25 Things We Learned in Week 5 of College Football

Bryan Manning@bdmanning4Featured ColumnistSeptember 30, 2013

25 Things We Learned in Week 5 of College Football

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    Week 5 of the college football season is in the books, and the nation's top-five teams continue to cruise. 

    There were four games that pitted Top 25 teams against one another. In three of those matchups, the higher-ranked team won.

    Several players, such as reigning Heisman Trophy winner Johnny Manziel, continue to have outstanding seasons. What other quarterbacks are making their case for a run at the Heisman?

    Here are 25 things we learned from Week 5 of the college football season. 

Ole Miss Not Quite Ready for Prime Time

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    Losing to the nation's top-ranked team isn't something to hang your head about. When you're considered a program on the rise, like Ole Miss considers themselves to be, being shutout by a conference foe, regardless of ranking, is unacceptable. 

    No one, besides Ole Miss quarterback Bo Wallace, actually thought the Rebels would go into Tuscaloosa and defeat the two-time defending champs. However, most believed it would be a much more competitive game.

    Wallace didn't look ready to face 'Bama. After proclaiming earlier in the week the Rebels "can put points on anybody," not scoring speaks volumes. 


    Bo Wallace = Johnny Manziel without speed, creativity & arm strength. But he seems like a nice kid. No, really.

    — Rick Karle (@RickKarle) September 29, 2013


FSU Struggles in First "Test"

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    After dismantling Pitt, Nevada and Bethune-Cookman in their first three games of the season, Florida State traveled to Chestnut Hill to face Boston College on Saturday.

    Surprisingly, the Eagles led the Seminoles 17-3 at one time in the second quarter. As expected, though, FSU came back and won the game, 48-34, but it was hardly easy.

    The Seminoles, led by super-talented freshman Jameis Winston at quarterback, are terrific on offense. However, head coach Jimbo Fisher has to be concerned about his defense. FSU allowed 407 total yards and 34 points to a team that entered the game 114th nationally in total offense.

    The 'Noles have several talented defenders, but this team will only go as far as Winston takes them in 2013. 

Alabama Proves Why They Are No. 1

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    There were a lot of questions about Alabama's defense after a Week 3 win over Texas A&M. The Crimson Tide allowed over 600 yards and 42 points to the Johnny Football-led Aggies.

    Fast forward to two weeks later and Tide haven't allowed a touchdown in eight quarters. If last week's win over Colorado State wasn't impressive, their domination of No. 21 Ole Miss certainly was. 

    'Bama allowed just 205 total yards to the Rebels and were all over quarterback Bo Wallace the entire game. Ole Miss entered the game averaging 38 points per game and 490 yards of total offense.

    It would be wise not to doubt the Crimson Tide from here on out. 

Notre Dame Continues to Struggle

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    The 2013 season isn't shaping up for Notre Dame quite the way last year did. The Irish fell to Oklahoma on Saturday 35-21 in another putrid showing by the offense.

    The loss dropped the Irish to 3-2 on the season and after last week's controversial win over Michigan State, it's fair to question how good Notre Dame actually is. 

    Quarterback Tommy Rees continued his inept play completing just 9-of-24 passes for 104 and three interceptions. He averaged a paltry 4.3 yards per attempt. For the year, Rees is completing only 53 percent of his passes. 

    A positive for the Fighting Irish on Saturday was the play of junior running back George Atkinson III. Atkinson ran for 148 yards and a touchdown on 14 carries. Think about that for a moment, Atkinson averaged over 10 yards per rush, while Rees could only manage four yards per attempt through the air. 


Oklahoma Gets First Signature Win

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    The Oklahoma Sooners improved to 4-0 with an impressive 35-21 win at Notre Dame on Saturday.

    Quarterback Blake Bell led the way with 232 yards passing and the Sooners ran for 212 yards against a solid Notre Dame defense. OU's defense continued to be stellar holding the Irish to 324 total yards and forcing three turnovers. 

    Previously, the Sooners had wins over Louisiana-Monroe, West Virginia and Tulsa. The Sooners actually struggled at home against the Mountaineers, so there were a lot of questions about how good they actually are.

    While this isn't exactly a win over an offensive juggernaut like Baylor, it is a tremendous win for the Sooners as they look towards TCU next week.

LSU's Defense Will Continue to Struggle

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    LSU lost eight defensive players to the NFL after the 2012. Somehow, though, everyone expected the Tigers to be fine on that side of the ball.

    Defensive coordinator John Chavis does an excellent job preparing his teams and putting players in the best position to succeed. And no one, with the exception of possibly Alabama, recruits better on that side of the ball.

    But the Tigers aren't their typical selves at this point in 2013.

    After yesterday's loss to Georgia, the Tigers fell to 39th in total defense. Fortunately for LSU, the offense is much better this season thanks to a rejuvenated Zach Mettenberger. 

