Week five of the college season is a good one. Lots of conference match ups and two of the best have the most intriguing pairings of the day--the Big Ten and the SEC.
Each conference has a surprise team in the mix today. The Big Ten's Michigan Wolverines are 4-0 to this point, exceeding expectations thus far. Similarly, Alabama is off to a hot start, excluding their season-opening loss to Clemson. Onto the match-ups!
Alabama Crimson Tide @ #1 Georgia Bulldogs
The "Nicktator" and his tide roll between the hedges of Athens, Georgia. These Bulldogs have been rolling so far this season and show no signs of stopping. The Tide, meanwhile, are still hammering out issues but getting the job done, though that may not be the case today.
The Tide will no doubt try to get the ground game going and keep John Parker Wilson from having to win the game himself. Short passes underneath will be the feature of the passing game. Defensively, they'll want to try to limit the ground game and get pressure on Matthew Stafford if they have any hope of pulling the upset.
As for the Dawgs, this could be Knowshawn Moreno's catapult to Heisman favorite. The Tide feature a gutted linebacking corps that Moreno could slice and dice all day long. If he gets going, there will be no stopping the Georgia offense because Stafford will be there to pick the Tide apart the few times Moreno is stopped.
Expect a huge performance out of Moreno as the Bulldogs pick up another conference win and electrify Athens.
Georgia: 37 Alabama: 13
#14 Wisconsin Badgers @ Michigan Wolverines
The renovated Wolverines look to notch up their record with a huge home victory over the always-stellar Badgers. Wisconsin, meanwhile, is looking to build it's case as the other contender (after Ohio State) in the Big Ten.
The Badgers game plan is simple--hand the ball off to P.J. Hill as much as possible. He's a dynamic back with game-changing ability and will be the focus of the Wolverine defense. If he can be held in check, Michigan could very well win, though tight end Travis Beckum is certainly someone to worry about.
On the other side of things, Michigan will try to mix things up against a solid Wisky defense that returns ten of eleven starters. Working the ball to the Carlos Brown/Brandon Miner/freshman back commitee will be important, setting Threet up to find a talented, if unproven, receiving corps.
Things will be tight, as games between these two usually are. There will be few offensive fire works and plenty of hand offs. The defenses cancel each other out, leaving Hill as the x-factor, helping the Badgers to an extremely important road victory.
Wisconsin: 20 Michigan: 14
Tennessee Volunteers @ #9 Auburn Tigers
The Tigers are coming in with all the momentum, having defeated the defending National Champs at Jordan-Hare stadium. The Vols, meanwhile, are on the opposite end of the spectrum having lost to the Gator at home.
Expect this to be a rough, tough, punch-in-the-mouth kind of game with the trenches being the key. Both teams will try to feature the run and hope to shut down the opposition's running game.
This is where Chris Todd of Auburn comes in. He should be the hero in this one, picking up key first downs and a crucial late touchdown to keep the Tigers rolling through the SEC gauntlet.
Auburn: 16 Tennessee: 13
Illinois Fighting Illini @ Penn State Nittany Lions
Penn State, or Crime U as it's coming to represent, look to show the world that Illinois' run from last year, featuring quarterback Juice Williams, was nothing but a fluke and that the Lions themselves are the contenders in the Big Ten.
The Illini come in with an explosive quarterback/running back combo, but the latter has proven injury prone and isn't a sure thing. Juice will try to keep a very good Penn State linebacking corps on their feet as his passing options will likely be limited against a tremendous PSU secondary.
For the Lions on offense, the quarterback issue will likely still be getting worked out so the ground game will have to carry the load. Defensively, keying up on Juice will dictate the game. If they can contain him, the Illini are in for a long day. If he runs loose, things won't be so Happy in the Valley.
PSU will keep a lid on the Juice, picking up a big home victory and backing up the "Illini fluke" notion for another week.
Penn State: 23 Illinois:14
An updated look at the top 15:
#1 Georgia (5-0)
#2 Oklahoma (4-0)
#3 USC (3-0)
#4 Florida (4-0)
#5 West Virginia (4-0)
#6 Clemson (5-0)
#7 Missouri (4-0)
#8 Ohio State (4-1)
#9 Auburn (5-0)
#10 Texas Tech (4-0)
#11 Texas (4-0)
#12 LSU (4-1)
#13 BYU (4-0)
#14 Wisconsin (4-0)
#15 Kansas (4-0)
Part 7 coming up..