Ranking the top Week 5 college football games you should be watching on Saturday.
Need a road map for Saturday’s college football action? SI.com ranks the Week 5 games in each time slot:
1. No. 23 West Virginia at No. 15 Oklahoma, Noon ET, FS1
Don’t look now, but West Virginia might have a defense. The Mountaineers have yielded just 23 points all season and rank fifth among Big 12 teams with 4.7 yards per play allowed. Last week they routed Maryland 45-6, and perhaps that hot start bodes well for Dana Holgorsen’s squad against Oklahoma. Last year, however, the Sooners hung 45 on the Mountaineers in Morgantown. This time the key might be West Virginia quarterback Skyler Howard, who faces the Big 12’s second-best pass defense (5.9 yards per attempt allowed) in Norman.
2. Texas at No. 4 TCU, Noon ET, ABC
TCU fans are probably still recovering from a shootout victory over Texas Tech last week. The two squads combined for 1,357 yards and 107 points as the Horned Frogs escaped, 55-52. Now a defense that’s missing the bulk of its returning experience welcomes Texas to town. Since dropping a 38-3 opener at Notre Dame, the Longhorns have averaged 38 points per game in their last three contests. But they’ve also gone 1-2 in that stretch. Does Charlie Strong’s team have the firepower to keep up with Trevone Boykin and company?
3. Iowa at No. 19 Wisconsin, Noon ET, ESPN
The Iowa Hawkeyes are … Big Ten contenders? Oft-criticized coach Kirk Ferentz has his program sitting 4-0 after nonconference wins over the likes of Pittsburgh and in-state rival Iowa State. Now it’s time for the Hawkeyes to try that luck against a Big Ten schedule. This week they face a Wisconsin squad that’s seemingly found its footing in the ground game despite not having top tailback Corey Clement available due to injury; the Badgers rushed for a whopping 326 yards (6.0 per carry) in a win over Hawaii last Saturday. Iowa’s opponents, meanwhile, have managed just 2.7 yards per carry this season.
1. No. 13 Alabama at No. 8 Georgia, 3:30 p.m. ET, CBS
Nick Saban faces an unfamiliar scenario as his Alabama team ventures to Athens on Saturday. For the first time in 72 games, the Crimson Tide will be underdogs when they visit Georgia. Can the Bulldogs prove the oddsmakers right? Running back Nick Chubb, vying for a program-record 13th straight 100-yard rushing game, must handle a mountainous Alabama defensive front. But Saban’s squad has its own talented runner in Derrick Henry. Plus, the last time the Crimson Tide were underdogs, they won the 2009 SEC title game over Florida, 32-12.
2. Texas Tech at No. 5 Baylor, 3:30 p.m. ET, ABC/ESPN2
Yes, Baylor leads the Big 12 in scoring at 64 points per game, and yes, new starting quarterback Seth Russell is the FBS leader in passing efficiency (218.86). But those numbers don’t pass the smell test when they come against SMU, Lamar and Rice. This week the Bears host a Texas Tech team that can compete in a shootout; it took TCU down to the wire last Saturday. The problem? The Horned Frogs piled 750 yards of offense on Texas Tech, and that kind of defense will have a hard time stopping Russell and the Bears.
3. No. 1 Ohio State at Indiana, 3:30 p.m. ET, ABC/ESPN2
The national leader in rushing yards isn’t Leonard Fournette or Nick Chubb. It’s Indiana’s Jordan Howard, who paces all FBS players with 675 yards on the ground this season. Howard, who’s carried the ball 111 times already, isn’t likely to surprise Joey Bosa and Ohio State’s defensive line. But the Hoosiers are 4-0 for the first time since 1990, which means folks in Bloomington are actually focused on pigskin. Now they’ll try to engineer some magic against the Buckeyes, who haven’t looked like the No. 1 team in the country since their season-opening win over Virginia Tech.
1. No. 6 Notre Dame at No. 12 Clemson, 8 p.m. ET, ABC
Looking for a ticket to this game? Good luck. “I've had a couple of people that needed tickets, and I said I couldn't get Jesus tickets, and that is the truth,” Clemson coach Dabo Swinney said this week. That’s because the matchup is a statement game for both programs. Quarterback Deshaun Watson and the Tigers looked vulnerable in a 20-17 ACC-opening win at Louisville on Sept. 18. Meanwhile, an injury-ravaged Notre Dame team is 4-0 but hasn’t faced a test quite like Clemson. Expect a wild atmosphere in Death Valley.
2. Arizona State at No. 7 UCLA, 7:30 p.m. FOX
Last week UCLA’s first go-around with a team from Arizona went pretty well. The Bruins used a 28-0 run to slam Rich Rodriguez and Arizona, 56-30. UCLA now returns home to host an Arizona State squad that hasn’t met expectations this year. The Sun Devils were exposed in a 38-17 loss to Texas A&M in Week 1 and got run off the field last week against USC, 42-14. A trip to the Rose Bowl could be daunting for Arizona State, especially with quarterback Josh Rosen and UCLA playing like legit College Football Playoff contenders.
3. No. 21 Mississippi State at No. 14 Texas A&M
Remember when Mississippi State landed last in preseason SEC West predictions? Neither do the Bulldogs, who suddenly don’t look so beatable. They lost a close meeting with LSU in Week 2 and left Auburn last Saturday with a road win. But quarterback Dak Prescott and Mississippi State didn’t score more than 19 points in either of those contests. They’ll have to do more in College Station to keep up with Texas A&M, which ranks third in the SEC at 41.5 points per game.