Most compelling matchups in college football Week 5

Jacob Eason
Jennifer Buchanan-USA TODAY Sports

Starting with a fun Friday night slate, college football Week 5 features some intriguing matchups you won’t want to miss.

The season has already been full of surprises and disappointments. Will this weekend’s schedule create more chaos, or will the top teams buckle down and show their supremacy?

These following matchups will answer that question in large part, and provide a ton of entertainment value for fans across the nation.

No. 12 Penn State vs. Maryland

This Friday night has a chance to practically explode with offensive fireworks. These two teams are both coming off a bye and have offenses capable of putting up points in bunches, averaging 100 points per game between them.

Maryland’s Josh Jackson is coming off a rough outing against Temple and needs to get back to playing the way he did in the first two weeks. If he can do that, then the Terps should give Penn State all it can handle. Could we witness an upset in College Park Friday night?

Arizona State vs. No. 15 California

The California Golden Bears are the only remaining undefeated team in the Pac-12 and are coming off a big road win against an SEC team. They’ll host Arizona State late Friday night, and we all know things can get pretty crazy, pretty fast whenever #Pac12AfterDark takes over the airwaves.

Herm Edwards’ Sun Devils still have the bitter taste of defeat in their mouths after being outlasted by Colorado last weekend. Can Jayden Daniels outplay Chase Garbers and overcome a dynamic Cal defense? Will the Pac-12 devolve into more chaos with an upset at Berkeley Friday night? It’s going to be fascinating to watch this Week 5 matchup unfold.

No. 18 Virginia vs. No. 10 Notre Dame

The Fighting Irish went into Athens and gave Georgia all it could handle last Saturday night. Unfortunately, frustrating mistakes resulted in a loss that no moral victory can overcome. Still, there’s no shame in losing to one of the top teams in the nation, assuming Notre Dame can get back on the winning track the rest of the season.

That’s why Saturday’s home game against Virginia is so important. The Cavaliers eked out a win over Old Dominion on Saturday to remain undefeated. They feature a defense that holds opposing offenses to just 75 yards per game and have one of the better dual-threat quarterbacks in the nation, Bryce Perkins.

A win for the Irish would go a long way toward keeping them in the playoff conversation. A loss, however, would likely banish them from that conversation for the rest of the season.

No. 21 USC vs. No. 17 Washington

With one loss apiece, both USC and Washington technically both still have a shot to make a run at the playoff. Certainly, a second loss would doom that narrative into the abyss given the state of the Pac-12, along with how top-heavy the rankings are sure to be late in the season.

Will Kedon Slovis clear concussion protocol, or will the Trojans once again turn to third-string quarterback Matt Fink — the junior who slayed Utah in stunning fashion last weekend? Can USC’s defense continue to rally on the road against a very good Huskies offense led by Jacob Eason?

Or will we see Washington rise up and dominate at home to once again establish itself as a top team in the Pac-12 after losing to Cal a few weeks ago?

Mississippi State vs. No. 7 Auburn

The Auburn Tigers made quite a huge statement last Saturday on the road against Texas A&M. They controlled the outcome from the start of that game and methodically pummeled the Aggies into submission. Utilizing an impressive combination of unpredictability and speed on offense, and a defensive front that’s among the best in the nation, these Tigers are fierce.

A formula exists for the Bulldogs to tame their SEC rival, however. Mississippi State rushed for 349 yards against Auburn a year ago and features a potent rushing attack again in 2019, spearheaded by Kylin Hill, who wowed against Kentucky last Saturday. If Mississippi State’s defense can generate a turnover or two, then anything’s possible.

No. 24 Kansas State vs. Oklahoma State

Is Kansas State for real? The undefeated Wildcats will have a chance to answer that question in a big way Saturday night in Stillwater.

Their defense, which has been among the most impressive in the nation so far, will be tested in a big way by Oklahoma State’s offense. The Cowboys feature a dynamic, balanced offense and one of the best running backs in the nation, Chuba Hubbard, and perhaps the best receiver in the Big 12, Tylan Wallace.

Entering Week 5 as a road dog, Kansas State can make a huge statement if they can slow down the Cowboys and walk out of Boone Pickens Stadium with the W.

No. 5 Ohio State vs. Nebraska

To be honest, I’ll be stunned if Nebraska can manage to keep this to a three-touchdown game. The Buckeyes have been steamrolling opponents so far this year. Justin Fields has scored 19 touchdowns already, and Ohio State’s defense is downright scary up front.

The Cornhuskers will need to play a perfect game at home to even come close to upsetting the Buckeyes. Adrian Martinez must have the game of his life, and Nebraska’s defense has to play better than it has so far.

Yet this game is captivating because, despite a 3-1 record to open the season, Scott Frosts’s program hasn’t yet made any big statement. One will be made Saturday night in Lincoln. But will it be good or bad news for the Huskers?

Washington State vs. No. 19 Utah

If you were one of the lucky folks who stayed up into the wee hours of the morning to watch Washington State and UCLA last Saturday night, then you know what kind of insanity the Cougars can produce. Quarterback Anthony Gordon threw nine touchdown passes — and lost.

Utah came into last weekend’s game against USC with one of the nation’s best defenses. Then, Matt Fink and Michael Pittman Jr. happened. Can the Utes rebound with a strong performance against Washington State, or will Wazzu once again rain touchdowns upon its opponent late on a Saturday night? Should be a fun game, regardless of who wins.