Correction: Syracuse vs. Notre Dame is a netural site game.
College Football’s Week 5 has arrived. Our picks have been chiseled into metaphorical stone. Here are five deep thoughts for the weekend.
Louisville Faces Its First Defense
Louisville’s hype train is roaring at full steam and heading for a sharp bend. The Cardinals are now a road favorite heading into Clemson. One novelty for Bobby Petrino’s team this weekend: it faces an actual defense.
These numbers are skewed because all four teams played Louisville. But, Florida State, Marshall, and Charlotte all rank 120th or lower in yards/play defense. Their toughest unit faced, Syracuse, ranks 113th. Clemson ranks No. 2 in yards/play defense, No. 1 if limited to Power 5 opponents.
The Tigers are well situated with Dexter Lawrence to get all up in the tender parts of Louisville’s offensive line. Clemson also stops big plays. Louisville leads the nation with 25 plays of 30 or more yards. Clemson has allowed just three. Maybe Clemson poked the bear. Maybe they are coming into a daunting test with the right attitude.
Is Wisconsin Really Top 10 Material?
Those zany Wisconsin Badgers keep on winning. They outlasted LSU. They played strong defense last week, scored points off turnovers, and beat Michigan State. This week, they face Michigan in Ann Arbor, as double-digit underdogs. Some are predicting it won’t go well for them.
There are few doubts about Wisconsin’s defense. Though, losing star linebacker Vince Biegel could be significant. What may be a real concern is the Badger offense. Wisconsin has changed quarterbacks. They also aren’t overpowering teams with their customary Wisconsin-ness. Through four games, the Badgers have rushed for just 3.94 yards/carry (99th nationally).
Some of that was playing fine LSU and MSU fronts. But, some of that was averaging less than four yards/carry against Georgia State.
Coloardo beat Michigan’s with speed at WR and a strong-armed quarterback, hitting Wolverine safeties over the top. If Wisconsin does not have that in its quiver, things could get ugly for them.
Brian Kelly Needs To Win This Weekend
Notre Dame lost to Duke last weekend, at football. It was their third one-score loss of the 2016 college football season and third where the opposing offense has scored 36 or more points. The Irish offense has been potent, just not as potent as the teams playing their atrocious defense. Brian Kelly blamed everyone, except Brian Kelly.
Syracuse plays Notre Dame at MetLife Stadium this week, to play football. If Notre Dame loses, they fall to 1-4. The discussion complexion changes. This isn’t Notre Dame missing the playoffs or Notre Dame being disappointing. It’s back to the Charlie Weis era questioning whether the Irish will reach a bowl game.
Brian Kelly on the hot seat was a ludicrous thought entering the season. So was Les Miles not even getting to finish September.
So Tennessee to the Playoff Now?
Tennessee overran Florida in the second half, turning near certain defeat at 21-3 into a 38-28 curb-stomping. The Vols ended the losing streak to the Gators. They are 4-0. They showed what they are capable of, for a half. Viva Butch Jones. Has Tennessee given us any reason to trust them game to game, or quarter to quarter?
Florida was only one game, from their rough four-game stretch. Their next two games are at Texas A&M and Bama. Up this week, a road trip to Athens. Georgia hasn’t offered much to like this season. Though, neither did Tennessee until last week.
The Dawgs have one of SEC’s strongest homefield advantages. Kirby Smart is squaring off against some vanilla as bleep Tennessee play-calling. But, will Georgia have Nick Chubb? We’re smelling another S-E-C
field goal fest titanic defensive battle.
Let the Coach O Campaign Begin
LSU fans saved Les Miles before the death cart claimed him last season. Could they exert their will again and see one of college football’s most attractive jobs be handed to Ed Orgeron, who went 3-21 in the SEC at Ole Miss? The scenario isn’t hard to picture.
The Tiger defense keeps steadily improving under Dave Aranda. Leonard Fournette gets healthy. The revamped offense starts using some of its talent. Spearheading the resurgence is a charismatic Cajun man who can recruit. The Tigers reel off a run of wins. Coach O clinches it by finding a way to beat Bama at home.
Orgeron nearly pulled that off at USC in 2013. He found the trail again. USC closed the season 6-2. Some folks were calling for him to be hired. Though, one of those losses was to UCLA in the Coliseum, by three touchdowns.
Even embarking on this scenario would require a win at home against Missouri. The other Tigers haven’t won games. But, they look relatively frisky and appear to have a quarterback.