After four weeks we look to have an established order at the top of the college football world, with Clemson and Alabama at the top and the rest snapping at their heels. Week five doesn’t have the prominent matchup’s from last weekend, but there is plenty of intrigue in this weeks slate of games. Let’s preview the main talking points for the weekend ahead.
1) Notre Dame – Virginia Preview
Notre Dame aim to fight back this weekend against a good Virginia team in what will be another tough game for them. They can take a lot of positives from last weekend as they matched up well with third ranked Georgia.
Virginia on the other hand roll into Notre Dame stadium 4-0 and leading the ACC Coastal conference. They did struggle last weekend to beat lowly Old Dominion, but have otherwise impressed this season. Their defense is a top 15 unit, led by star Cornerback Bryce Hall. The tenth ranked Fighting Irish barely have a top 50 offense, so this game should be closer than many expect.
2) Bryce Hall Key to Virginia Hopes
Virginia are living up to the pre-season hype as an unlikely ACC Coastal champs, and much of that is because of their defense. Their unit ranks 14th in the country through four games, keeping opposing teams to 263 yards per game.
Their key component is Cornerback Bryce Hall, a senior many NFL scouts are high on. Many predict he will be a late first round pick in the 2020 NFL Draft, he’s that highly rated. For this game Hall will be focused on Notre Dame’s leading receiver Chase Claypool, in what will be a key matchup in this game.
3) USC – Washington Preview
Another top 25 matchup is this all Pac-12 affair between 21st ranked USC and 17th ranked Washington. Both sides have flashed potential this season, but have also been inconsistent. They both enter at 3-1, looking for a statement Pac-12 win.
Washington need to win to remain in contention for the Pac-12 North, having already lost to California. Transfer QB Jacob Eason has impressed, already throwing for over 1000 yards in four games. USC meanwhile have suffered from injury problems to key positions, none more so than at the Quarterback. They enter this game with third-string QB Matt Fink.
4) Matt Fink – Michael Pittman Jr Connection Key for USC
USC will travel into Washington as slight underdogs, and the key for them will be the connection between QB Matt Fink and receiver Michael Pittman Jr. Fink made his debut last week in an upset win against Utah, impressing with 350 yards and 3 TD’s.
He immediately made a connection with senior Pittman Jr, who went off for 232 yards and a touchdown. Utah has a good defense so to shred them like this was impressive. Washington has a pretty good defense, and in a key road game they need Fink to find Pittman often.
5) Penn State – Maryland Preview
Opening the college football weekend is this intriguing Friday night matchup between Penn State and Maryland. Penn State travel to Maryland 3-0 and ranked 12th in the nation, but face a tough matchup against the Terrapins.
Maryland had broken into the top 25 before being upset by Temple, and will have used their bye week to regroup and refocus for this game. This will be intriguing as Penn State goes in as favourites with a good defense, but Maryland has a top ten offense that has 21 TD’s in only three games.
6) First Real Test for Penn State
Penn State has opened the year strongly, however they have yet to be seriously tested. They walked over Idaho and Buffalo, and struggled against a plucky Pitt team. We will learn a lot about this Penn State team here.
Their defense, led by Linebacker Micah Parsons have limited opponents to 30 combined points from three games, but face a tough test stopping this Maryland offense. If they can do this they have a good chance of winning . It’s hard to gauge where their offense is with the opponents they’ve played, so this will be another interesting matchup.
7) Other Games to Watch Out for
Aside from the games mentioned above, there is plenty of games for college football fans to feast on this weekend. The College Gameday crew head to Lincoln, Nebraska for an exciting matchup between Ohio State and Nebraska. The Cornhuskers have put up 152 points in four games, but face fifth ranked Ohio State and their incredible defense, led by potential number one NFL Draft pick Chase Young.
Seventh ranked Auburn face Mississippi State, hoping to avoid slipping up after a massive win last weekend against Texas A&M. If they carry over their early season form they will be contending for the SEC Championship game and a shot at the College Football Play-Off.
8) ‘Fair Pay to Play’ Act Causing Trouble
The proposed ‘Fair Pay to Play’ Act has created plenty of headlines since it was announced several weeks ago. The California bill would allow athletes to profit from the use of their name,likeness and image without facing NCAA penalty.
The bill has been supported by the likes of LeBron James and Bernie Sanders, but the NCAA and California universities are opposed to it. The NCAA have already threatened that 20 California schools would be ineligible for it’s competition if this comes to fruition. This is a seismic moment for players and is the strongest challenge to NCAA rules to date.
9) Tua Tagovailoa Almost Became A USC Trojan
Star Alabama Quarterback Tua Tagovailoa made headlines this week by announcing on the Dan Patrick radio show that he almost transferred to USC in 2017. Tagovailoa was a true freshman at the time behind Jalen Hurts, before becoming the hero by replacing Hurts and winning the National Championship for Alabama.
Tagovailoa said he wanted to transfer so that his parents could see him play and USC was his childhood team. Tua will likely be the first Quarterback taken in the 2020 NFL Draft, although many USC fans will now wonder what if, especially with their spate of QB injuries currently.
10) D’Eriq King to Stay at Houston After All
The most dramatic story of this week was the news on Monday that Houston QB D’Eriq King was redshirting this year and transferring, only for him to come out hours later and deny this story from his dad. King and star receiver Keith Corbin will redshirt, but aim to return to Houston next year.
This is a story that divides opinion, with some questioning if both won’t still transfer at the end of the year. Houston will struggle this year without them, but if they do return next year they will be looking to take the step up to the NFL.
That wraps up this preview of the week five college football slate, if you have any questions about these talking points feel free to comment below or find me on Twitter @JWjournalism. Finally, a massive thank you to everyone who read this article I really appreciate it!