The more things change, the more they stay the same. Alabama and Clemson look destined to meet for a rubber match in this year’s national championship game. Both teams have been absolutely dominant with Clemson responding to each test with aplomb this season and Alabama continuing to mercilessly crush the life out of its opponents.
There have been a lot of twists and turns everywhere else in 2017, but Alabama and Clemson are still the two best teams in the nation.
Biggest Win of Week 5 – Washington State 30, USC 27
Yes, the Cougars are for real. This is the best team that Mike Leach has had since that 2008 Texas Tech squad that went 11-1 in the regular season. Luke Falk has been a good conductor for this offense, but the difference-makers have been the emergence of a defense and a running game.
Washington State’s pass defense stepped up big when USC came to Pullman on Friday night. Sam Darnold completed barely half of his passes for a scant 164 yards, and he didn’t throw a touchdown pass all night. The Cougars run game was competent, too. Although they didn’t run much, their three running backs averaged almost seven yards per carry, and that kept USC’s defense off balance throughout the evening. If Washington State can get by Oregon this week, it should be smooth sailing for Wazzu until the Stanford game.
Biggest Upset of Week 5 – Troy 24, LSU 21
Ed Orgeron was only begrudgingly hired in the first place after LSU missed out on its first two choices, and losing this one puts his status on shaky ground. Coach O might be the first coach fired in 2017, just one year after Les Miles was one of the first coaches fired in 2016. You can’t lose a home game AT NIGHT to Troy if you’re LSU, and you especially can’t do it on homecoming. There were undoubtedly boosters grumbling about the decline of Tigers football late into the night after this stunning loss.
LSU’s offense again struggled, not scoring until 41 minutes of game time had elapsed. The real story was the defense, though. Troy’s Jordan Chunn averaged 6.3 yards per carry, and LSU’s inability to stop Troy on the ground does not bode well for the squad with Florida and Auburn on deck the next two weeks.
Surreal Score of Week 5 – Ohio 58, Massachusetts 50
If you’re familiar with Ohio football, you know that this is a weird score. Under former Nebraska head coach Frank Solich, the Bobcats have been a team that relies on a strong run game and a great defense for the past 13 seasons. Ohio was great on the ground against UMass, running for 293 yards and five touchdowns, but the defense got gashed. The Bobcats gave up 550 total yards of offense and only came away with the victory because they won the turnover battle.
Most Impressive Beatdown of Week 5 – Georgia 41, Tennessee 0
Kirby Smart has brought Alabama football to Athens in his second year on the job. Georgia easily dispatched Tennessee in a game that was just as lopsided as the score indicated. The Bulldogs didn’t have to do much through the air for a second straight week, gashing the Volunteers defense for 294 yards and four touchdowns on the ground. Georgia was even better defensively, holding Tennessee to just 142 total yards and forcing four turnovers on the day. The Bulldogs should be a Top 5 team by the time their annual tilt with Florida comes at the end of October.
Biggest Letdown of Week 5 – Auburn 49, Mississippi State 10
For the second straight week, Mississippi State was blown out by a conference opponent. Last week, Georgia demolished the Bulldogs, and this week Auburn was the one doling out the beatings. Jarrett Stidham had an incredible game, averaging 16.5 yards per pass, while the running game shredded this defense for 244 yards and four touchdowns. Nick Fitzgerald had another awful week through the air, and at this point you have to wonder if Dan Mullen will send him to the bench for good. He is a great runner, but he seems to have lost all rhythm as a passer.