Week 5 of the college football schedule is when quality at last trumps quantity. While on one hand there are a season-low 61 total games on offer, on the other 100% are FBS vs. FBS pairings (meaning no FCS opponents are on the schedule) and four feature ranked vs. ranked matchups.
It’s also the week that the entire Top Ten will be tested. Half of the upper crust (including the top two programs) will face a ranked foe (two of these matchups are between Top Ten teams) and the other half are all playing a worthy conference opponent.
Fasten your seatbelts, friends.
WHAT TO WATCH
Thursday, Sept. 30
7:30pm ET – ESPN – Virginia at Miami Fla.
Despite the 0-2 start in ACC play, Virginia is currently ranked No. 1 in the FBS in passing offense and is fresh off racking up 553 air yards in a loss at North Carolina and 406 last week vs. (24) Wake Forest. It sets up well against Miami – a team ranked No. 13 in the ACC and No. 93 nationally vs. the pass. Check out Cavalier junior Brennan Armstrong (#5), averaging 426 yards per game he’s the No. 1 QB in college football.
Friday, Oct. 1
7:30pm ET – ESPN – Houston at Tulsa
8pm ET – FS1 – (5) Iowa at Maryland
Iowa is ranked as high as its been since 2015 but is only favored by 3.5 points. Maryland is 4-0 for the first time since 2016. Keep an eye on the Terrapins’ passing attack – ranked No. 8 nationally and No. 1 in the Big Ten – led by junior QB Taulia Tagovailoa (#3), No. 3 in the FBS in completion percentage (75.5%).
Saturday, Oct. 2
Noon ET – ESPN – (8) Arkansas at (2) Georgia
Arkansas’ glorious 4-0 run has been powered by an offense that’s ranked No. 8 nationally in rushing yards per game. It’s a strength that will be severely tested against Georgia, which just so happens to be ranked No. 7 in the FBS vs. the run. These are the same guys that allowed a whopping two rushing yards in their opening win vs. (25) Clemson.
Noon ET – FOX – (14) Michigan at Wisconsin
In what may be the best matchup in Week 5, tune in to this one to see Michigan’s ground game – ranked no. 5 in the nation – take on a Wisconsin D ranked No. 1 in the FBS vs. the run. Where the Wolverines are averaging 291 rushing yards per game the Badgers are allowing 23 (50 to No. 4 Penn State, 16 to Eastern Michigan and 3 to No. 9 Notre Dame). Check out Michigan sophomore RB Blake Corum (#2) – the No. 9 rusher in the FBS.
Noon ET – SEC Network – Tennessee at Missouri
Noon ET – ACC Network – Pitt at Georgia Tech
Pitt is quietly ranked No. 4 in the nation in passing offense. It’s a strength that pairs ever-so-well with Georgia Tech’s D, ranked No. 2 in the ACC and No. 23 overall vs. the pass. The Yellow Jackets held (25) Clemson to 126 air yards in Week 3. Keep an eye on Pitt senior QB Kenny Pickett (#8), not only is he No. 6 nationally in passing yards per game but he is also ranked No. 2 overall in passer rating.
Noon ET – Big Ten Network – Minnesota at Purdue
Noon ET – ABC – Texas at TCU
2:30pm ET – NBC – (7) Cincinnati at (9) Notre Dame
Cincinnati is a two-point favorite over the Irish but haven’t beaten a Top Ten opponent since downing then (7) Rutgers 30-11 in 2006. The Bearcats have never beaten a Top Ten foe on the road.
3:30pm ET – CBS – (12) Ole Miss at (1) Alabama
3:30pm ET – ABC – (3) Oregon at Stanford
3:30pm ET – FOX – (6) Oklahoma at Kansas State
3:30pm ET – Big Ten Network – (11) Ohio State at Rutgers
Things that aren’t shocking: Ohio State is ranked No. 11 in the nation in pass offense and is a 15-point favorite over Rutgers. Things that may surprise you: the Scarlet Knights are ranked No. 15 in the FBS and No. 1 in the Big Ten in pass defense.
