Top BCS Impact Games of Week 5 in College Football
After a dreadful first four weeks of the college football season in which only seven games matched up ranked teams, including just one game last week, things finally are looking up for the final weekend of September.
All of the conferences are starting their schedules in earnest, and with that, the quality of the matchups improves significantly.
There are four games featuring ranked opponents this week, with six involving teams ranked in the top 30 of the simulated BCS standings. A trio of games—all from the Pac-12—just missed being listed as our Top BCS Impact Games of the Week:
- No. 24 Arizona at No. 16 Washington (Saturday, 7 p.m. ET, FOX) should give us a much better idea about which of those two unbeaten teams is more legit
- No. 5 Stanford vs. Washington State (10 p.m. ET, ESPN) at Seattle will tell us just how much progress Mike Leach has made since taking over in the Palouse last season
- USC at Arizona State (10:30 p.m. ET, ESPN2) serves as a possible elimination game in the Pac-12 South race.
But these are merely Week 5 undercards. For the main events, check out this week's top five games.
Rankings according to simulated BCS standings at BCSGuru.com.
No. 14 South Carolina at Central Florida
When: Saturday, noon ET, ABC
Few thought this would be a big game coming into the season, but Central Florida arrives with a surprising 3-0 record after holding on to defeat Penn State in Happy Valley two weeks ago.
South Carolina head coach Steve Spurrier probably isn't too pleased that this has become a significant challenge on a Gamecocks' schedule that already included nonconference games against North Carolina and No. 3 Clemson. South Carolina still has faint hopes of playing for the BCS title, although it cannot afford another loss after losing to Georgia earlier in the season.
For the Knights, this could be their coming-out party. A victory will no doubt establish the program's credentials as Central Florida pushes to win the American Athletic title in its first year in the conference.
Wisconsin at No. 7 Ohio State
When: Saturday 8 p.m. ET, ABC
If it weren't for the gross incompetence of Pac-12 officials, this would've been a game between two unbeatens. Wisconsin was certainly robbed at Arizona State, but the Badgers can be faulted for their own execution in losing yet another close game.
Last year, the Badgers lost six games, all by seven points or less, including a 21-14 loss to Ohio State at Camp Randall Stadium. They won the Big Ten Leaders Division despite four conference losses because both Penn State and Ohio State were ineligible for postseason play. That's not the case anymore this year, at least not with the Buckeyes.
Ohio State has its sights set on something more than just winning the Big Ten. After a 12-0 season while on probation, the Buckeyes will have a shot to play in not just the Rose Bowl, but the BCS National Championship Game as well. This will represent their first real test.
No. 21 Ole Miss at No. 1 Alabama
When: Saturday 6:30 p.m. ET, ESPN
After barely surviving Johnny Manziel and Texas A&M and then a tougher-than-expected win over Colorado State, Alabama looks to get back on track in its quest for a BCS three-peat. Ole Miss has been the surprise of the SEC so far, having prevailed in a hard-fought opener over Vanderbilt and walloping Texas with a scoring blitz in the second half.
The Crimson Tide admittedly do not have a difficult schedule. After this game, their only remaining regular-season matchup against another Top 25 foe is LSU on Nov. 9. Owning overwhelming support in the polls, Alabama has the advantage of not having to worry about style points. The Tide just need to win.
No. 12 Oklahoma at No. 22 Notre Dame
When: Saturday 3:30 p.m. ET, NBC
Last year, Notre Dame took advantage of a key Oklahoma turnover to turn a nailbiter into a rout that sent the Fighting Irish on their way to the BCS title game. The Sooners have payback very much on their minds.
Neither team will have its starting quarterback from a year ago—Landry Jones and Everett Golson combined to throw for over 500 yards in last year's shootout—but Notre Dame will most acutely miss linebacker Manti Te'o, whose leadership and diving interception proved to be the difference in the game in Norman, Okla.
OU is off to a 3-0 start against less-than-stellar competition. This will be the Sooners' chance to prove that they are bona fide contenders before they begin their Big 12 schedule in earnest.
No. 4 LSU at No. 8 Georgia
When: Saturday 3:30 p.m. ET, CBS
As in 2011, LSU might have to get through a brutal schedule to stay undefeated. Unlike Alabama, which is blessed by the whim of SEC schedule-makers, the Tigers possibly have to defeat eight ranked teams to remain unbeaten for the regular season.
After dismissing TCU and Auburn, LSU needs to continue its winning ways to keep pace with the Crimson Tide in the SEC West. After having lost to Clemson in the season opener, another loss for the Bulldogs will eliminate them from national championship contention.
There is a chance that these two teams may meet again in Atlanta for the SEC championship, but those odds will not be in the favor of the loser on Saturday.