    Don't expect the Tigers to stay down on defense too long. As the younger players gain more playing experience, this unit will continue to improve. 

UVa Is Horrible

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    Entering the season, no one actually believed the University of Virginia would be good on offense. Early season results proved that to be a fact.

    The Cavaliers scored a total of 29 points against their previous two FBS opponents. On Saturday, UVa's offense was inept again in a 14-3 loss against Pittsburgh.

    Virginia had just 188 total yards of offense and were 3-of-18 on third down. You aren't going to beat anyone, no matter the opponent, with such poor third-down results. 

    To put things in perspective, UVa scored just three points against a Pitt defense that Duke scored 55 against last week. 

    It's truly a shame for Virginia fans as the Cavaliers have a very good defense. 

Zach Mettenberger Can Carry LSU's Offense

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    LSU's defense carried them for years. With significant personnel losses to the NFL in 2013, it is up to the offense to carry the Tigers for once.

    Senior quarterback Zach Mettenberger has certainly risen to the challenge.

    Entering this season, Mettenberger struggled with accuracy, turnovers and sacks. So far in 2013, he has thrown for 13 touchdowns vs. only one interception.

    Mettenberger is completing 64 percent of his passes and averaging an outstanding 10.9 yards per attempt.

    In his return to Georgia on Saturday, Mettenberger deserved better than the final result. He completed 23-of-37 passes for 372 yards and four touchdowns. His numbers were actually a bit better than his former roommate, Aaron Murray. 

Virginia Tech's Defense Is Elite

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    Under longtime defensive coordinator Bud Foster, Virginia Tech is outstanding on defense. That reputation took a bit of a hit last year with struggles against teams like Cincinnati, Pittsburgh and North Carolina.

    In 2013, the Hokies are back on defense.

    Through five games, Virginia Tech ranks No. 4 in total defense. They have forced 13 turnovers and are tied with Tennessee with 11 interceptions to lead the nation. 

    Their performance against Alabama in the season opener got them noticed again on a national level. The way they've played since, against East Carolina, Marshall and Georgia Tech has reaffirmed the notion that the Hokies have one of the best defenses in the nation. 

    They stop the running game, pressure the quarterback and force turnovers. They may be the most complete defense in the country. 

Aaron Murray Is a Serious Heisman Contender

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    The Georgia Bulldogs survived a brutal opening month of the 2013 season. The Bulldogs faced three top-15 teams in the first four weeks and come out with a 3-1 record, including 2-0 in the vaunted SEC.

    A big reason for that success is quarterback Aaron Murray.

    Murray doesn't have a catchy nickname and has seemingly been at Georgia for over a decade. But on the field, he is one of the more productive quarterbacks in all of college football.

    Against LSU on Saturday, Murray was 20-of-34 with 298 yards and four touchdowns. Through four games, Murray has passed for 1,338 yards and 11 touchdowns. He is completing 68 percent of his passes at a clip of 11.5 yards per attempt.

    With four touchdown passes on Saturday, Murray is now eight touchdowns shy of tying Danny Wuerffel as the SEC's all-time leader in touchdown passes. 

    No one had a more difficult schedule in September than the Bulldogs. Georgia's only loss came out of the conference to the current No. 3 team in the country, Clemson. 

    The biggest remaining hurdle on the Bulldogs' schedule is a date with Florida on November 2. It's about time we start mentioning Murray as a legitimate Heisman contender. 


Washington Is a Serious Pac-12 Contender

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    Steve Sarkisian has slowly built Washington back into a contender. 2013 could be the year of the Huskies.

    Senior quarterback Keith Price is one of the more efficient quarterbacks in the country and Washington has some of the best skill players in all of college football.

    On Saturday, in rain-soaked Seattle, it was junior running back Bishop Sankey that carried the Huskies. Sankey ran 40 times for 161 yards and a touchdown.

    Price wasn't shabby, either, completing 14-of-25 passes for 165 yards and two touchdowns. 

    Washington has a solid defense, too, currently they are No. 13 in the country in total defense. Statistically they are the top-ranked defense in the Pac-12.

    The next two weeks will tell the story of Washington's season. They head to Stanford next week and return home the following week to host Oregon. If they win at least one of those games, they can win the Pac-12. 

Chris Borland: All-American

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    The Badgers couldn't pull off the upset in Columbus, but don't blame senior linebacker Chris Borland. 

    Borland, the Badgers' team leader and tackling machine, had 16 more tackles against the Buckeyes on Saturday. His signature play was in the third quarter with Wisconsin trailing 24-14, Borland stood up Ohio State running back Carlos Hyde at the goal line. It was an impressive play that displayed all of Borland's outstanding traits.

    Borland won't put up big sack numbers, but what he does is make sure his teammates are always lined up correctly and is around the ball on every play. He is a terrific player and if he went down, the Badgers' defense would struggle mightily.