3:30pm ET – ACC Network – Syracuse at Florida State
Florida State hasn’t started a season with five consecutive losses since 1974 and are only 4.5-point favorites vs. Syracuse.
3:30pm ET – FS1 – Nevada at Boise State
Nevada may have the No. 10 passer in the FBS in junior QB Carson Strong (#12) but Boise State’s got the No. 4 tackler in college football in junior safety JL Skinner (#0).
6pm ET – ESPN – (10) Florida at Kentucky
Florida has more rushing yards than passing yards in each of its first four appearances. It’s a streak that included hanging up 244 ground yards and four rushing TDs on (1) Alabama, which has, on average, allowed 120 rushing yards per game thus far. Enter in Kentucky – which is giving up 87.5 yards per game on the ground (No. 21 in the FBS, No. 3 in the SEC) – and this one may be more interesting than advertised.
7pm ET – SEC Network – Mississippi State at (15) Texas A&M
In yet another epic strength vs. strength matchup, it’s Mississippi State’s passing attack (ranked No. 6 in the FBS) taking on an Aggie D ranked No. 4 nationally vs. the pass. Where the Bulldogs are averaging 363 air yards per game, TAMU is allowing a mere 119.
7pm ET – ESPN2 – (21) Baylor at (19) Oklahoma State
Baylor won a total of two games last year and finished ranked a dismal No. 123 in the nation in rushing yards per game. Speed forward to this season and the Bears are off to a perfect 4-0 start and are ranked No. 6 – in the nation – in rushing offense. Holy plot twist! After playing two of the poorest rushing defenses in the FBS in Texas State and Kansas, Baylor faced Iowa State in Week 4 (ranked No. 6 vs. the run) and posted its fewest rushing yards of the season (123) in a narrow 31-29 upset win. This week it’s Oklahoma State, currently No. 19 in rushing D and fresh off limiting Boise State to 61 ground yards in Week 4 and K-State to 62 last week.
7:30pm ET – ABC – Indiana at (4) Penn State
7:30pm ET – Big Ten Network – Western Kentucky at (17) Michigan State
While this one doesn’t look like the stuff that upsets are made of, did you know that 4-0 Michigan State is ranked No. 107 in the FBS vs. the pass? It’s the second most generous unit in the Big Ten. Cue up Western Kentucky – owner and operator of the No. 2 ranked passing attack in the Americas – and wait a second…could this be something? Filed under the heading “Week 5’s unlikely hero’s” is Hilltopper senior QB Bailey Zappe (#4) – No. 2 in the FBS in passing yards per game and No. 3 in passer rating.
9pm ET – ESPN – (22) Auburn at LSU
10:30pm ET – FS1 – Arizona State at (20) UCLA
OFF THIS WEEK (8)
- ACC: Virginia Tech
- C-USA: North Texas
- MWC: Colorado State, San Diego State, Wyoming
- Pac-12: Arizona, Utah
- Sun Belt: Texas State
FIRST-EVER MEETINGS (4)
- Charlotte at Illinois
- Liberty at UAB
- UNLV at UTSA
- Western Kentucky at (17) Michigan State
REUNITED…And it feels so good
- (7) Cincinnati at (9) Notre Dame (only-ever meeting in 1900)
9: Washington has won 9-straight over Oregon State (last loss in 2011)
9: Boise State has won 9-straight home games vs. Nevada (last loss there in 1997)
10: (25) Clemson has won 10-straight over Boston College (last loss in 2010)
10: LSU has won 10-straight home games vs. (22) Auburn (last loss there in 1999)
16: (10) Florida has won 16-straight AT Kentucky (last loss there in 1986)
- (7) Cincinnati has NEVER scored a point on (9) Notre Dame
- (16) Coastal Carolina has NEVER beaten ULM (0-3)
- Colorado has NEVER beaten USC (0-14)
- Georgia State has NEVER beaten Appalachian State (0-7)
- Indiana has NEVER won AT (4) Penn State (0-11)
- Rutgers has NEVER beaten (11) Ohio State (0-7)
- Syracuse has NEVER won AT Florida State (0-6)
- Troy has NEVER beaten South Carolina (0-3)
- Western Kentucky has NEVER beaten a current Big Ten member (0-9)
- UAB has NEVER lost to a current Independent program (5-0)
South Florida at SMU (Saturday, 4pm ET, ESPNU)
This matchup features one of the most potent offenses in the FBS taking on a defense that has struggled epically thus far. In one corner it’s the balanced attack of SMU – ranked No. 9 nationally in scoring, No. 14 in passing yards per game and No. 23 in rushing – and in the other it’s USF’s D – ranked No. 117 in points allowed, No. 111 vs. the pass and No. 123 vs. the run. Only four teams in the entire nation have averaged more yards per game than has SMU this year (549.8) while only two have allowed more yards than have the Bulls (504.8). Yikes!
