Lamest time window: The after-dark slate is the weakest, but this looks like a very strong schedule.
Noon: No. 7 Kentucky at No. 14 Mississippi (ESPN) will show us how good the Rebels are. Same with No. 4 Michigan, which gets a test from an elite Iowa defense (Fox).
2:30: USF’s AAC opener against East Carolina (ESPN+) is a pivotal game for coach Jeff Scott.
3:30: Most entertaining top-25 matchup of the window should be No. 22 Wake Forest at No. 23 Florida State (ABC). But No. 2 Alabama will face a tough crowd at No. 20 Arkansas (CBS), and No. 9 Oklahoma State’s trip to No. 16 Baylor (Fox) is a battle between two of the Big 12′s top teams.
7: The Bryan Harsin watch continues at Auburn when his Tigers host LSU (ESPN).
7:30: No. 10 North Carolina State at No. 5 Clemson (ABC) is the first top-10 matchup in this series’ 90 meetings.
11: Stanford faces its third consecutive top-20 team by traveling to No. 13 Oregon (FS1).
FSU’s major test
Florida State’s passing defense has shined so far, allowing only 5.8 yards per attempt (tied for 18th nationally). But the Seminoles haven’t faced someone like Wake Forest’s Sam Hartman. He is responsible for 102 touchdowns in his career, tied with former Pitt star Kenny Pickett for the eighth most in ACC history. He and FSU’s Jordan Travis are both exciting players, which makes their quarterback duel one of the best matchups of the day (and FSU’s first top-20 matchup since Willie Taggart’s 2018 debut against Virginia Tech).
The Bulls are the only team in the country without a passing touchdown so far, are tied for 113th with six interceptions and have the fourth-worst passing efficiency (86.68). But the Pirates are an easier test there than Florida and Louisville, which means this is an opportunity for Gerry Bohanon and his teammates to take a step forward.
Jim McElwain Bowl
When the Gators and Eastern Washington agreed on a future game in 2016, the move made sense: then-coach Jim McElwain is an Eastern Washington alumnus and started his coaching career there. Not so much now, two coaching changes later.
The Eagles and Gators were supposed to meet in 2020 but couldn’t because of the pandemic. This weekend’s meeting has been moved up a day because of Hurricane Ian.
It’s, oddly, the second McElwain-related non-conference matchup for UF that will happen without McElwain. The Gators agreed to host Colorado State for $2 million as part of McElwain’s buyout from the Rams. By the time that 2018 meeting took place, McElwain was already gone from Gainesville.
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Hurricane Ian caused a handful of changes to this weekend’s schedule.
East Carolina at USF: Moved from Raymond James Stadium to FAU Stadium. Bulls left Tampa for Fort Lauderdale on Tuesday.
Eastern Washington at Florida: Postponed from noon Saturday to noon Sunday.
SMU at UCF: Postponed from Saturday afternoon to Sunday to Wednesday at 7 p.m.
Local of the week
Northern Iowa defensive back Demarcus “Woo” Governor (Durant High)
We focus on Division I-A, but Governor’s sensational performance last week at the Football Championship Subdivision level must be acknowledged. He returned two interceptions for a touchdown in a 63-second span in last week’s romp of Western Illinois. Governor and the Panthers host Indiana State this weekend.
Eye on the NFL draft
Kentucky quarterback Will Levis has first-round talent and is doing well for the No. 7 Wildcats with a 173.97 passing efficiency. How will he fare at No. 14 Mississippi, where he faces a passing defense that has been one of the best in the SEC so far. Keep an eye, too, on Rebels running back Zach Evans, an intriguing prospect with four touchdowns over the last three games.
Welcome back, Bret?
Former Wisconsin coach Bret Bielema will return to Madison for the first time as an opponent with his Illini. “I’m very proud of the things I accomplished there, but none of those accomplishments are going to help us next Saturday,” Bielema told reporters. Bielema won 68 games with the Badgers (second in program history). Current Wisconsin coach Paul Chryst will tie Bielema with a win this weekend.
Don’t expect Clemson-North Carolina State to be a shootout. The Wolfpack are eighth in the country on scoring defense and 12th in yards per play allowed. The Tigers are fine statistically but loaded with talent, with defensive linemen Bryan Bresee and Myles Murphy being billed as first-round picks. This one could come down to whether Clemson’s DJ Uiagalelei looks like the quarterback who threw for five touchdowns last week at Wake Forest or the one who was unremarkable against Louisiana Tech and Georgia Tech.
“They gave us $1.5 million, but they got 1.6 yards per carry.” — Middle Tennessee State coach Rick Stockstill (an FSU alumnus and former UCF assistant) on his Blue Raiders’ upset of Miami last week
By the numbers: Week 5
15 Games involving Florida teams that have been canceled, postponed or otherwise moved because of hurricanes since 2015
15 Consecutive times Alabama has beaten Arkansas heading into their top-20 matchup in Fayetteville
2 Teams in ACC history to start 4-0 a year after starting 0-4: 1982-83 Virginia and the current Seminoles
85 Career passing touchdowns for Wake Forest’s Sam Hartman, who leads all active players
78 Career passing touchdowns for East Carolina’s Holton Ahlers, who’s fourth on that list
15.75 Yards per completion by FSU’s Jordan Travis (second nationally)
132 Points the Gators have scored in their two previous games against Big Sky teams (blowouts of Idaho and Montana State)
5 Times Purdue coach Jeff Brohm has beaten a ranked team. He’ll go for his sixth against No. 21 Minnesota, a team that is undefeated but has played one of the weakest schedules in the nation
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