While the first month of the season offered just a handful of ranked matchups each weekend, the first Saturday in October features a whopping five games between ranked opponents.
That includes a top-10 battle in between No. 4 Clemson and No. 10 N.C. State, as well as No. 2 Alabama, No. 7 Kentucky and No. 9 Oklahoma State going on the road to face ranked conference foes.
There are also a few ranked teams with road trips against unranked opponents this weekend, including No. 1 Georgia, No. 4 Michigan, No. 15 Washington (Friday), No. 17 Texas A&M and No. 18 Oklahoma.
With that said, here’s what to watch for in Week 5 of the 2022 college football season:
No. 7 Kentucky at No. 14 Ole Miss, 12 p.m. on ESPN
Already off to a 4-0 start and with its highest ranking since 1977, when it finished the season at No. 6, Kentucky will get a boost with the return of running back Chris Rodriguez, who was suspended for the first four weeks with an off-field issue.
Ole Miss’ offense has not had a problem running the ball this fall, averaging an SEC-leading 280.8 yards per game. But the Rebels’ defense (13 sacks and four interceptions) will be key against the Wildcats and quarterback Will Levis, who has been sacked 16 times and thrown four picks.
No. 2 Alabama at No. 20 Arkansas, 3:30 p.m. on CBS
Alabama opens a critical stretch of three straight games against ranked opponents with a road trip to Arkansas, which is coming off a tough loss to Texas A&M. Had the Razorbacks not hit the upright on the game-winning field goal attempt in the final minutes, this would have been a top-10 matchup.
The result of that game does not change the fact that Arkansas is allowing 302.5 passing yards per game, though. That bodes well for Crimson Tide quarterback and reigning Heisman Trophy winner Bryce Young, who should put up big numbers against the Razorbacks’ secondary.
No. 9 Oklahoma State at No. 16 Baylor, 3:30 p.m. on FOX
This is a rematch of last year’s Big XII Championship, a game in which Oklahoma State quarterback Spencer Sanders threw four interceptions and Baylor come up with a goal line stand to keep the Cowboys out of contention for the final College Football Playoff spot.
The Bears have been tested twice this season to mixed results, including a double-overtime loss at BYU and winning as an underdog at Iowa State. They’ll have the home crowd on their side this week, though, and are hoping that will propel them to their 10th straight victory at McLane Stadium.
No. 22 Wake Forest at No. 23 Florida State, 3:30 p.m. on ABC
Wake Forest is coming off a double-overtime loss to Clemson, and the result of Saturday’s trip to Florida State could very well hinge upon the ability to bounce back from that game. Quarterback Sam Hartman was stellar in defeat, though, tossing a school-record six touchdown passes.
The Seminoles, meanwhile, are ranked for the first time since 2018 with wins over LSU and at Louisville under their belt. They’ve also won five straight at home against the Demon Deacons, who could struggle to run the ball on the road against a defense allowing less than five yards per play.
No. 10 N.C. State at No. 4 Clemson, 7:30 p.m. on ABC
Elsewhere in the ACC's Atlantic Division, N.C. State snapped an eight-game losing streak to Clemson with a 27-21 double-overtime victory in Raleigh last season, but that game didn’t have the same stakes as this weekend’s matchup, as both teams are ranked in the top 10.
The Tigers have won 36 straight games at home, but things could get interesting if Hurricane Ian bring heavy rains and wind. Both programs have history of playing in such weather, as Clemson and N.C. State beat Notre Dame in consecutive years in the remnants of Joaquin (2015) and Matthew (2016).
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