The MLB Playoffs are starting and the NFL is now and full swing, but there’s still plenty of time for college football. There are plenty of exciting games this weekend but none more anticipated then #3 Alabama at #12 Florida and #8 Nebraska at #7 Wisconsin. Check out some of the more exciting Week 5 matchups.
#15 Baylor Bears at Kansas State Wildcats
October 1, 3:30 pm – Bill Snyder Stadium, Manhattan KS
The Big 12’s top ranked teams in total offense and points scored and total defense and points allowed collide Saturday in Manhattan. Not only is Baylor leading the conference with 601 yards of total offense and scoring offense with 51.3 points per game, nationally they are third and fourth, respectively. The Bears offense is led by QB Robert Griffin III who is putting up monster numbers so far this season. His accuracy might be the most impressive stat of all as he leads the FBS in both rating at 236.2 and completion percentage at 85.4%. Griffin III hasn’t thrown an interception this year and entering the game has more touchdown passes (13) than incompletions (12). Last week, Griffin III went 29-of-33 for 338 yards and five touchdowns on their way to a 56-31 victory over Rice.
The Wildcats are coming off of 28-24 road win over Miami (FL) last week. Kansas State’s defense is leading the Big 12 in total defense with 259.7 yards and points allowed with 10.3. Kansas State allowed the Hurricanes to rack up 411 yards on offense, allowing 139 on the ground on 27 combined attempts by four ball carriers. RB John Hubert led the offense against Miami with 166 yards on 18 attempts with a score. Griffin III is too much to handle, even for the conference’s best defense.
Player to Watch: Robert Griffin III
Michigan State Spartans at Ohio State Buckeyes
October 1, 3:30 pm – Ohio Stadium, Columbus OH
This time last year, this would be the hottest ticket in the Big Ten. Unfortunately due to TattooGate and the addition of Nebraska into the conference, this game is the second most anticipated matchup in the B1G Saturday. Both teams are unranked, each with a loss; the Spartans’ coming at the hands of Notre Dame and the Buckeyes to Miami (FL), both in week three.
Michigan State’s defense is ranked first in the conference in total defense, allowing an average of 185.3 yards per game and second in points allowed with 11. Last week Central Michigan gained only 21 on the ground for a total of 112 yards while gaining only eight first downs. QB Kirk Cousins went 13-for-22 for 213 yards, one touchdown and one interception against the Chippewas, while Andrew Maxwell was 7-of-8 for 71 yards and a score. Combined, the QB-duo spread the ball around to 10 different receivers and five backs carried the ball for a total of 197 yards. Leading rusher Le’Veon Bell gained 81 yards on eight attempts with three touchdowns.
Ohio State interim head coach Luke Fickell named freshman Braxton Miller the starting quarterback against Colorado last Thursday, after Joe Bauserman was 2-of-14 for 13 yards in the loss to the Hurricanes. Miller was 5-of-13 for 83 yards and two touchdowns, while Bauserman attempted and made both his passes for 27 yards. The Buckeyes rushed for 226 yards against the Buffaloes, led by Jordan Hall who had 84 yards on 18 carries and a touchdown. While Ohio State’s offense is the worst in the Big Ten in total offense with 348.5 yards per game (12th), the defense is ranked fourth in total defense allowing 287.3 yards per game. If Michigan State doesn’t fall to pressure and make mental mistakes at Ohio Stadium, they’re defense should be able to cause turnovers the offense can capitalize on.
Key Match-up: Michigan State defense vs. Braxton Miller
#13 Clemson Tigers at #11 Virginia Tech Hokies
October 1, 6:00 pm – Lane Stadium, Blacksburg VA
Clemson is coming off a pair of incredible wins; a 38-24 victory over then-21rs ranked Auburn in week two, and last week a 35-30 win against the ACC favorite then-11th ranked Florida State. Virginia Tech is also 4-0, but hasn’t faced a top 25 team and narrowly beat Eastern Carolina 17-10 in the second week of the season.
Clemson’s last trip to Blacksburg was in 2006; the Tigers were ranked tenth in the country, and had won six straight when they lost decidedly to the Hokies 24-7. This year, the wins over the Tigers and Seminoles have catapulted Clemson to #13 in the country and they hope to keep the current hot streak alive over Virginia Tech this week.
The Hokies rank first the in conference in total defense (237.8 yards per game) and points allowed (10 points per game), while Clemson is second in total offense (520.3 yards per game) and points scored 37.8 points per game). Last week, Virginia Tech’s defense defensive ends James Gayle and J.R. Collins combined for four sacks and 12 tackles and allowed six total yards rushing in the 30-10 victory at Marshall. QB Logan Thomas was 22-of-33 for 229 yards and one interception, while RBs David Wilson and Josh Oglesby combined for 207 total yards and three scores on the ground.
The Tigers offense is led by QB Tajh Boyd who has a 173.8 rating, 66.2% completion percentage, 1,255 yards, and 13 touchdowns to one interception on the season so far. Last week against a highly athletic Florida State defense, Boyd was 22-of-35 for 344 yards and three touchdowns. Clemson also has a talented receiver in Sammy Watkins, who was able to snatch 141 yards and two scores against FSU, and a very capable running back in Andre Ellington, who rushed for 71 yards and 1 TD on 23 attempts.
