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College football Week 5 viewing guide: Florida Gators’ big test at UK

Our gameday guide also spotlights USF, Deion Sanders and some notable local quarterbacks.
 
The Florida Gators once owned the Kentucky football series. Not anymore, which is why their game against the Wildcats is a Week 5 highlight.
The Florida Gators once owned the Kentucky football series. Not anymore, which is why their game against the Wildcats is a Week 5 highlight. [ JOHN RAOUX | AP ]
Published Sept. 29|Updated Sept. 29

College football Week 5 viewing guide

Lamest time window: Early. It’s not a blockbuster slate, so this is a good chance to do the chores you skipped to binge on last weekend’s massive matchups.

Noon: No. 22 Florida will try to avoid its first three-game losing streak to Kentucky (ESPN) since 1948-51. Unless Deion Sanders’ Buffaloes can hang with No. 8 USC (Fox), keep an eye on how Clemson rebounds from its loss to Florida State at Syracuse (ABC).

3:30: UCF-Baylor (FS1) is noteworthy as the Knights’ first Big 12 home game. The better matchups, though, come with No. 1 Georgia’s first road game at Auburn (CBS) and the first ever ranked showdown between No. 24 Kansas and No. 3 Texas (ABC).

6: No. 13 LSU at No. 20 Mississippi (ESPN) feels like an elimination game in the SEC West race.

7:30: No. 17 Duke hosts its first ranked matchup since 1994 when No. 11 Notre Dame visits (ABC).

10: This is our weekly reminder that No. 7 Washington is the nation’s most entertaining team and worth checking out against Arizona (Pac-12 Network).

Graham Mertz on a roll

Florida's Graham Mertz has been one of the nation's most accurate passers.
Florida's Graham Mertz has been one of the nation's most accurate passers. [ JOHN RAOUX | AP ]

Florida quarterback Graham Mertz’s completion percentage (78) is tied with Oklahoma’s Dillon Gabriel for third nationally, making Mertz the type of efficient game manager the Gators need in Billy Napier’s system. He’ll get tested Saturday, however, at Kentucky. Mark Stoops’ consistently stingy defense has more interceptions (four) than passing touchdowns allowed (three).

Audible

“I have great confidence in the people of Kentucky that can get up very early and pound some beers. Why would you disrespect this great state and the great people of it?” — Stoops on concerns that a noon kickoff could lead to a weaker crowd against the Gators.

This week in Coach Prime …

Deion Sanders has another tough matchup against USC.
Deion Sanders has another tough matchup against USC. [ ALI GRADISCHER FOR | oregonlive.com ]

Colorado will try to rebound from an awful loss to Oregon by hosting No. 8 USC. This one could be ugly, too. Reigning Heisman Trophy winner Caleb Williams has thrown 15 touchdown passes and no interceptions. If Deion Sanders and his staff haven’t fixed the nation’s No. 112 passing defense, Williams will torch the Buffaloes.

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‘GameDay’ breakdown

Notre Dame’s top-20 offense goes from facing one great defense (Ohio State) to another (Duke). The Blue Devils’ defensive front (including Jesuit High alumnus Anthony Nelson) will be key. If Duke can’t pressure star quarterback Sam Hartman and get to the nation’s most explosive running back (Audric Estimé) in the backfield, then the Blue Devils will have a sour ending to the first “GameDay” visit in program history.

Local of the week

Notre Dame's Spencer Shrader could be an X-factor if Duke hangs with the Irish.
Notre Dame's Spencer Shrader could be an X-factor if Duke hangs with the Irish. [ MICHAEL CATERINA | AP ]

Notre Dame kicker Spencer Shrader (Newsome High)

The USF transfer’s 3-of-7 stat is misleading because the Irish trust him to drill long field goals (like his program-record 54-yarder against North Carolina State). Shrader could be the difference in a tight game at Duke.

Brotherly love

Jake Johnson caught a pass from his brother, Max, for Texas A&M last week.
Jake Johnson caught a pass from his brother, Max, for Texas A&M last week. [ SAM CRAFT | AP ]

Max and Jake Johnson became the first Texas A&M brothers to connect on a passing touchdown when Max hit tight end Jake for a 22-yard score in last week’s win over Auburn. A season-ending foot injury to quarterback Conner Weigman will create opportunities for more as Max (the LSU transfer) takes over the Aggies’ starting job Saturday against Arkansas at AT&T Stadium. Both Johnsons are the son of Brad Johnson, who quarterbacked the Bucs to their Super Bowl 37 triumph.

