ATLANTA - A month of games have been played; and things are just beginning to heat up in true college football fashion. With the autumn season upon us, leaves falling and temperatures becoming cooler, it’s the perfect weather to witness some of the best college football.
Week 5 is where things begin to get real; where the rubber meets the road. Some teams still have nonconference opponents to play other than the one or two games scheduled sporadically within the latter portion of their schedules. Other than that, conference play will be ramped up and in full force for the remainder of the season.
Week 4 showcased some conference action games that revealed which teams have answered the call to the hype and passed the test or fell back to reality, or as former Arizona Cardinals head coach Dennis Green said, “We are who we thought they were.”
Get ready for a wild ride for the rest of the season. To kickoff Week 5 of college football, Texas defeated Iowa State, 17-7, on the road to get its second win of the season.
Tonight, No. 14 Miami (2-0) looks to remain perfect in a ACC Coastal road test against an undefeated Duke (4-0) team in Wallace Wade Stadium. Kickoff is set for 7 p.m.
Then, on Saturday, tune in for ESPN College Game Day as the crew will be broadcasting live at 9 a.m. from the Virginia Tech campus in Blacksburg, Virginia.
Rece Davis, Kirk Herbstreit, Desmond Howard, Lee Corso, David Pollack and Maria Taylor will discuss all the big games for Week 5, including the headliner game for the evening as Clemson looks to earn a win in a major road against Virginia Tech in a rematch of the 2016 ACC championship game.
WATCH Channel 2 for the big games this weekend. Plus, follow Channel 2 Sports Director Zach Klein as he brings you the latest coverage from the Georgia-Tennessee game and college football teams across the state playing in Week 5.
Top Games on Channel 2
Northwestern at (10) Wisconsin | 12 p.m. on Channel 2
With both Northwestern and Wisconsin coming off bye weeks before starting conference action, Saturday’s game at Camp Randall Stadium will be an interesting one, showcasing which team really owns the Big 10 West division. Wisconsin’s last win came two weeks ago when the Badgers (3-0) defeated BYU, 40-6. Northwestern (2-1) destroyed Bowling Green 49-7 after being thoroughly beat by Duke the week before.
The Badgers, who won the division last year, was picked again to win the division, followed by Northwestern at second. And through four weeks of football, the Badgers look like the early favorite to repeat as division crowns in the west.
On Saturday, however, Northwestern will serve as an early-season test for Wisconsin to see if the Badgers are as solid of a team as their record indicates, with wins against Utah State, Florida Atlantic and BYU. Wisconsin beat the Wildcats last year 21-7, however, Northwestern has won two of the last three games, including the last meeting in Madison, 13-7, in 2015.
So, Badgers’ fans, don’t get too excited. This is a very important conference opener that will most likely be a close game. This game will come down to which team’s defense plays the best and which team has the most efficiency on offense. Both teams have solid rushing attacks but the quarterbacks could be the difference maker for their respective teams.
Wisconsin freshman running back Jonathan Taylor has been a dominant force for the Badgers, rushing for 438 yards, five touchdowns and ranks 15th in the nation in rushing yards and fifth nationally in rushing yards per game. Look for Badgers coach Paul Chryst to get Taylor and redshirt sophomore running back Bradrick Shaw, who was bouncing back from a minor knee injury over the past couple of weeks, involved early in a game where both could have big days on the ground. The Wildcats defense has given up 157 yards per game on the ground. Northwestern has also allowed 253 passing yards per game. Meaning, Badgers quarterback Alex Hornibrook could also have a solid performance as well. Hornibrook has thrown for 701 yards, eight touchdowns and an interception. However, take into consideration the Badgers have not truly been tested this season.
As for Northwestern, running back Justin Jackson played a major role in how the Wildcats defeated the Badgers twice in the last three meetings. In those two meetings, the senior running back ran for over 100 yards and scored a touchdown in the 2015 matchup. Factor Jackson in with a veteran quarterback in Clayton Thorson, who is completing nearly 64 percent of his passes, the Wildcats have a legitimate chance to earn a victory at Camp Randall Stadium.
