weekend unbeknownst to Thompson, or anyone else besides Delton. He once again went with Delton to open Saturday’s game, and by the time he finally put Thompson in the game to open the second half, the damage had been done.
Delton engineered five drives in the first half, which culminated in no points for Kansas State and nine points for Texas’ defense and special teams. Right at the end of the half, he had a touchdown pass dropped on fourth down, but if we’re nit picking, he overthrew his receiver by a touch.
Anyway, the Longhorns deserve credit for gutting out a tough road win. But this was a game the Wildcats should have won. Snyder deserves criticism for losing faith in his starting quarterback, who is still clearly the team’s best option.
Auburn doesn’t look like a top-10 team
Gus Malzahn cannot be happy about his team’s performance at home Saturday against Southern Mississippi. It wasn’t until there were two minutes left in the fourth quarter that Auburn finally had a two-score lead over the Golden Eagles in the eventual 24-13 slog of a win.
No offense to Southern Mississippi, which actually does sport a strong defense, but this game shouldn’t have been close.
Auburn’s defense did plenty, forcing three turnovers and holding the Golden Eagles to 260 total yards. But the team’s offense was stagnant. It wasn’t until late in the game that it got any real momentum going, and the Tigers managed just 2.7 yards per carry on the ground.
This team just looks pretty bland right now. Certainly, there are 10 better teams nationally.
Ryan Willis sparks bounce-back win for Virginia Tech
The Hokies were pretty downtrodden after last weekend’s stunning upset loss to Old Dominion. Not only were they on the losing end of one of college football’s biggest historical upsets but quarterback Josh Jackson was lost for the year with a broken leg.
On top of all that, Virginia Tech had to hit the road for a date with Duke, which entered the week ranked for the first time in a decade.
The Blue Devils won’t be ranked for long, because Ryan Willis took over in a big way on Saturday to lead the Hokies to a blowout win, 31-14. He finished with 332 yards on 17-of-27 passing and threw three touchdowns, distributing the ball to nine different receivers.
Head coach Justin Fuente must be feeling a heck of a lot better about the rest of the season after that performance.
Kentucky continues to assert itself as a dominant team
Having already knocked off two ranked teams leading up to Saturday’s game at home against South Carolina, Kentucky had established itself as one of the biggest early-season surprises in 2018.
One week later, and nothing has changed except perhaps our expectations. The Wildcats once again took it to their opponent in Week 5, taking down the Gamecocks by the score of 24-10.
Benny Snell Jr. continues to be an effective bell-cow back, and the offense continues to grind out first downs, not to mention the clock.
But the biggest reason to believe Kentucky has a real chance to stay undefeated until it meets up with Georgia in the first weekend of November is its defense. The Wildcats have allowed an average of just 12.6 points per game so far this year.
That’s just consistent, outstanding defense, which is the hallmark of all dominant teams.
Might be Keytaon Thompson time for Mississippi State
As Mississippi State was preparing for their Week 2 matchup against Kansas State, it welcomed Nick Fitzgerald back following his one-game suspension. Previewing that week’s slate of games, we wondered if head coach Joe Moorhead was going to at some point feel the need to revert back to Keytaon Thompson, given how explosive he was in Week 1.
Well, that never happened. Maybe it should now.
Fitzgerald was incapable of making anything happen on Saturday as the Bulldogs hosted Florida. He managed to complete just 11-of-26 passes for 98 yards with no touchdowns while his offense converted two third downs and gained a total of 202 yards in the 13-6 loss.
So far this year, the senior quarterback has completed 52-of-106 passes for 640 yards with four touchdowns and two interceptions. In four games.
In his lone start this year, Thompson went for 397 yards with five touchdowns and one interception through the air.
Now with two losses, the Bulldogs need a spark. Fitzgerald doesn’t seem like he’s it.
Ian Book makes Notre Dame a legitimate playoff contender
Barring an injury to Ian Book, it’s hard to imagine the Fighting Irish are going back to Brandon Wimbush as the starter any time this season. For the second consecutive game, Book was magnificent leading Notre Dame to victory, this time against a very tough opponent in Stanford.
The Irish offense is so much more formidable with Book under center. The running game is just as strong as ever, and perhaps it’s even stronger now that there’s no need to feed the quarterback. Saturday night, Dexter Williams and his offensive line thrashed Stanford’s defensive front seven, which opened up passing lanes for Book.
The junior out of El Dorado Hills, Calif. took advantage, completing 24-of-33 passes for 278 yards with four touchdowns and no interceptions. Now the Irish are 5-0 with a strong playoff resume, having taken out two highly ranked teams in the first five weeks of this season.
James Franklin torpedoed his team when it mattered most
First off, Saturday night’s game featuring Ohio State and Penn State in Happy Valley was amazing. Both teams threw some devastating haymakers, and it was riddled throughout with spectacular plays (like this) that had us on the edge of our seats.
At the end, Penn State had a chance to win with a field goal in regulation, if it could just get close enough. Trace McSorley had been magnificent all night long and drove the Nittany Lions into Buckeyes territory.
On third-and-13, James Franklin called for a running play, which gained eight yards to give them fourth-and-5 for the ballgame.
First off, the run play on third down was just chicken. Awful, really.
Then came the real kicker. Franklin called not one, but two timeouts to give his offense the best chance to run a play that would gain five yards.
When the ball finally was snapped, it was a draw play to Miles Sanders.
To a running back.
This is hardly the first time James Franklin has choked at the end of a game, but it really does take the cake.