How in the world is it already Week 5? Before we know it, we’ll be gathered around the table at Thanksgiving, then watching a ton of inconsequential bowl games. For now, though, we’ve got a great slate of games to break down this week. I’m also wondering if we should make one of our games each week the non-P5 game of the week, especially after the reaction we had to Georgia Southern-Western Michigan. If you love — or hate — that idea, let me know.
In the immortal words of Ziggy Marley, “if you don’t know your past, you won’t know your future,” so let’s look back at last week’s games from this space.
#11 Wisconsin 30, #8 Michigan State 6
MICHST: 4-for-13 third downs, three INT, 75 yards rushing (27 carries)
#14 Tennessee 38, #19 Florida 28
TENN: 38 straight points between 5:59 of second quarter and 4:28 of fourth; Dobbs (TENN): 399 combined yards, 5 total TD
Western Michigan 49, Georgia Southern 31
Terrell (WMU): 18-for-27, 240 yards, 4 TD; GSU: 50 carries, 202 yards, TD (52 carries, 413 yards, 5 TD in last year’s meeting)
#16 Baylor 35, Oklahoma State 24
Russell (BAY): 18-28, 387 yards, 4 TD, INT; Zamora (BAY): 8 catches, 175 yards, 2 TD
#7 Stanford 22, UCLA 13
Rushing: Stanford 37 carries, 207 yards; UCLA 33 carries, 77 yards
#10 Texas A&M 45, #17 Arkansas 24
A&M: 366 rushing yards (Knight/Williams: 310 rushing yards, 4 TD); A&M: 8-for-12 third downs
Test your prognostication skills by picking this week’s games for bragging rights and…well, nothing else…at this link!
Let’s see what this week has in store…right after trivia!
Trivia, Week 5 (answer at the end of the column): Who was the actual commander-in-chief the first time Navy and Air Force played as part of the pursuit of the Commander-In-Chief’s Trophy?
Keyword Search (all times Eastern and rankings AP)
#14 Miami (FL) (3-0) at Georgia Tech (3-1, 1-1)
Noon | ESPN2
- Right with Richt: New Hurricanes coach Mark Richt has certainly hit the ground running in Miami, with his club in the top 20 of seven statistical categories through three games. The ‘Canes are a top-15 club in every major defensive category, which lines up a bit…oddly, let’s say, with Georgia Tech. The Jackets rank 100th or worse in three of the four major offensive categories, with the lone exception being their 36th-ranked (216.8 yards per game) rushing offense.
- General Mills: Georgia Tech’s rushing attack found a new leader last week, as true freshman Dedrick Mills paced his club in rushing yards. Mills entered the game having carried just 32 times for 126 yards, but he cashed in his fifth touchdown on the young year, netting 75 yards on 16 attempts. The Ramblin’ Wreck sports the aforementioned 36th-best rushing offense, but must find a way to counter a Miami defense that — admittedly, against non-ACC competition — has surrendered just 65 rushing yards per outing. That number is good for fourth-best among FBS squads.
- Fighting the flags: This game features teams at the opposite ends of the penalty spectrum. The Jackets have been flagged just 10 times this season, and only Navy, Purdue, and UConn have better marks. Miami, meanwhile, has drawn 24 whistles, and is 106th in the land in penalty yardage (72.3 per game). While the ‘Canes are in no danger of eclipsing the nation’s “leader” in penalty yardage (Marshall, 115 yards per game), this stat bears watching. During the teams’ last meeting in Atlanta in 2014 — won 28-17 by Georgia Tech, interestingly — the Jackets were flagged seven times for 69 yards, versus just five for 38 yards for Miami.
Print that, tweet that, whatever: A 1-2 start in the ACC would be tough for the Jackets to overcome, and the rumblings to replace Paul Johnson would only grow louder.
#8 Wisconsin (4-0, 1-0 Big Ten) at #4 Michigan (4-0, 1-0 Big Ten)
3:30pm | ABC
- Winnin’ Wolverines: The Big Ten notes that Michigan has started the season by scoring greater than 40 points in their first four games for the first time in nearly 70 years. Extrapolating the string a bit further, Michigan has tallied 40 in seven of their last nine games. The lone exceptions came in back-to-back games last year, where they won 28-16 at Penn State, then had 40-plus hung on them in a 42-13 loss to Ohio State.