Arkansas State at Georgia Southern (Saturday, 4pm ET, ESPN+)
Where Arkansas State has been dominant through the air (No. 7 in the FBS in passing yards per game) only five teams in the nation have allowed more passing yards than has Georgia Southern (No. 125 in pass D). But wait! There’s more. Where the Eagles have been successful running the ball (their option attack is No. 15 in the FBS in rushing yards per game) the Red Wolves have been super generous vs. the run (No. 114 in the nation).
Army at Ball State (Saturday, 5pm ET, ESPN+)
At 4-0 Army is off to its best start since 1996. While it’s no surprise that the Black Knights’ option offense is ranked No. 2 in the FBS in rushing yards per game it’s a strength that may look like a superpower vs. a Ball State D that’s currently ranked No. 108 in the nation vs. the run. It’s the same unit that coughed up 272 ground yards last week in a loss to Toledo – a team that came into the game averaging 114 rushing yards per game. Keep an eye on Army senior QB Christian Anderson (#4) (questionable after suffering a shoulder injury last week) – the top rushing QB in the nation and fresh off a 236-yard performance last week vs. Miami Ohio.
HARDWARE UP FOR GRABS
THE ANNIVERSARY AWARD – Bowling Green at Kent State – Saturday, 3:30pm ET, ESPN+ – series started in 1920 – Bowling Green leads 60-22-6 but Kent State has won three-straight. If the Golden Flashes win again this year, it will mark their longest winning streak in the series.
The Anniversary Award dates to 1985 when the alumni associations of both schools established a traveling trophy to commemorate the 75th anniversary of each institution. Both were founded in 1910 in northern Ohio – Bowling Green in the west and Kent 150 miles to the east. The Falcons have won 25 Anniversaries vs. the Golden Flashes’ ten.
THE DON SHULA TROPHY – Florida International at Florida Atlantic – Saturday, 3:30pm ET, Stadium – series started in 2002 – FAU leads 14-5 and has won four-straight.
The Shula Bowl and Trophy kicked off in 2002, the first year the two schools (located only 60-miles apart in South Florida) met on the gridiron. FAU first fielded a football team in 2001, FIU followed in 2002. The game and trophy are named in honor of legendary Miami Dolphins coach Don Shula, who was a “mentor of the first coaches at each school…Howard Schnellenberger (FAU’s head coach from 2001-11) served as Shula’s offensive coordinator at Miami during the 1970s, including the Dolphins’ perfect season in 1972. Don Strock (FIU’s head coach from 2002-06) was a quarterback for Shula’s Dolphins from 1974-87.”
THE GOLDEN SCREWDRIVER – (18) Fresno State at Hawaii – Saturday, 11pm ET, CBSSN – series started in 1938 – Fresno State leads 29-23-1, Hawaii’s win last season snapped a three-game losing skid.
