Week 5. Those two words hardly seemed possible to combine a month ago. Yet, here we are, as fall (allegedly) approaches the 90-degree southeastern United States, and we head into conference play. We’ll break tradition a bit this week and cover two weekday games, along with four other intriguing matchups for the week. Three of the breakdowns are right below you in written form, and the other three are on the podcast (press the handy little play button on that feature, will ya?).
We’ll break those games down in just a second, but before we do, let’s recap the scores of last week’s games we featured here.
#5 USC 30, Cal 20
#1 Alabama 59, Vanderbilt 0 (oof, that ended up being an unfortunate choice)
#16 TCU 44, #6 Oklahoma State 31
#11 Georgia 31, #17 Mississippi State 3
#4 Penn State 21, Iowa 19
#7 Washington 37, Colorado 10
Here’s your podcast, in which we break down three key games this week!
And now, for the three remaining games!
Keyword Search (all times Eastern and rankings AP)
#14 Miami-FL (2-0, 0-0 ACC) at Duke (4-0, 1-0 ACC)
7:00pm (Friday) | ESPN
- Lateral move: You remember the last time Duke hosted Miami, don’t you? Of course you do. If you don’t, this happened (we miss you, Allen Bestwick!):
Of course, that ending got the entire crew (including the replay official) suspended for two games because of four mistakes on that one play, but hey — it made for good TV, or something.
- On the road again: Miami has played at home to start its ACC slate just twice since defeating Duke, 24-14, in Miami to start the 2007 league schedule. The Hurricanes beat Georgia Tech in 2008 and fell to North Carolina in 2013. The ‘Canes are 4-3 in those other seven road games. Miami has won 12 of 14 against Duke, with both losses coming in Durham (despite just one occurring at Wallace Wade Stadium). Duke beat Miami, 48-30, in Durham in 2013, providing the closing end of a three-game Hurricane losing streak that year.
- What gives?: This game presents quite the interesting tussle between the ACC’s leading rusher (Miami’s Mark Walton) and its leading rush defense (Duke). Walton’s lead has extended to nearly 50 yards per game past the second-highest average (Georgia Tech’s TaQuon Marshall) at 176 yards an outing, buoyed by a head-shaking 11-carry, 204-yard performance in a 52-30 victory over Toledo last weekend. No Blue Devil opponent, meanwhile, had rushed for greater than 64 yards in a game before North Carolina nearly doubled that output (118) in a loss last week. Junior Duke linebacker Joe Giles-Harris continues the recent tradition of hard hitters at the position, and ranks sixth in the league in tackles (34).
Print that, tweet that, whatever: Duke last started a season 5-0 in 1994. Some of you hadn’t even been born yet. That…is depressing.
#2 Clemson (4-0, 2-0 ACC) at #12 Virginia Tech (4-0)
8:00pm | ABC
- RINO: Yes, this is a rematch of last year’s ACC title game, but many of the main participants have since departed for the NFL. The list of those who took their leave includes quarterbacks Deshaun Watson and Jerod Evans, replaced by Kelly Bryant and Josh Jackson. Jackson, whom we mentioned earlier in the piece, has put up solid numbers in his first go-around under center in the home of Hokie Stone, rating fourth in the ACC in passing (281.8 yards per game — bonus points if you can name the three ahead of him without looking them up) and third in total offense (317.8). Clemson’s junior Bryant is hot on Jackson’s heels, ranking seventh in total offense at 285.8 yards per contest and seventh in passing yards (841 total).
- Tradition: This will be, as Virginia Tech’s sports information department notes, a battle of the two most productive teams in the league since the Hokies joined it in 2004. Tech is 75-30 in the league as an ACC member, while Clemson is 75-31. Tech has six divisional titles and four ACC crowns, compared to Clemson’s four and three, respectively. The Tigers have taken four of the six matchups since the Hokies joined the league, with Tech last claiming victory against Clemson, 41-23, in Death Valley on October 6, 2007.
- Tim’s tidbits: It’s no secret in this space what we think of legendary Clemson SID Tim Bourret, and we’ll feature another of his nuggets here. Though Clemson looks to focus on two of its backs (Tavien Feaster and Travis Etienne) this week, Tim has a note about Clemson’s four-headed monster at running back that will boggle your mind. Take it, Tim!
Clemson's 4 RBacks average 192 yd/game and 7.34 yds per rush. Notre Dame's Four Horsemen averaged 216 yards and 5.7 yds per rush in 1924.
— Tim Bourret (@TimBourret) September 26, 2017
Print that, tweet that, whatever: Clemson plays its third top-14 team of the season this weekend. Can lightning strike again in Blacksburg?
Northern Illinois (2-1, 0-0 MAC) at #19 San Diego State (4-0, 1-0 MWC)
10:30pm | CBSSN
- The Rashaad Penny Memorial Award: The Mountain West may as well just give its Player of the Week award to Aztecs running back Rashaad Penny in perpetuity. The senior has won the crown five times this year, including this week, as he comes off a 20-carry, 128-yard outing against Air Force in monsoon conditions in Colorado Springs. Penny ranks second in the nation (behind Stanford’s Bryce Love), averaging a lofty 179 yards per game rushing, adding seven scores. Penny is also second in the land in all-purpose yardage at 230 yards per game, trailing only Penn State’s Saquon Barkley. This should be an interesting item on which to focus, as NIU’s rush defense ranks 19th in the land (97.67 yards per tilt).
- A husky defensive unit: That defense will be key for NIU Saturday, as it — despite a win over Nebraska last week — is coming off a 384-yard performance it surrendered to the Huskers. The vaunted Nebraska run game was limited to just 85 yards on the ground, though, which may be the key to success again Saturday. SDSU converts 45 percent of its third downs, a top-30 number, while NIU allows foes to convert on just one-third of their third-down tries. If SDSU can find itself in third-and-manageable conditions more often than not, the Huskies may end up behind the eight ball.
- A lofty status: SDSU’s sports information department notes that the Aztecs have won 25 of their last 28 games since October 3, 2015, a quite impressive two-year span. This string is so impressive, in fact, that the only two FBS programs to fare better during that period are Alabama (29-1) and Clemson (29-2). Coincidentally, the last ranked, non-MAC team to succumb to Northern Illinois was Alabama, though that 19-16 decision occurred 14 years ago.
Print that, tweet that, whatever: San Diego State looks to be on a collision course with the Group of 5 bowl bid. It should, by no means, underestimate NIU.
Music break time!: As we continue to celebrate the 25-year anniversary of the SEC’s first-ever championship game, we continue to annoy you with musical selections that were huge on the charts at the time. Admit it — you’re either cringing at some of the stuff you used to love, or you’re asking your parents some really uncomfortable questions.
So hey, you know Mark Wahlberg, right? The guy who made the “Ted” movies only terrible instead of completely abysmal? The guy who’s in all those commercials these days, including the one with Patrick Stewart? The guy who’s in on the burger joints with his family?
THAT GUY HAD A RAP CAREER.
His last single debuted on the charts this week in 1992, and…well, just watch this. Yep, this happened.
I don’t have anything else to add to that, so…until next week, everyone! Click the neat little follow button right below you for more nonsense!