    It is about time more people talked about him on a national level. 

Kevin Hogan Is the Most Underrated Quarterback in America

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    The Pac-12 has suddenly become a hotbed for big, talented quarterbacks. Oregon's Marcus Mariota and UCLA's Brett Hundley get most of the press, and for good reason. Mariota is the perfect quarterback for the Ducks' fast-paced attack. And Hundley has made UCLA relevant again.

    But Stanford has a pretty good quarterback, too. Sophomore Kevin Hogan is quietly putting together a very good season. Hogan, who was terrific in 2012 once he was named starter, has completed 63 percent of his passes with 10 touchdowns and only three interceptions.

    Hogan is an efficient quarterback with a big arm. He is surprisingly a good athlete as well. He fits exactly what David Shaw wants in a quarterback. The Cardinal want to win the game in the trenches with a strong running game and get the ball downfield on play-action passes.  

    Behind Hogan, the Cardinal can win a national championship. Will it happen in 2013?


SEC Struggling on Defense

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    Heading into Week 5, the SEC had only two teams ranked among the Top 20 nationally in total defense. One of those teams, Arkansas, allowed 523 total yards and 45 points on Saturday.

    Alabama and Florida can play defense. The Gators have arguably the top defense in the country and 'Bama is right there with them.

    But what happened to rest of the league, specifically LSU and South Carolina? We discussed how LSU lost several talented starters to the NFL.

    The Gamecocks got a lot of hype, mainly due to Jadeveon Clowney, but have struggled this season. 

    The SEC is still college football's best league, however, it is a myth that every team in the conference plays outstanding defense.  

Braxton Miller Is, and Should Be, Ohio State's Quarterback

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    Kenny Guiton was an excellent story the past two weeks in college football. The senior backup quarterback was terrific filling in for Braxton Miller. Guiton broke an Ohio State record with six touchdown passes last week vs. Florida A&M.

    That was Florida A&M.

    On Saturday, the Buckeyes hosted No. 23 Wisconsin, one of the better defensive teams in the country, and Miller returned, throwing four touchdown passes in OSU's win over the Badgers. 

    Miller is the prototypical quarterback for Urban Meyer's spread offense. He is a dual-threat QB capable of putting up big numbers every week, regardless of the opposition.

    The Buckeyes are a legitimate national-title contender with Miller at quarterback. With Guiton they are good. That's a big difference. 


Clemson Is a Legit National Title-Contender

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    Yes, it was just Wake Forest, but the Tigers did what they were supposed to do with a 56-7 victory over the Demon Deacons. 

    The Tigers survived their first test of the season in Week 1, with a win over Georgia. Clemson was surprised in Week 4 when N.C. State gave them a battle before the Tigers pulled away in the second half. However, their next big test doesn't come until October 19, when they host Florida State.

    If the Tigers can win that game, they stand a very good chance of going undefeated. After FSU, the regular-season finale against South Carolina will be the toughest test. It is hard to imagine South Carolina stopping Tajh Boyd and company. 

    The biggest question concerning the Tigers is if their defense could hold up against some of the better teams in the country. We'll know for sure in three weeks when FSU comes to town. 

Florida Cruises Despite a Difficult Week

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    No team had a worse week than Gators last week. Starting quarterback Jeff Driskel was lost for the season and star defensive tackle Dominique Easley tore his ACL in practice on Tuesday in a non-contact drill.

    How did the Gators respond?

    Florida defeated Kentucky rather easily on Saturday behind quarterback Tyler Murphy making his first career start. Believe it or not, the Gators may end up being better with Murphy behind center. Driskel just never seemed to improve in the passing game.

    Replacing Easley, though, may be tough. Florida has outstanding talent at all levels on the defense, but Easley was the unit's top player. The Gators have several tough games coming up in the next several weeks. It will be interesting to see how they replace Easley long-term. 


WVU Has a Pulse

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    When Geno Smith, Tavon Austin and Stedman Bailey all departed to the NFL, most thought West Virginia would struggle a bit on offense in 2013.

    However, no one saw what happened in Week 4 coming. The Mountaineers lost to Maryland 37-0 and looked like one of the worst teams in the FBS in all phases. 

    WVU has struggled offensively all season. They almost lost the season opener at home to William & Mary. They battled hard in Week 2 at Oklahoma, but ultimately could only muster seven points.

    On Saturday, behind new starting quarterback Clint Trickett, the Mountaineers looked much better. Trickett passed for 309 yards as WVU upset No. 11 Oklahoma State in Morgantown.

    It's tough to imagine the Mountaineers can sustain this type of play each week. They simply aren't that talented on offense this year to do so. But for WVU fans, it's nice to see the team does indeed have a pulse. 