What sets the Golden Screwdriver apart from all the other FBS rivalry trophies is that it’s not an official part of the game its associated with. At least not yet. It all began at the 2002 game, when then Hawaii head coach June Jones claimed to have been hit in the head by a screwdriver hurled from the stands at the end of his team’s 31-21 win in Fresno. The trophy, a golden screwdriver implanted in artificial turf on a rustic wooden base “commemorates” the altercation. Its creation is the result of a Fresno radio station’s call for listeners to design an annual award for the rivalry game.
THE OLD WAGON WHEEL – (13) BYU at Utah State – Friday, 9pm ET, CBSSN – series started in 1922 – BYU leads 49-37-3 but the two have split the last two, the visiting team winning on each occasion.
Not to be confused with Akron and Kent State’s Wagon Wheel, the Old Wagon Wheel was established in 1948 by fraternities at BYU and Utah State and is “believed to be from Jim Bridger’s chuck wagon, the first vehicle to enter the Utah Valley.” Bridger (also the namesake of the “Bridger Rifle” that Utah State and Wyoming play for) was one of the first Americans to visit the territory that became Yellow Stone National Park. He’s also credited with discovering the Great Salt Lake. The Cougars have won ye Ole Wheel 41 times vs. the Aggies’ 25.
THE O’ROURKE MCFADDEN TROPHY – Boston College at (25) Clemson – Saturday, 7:30pm ET, ACC Network – series started in 1940 – Clemson leads 19-9-2 and has won 12 of the last 13.
The O’Rourke-McFadden dates to 2008 and honors the two All-American quarterbacks who played in the first-ever clash between Boston College and Clemson – the 1940 Cotton Bowl – when “Banks” McFadden led his Tigers to a 6-3 win over the Eagles’ “Chuckin’” Charlie O’Rourke. The loss was the last-ever in O’Rourke’s collegiate career, the next season he led BC to an 11-0 record and the only national championship in program history. The Eagles have only won the trophy once, in 2010.
THE VICTORY BELL – Duke at North Carolina – Saturday, Noon ET, ESPN2 – series started in 1888 – the Tar Heels lead 61-41-4 and have won two-straight.
One of nine bells awarded in FBS rivalries, Duke and North Carolina’s version of the Victory Bell was established in 1948 by a cheerleader from each program to “foster friendly relations and eliminate vandalism between the two neighboring schools.” Originally, the winning team also earned the right to paint the cart which holds the Bell their unique shade of blue. This lasted until 2014, when the Tar Heels took the Bell back from the Devils after a 45-20 win in Durham and painted not only the cart Carolina blue but slathered the hue all over the visitor’s locker room at Wallace Wade as well as Duke’s practice field. The cart is now permanently painted to honor both schools. UNC has earned possession of the Victory Bell 47 times vs. the Blue Devils’ 25. The 1975 game ended in a tie.
(6) Oklahoma has lost a total of three regular season games since 2019 – a 48-41 upset shocker at unranked Kansas State in 2019 and then back-to-back losses vs. the Wildcats (38-35) and at Iowa State (37-30) last year.
Given that K-State beat the Sooners five straight times from 1993-97, if it can manage another upset this Saturday in Manhattan, extending its current streak to three wins, it will earn it a place in a very exclusive club: current Big 12 members to have scored three or more consecutive wins over Oklahoma on more than one occasion.
Here’s the current club.
Texas: three three-game win streaks (1997-99, 1979-81, 1934-36), two four-game win streaks (1989-93, 1967-70), one six-game win streak (1922-23 and 1929-32) and two eight-game win streaks (1958-65, 1940-47).
Kansas: one three-game win streak (1995-97) and one eight-game win streak (1903-10).
(21) Baylor, Iowa State, (19) Oklahoma State and West Virginia have all beaten Oklahoma in two straight games, but never three. TCU and Texas Tech have never won consecutive games over the Sooners.