- Toppling the Top 10: No Big Ten club had beaten two top-ten clubs in the months of August and September in 17 years — Penn State took down Arizona and Miami then — prior to Wisconsin’s doing so this year. LSU’s struggles aside, the Badgers will have another likely crack at a top-ten win after their bye week, as they host Ohio State on October 15.
- Here’s the kicker: It was released just prior to press time that Wisconsin kicker Rafael Gaglianone would miss the remainder of the season due to surgery to repair a back issue. This would leave the kicking duties to senior Andrew Endicott. Endicott is 1-for-1 on field goal tries this season, and 3-for-4 on extra points. The senior’s lone conversion this year is his only field goal attempt at Wisconsin, as he has primarily been a kickoff specialist.
Print that, tweet that, whatever: Wisconsin is a double-digit ‘dog (for entertainment purposes only), and a win here would be their most impressive to date.
Wake Forest (4-0, 1-0 ACC) at NC State (2-1)
3:30pm | RSN
- On the numbers: You may recall Amy mentioning in her column this week that this is the 110th meeting between the ‘Pack and Deacs, but this series is also known for many wacky numbers, as well. The series, as she mentioned, began in 1895, and that first game ended in a seemingly-impossible 4-4 tie. Wake went on to lose the next 10 games in the series — while scoring 14 combined points. Seven of the Wolfpack’s wins in that string were shutouts, with NCSU scoring 270 points during that time. Between 2000 and 2010, the teams were 5-5 against each other, while averaging an identical 23.7 points per game. NC State enjoys a 90-58 advantage — and 2-1 record — against Wake in Dave Doeren’s three-plus years at the helm in Raleigh.
- Deja vu: Wake Forest last won their first four games of a season ten years ago. That 2006 season was also the last time the Deacs took down the ‘Pack in Raleigh. Wake secured a nine-point swing in the final 1:27 of the first half of that contest, on the strength of a safety and a 57-yard scoring strike from Riley Skinner to Nate Morton. State got a Toney Baker score with 3:35 remaining, but could not convert the two-point attempt, and fell 25-23. A win here would be slightly different for Wake, as they started the 2006 campaign 5-1, falling only to Clemson in their first six outings of an 11-3, ACC champion year.
- Giving a rip: Wake Forest finds itself in a position in which only nine FBS teams have more interceptions than do they (six), but that number is incredibly deceiving. Five of those six picks came in a 33-28 victory over Indiana last week. However, to be fair, the Demon Deacons have equaled their interception total of each of the last two seasons. That number seems unlikely to increase while facing NC State’s Ryan Finley. Finley is one of just 11 FBS quarterbacks yet to be intercepted this season, despite throwing five picks in 97 attempts in his time at Boise State. Only Philip Rivers (99 in 2000) had more passing attempts than Finley’s 80 (and climbing) before throwing his first pick as an NC State quarterback over the last 20 years.
Print that, tweet that, whatever: State could stand to take a 3-1 record into a national TV date with Notre Dame. A win would gain some believers for Wake.
Navy (3-0, 2-0 AAC) at Air Force (3-0, 1-0 MWC)
3:30pm | CBSSN
- Claiming the prize: This game seems to be the determining factor for the year’s possessor of the Commander-in-Chief’s Trophy, given to the best of the three football-playing service academies. This game’s victor has taken the trophy every year since 1996, and the Midshipmen have claimed wins in 10 of the last 13 meetings between the two. Navy’s sports information department points out that this is the first time in the academies’ nearly 50 meetings that both schools enter the game unbeaten.
- Over land and over…land: One thing of which most viewers of this game should be assured is that passing attempts will be few and far between. Navy and Air Force rank 126th and 123rd, respectively, in passing offense. The Midshipmen average 104 passing yards per contest, compared to the Falcons’ 127. Both teams are, however, in the top five in the nation in rushing. Navy ranks fifth at 316.3 yards per game, while Air Force is second at 359.3.
- Claiming Colorado Springs: Air Force owns two impressive statistics centered around its home field out west. The Falcons have won 44 of 58 home games with Troy Calhoun as their leader, and have won 16 of the 23 games with Navy in Colorado Springs. The last game played between the schools at Air Force was in 2014, a 30-21 Air Force win that helped etch the club’s name on the Commander-in-Chief’s Trophy. Falcon receiver Jalen Robinette threw for a touchdown in that game; Robinette is this year’s leading Air Force pass-catcher, notching four grabs for 94 yards and a score.