However, it won’t be easy game for head coach Pat Fitzgerald and his Wildcats. The Badgers rank seventh in total defense (allowed 248 yards per game) and has only allowed their opponents nearly 91 rushing yards per game. Keep an eye on Badgers safety Natrell Jamerson and cornerback Dontye Carriere Williams as they will look to put clamps on the Wildcats passing attack. Inside linebacker TJ Edwards, who has recorded 14 tackles this season, leads the team in interceptions with two, will look to do his part to stop Jackson from having a big day on the ground. If the Badgers don’t produce turnovers in Saturday’s game, something they did in their first two games, they should come out on top with the victory.
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Florida State at Wake Forest | 3:30 p.m. on Channel 2
When Florida State kicked off the 2017 season, the Seminoles (0-2) were the favorite to win the ACC Atlantic division crown, followed by Clemson and Louisville. Now, heading into Week 5 with their starting quarterback sidelined due to injury and two losses, the Seminoles are still trying to find their identity to reclaim their season.
Despite two losses, one to Alabama and one to conference opponent NC State, all is not lost for the Seminoles. They can still win the ACC if they win out the remainder of their conference games.
But with a freshman quarterback in James Blackman and the Seminoles heading into Winston Salem, North Carolina to play an undefeated Wake Forest team, things will be tough for Florida State. Thankfully, though, Seminoles head coach Jimbo Fisher is no stranger to rough points during football season over the years.
Wake Forest (4-0) will look to earn its second conference win on Saturday as the Demon Deacons have defeated smaller schools and conference opponent Boston College in convincing fashion. The Demon Deacons are averaging nearly 28 points per game, 432 yards of total offense with a balance of run and pass. Don’t forget, though, they have not had the caliber of competition faced by Florida State.
Meanwhile, the Seminoles do not look like the team many thought they would be starting off the year. Currently, Florida State ranks 116th in total offense and 122nd in scoring offense, averaging 14 points per game and 316 yards of total offense. Through two games, Blackman has thrown for 278 yards and a touchdown. Not to mention, the Seminoles have allowed seven sacks in two games this season but, granted, they have played against two of the best defensive lines in college football. Inefficiency of offense has plagued the Seminoles, something that will be need to be fixed before Saturday’s gam
The Demon Deacons are giving up 328 yards of offense but only 11.5 points per game. FSU has only scored an average of 14 points through two games. Thus, it is imperative for the Seminoles’ offense to get going early because if not, Florida State could face a similar situation of what it faced last week against NC State and drop to 0-2 in conference play with many big games in conference action to play.
On the flip side, Wake Forest quarterback John Wolford has thrown for 678 yards and eight touchdowns, leading a team that was picked last to win the ACC Atlantic Crown. If the Demon Deacons find a way to secure a victory on their home field, things could very interesting in the ACC Atlantic Division.
As for Florida State, it loses, Fisher and the Seminoles will remain under heavy scrutiny about this season. Florida State has not lost to Wake Forest since 2011.
(2) Clemson at (12) Virginia Tech | 8 p.m. on Channel 2
With Florida State going through some early-season woes, the Clemson-Virginia Tech game is not only just a game between two undefeated teams or a rematch of the 2016 ACC title game, it holds weight for those looking to find out the strength and depth of the ACC overall.
At this point, in only four weeks of action, both teams can lose and still have a chance to compete for a conference title as well as a shot at a national championship.
However, you can bet that the Hokies will be looking to seek revenge against the national champs as Clemson defeated Virginia Tech 42-35 last year in the conference title game. Not to mention, the last time Clemson played in Blacksburg was in 2011 when the Tigers beat the Hokies 23-3. That same year, the Hokies made it to the ACC title game before losing to Clemson again.
If Virginia Tech (3-1) hopes to earn its revenge against the Tigers, the Hokies must be clicking on all cylinders. Virginia Tech’s most noteworthy win came against West Virginia, something that might be questioned heavily after the outcome of Saturday’s game.
All in all, Hokies freshman quarterback Josh Jackson will be tested against a solid Clemson defense that ranks third in total defense, allowing nearly 135 passing yards and 93 rushing yards. The Tigers (4-0) have recorded the second-most sacks in college football this year with 17.