Penix moving up

Tampa Bay Tech alumnus Michael Penix Jr. is a Heisman Trophy candidate for Washington.
Tampa Bay Tech alumnus Michael Penix Jr. is a Heisman Trophy candidate for Washington. [ DEAN RUTZ | Seattle Times ]

Washington quarterback Michael Penix Jr. (Tampa Bay Tech) needs only 115 passing yards to move past Brock Huard (6,391) for the fifth-most in Huskies history. It’s a safe bet the nation’s leading passer will reach that mark this weekend; the last time he faced Arizona, he set the school’s single-game passing record with 516 yards.

Tampa Bay QBs

Tampa's Jordan McCloud is coming off a career-best six-touchdown game for James Madison.
Tampa's Jordan McCloud is coming off a career-best six-touchdown game for James Madison. [ ELI LUCERO | AP ]

Penix isn’t the only notable quarterback from the Tampa Bay area to make big impressions on Saturdays:

Virginia’s Anthony Colandrea (Lakewood High): The true freshman is exciting to watch. He’s second in the ACC in yards per completion (14.65), and he’s tied for second nationally (behind USF’s Byrum Brown) with four passes of at least 50 yards. He’ll try to lead Virginia to its first win of the season against Boston College.

James Madison’s Jordan McCloud (Plant High/Sickles High): The former Arizona and USF quarterback is coming off a career-best six-touchdown performance. He’s among those tied with Colandrea with four completions of at least 50 yards and will try to boost the Dukes to 5-0 in a sold-out game against South Alabama.

Toledo’s Tucker Gleason (Plant High): He threw two touchdowns off the bench last week in the Rockets’ 48-31 win over Western Michigan and could be in line to start against Northern Illinois (depending on the health of teammate Dequan Finn).

What’s at stake for USF

USF quarterback Byrum Brown will try to lead the Bulls past Navy this weekend.
USF quarterback Byrum Brown will try to lead the Bulls past Navy this weekend. [ JEFFEREE WOO | Times ]

The Bulls’ game at Navy is more winnable than daunting this year. A USF victory would:

• Give the Bulls a winning record this late in the season for the first time since starting 7-0 under Charlie Strong in 2018

• Be USF’s first-ever win at Navy

• End a 19-game road losing streak (that began with a 27-point loss at UCF in 2019)

• Snap a 13-game road losing streak against conference opponents

Timmy time

UCF quarterback Timmy McClain will lead the Knights into their first Big 12 home game.
UCF quarterback Timmy McClain will lead the Knights into their first Big 12 home game. [ WILLIE J. ALLEN JR. | Orlando Sentinel ]

UCF quarterback Timmy McClain will be making his first start at FBC Mortgage Stadium since nearly knocking off the Knights when he was playing for USF. McClain had a career-high 321 passing yards on the road last week against Kansas State and will try to lead UCF past Baylor for its first victory in a Big 12 conference game. The Bears hope to get quarterback Blake Shapen back from injury; Shapen earned the starting job in 2022, which prompted Gerry Bohanon to transfer from Baylor to USF.

By the numbers: Week 5

Kentucky coach Mark Stoops has the Wildcats on the verge of something they haven't done in a century.
Kentucky coach Mark Stoops has the Wildcats on the verge of something they haven't done in a century. [ SILAS WALKER | Lexington Herald-Leader ]

3 — Consecutive seasons Kentucky has started 4-0. The last time the Wildcats did so: 1909-11.

49 — Career victories for Gators coach Billy Napier (40 at Louisiana, 9 at Florida)

351 — Rushing yards for USF’s Byrum Brown, who leads all quarterbacks and is tied with Michigan star Blake Corum for 27th nationally among all positions

2 — Teams that rank in the top seven nationally in scoring offense and scoring defense: Oklahoma and Syracuse

11 — Consecutive road wins for Georgia, the nation’s longest active streak

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