Week 5 of the college football season may have lacked marquee matchups but there were still plenty of winners and losers abound. With only one game taking place between top-20 teams, there were still plenty of other storylines to take away as we inch closer to the midway point of the season.
Biggest winners from week 5
- North Carolina. The Tarheels, led by first year head coach Mack Brown, went toe to toe with the defending national champions and lost by a point after a failed two point conversion. It was a gutsy move and it was the right move by a coach with a championship pedigree and one that has turned UNC around in short order. Clemson will still make the playoff if they go undefeated, but right now they are not playing like a top 4 team in the country.
- Alabama’s Devonta Smith. This week, Smith caught 11 passes for 274 yards and 5 touchdowns as the Tide rolled Ole Miss. Alabama’s offense continues to light it up with ease and their receiving corpse may be one of the greatest in college football history. Smith had been known as the third option behind Jeudy and Ruggs but Smith has thrown his name in the hat as far as NFL draft potential come April.
- Tennessee. The only way for the Volunteers to get any sort of a win these days is by not playing the game of football. The bye week came at a great time for Tennessee, coming off of a complete beatdown by rival Florida. Head coach Jeremy Pruitt now has all week to let the fans and media know just how improved the team is and how they are much better than a year ago (memo to Pruitt: you are actually much worse).
- Oklahoma State running back Chuba Hubbard. Another player that has elevated himself into the Heisman conversation, Hubbard continued his tremendous season with a 296 yard performance against a ranked Kansas State team on Saturday in Stillwater. The Wildcats came in unbeaten but the Cowboys were able to rebound from their tough loss to Texas by easily dispatching of the Wildcats. The Big 12 is not great this year outside of Oklahoma and (maybe) Texas but Oklahoma State has a great chance of finishing 3rd in the league.
- Auburn. This is not to say that Mississippi State is a good team by any means, but the Bulldogs knocked off Auburn in Starkville last year and were behind 42-9 at halftime on Saturday. Auburn QB Bo Nix hasn’t been putting up video game numbers, but he’s provided much needed stability at the position while the Auburn defense has proven to be one of the best in the country thus far.
Biggest losers from week 5
- Nebraska. ESPN spent three hours on Saturday morning trying to make us believe Nebraska is back and ready to return to the glory years of the 90’s. Gabrielle Union and Dwyane Wade showed up on College Gameday revving up thousands of Nebraskans with corn cobs on their head. Then Ohio State led the hapless Huskers 38-0 at halftime and cruised to a 48-7 win leading us all to wonder what pollsters were thinking when they had Nebraska in the top 25 to start the year.
- Washington State. The Cougars followed up last Saturday’s epic collapse to UCLA by getting stomped by a good Utah team. It wasn’t the loss that makes them a loser this week, but rather head coach Mike Leach’s comments after the game. Leach called his players “fat, dumb, happy and entitled.” Leach is not someone you would want to be sideways with. Perhaps his negative reinforcement psychology will get the Cougars’ season turned around eventually, but they are definitely treading water right now.
- Virginia’s upset bid. The Cavaliers were undefeated heading in to South Bend on Saturday and actually led 17-14 at halftime until the UVA offense completely melted down. Notre Dame’s offense didn’t manage a single first down in the third quarter, yet still scored two touchdowns thanks to its defense. Virginia QB Bryce Perkins fumbled twice in the quarter when pressured by the Notre Dame defense. One fumble was returned to the Notre Dame 7-yard line and resulted in a touchdown a few plays later. Notre Dame’s defense did all the work on the second fumble, returning it for the touchdown itself. The second score gave the Irish a 28-17 lead, and they never looked back.
- Maryland. 100 years from now philosophers will look back to 2019 when Maryland was ranked early in the season and wonder how it happened. The University canceled afternoon classes Friday ahead of the Maryland/Penn State game which ended in a 59-0 loss while the Terrapin offense managed only 128 yards in the entire game.