So, for the Hokies’ offensive linemen, it could be long day. To Jackson’s defense, he has thrown for 1,127 yards, 11 touchdowns and one interception. If Jackson is faced with swarming pressure all day, the number of interceptions could rise for him.
Virginia Tech enters Saturday’s game with a solid defense of its own as the Hokies have yet to give up a rushing touchdown this season and are only allowing 10 points per game, despite giving up 311 yards to opposing teams.
Hokies head coach Justin Fuente will have his hands full in stopping or rather “slowing down” a team as good as Clemson thus far in the season. Tigers quarterback Kelly Bryant has thrown for 873 yards, two touchdowns and three interceptions as well as rushed for 268 yards and a team-high seven touchdowns. Clemson also features a deadly rushing attack in which the Tigers have three running backs that include freshman running back Travis Etienne with at least 249 yards on the ground.
The possibility of a major upset in Blacksburg during prime time Saturday night will be a tall task for Virginia Tech but as we know, anything can happen in college football on any given Saturday. Don’t forget that October hasn’t started yet.
Top Local Games
(7) Georgia at Tennessee | 3:30 p.m.
For Georgia fans, your Bulldogs passed a major conference test in defeating Mississippi State last week in a convincing manner. The Mississippi State win sent a message across the SEC as well as the nation that Georgia could be the front-runner to face No. 1 Alabama in the SEC title game in December.
However, for Georgia (4-0) to earn a chance at the ultimate test of potentially facing Alabama in the conference championship game, the Bulldogs must keep playing solid football in all facets of the game and continue to pass their “weekly tests” of defeating quality SEC opponents.
This week, Georgia gets a chance at redemption against Tennessee, a team that beat the Bulldogs on a Josh Dobbs 43-yard touchdown pass.
While the Bulldogs are hoping this year’s game does not end like the 2016 matchup, Saturday’s game will most likely be a close one as the last four games between the two teams have been decided by eight points or less.
So, Georgia fans, get ready for a long ride until the end of the season. Your second major stop along the SEC Trail? Rocky-Top Tennessee in Neyland Stadium. It is a tough environment to play in, and Tennessee will be looking to secure a much-needed win to keep their season together with hopes of competing for a shot at the conference title.
For Georgia, true freshman quarterback Jake Fromm has excelled since stepping in for Jacob Eason. That needs to remain the same this week. Fromm has thrown for 650 yards, seven touchdowns and one interception this season. Plus, with the help of running backs Nick Chubb and Sony Michel who have combined for 565 yards and eight touchdowns, this has taken some pressure off Fromm. The Volunteers have given up 383 yards per game to their opponents, but don’t discredit their pass rush. Tennessee (3-1) is tied for first nationally in passing-down sack rate, recording a sack on 17.5 percent of passing down plays. If the Vols can create havoc up front, the game may become more interesting.
As for Tennessee, running back John Kelly leads the conference in rushing yards per game (112.5) and Tennessee is averaging 381 yards of total offense per game (225 through the air, 157 on the ground). But; after watching the Vols’ struggle to move the ball against UMass, this could mean great things for Georgia’s defense.
While Georgia’s offense is solid, the Bulldogs’ defense is even better. Georgia enters Saturday’s game ranked fourth in total defense (270 yards per game) and third in scoring defense, allowing less than 12 points to its opponents. Speaking of Tennessee’s rushing attack, the Bulldogs have only given up 98 yards per game on the ground, thanks in part to their dominant defensive linemen in John Atkins, Trenton Thompson and linebackers Roquan Smith, Lorenzo Carter and Dalvin Bellamy. Look for them to be the big playmakers on defense that should smother Tennessee quarterback Quinten Dormady.
If Georgia remains consistent and efficient on offense, Fromm plays like a veteran quarterback and the defense plays lights out, the Bulldogs will walk out of the rocky-top hills of Tennessee with another solid victory on their resume in conference play.
North Carolina at Georgia Tech | 12:00 p.m.
