Thursday September 25th, 2014

On Sirius XM's College Nation on Thursday morning, Taylor Zarzour and former Alabama quarterback Greg McElroy had Texas Tech coach Kliff Kingsbury on for an interview. A majority of the time was spent discussing the then-upcoming game against Oklahoma State, but near the end the questions turned to more obscure topics, including golfer Rickie Fowler's hair and Cam Newton's postgame outfit. One thing especially stuck out when they asked Kingsbury about preseason and early season rankings.

The common response we're hearing these days is that there should be no rankings until about Week 6 or so when teams have had a chance to play games and get going. I agree with this. Kingsbury, however, made a good point: It's for the fans, and even he still gets excited seeing which "upsets" occur early in the season to teams that were overrated in the preseason. 

We're in Week 5 now and we maybe have a better idea of who is good and who isn't, but there's still a lot of football left to be played. Some teams have completed their nonconference schedule and are looking all-in at their conference slate. Even if a team is 1-2 or 2-2, it could still have a shot to turn things around and make noise in league play. Or a team could completely fizzle out and leave fans hollering.

This is the Real World: College Football when teams stop being polite and start getting real. And here's what to watch for on yet another Perfect Saturday.

• STAFF: Week 5 picks: Who'll win Mizzou-S. Carolina, Duke-Miami, more?

The early slate

College Football
Florida State back at No. 1 in college football Power Rankings after Week 4

Noon: Tennessee at No. 12 Georgia (ESPN)

Heaven help Butch Jones. He's building a program brick by brick, but each brick must be hurled to the ground from the International Space Station. The Baby Vols have tough test after tough test. These games should help down the road, but that won't make it any easier when they're taking ice baths after getting beat up by Georgia's powerful running game. 

Noon: Wyoming at No. 9 Michigan State (ESPN2)

Craig Bohl! Craig Bohl! Craig Bohl!

Second screen specials

These are games that are tailor-made for your tablet, extra laptop, giant phone or any other device you use to stream things. Go crazy.

1:30 p.m.: Maryland at Indiana (Big Ten Network)

There will be a lot of speed on display in this one as the Terrapins trot out receivers like Stefon Diggs and Indiana lets Tevin Coleman (he of the 569 rushing yards and 8.6 yards per carry) run wild.

1:30 p.m.: Akron at Pittsburgh (WatchESPN)

It's either this or Iowa at Purdue or Vanderbilt at Kentucky or something. 

Dog day afternoon

3:30 p.m.: No. 1 Florida State at NC State (ABC/ESPN2)

The Wolfpack have already bested their win total from last season and sport a surprisingly good quarterback in Florida transfer Jacoby Brissett (69.7 percent completion rate, 1,005 yards, 10 TDs, 1 INT). It wasn't that long ago that North Carolina State spoiled Florida State's party in 2012, also in Raleigh. The hill is a steeper climb for the Wolfpack this time around, as Dave Doeren's club is probably a little too young for its own good. The ACC is the ACC, though, which means we can't count anything out.

• RICKMAN: QB Brissett believes NC State can shock Florida State

3:30 p.m.: Arkansas at No. 6 Texas A&M (CBS)

I mentioned on 120 Sports this week that this game is like walking into a French restaurant to eat a perfectly prepared, beautiful plate of food and then immediately going into the place next door to eat a giant hamburger. Now I'm hungry. And I'm going to probably want snacks as I watch the Aggies air it out and the Razorbacks try to run downhill all afternoon.

4:15 p.m.: No. 9 Stanford at Washington (Fox)

A sneaky good matchup here, as Stanford tries to move past the early-season loss to USC by taking down Chris Petersen and the Huskies. These two teams haven't really liked each other all that much recently, and I doubt a coaching change in Washington alters that. The Cardinal need to be better in the red zone against a dangerous Huskies team that probably knows it is a little lucky to be 4-0 right now.

Second screen specials

6:15 p.m.: Cincinnati at No. 22 Ohio State (Big Ten Network)

I'll take a moment to acknowledge the audacity of the Bearcats to wear a patch with the state of Ohio and "Cincinnati" written over it. I like that. Even if it makes you look bad later or ends up being bulletin board material, it's good to be confident, and you know what they say -- patches speak louder than words. Cincinnati can move the ball, and Gunner Kiel looks like the real deal after taking a couple years to age in a cave like a Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese. The Buckeyes are going to need their defense to step up and J.T. Barrett to be sharp to hold off the upset bid. 

Night moves

7 p.m.: Missouri at No. 13 South Carolina (ESPN)

This game would have felt a lot bigger had the Tigers not stumbled against Indiana last weekend, but as far as the SEC East goes, it's still relatively important. If Mizzou can find a way to be better offensively and use that talented defensive line to make things difficult for Dylan Thompson, the Tigers have a shot. Walking away with a win in Columbia would make the East a big old interconnected mess, and now I'm suddenly sad again that Robert Altman is dead.

• ELLIS: Who has the edge in Missouri-South Carolina?

8 p.m. No. 7 Baylor at Iowa State (Fox)

The Cyclones are always tough in Ames. They won at Iowa in their last game and held their own against Kansas State a week earlier. If Iowa State can show any signs of slowing down the high-octane Bears, there might be enough intrigue to hold our attention late into the evening.

Second screen special

College Football
How can Michigan football return to its former glory?; more Walkthrough

7 p.m.: North Carolina at Clemson (ESPNU) / 7:30 p.m.: Duke at Miami  (ESPN2)

A pair of tantalizing ACC games are right in front of us, and it's a coinflip which one will end up being more fun. Exercise whatever fingers you use to tap on your tablet and be ready to flip to the more competitive contest.

• ROUNDTABLE: Breaking down early surprise teams: Is Duke legit?

7:30 p.m.: Memphis at No. 10 Ole Miss (WatchESPN)

It was just a couple of weeks ago that the Tigers kept pace with UCLA well into the fourth quarter. A spirited effort will likely still leave Memphis just short of the Rebels but could induce a couple of headscratching moments from Ole Miss quarterback (and internet darling) Bo Wallace

Late night theater

10:30 p.m.: Oregon State at No. 18 USC (ESPN)

This is a sneaky-good Pac-12 game that I wish could be teleported into that noon slate that is a bit of a ghost town. The Beavers have a real shot at beating the Trojans if they can find a way to put points on the board. Sean Mannion has a reputation for being pretty good at that.

Second screen special

9 p.m.: Illinois at No. 21 Nebraska (Big Ten Network)

Why not? Football is football like pizza is pizza.

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