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Beyond the Fort: Week 5

The first month of the college football season is in the books, and the list of contenders has started to narrow.

NCAA Football: Louisiana State at Mississippi Petre Thomas-USA TODAY Sports

With 1 month down in the college football season we are starting to get a more clear picture of who will be left standing come January. The field has started to narrow, and some perennial contenders have exited the playoff race already. Let’s take a look at what happened in week 5.

LSU has problems.

The LSU Tigers removed themselves from the playoff race with their loss at Ole MIss on Saturday. The Tigers gave up a whopping 706 yards and 55 points en route to a 55-49 loss. The wild thing about this game is that LSU actually had a real shot to win the game despite the horrendous effort of their defense. All credit to Lane Kiffin and his staff for finally getting their signature win, but LSU made their name over the past decade as a strong defensive team. They call themselves DBU on a regular basis. Well, DBU doesn’t give up 389 passing yards to Jaxon Dart and Ole Miss. Dart also had 4 touchdowns and no interceptions on the day. And it’s not like Dart was throwing the ball to wide open receivers downfield - he often threw short routes that turned into big gains because of poor tackling or effort (see video below). There were rumblings at the beginning of the year of problems within the LSU program, and I think they’re beginning to show. After an SEC championship game appearance in year 1 it appears that Brian Kelly has some serious work to do. The question is whether or not the LSU fan base will give him time.

Notre Dame manages to stay in contention.

I was worried that Notre Dame would lose on the road after a heartbreaking loss to Ohio State at home last week. And the Blue Devils were so, so close to pulling off what could’ve been the biggest win in their program history. But once again we saw a team find a way to win a game due to errors in coaching. In one of my first interviews I had a head coach ask me what I thought about the saying “players win games and coaches lose them” and I continue to see that play out in this college football season. Duke was up 14-13 with less than a minute to play and they had Notre Dame in a 4th and 16 situation. Duke had gotten pressure over and over again throughout the game, and for some ungodly reason they only rushed 3 on that 4th and 16 (coaches lose games) and Sam Hartman took off for 17 yards to pick up the first down (players win games). The Irish scored on the next play to go ahead with about 30 seconds left. To make matters worse, Duke quarterback Riley Leonard went down with an injury on the next drive, and it looks like he will miss significant time.

Utah is Iowa in red and black.

Tell me I’m wrong. The Utes traveled to Corvallis on Friday to take on Oregon State and looked absolutely pitiful on offense. The importance of injured quarterback Cam Rising continues to show with each game the Utes play, and their loss on Friday had me wondering how they managed to get to 4-0 in the first place. Utah finished the game with just 7 points and 198 yards of offense. They rushed for 57 yards on 32 carries while completing just 42% of their passes on the night. They also gave up a huge touchdown run on a 4th and 1 because they were so concerned with the QB sneak (see below). Theoretically, they’re still in the race for the PAC-12, but I don’t see this team winning more than 8 games.

Maybe it will matter that USC is so bad defensively.

Earlier this year I said it may not matter if USC is bad on defense because their offense is so good. Saturday changed my mind. There is no chance this USC runs the table in the PAC-12 when they will have to compete with the likes of Washington and Oregon. This defense is so despicably bad it’s not even funny anymore. Caleb Williams will have to be perfect in every single game for USC to have a chance at a perfect season, and that’s a nearly impossible ask. To be fair, he was almost perfect again on Saturday. Williams was 30/40 passing with 403 yards and 6 touchdowns, but he also threw an interception. The Trojans put up 48 points, but still found themselves sweating out a victory as Colorado came raging back in the second half. The Buffaloes rushed for 193 yards against USC and this is a Colorado team that had not rushed for more than 70 yards in a game this year! Add in the fact that Shedeur Sanders threw for 379 yards, making the total yards allowed by USC 564 on the day, and you have a recipe for disaster. It’s a real shame that Lincoln Riley has completely neglected to build a defense. They’ll probably give up 800 yards to Washington and Oregon at the end of the season.

Georgia doesn’t look invincible.

The Bulldogs were the preseason favorite to run the table and win their third straight national title, but the more you watch this team play the less likely it seems. Georgia got off to slow starts before pulling away to win big in their 3 non-conference games so far, failing to impress most people. But the real concern is that Georgia found themselves trailing in the second half of both of their SEC games so far. It’s also worth noting that their two conference opponents so far, South Carolina and Auburn, are considered to be among the worst teams in the SEC. I by no means subscribe to the belief that you have to blow the doors off every team you play in order to be the best team in the nation, but Georgia seems to have lost that edge that took them to back-to-back titles. Carson Beck played well and grew up a little in the win against Auburn. Brock Bowers looked like an absolute monster, taking over the game in the 4th quarter. If Bowers goes down with an injury the Georgia offense is in serious trouble. The ground game has struggled (they had just 107 yards against Auburn on Saturday) and Bowers has been the only real threat in the passing game.

Quick Hitters

#2 Michigan dominated Nebraska on the road in a 45-7 win.

#3 Texas completely took over in the second half in their 40-14 win over Kansas.

#6 Penn State shook off a slow start and pulled away to beat Northwestern 41-13.

#7 Washington survived against Arizona in a 31-24 win.

#9 Oregon dominated Stanford in a 42-6 win.

#12 Alabama handled business at Mississippi State in a 40-17 win.

#14 Oklahoma continued to roll in their 50-20 win over Iowa State.

#21 Tennessee handled business against South Carolina in a 41-20 win.

#22 Florida got smacked by Kentucky 33-14.

#23 Missouri handled business in a 38-21 win over Vanderbilt.

#25 Fresno State beat Nevada 27-9.

Coach Perry’s Power Rankings: Week 5

  1. Texas - The Longhorns' win over Alabama looks better each week.
  2. Ohio State - We’ll learn just how good this defense is this week as they host Maryland.
  3. Michigan - The Wolverines are just trying to quietly get to November undefeated.
  4. Florida State - Wins over Clemson and LSU don’t look quite as good as they did.
  5. Penn State - Quietly beating everyone they play by at least 2 scores.
  6. Oregon - Their only close game was on the road at Texas Tech.
  7. Oklahoma - We’ll find out if the Sooners are for real this week at Red River.
  8. Georgia - Haven’t lost since December 4, 2021, but cracks are showing.
  9. USC - Undefeated and the offense looks unstoppable, but that defense...
  10. Washington State - Head to UCLA this week, and their win over Oregon State looks even better after the Beavers beat Utah.

Week 6 Games to Watch

Wednesday, October 4

If you’re a true degenerate like me, this is the first week with Wednesday night football.

Friday, October 6

Kansas State at Oklahoma State

Saturday, October 7

Morning Slate

#12 Oklahoma vs #3 Texas

Maryland at #4 Ohio State

#23 LSU at #21 Missouri

Afternoon Slate

#13 Washington State at UCLA

#11 Alabama at Texas A&M

Syracuse at #14 North Carolina

UCF at Kansas

Prime Time

#20 Kentucky at #1 Georgia

#10 Notre Dame at #25 Louisville

Arkansas at #16 Ole Miss

Texas Tech at Baylor

TCU at Iowa State

Arizona at #9 USC