Thursday, September 20, 2018

Week 5 college football viewing guide

Viewing guide

Must-see and meh time frames Saturday for college football:

Lamest time window: Noon. It's really bad.

Noon: No. 21 Florida hosts Vanderbilt in a game that could be close but still not fun to watch.

3:30: Tennessee's Butch Jones could make his hot seat cool down if he somehow upsets No. 7 Georgia.

6: Winner of No. 24 Mississippi State-No. 13 Auburn is the second-best team in the SEC West.

7: Memphis at UCF is a battle of perhaps the top two teams in the AAC.

8: No. 12 Virginia Tech will be No. 2 Clemson's latest toughest test of the season.

Heisman watch

5. Oklahoma State QB Mason Rudolph: Took a hit with a loss to TCU but can rise tonight against a no-longer awful Texas Tech defense.

4. Stanford RB Bryce Love: His Cardinal has underachieved, but Love hasn't; he's averaging an absurd 10.8 yards per rush.

3. Louisville QB Lamar Jackson: He's still second nationally in total yards (1,724) and will pad those figures today against lowly Murray State.

2. Oklahoma QB Baker Mayfield: His passer rating (228.25) is almost 40 points better than anyone else in the country.

1.Penn State RB Saquon Barkley: More than 300 yards of offense (and plenty of highlight-reel runs) is enough to make him my new frontrunner.

Local of the week

UCF DB Kyle Gibson (Armwood High)

Anyone who watched Memphis' 48-45 win over UCLA knows QB Riley Ferguson and the Tigers have a good passing attack. It will pose a big challenge for the Knights' secondary and Gibson, who recovered a fumble in the opener and had an interception last week.

Eye on the NFL draft

Alabama DBs Minkah Fitzpatrick and Ronnie Harrison are both first-round talents. Here's a chance for them to reaffirm that. Ole Miss has a top-five passing offense that will test the Tide's secondary — and give Fitzpatrick and Harrison opportunities to prove themselves (again) to NFL scouts.

'GameDay' breakdown

It turns out that the Hokies don't miss QB Jerod Evans after all; QB Josh Jackson and WR Cam Phillips have formed one of the nation's top passing combinations. Clemson will try to change that. The Tigers have only allowed one of their first four opponents to throw for more than 150 yards - and much of Louisville QB Lamar Jackson's performance came in garbage time. Clemson's pass rush might be enough to neutralize what should be an amped-up Lane Stadium.

Must-win for FSU?

Here's a sentence I never thought I'd write: Winless Florida State has a big game today against undefeated Wake Forest. It's also a sentence that has only been true twice ever — in 1959 and 1973. But that only kind of counts, because those were the season openers for both teams. A Seminoles loss would drop FSU to 0-3 for the first time since Bobby Bowden's first year (1976).

Webb Gem

Vanderbilt RB Ralph Webb stars against his hometown Gators:

2016: 24 rushes, 110 yards

2015: 22 rushes, 118 yards, 1 TD

2014: 16 rushes, 83 yards

Average yards per rush against UF: 5.0

Average yards per rush against every other team: 4.3


"She just knows when she comes back to the house, she better not have on any Gator gear." — Vanderbilt coach Derek Mason, whose daughter, plays lacrosse for UF

Sinking ship

East Carolina gave the Gators one of the biggest scares of the Jim McElwain era in 2015 — and the beginning of a slide for the Pirates (who host USF today):

26 games before UF loss

Record: 18-8

Points scored: 964

Points allowed: 640

26 games after UF loss

Record: 8-18

Points scored: 693

Points allowed: 886

Hot seats

3 coaches worth watching today (other than Butch Jones)

Kevin Sumlin, Texas A&M: After today's home game against South Carolina, Sumlin's Aggies face four consecutive ranked opponents, including at UF on Oct. 14. It's about to get real.

Jim Mora, UCLA: The Bruins have a top-tier quarterback (Josh Rosen) and have lost two in a row entering tonight's game against a solid Colorado team. A three-game skid heading into a bye week sounds disastrous.

Todd Graham, Arizona State: A 37-35 win over a ranked Oregon team cooled things off last week. A loss today at so-so Stanford would crank the pressure back up.

Auburn grounded

Auburn has been missing the offensive fireworks coach Gus Malzahn is known for. Lakewood High alumnus Ryan Davis and Tampa Catholic product Nate Craig-Myers have combined for two of the Tigers' three receiving touchdowns. Only 18 teams in the country have fewer touchdown passes than Auburn. Don't expect much more production today against a Bulldogs defense that has allowed only 516 passing yards all season.

The best player you're not watching

If USF doesn't get a New Year's Six bowl appearance, San Diego State senior RB Rashaad Penny might be to blame. Penny is the latest in a great line of Aztecs running backs, ranking second nationally in rushing yards (716) and total yards (920). He'll try to keep going tonight against a Northern Illinois team that knocked off Nebraska on the road two weeks ago.

By the numbers

50 — Years since Kentucky DB Nate Northington integrated the SEC. The league will commemorate the anniversary today

171.7 — Passer rating for Western Carolina QB Tyrie Adams (Dixie Hollins High), who ranks seventh Division I-AA

21-3 — Virginia Tech's record since joining the ACC when recording at least four sacks

7.0 — Yards per play allowed by Texas Tech from 2015-16

5.1 — Yards per play allowed by Texas Tech this season

30 — Consecutive quarters without a turnover by 'Bama

799 — All-time wins for Georgia, which will try to get No. 800 in Knoxville

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