Print that, tweet that, whatever: Navy last won its first four games in consecutive seasons over 35 years ago. Repeating the feat will be quite the challenge.
Note from Brian: This letter was shared by FootballScoop Thursday afternoon. Should there be any remaining question about the gravity of this game, this will help dispel it.
#11 Tennessee (4-0, 1-0 SEC) at #25 Georgia (3-1, 1-1 SEC)
3:30pm | CBS
- Snapping streaks: Tennessee shattered — amazingly, I might add — a long-standing streak last week by beating Florida for the first time since 2004. The Vols can break another this week by clipping the Bulldogs in Athens for the first time since 2006. Tennessee has won just 10 of the 22 games they have played between the hedges. One streak that the Vols hope won’t end this week: Tennessee has won their last 10 games overall.
- Strikingly similar: The Volunteers and Bulldogs closely resemble each other in most statistical categories, aside from points per game (Tennessee paces Georgia 32.8-25.2 on offense and 21.0-30.0 in points allowed). Georgia outgains the Vols by about 25 yards per game (10 rushing, 15 passing), and both are plus-two in turnovers.
- Scouting Smart: Tennessee’s sports information department notes that the Vols’ only victory over a team with Kirby Smart on the coaching staff came when the lead Dawg was an administrative assistant in 1999, a 37-20 decision in Knoxville. Smart’s Alabama teams were 9-0 against Tennessee during his time in Tuscaloosa.
Print that, tweet that, whatever: Georgia’s only home game this season came against FCS Nicholls — which they almost lost. Can the home crowd will them to a W?
#3 Louisville (4-0, 2-0 ACC) at #5 Clemson (4-0, 1-0 ACC)
8:00pm | ABC
- Throw away your signs: Marshall fans made a sign last week that suggested Teddy Bridgewater’s ACL was stronger than Lamar Jackson, and…well, let’s just say that was not a good move. Jackson shredded the Herd for a 24-for-44, 417-yard performance that yielded five scores. That passing touchdown total was, amazingly, not his best of the year, eclipsed by a six-score outing in the season-opener against Charlotte. Jackson ranks second in the nation in total offense at 464 yards per game, trailing only Texas Tech quarterback Patrick Mahomes III (543.7 yards per game). The sophomore phenom paces all quarterbacks in rushing yards (526) and his 12 touchdowns lead all collegiate rushers by a comfortable margin.
- Tell it, Tim: For all the concern that Clemson fans may have about the Tigers’ offense — with good reason, to be honest; the Tigers are tied for a middling 47th in total offense and 86th in rushing offense — the vaunted Tiger defense has been every bit the dominant unit to which Solid Orange devotees became accustomed in recent years. We love to highlight the words of legendary Clemson SID Tim Bourret and his statistical pulls in this space, and here’s another:
Louisville first in nation in plays of 20 yards or more (41). Clemson third in allowing plays 20 yards or more (7).
— Tim Bourret (@TimBourret) September 25, 2016
- Top billin’: This is just the fifth time in ACC history that two top-five teams will face off in ACC play. 1997’s matchup of fifth-ranked North Carolina and third-ranked Florida State, 2005’s game between third-ranked Virginia Tech and fifth-ranked Miami, and 2013’s 51-14 by fifth-ranked Florida State over third-ranked Clemson match this one, in terms of total high ranking between the combatants. The only other similar matchup was Miami at Florida State (5 vs. 4, 2004).
Print that, tweet that, whatever: It happens rarely — if ever — that Clemson is an underdog in Death Valley. This will be the case Saturday. How will the Tigers respond?
Just missed the list: #7 Stanford at #10 Washington (Friday game), North Carolina at #12 Florida State
Trivia answer: I asked earlier: Who was the actual commander-in-chief the first time Navy and Air Force played as part of the pursuit of the Commander-In-Chief’s Trophy?
Richard Nixon was the commander-in-chief when Navy defeated Air Force, 21-17, on October 21, 1972. He would win reelection just a couple of weeks later, on November 7.