Key Match-up: Tajh Boyd vs. James Gayle & JR Collins
#3 Alabama Crimson Tide at #12 Florida Gators
October 1, 8:00 pm – Florida Field, Gainesville FL
Unless you haven’t watched the Florida Gators the last couple weeks, it’s easy to say ‘Bama is going to blow them out of the water. The Tide defense is one of the best in the country, and Trent Richardson is running all over everybody, and you still have a secondary threat on the ground in Eddie Lacy. On paper. Truth is, the Gators have a pretty good defense as well, and they have their own kid running all over everyone in Chris Rainey. If you shut him down, there’s still Jeff Demps to deal with. Richardson is second in the SEC with 441 rushing yards while Rainey is fourth with 411. That’s a 30 yard difference. Lacy is seventh with 365 to Demps at eight with 320. Again, not a big difference.
The QB situation for both squads is almost identical as well. With both teams having a run-first offense, Alabama QB AJ McCarron and Florida QB John Brantley are also putting up similar numbers. Brantley had thrown 86 attempts for 752 yards, four touchdowns and two picks and McCarron has 779 passing yards with four TDs and two picks in 95 throws.
Back to the defense; Alabama is first in the SEC in total defense with 200.3 yards allowed per game, while Florida is second allowing 254.3 yards. The Crimson Tide are first in the conference in scoring defense allowing an average of eight points per game, and the Gators are second averaging nine.
The similarity between the two teams is a reflection on the head coaches. Will Muschamp was an assistant under Nick Saban at both LSU and with the Miami Dolphins. Since 1999, Alabama has won five of seven in the series, including a 31-6 rout last year where Brantley was 16 of 31 for 202 yards and two interceptions, but will now be up against a Florida offense that had a face lift at the hands of new coordinator Charlie Weis.
Key Match-up: Muschamp vs. Saban
#8 Nebraska Cornhuskers at #7 Wisconsin Badgers
October 1, 8:00 pm – Camp Randall Stadium, Madison WI
The biggest and most anticipated matchup in the Big Ten since the schedule was released pits reigning conference champion versus its newest member. #7 Wisconsin enters the contest sitting at or near the top of every category in the Big Ten; first in total offense (537.3 yards), points scored (48.5) and points allowed (8.5) and second in total defense (254.4). The Badger offense has been running on all cylinders all season long, led by QB Russell Wilson who has accumulated 1136 yards, 11 touchdowns with one interception, a completion percentage of 75.8% and a rating of 218.4, with a rating at Camp Randall of 253.0. Nick Toon is clearly Wilson’s favorite target, having caught 21 passes for 353 yards and 5 TDs. The offensive line has only give up three sacks on Wilson, and has allowed the tandem of James White and Montee Ball to rush for a combined 663 yards and 12 touchdowns. The defense opened the season a little shaky against UNLV, but co-defensive coordinators Chris Ash and Charlie Partridge have tightened up the unit, holding every opponent to less than 300 total yards of offense, and only allowing UNLV to rush for over 100 yards (146).
#8 Nebraska is also undefeated, but hasn’t looked at crisp as Wisconsin has in their wins. The Cornhuskers offense rank third in the Big Ten in total offense (453.3 yards) and second behind the Badgers in total scoring (42.8 points per game). The defense is sitting towards the bottom of the conference with 355.5 yards of total defense (7th) and allowing an average of 22 points per game (9th). While RB Rex Burkhead has been fairly consistent so far with 420 yards and 7 TDs, QB Taylor Martinez has been up and down with 647 passing yards, four touchdowns, and two picks. I believe Wisconsin is just too solid on both sides of the ball; add the element at Camp Randall Stadium, and this game may not come close to living up to its hype.
Player To Watch: Russell Wilson
UCLA Bruins at #6 Stanford Cardinal
October 1, 10:30 pm – Stanford Stadium, Stanford CA
Stanford has the best run defense in the country yielding 36.0 yards per game, but will be without star linebacker Shayne Skov who injured his knee against Arizona last week. UCLA is second in the Pac-12 with 214.0 rushing yards per game and two rushers in the conference’s top 10, Johnathan Franklin and Derrick Coleman. However, Stanford will have Heisman candidate QB Andrew Luck playing. The consensus number one overall draft pick in 2012 NFL Draft is 57-for-85 with 786 yards eight touchdowns and one interception in three games this season. Last week against the Wildcats, Luck was 20-of-31 for 325 yards and 2 TDs and RB Stepfan Taylor rushed for 153 yards on 22 attempts.
Last week, the Bruins defeated Oregon State27-19 netting 357 yards of total offense, 211 on the ground. The Beavers were able to accumulate 375 yards of total offense, the majority of those yards (287) in the air. UCLA QB Richard Brehaut went 7-of-11 for 146 yards and a touchdown while Coleman gained 100 yards on 20 carries. Without a legitimate passing threat, UCLA will have to rely on their running backs to carry them, and more importantly, they’re going to have to figure out a way to stop Luck.
Key Match-up: Stanford Rush Defense vs. Johnathan Franklin and Derrick Coleman
Player to Watch: Andrew Luck
Dory LeBlanc, covers Gator sports for Gators First and BourbonMeyer.com. Not just a college sports enthusiast, Dory is also a fan of NFL, NHL, NBA, and MLB. Born outside Philly, she moved to Tampa, and now resides in Illinois, giving her a broad perspective on the sporting world. You can follow Dory on twitter @DoryLeBlanc