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Wayne Staats | NCAA.com | October 1, 2020

The college football fan's guide to Week 5 games

5 FBS games to watch in week five

Expect more SEC fun this weekend, as the conference has two showcase games that have ranked vs. ranked meetings. The big one should be No. 4 Georgia vs. No. 7 Auburn.

But it's not just about the SEC. Here's a look at what Week 5 of the college football season has on the schedule, including top games, big questions and the Top 25.

Week 5 preview: Top games to watch

No. 13 Texas A&M at No. 2 Alabama | 3:30 p.m. Saturday | CBS

Though a handful of highly ranked teams struggled last week, including Texas A&M vs. Vanderbilt, Alabama looked like...Alabama.

Crimson Tide QB Mac Jones passed for 249 yards and two touchdowns, RB Najee Harris ran for three touchdowns and the defense totaled three sacks and two turnovers against Missouri. Meanwhile, the Aggies needed a late interception to hold off Vanderbilt 17-12, with eight penalties and three turnovers not helping.

That all adds up to a big task for Texas A&M, which hasn't defeated the Tide since Johnny Manziel led A&M to the famous shocker at No. 1 Alabama in 2012.

No. 12 North Carolina at Boston College | 3:30 p.m. Saturday | ABC

Welcome back, UNC and QB Sam Howell. The Tar Heels are playing for the first time since defeating Syracuse on Sept. 12, as the nonconference game vs. Charlotte had to be postponed (COVID-19 contact tracing).

The ACC has been busy. Since then, top-ranked Clemson has looked dominant and Miami (Fla.) has emerged as a serious ACC contender — alongside AP ranked Notre Dame and Pitt.

Boston College and North Carolina are two of six teams that are 1-0 in the ACC. The Eagles had little trouble with Duke, though they did have to rally to defeat Texas State out of the Sun Belt last week. We'll start to see some separation from ACC hopefuls this week.

No. 25 Memphis at SMU | 3:30 p.m. Saturday | ESPN2

Memphis' gap between games is even larger than North Carolina's. The Tigers haven't played since Sept. 5 because COVID. Memphis had to postpone the Houston game to December and cancel the UTSA meeting.

SMU has played twice since Memphis hit the field, with the Mustangs 3-0 overall. But this is SMU's first conference game.

Both teams have star quarterbacks. Tigers QB Brady White threw four touchdowns against Arkansas State in the opener. SMU's Shane Buechele has 852 passing yards, seven touchdowns and two interceptions through three games.

FBS NEWS: Schedules, updates related to COVID-19

No. 7 Auburn at No. 4 Georgia | 7:30 p.m. Saturday | ESPN

It takes a lot for an Alabama game against a ranked team to not be the highlight on the SEC slate. But this has a lot of intrigue.

There's some uncertainty at quarterback for Georgia, but the Bulldogs also need to get the rushing attack going. Usually a force on the line, Georgia ran for only 121 yards last week against Arkansas. At QB, D'Wan Mathis started before Stetson Bennett came in to lead Georgia to a win. Now the Bulldogs add in  J.T. Daniels, who has been medically cleared.

Auburn QB Bo Nix delivered in the opener against Kentucky, when he had 233 passing yards and three touchdowns in the 29-13 win. He hasn't thrown an interception since Oct. 26, 2019 (at LSU). Georgia's defense is again formidable, however.

Virginia at No. 1 Clemson | 8 p.m. Saturday | ACC Network

Clemson has won 23 ACC games in a row, with the most recent defeat coming to Syracuse on Oct. 13, 2017.

In the teams' last meeting in the 2019 ACC title game, Clemson turned a 7-7 tie into a 31-7 halftime lead and a rout with a 62-17 final.

Clemson hasn't needed its biggest stars to play a full game yet. Virginia sophomore QB Brennan Armstrong (316 total yards, three touchdowns vs. Duke) would like to change that.

Big Week 5 questions

Can Oklahoma regroup from an early loss to make it back to the CFP?

Never say never, especially in a year like 2020. But it's going to be difficult after Oklahoma shockingly lost at home to unranked Kansas State. Of course, no one knows if this year will be like 2007, when there were big upsets seemingly every week and two-loss LSU ended up winning the BCS national title.

However, through six years of the College Football Playoff, 24 teams have made it to the semifinals. Nine have been undefeated. Fifteen had one loss. NONE had two losses. So in a normal year, yes, Oklahoma would probably have to win out. In fact, a two-loss team has finished just out of the CFP at No. 5 in four of the six years.

The good news for OU is it lost to K-State in late October last year, didn't lose again, beat then-No. 7 Baylor to take the Big 12 and reached the CFP. The bad news? The Sooners still have to play ranked Texas, Oklahoma State and still-tough Baylor — and then possibly the conference title game against another ranked team. And the Sooners will have to improve defensively.

RANKINGS: All major college football polls

Is Mississippi State a real contender in the SEC?

Any time you can go into Death Valley (even with limited capacity) and win, people have to take notice. Particularly when QB K.J. Costello sets an SEC record with 623 passing yards. Mississippi State's "Air Raid" offense did the job, just like it did for 1998 Kentucky when the Wildcats, OC Mike Leach and QB Tim Couch won at LSU.

But just how serious of a contender are the Bulldogs in the SEC? They went from unranked to No. 16 in one week, even with Big Ten and Pac-12 teams eligible again for the AP Poll. The issue now is if Mississippi State can produce points and yards like this every week in the SEC.

The biggest reason why Mississippi State might not make the SEC title game is the schedule. There's Kentucky, Texas A&M and Alabama in October. And then it's Auburn-Georgia-Ole Miss all in a row in November. But that's the thing about the SEC: There's nowhere to hide.

FOLLOW IT ALL: Live scoreboard, stats

College football rankings: Top 25 for Week 4

RANK ASSOCIATED PRESS COACHES POLL
1.
Clemson (55)

Clemson (42)
2.


Alabama (3)


Alabama (4)
3.
Florida

Florida
4.


Georgia


Georgia
5.
Notre Dame

Notre Dame
6.


Ohio State (4)


Ohio State (2)
7.
Auburn

Auburn
8.
Miami

Miami
9.
Texas

Texas
10.
Penn State

Penn State
11.
UCF

North Carolina
12.
North Carolina

UCF
13.
Texas A&M

Texas A&M
14.
Oregon


Mississippi State

15.
Cincinnati

Cincinnati
16.
Mississippi State

Oklahoma
17.
Oklahoma State

LSU
18.
Oklahoma

Wisconsin
19.
Wisconsin

Oklahoma State
20.
LSU

Tennessee
21.
Tennessee

Michigan
22.


BYU


BYU
23.
Michigan

Virginia Tech
24.


Pitt


Memphis
25.
Memphis

Pitt

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