Oklahoma State Is Overrated

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    Are the Cowboys terrible? No, but they aren't the 11th-best team in the country, either.

    On Saturday, they traveled to West Virginia to take on a team that lost to Maryland 37-0 the week before. How did that turn out for the Cowboys?

    They were defeated 30-21.

    It wasn't as if the Mountaineers lined up and whipped the Cowboys. Mistakes, repeated mistakes, kept hurting Oklahoma State. They had 10 penalties for 96 yards, three turnovers and were 6-of-20 on third down. You won't win very many conference road games playing that way.


The U Is Back

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    With another impressive win in Week 5, it's safe to say Miami is back.

    No, this team isn't going to remind of you of the teams in the '80s or early '00s, but coach Al Golden has this program headed in the right direction. 

    The Hurricanes are No. 10 in total defense and are led by senior quarterback Stephen Morris and tailback Duke Johnson on offense. Johnson has 388 yards rushing and four touchdowns through four games. He is one of the most explosive players in the country.

    The 'Canes have three very winnable ACC games in October and could be 7-0 heading into a November 2 matchup with in-state rival Florida State. Miami will host Virginia Tech the following week. The game with the Hokies should decide the ACC's Coastal Division.


East Carolina Is a Surprisingly Solid Team

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    East Carolina surprised many on Saturday with a 55-31 win over North Carolina in Chapel Hill. It was the Pirates' first win over the Tar Heels in almost four decades. 

    ECU is led by quarterback Shane Carden and a group of talented receivers. They play solid defense and almost beat Virginia Tech in Week 3. In the win over UNC, the Pirates finished with 603 total yards. 

    The win moved ECU to 3-1 on the season. The three biggest games on ECU's schedule moving forward is Tulsa, Marshall and N.C. State. It is very possible they could win 10 games this season.

Logan Thomas Was Terrific

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    On Thursday in Atlanta, it sure looked like the 2011 version of Logan Thomas. He completed 19-of-25 passes for 221 yards and a touchdown. He also rushed for 58 yards and a score. Most importantly, Thomas did not turn the ball over.

    After an ugly win over Marshall in Week 4, many expected the Hokies' passing game to continue to struggle. Thomas would have none of it. Of his six incompletions, three were drops and one was a throwaway to avoid a sack.

    He was that good.

    From what we've seen out of Thomas over the past year, it is tough to expect him to repeat this performance. He is, however, capable of it. 

    If Thomas can continue to improve and play like he did Thursday, the Hokies will be a serious ACC contender. They can't line up and score with Clemson or FSU, but neither of those teams can field the defense the Hokies have either. 

    The Hokies will continue to live or die with Thomas each week.  

So Much for USC's Defense

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    USC entered Week 4 as one of the better defensive teams in the country. They were in the top 5 of most major statistical categories. They rushed the passer, forced turnovers and stopped the run.

    On Saturday, that ended when the Trojans allowed 612 total yards and 62 points to Arizona State. The performance finally cost Lane Kiffin his job.

    It's a bit ironic that the Trojans were better on defense this season since Kiffin decided to part ways with his father as defensive coordinator. Against the Sun Devils, USC's defense resembled Monte Kiffin's 2012 version and Lane Kiffin was let go. 

    How will the Trojans respond to interim coach Ed Orgeron?

    This will be one of the more fascinating scenarios in college football to watch the rest of the season. 

Dylan Thompson Has a Big Opportunity

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    Connor Shaw's injury on Saturday presents a big opportunity for junior quarterback Dylan Thompson.

    Shaw's shoulder injury is expected to keep him out 2-3 weeks, so Thompson, a player may fans have clamored for all season, will get two, or maybe three, SEC games to show Steve Spurrier he should be the quarterback for the rest of the season.

    In fairness to Shaw, he has played well. He is completing 65 percent of his passes and has thrown six touchdowns and no interceptions. But many believe USC's offense would actually be more dynamic with Thompson behind center. Thompson is considered the better pure passer of the two.

    If there is one thing we know about Spurrier, he doesn't mind changing quarterbacks. If Thompson plays well over the next two or three weeks, Spurrier won't hesitate to leave him in there at quarterback.

Sean Mannion Terrific Again

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    Sean Mannion may be the least-heralded, big-time quarterback in the country right now. On Saturday, the Oregon State signal-caller passed for 414 yards and six touchdowns. 

    In five games this season, Mannion has thrown for 2,018 yards, 21 touchdowns and completed 67 percent of his passes with only two interceptions. Yet no talks about him.

    The Beavers have a good team, but no one believes they will challenge Oregon, Stanford or Washington for Pac-12 supremacy. However, Mannion and receiver Brandin Cooks have connected 52 times for 807 yards and nine touchdowns already and they can score with anyone.

    Corvallis is a tough place to play, both Stanford and Washington have to play there this season. Don't count out the Beavers with Mannion under center.