North Carolina (1-3) is in desperate need of a win overall but especially in ACC play. However, with the Tar Heels headed to Atlanta to face Georgia Tech, a team that features a strong triple-option rushing attack plus and a stout defense, the Tar Heels could be on the brink of going 0-3 in a very tough conference.
The Tar Heels are suffering from injuries at the wide receiver position, making it tough for redshirt freshman quarterback Chazz Surratt to be consistent throughout games. Now, Surratt gets the challenge of facing Georgia Tech’s defense but specifically its secondary. The Yellow Jackets’ secondary is led by safeties Corey Griffin and A.J. Gray, and they will look to cause disruption to a young Surratt on Saturday.
Also, keep an eye on Lawrence Austin, who is the Yellow Jackets' leading tackler and has broken up two passes and deflected three. By the numbers, Georgia Tech ranks 21st in the nation in rush defense, allowing just a little over 100 per game and 14th in total defense. Against Pitt last week, the Yellow Jackets held the Panthers to 37 yards. Defensively, however, Georgia Tech (2-1) does its best work on third down, where the Yellow Jackets are holding its opponents to 26.5 percent on third down. Meanwhile, the Tar Heels rank 112th in the country with a third-down conversion rate.
With North Carolina giving up nearly 470 yards of total offense per game, it will be a long day for the Tar Heels in stopping Georgia Tech offensively. Yellow Jackets head coach Paul Johnson will look to stick to his plan of executing their deadly rushing attack led by quarterback TaQuon Marshall, who leads the team with 386 yards and eight touchdowns. And, while Georgia Tech has thrown for fewer than 100 yards per game, Marshall has shown that he can make passes down the field, if need be.
Unless something drastic happens to which Georgia Tech cannot run the ball, look for the Yellow Jackets to give the Tar Heels their third loss in conference play on Saturday.
North Greenville at Kennesaw State | 3:30 p.m.
Kennesaw State (2-1) and North Greenville (3-1) will play each other first time. The Owls, who are coming off a bye week, will look to build on their win against Alabama State before the open week. North Greenville will not be an easy game for Kennesaw State, and the Crusaders will be looking to give the Owls a “L” in the loss column. North Greenville returns 15 starters from a team that made it to the NCAA Division II Quarterfinals and lost to North Alabama.
The Owls will have their hands full in slowing down the Crusaders offensive attack. North Greenville quarterback Will Hunter has thrown for 577 yards and four touchdowns in four games, and running backs Tracy Scott and Ashton Heard have combined for 704 yards and eight touchdowns on the ground. A majority of the Crusaders’ success on offense has been the outstanding play of their offensive line. Thus, Crusaders head coach Jeff Farrington will look to get the offense going early in the game.
The Owls have shown they can move the ball but costly turnovers have robbed them of points during games, something that head coach Brian Bohannon hopes to eliminate Saturday if his Owls hope to come away with a win. Not to mention, the Crusaders has returners in Brandon Burger and Desmond Williams on defense looking to make an impact on the game. Burger leads the Crusaders in tackles with 35 (14 solo), followed by Williams who has 5.5 tackles for a loss.
Keep an eye on them in the game on Saturday afternoon as the two will look to put pressure on Hunter and force the Owls into committing turnovers in the game.
Other SEC Action
Vanderbilt at (21) Florida | 12 p.m.
New Mexico State at Arkansas | 12 p.m.
(7) Georgia at Tennessee | 3:30 p.m.
Eastern Michigan at Kentucky | 4 p.m.
(24) Mississippi State at (13) Auburn | 6 p.m.
Troy at (25) LSU | 7 p.m.
South Carolina at Texas A&M | 7:30 p.m.
Ole Miss at (1) Alabama | 9 p.m.
Other ACC Action
(14) Miami at Duke | 7 p.m. (Friday)
North Carolina at Georgia Tech| 12 p.m.
Rice at Pittsburgh | 12 p.m.
Syracuse at North Carolina State | 12:20 p.m.
Central Michigan at Boston College | 1 p.m.
Florida State at Wake Forest | 3:30 p.m.
Murray State at Louisville | 3:30 p.m.
(2) Clemson at Virginia Tech | 3:30 p.m.
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