College Football Playoff: Contenders, Pretenders Week 5
The BCS is officially in the rearview mirror and the new College Football Playoff is just down the road. Statements were made by several teams this past weekend, but which teams are for real? Here’s the contenders and pretenders after the fifth week of games.
Texas A&M Aggies
Week 5 result: Defeated Arkansas, 35-28 (OT)
It was the Aggies’ first big on-field test in nearly a month and they barely passed, mounting a 14-point comeback in the final minutes of the fourth quarter before eventually beating Arkansas in overtime. Although the Aggies’ offense was stifled for much of the game, give credit to Kenny Hill and a stingy second-half performance from the Aggies’ defense for not giving up and bringing Texas A&M back into the game. