Ranking the 10 Best College Football Showdowns in Week 5

Zach Dirlam@Zach_DirlamSenior Analyst IISeptember 23, 2012

Ranking the 10 Best College Football Showdowns in Week 5

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    After an exciting slate of Week 4 matchups, college football fans are begging for an encore this weekend, with several Top 25 teams leaving the friendly confines of home and entering enemy territory. This usually means there are upsets on the horizon.

    The West Virginia Mountaineers and Ohio State Buckeyes will face off against Top 25 foes this weekend, while numerous unranked opponents will look to make a name for themselves as conference play kicks off.

    What game should you be tuning into this weekend? Click ahead to find out.

10. Wisconsin Badgers vs. No. 22 Nebraska Cornhuskers

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    Kickoff time: 8:00 p.m. ET (ABC)

    The Wisconsin Badgers pummeled the Nebraska Cornhuskers 48-17 in prime time last season at Camp Randall Stadium, but now the tables have turned as head coach Brett Bielema and the defending Big Ten Champions will limp into Lincoln, Neb. for this Week 5 showdown. 

    Freshman quarterback Joel Stave made his first start in place of former Maryland Terrapin transfer Danny O’Brien, and the 6’5”, 223-pounder looked impressive enough to be the Badgers' No. 1 signal-caller for the remainder of the 2012 season. 

    Stave completed 12-of-17 passes for 210 yards, one touchdown and only one interception in Wisconsin’s 37-26 victory over the UTEP Miners. 

    Senior running back Montee Ball suffered yet another head injury against the Miners, and although his status for next weekend is unknown at this point, backups James White and Melvin Gordon combined for 177 total yards and three touchdowns on Saturday. 

    On the other hand, the Cornhuskers are coming off of a 73-7 rout of the Idaho State Bengals and are averaging 48.5 points per game, which is good enough to be ranked No. 8 in scoring offense among Football Bowl Subdivision teams.

    The UCLA Bruins exposed Nebraska's run defense in Week 3, so will the Badgers be able to take advantage of that, or will the new and improved Taylor Martinez burn Wisconsin in what is sure to be one of the Big Ten's most interesting games this season?

    Prediction: Nebraska by 7

9. Virginia Tech Hokies vs. Cincinnati Bearcats

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    Kickoff time: 3:30 p.m. ET (ESPNU)

    The Virginia Tech Hokies had their annual letdown in Week 3 against the Pittsburgh Panthers, but they bounced back from their first loss of the season by routing the Bowling Green Falcons 37-0 in Blacksburg.

    Meanwhile, the Cincinnati Bearcats are quietly 2-0 on the season with victories over Pittsburgh and the Delaware State Hornets. The Bearcats were idle in Week 4, which may give them a bit of a leg up on the Hokies at home.

    The Hokies will definitely be able to put up some points against Cincinnati's defense with Logan Thomas running the show, so the real matchup to watch will be Bearcats quarterback Munchie Legaux against the Virginia Tech defense.

    The junior dual-threat will have to be outstanding in order for the Bearcats to pull the upset.  

    Prediction: Virginia Tech by 14 

8. No. 4 Florida State Seminoles vs. South Florida Bulls

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    Kickoff time: 6:00 p.m. ET (ESPN)

    The Florida State Seminoles are fresh off of a victory over the nationally ranked Clemson Tigers, and their offense is looking like it has more than enough playmakers to contend for a BCS National Championship this season.

    On the other side of this matchup, the South Florida Bulls are coming off of an inexcusable 31-27 loss to the Ball State Cardinals and are 2-2 on the season.

    So why is a projected blowout making this list of Week 5 contests? Well, the fact that there aren't too many great games scheduled for this Saturday helps this one get into the rankings.

    Plus, who wouldn't want to watch E.J. Manuel, Chris Thompson and Kelvin Benjamin completely shred a Big East Conference defense?

    Prediction: Florida State by 35

7. Texas Tech Red Raiders vs. Iowa State Cyclones

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    Kickoff time (television): 7:00 p.m. ET (local channels only)

    Many college football fans would probably be shocked to know that the Texas Tech Red Raiders were ranked No. 1 among all Football Bowl Subdivision programs in total defense and total offense this season. However, when people take a closer look at their first three opponents, it becomes less befuddling.

    The Red Raiders opened up the season with games against Northwestern State University of the Football Championship Subdivision, FBS newcomer Texas State University and the New Mexico Lobos.

    While the Red Raiders won all of those games without so much as breaking a sweat, the Iowa State Cyclones will not go down as easily as Texas Tech's first three opponents—especially at Jack Trice Stadium in prime time. 

    If the Red Raiders don't believe that, then head coach Tommy Tuberville should give Oklahoma State Cowboys head man Mike Gundy a call and ask him how his top-five team fared in Ames, Iowa a year ago.

    The Cyclones have only given up nine points in their last two contests against in-state rival Iowa Hawkeyes and the Western Illinois Leathernecks of the FCS.

    Iowa State will inevitably give up some points, but if the Cyclones can force some turnovers and get the Red Raiders offense out of sync, their home-field advantage should be enough to help them eke out a victory.

    This coming Saturday will be a much better gauge for Texas Tech's offense and defense than their previous three contests.

    Prediction: Texas Tech by 4

6. No. 8 Stanford Cardinal vs. Washington Huskies

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    Kickoff time: Thursday, Sept. 27 at 9:00 p.m. ET (ESPN)

    The Stanford Cardinal were idle this past Saturday, which allowed David Shaw's squad to savor their victory over the USC Trojans in Week 3 for a few extra days.

