If there was a week that can shape the landscape for the College Football Playoffs, this is that week. We have three huge games with conference title implications with six of the top 10 teams in the nation in play. Without further ado, here are the three college football games to watch during Week 5.
1. No. 3 Louisville at No. 5 Clemson (Saturday Night, 8 pm EST)
What a difference one month in college football can make. The Louisville Cardinals have gone from a dark horse pick of many to the No. Three team in the nation. Meanwhile, the Clemson Tigers have gone from one of the two popular picks for the national championship to a team fighting to stay in the national conversation. The headline for this game is the “Battle Of The Quarterbacks,” Lamar Jackson against Deshaun Watson. Jackson catapulted himself into the national spotlight with his Tecmo Bowl like numbers, including putting up 63 points on powerhouse Florida State.
Meanwhile, Watson, who was the preseason Heisman favorite, has struggled noticeably, though he did show signs of life in his last game against Georgia Tech. The wild card for this game, however, is the Clemson defense. Defensive Coordinator Brent Venables’ squad has held foes to a mere 3.4 yards per play, which is No. 2 nationally. However, Louisville head coach and offensive mastermind Bobby Petrino will be sure to find a weakness in the defense. Saturday Night, prime time, Death Valley, be ready for a barn burner.
2. No. 8 Wisconsin at No. 4 Michigan (Saturday Afternoon, 3:30 pm EST)
The Michigan Wolverines, lead by firebrand head coach Jim Harbaugh, are off to a flying start at 4-0 and ranked fourth in the nation. Their 49-10 beat down of Penn State was as complete a game as we have seen this year. However, we get to see what the Wolverines are made of as they go against their first formidable foe in the eighth-ranked Wisconsin Badgers.
The Badgers, for the first time since 1962, have already beaten two top 10 teams in LSU and Michigan State and are looking for a third victory this season. In both those victories, the Wisconsin defense was lights out, as they allowed one offensive touchdown in either game. Michigan quarterback Wilton Speight will be a huge key in this game, as he looks to limit mistakes and play smart against such a defense. Now here is some food for thought: If Wisconsin does manage to beat its third Top 10 opponent in five weeks, they will have a shot to make it four of six with Ohio State next week.
3. No. 7 Stanford at No. 10 Washington (Friday Night, 9 pm EST)
Last week, both teams pulled out amazing and gut-wrenching victories. The seventh-ranked Stanford Cardinal dodged a bullet with a last-minute touchdown to beat UCLA, and the tenth-ranked Washington Huskies’ amazing stand in an overtime thriller at Arizona. With those wins and Oregon’s massive struggles this season, sets up the possible winner of the Pac-12 North.
For Stanford. You have their Heisman Trophy hopeful, Christian McCaffrey, a stingy defense that has allowed only three touchdowns in three games, and the underrated play of quarterback Ryan Burns. For Washington, they have a heck of a running game with Lavon Coleman and Myles Gaskin, and they will look to ride their legs to victory.
Washington is out to prove that they are legitimate, and if they beat Stanford, who have won three of the past four conference championships, it will put the doubters to rest. Stanford is out to make it four of five in the PAC-12, and with a victory, it would put them at 3-0 in conference play before a couple of Pac-12 teams have even played their first league game.