    Workhorse running back Stepfan Taylor and the Cardinal will be going up against an improved, but still struggling Washington Huskies defense.

    The Huskies were pummeled by the LSU Tigers in their only game against a ranked opponent this season, and the Cardinal have more than enough talent to run Washington out of their own stadium if Taylor gets going on the ground.

    Washington will look to make it a high-scoring affair by getting quarterback Keith Price in rhythm and establishing the run with talented running backs Erich Wilson and Bishop Sankey. 

    Prediction: Stanford by 8

5. No. 18 Oregon State Beavers vs. Arizona Wildcats

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    Kickoff time: 10:00 p.m. ET (Pac-12 Network)

    The Oregon State Beavers have been without a doubt one of the biggest surprises so far this season in college football.

    Their rushing defense held the nation's leading rusher, Johnathan Franklin, to just 45 yards on the ground and only gave up 61 rushing yards against Montee Ball of the Wisconsin Badgers.

    The Beavers won both games and broke into the major polls this week, but if they hope to stay there, they will have to slow down another potent offense this Saturday when they square off with the Arizona Wildcats.

    The Oregon Ducks shut out the Wildcats and forced five turnovers in Week 4, so Arizona is not exactly unstoppable.

    Additionally, everyone knows how much Arizona's head coach Rich Rodriguez loves to run the football, so on paper it appears as though the Beavers match up well against the Wildcats.

    Playing on the road is always difficult in college football, though, and the late-night atmosphere will help revitalize the Wildcats offense. This should be one of the more interesting games of the week.

    Prediction: Arizona by 4

4. No. 12 Texas Longhorns vs. Oklahoma State Cowboys

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    Kickoff time (television): 7:50 p.m. ET (FOX)

    Despite three blowout victories to open the 2012 season, there aren't a whole lot of people ready to buy the Texas Longhorns as a legitimate contender on the national stage quite yet.

    The Longhorns have yet to play a ranked opponent, and their most impressive win so far this season is against one of the weakest teams in the SEC, the Ole Miss Rebels.

    The Oklahoma State Cowboys are also out to prove their Week 2 loss at the hands of the Arizona Wildcats was merely the result of an inexperienced team forced to grow up quickly in a hostile environment.

    Boasting the nation's No. 1 offense, the Cowboys should test the Longhorns defense, and Texas sophomore David Ash will have to deal with a rowdy crowd in Stillwater.

    Expect the Longhorns to improve to 4-0, but this win will not come easy for Texas at Boone Pickens Stadium.

    Prediction: Texas by 2

3. Tennessee Volunteers vs. No. 5 Georgia Bulldogs

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    Kickoff time: 3:30 p.m. ET (CBS)

    Junior quarterback Aaron Murray and the Georgia Bulldogs offense have not been held under 40 points this season, and their defense is finally getting suspended starters back. This makes head coach Mark Richt's squad a trendy pick as a BCS-title dark horse.

    Murray has already thrown for over 1,000 yards and 10 touchdowns, while the Bulldogs' deep stable of running backs have been equally impressive. 

    The Tennessee Volunteers have been vulnerable on defense this season, giving up 37 points to the Florida Gators and 26 to the Akron Zips over the weekend.

    Tyler Bray has thrown for 1,301 yards and 12 touchdowns thus far for the Volunteers, so expect Tennessee to hang around for much of this game if their quarterback is able to avoid turnovers.

    Prediction: Georgia by 10

2. No. 16 Ohio State Buckeyes vs. No. 21 Michigan State Spartans

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    Kickoff time: 3:30 p.m. ET (ABC)

    The Michigan State Spartans and Ohio State Buckeyes would hands down be the best matchup of Week 5 had both teams not left so much to be desired from their performances in non-conference play.

    The undefeated Buckeyes were gashed by the Cal Golden Bears for over 500 yards in Week 3, following that up by letting the UAB Blazers hang around until the fourth quarter with miscues on special teams.

    All the while, the Spartans failed to find the end zone against the Notre Dame Fighting Irish and were held without a touchdown until the third quarter by the Eastern Michigan Eagles, who came into the game ranked last in the MAC in total defense.

    Much of Michigan State's struggles have been due to their young and inexperienced receiving corps, while the Buckeyes' issues remain a mystery given the amount of talent they brought back on the defensive side of the ball this season.

    Whichever unit—Ohio State's defense or Michigan State's offense—can get things going first will likely be good enough to earn their team a victory on Saturday. 

    Prediction: Michigan State by 2

1. No. 25 Baylor Bears vs. No. 9 West Virginia Mountaineers

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    Kickoff time: 12:00 p.m. ET (FX)

    If you are a fan of offense, then this is going to be your favorite game of the season so far. The Baylor Bears and West Virginia Mountaineers both boast top-10 scoring offenses and are ranked inside the top five in passing yards among all Football Bowl Subdivision schools.

    Both teams enter this game undefeated and relatively untested through their opening contests.

    The Bears staved off upset attempts by the Louisiana-Monroe Warhawks and one of the nation's top Football Championship Subdivision programs, the Sam Houston State Bearkats, in addition to a blowout victory over the Southern Methodist Mustangs. 

    On the other side of this matchup, the Mountaineers and Geno Smith have piled up the points against the Marshall Thundering Herd, James Madison Dukes and Maryland Terrapins.

    Do not expect to see much defense from either of these squads, and scoreboard operators will be going crazy trying to keep up with all of the scoring in this battle between two nationally ranked squads.

    Prediction: West Virginia by 7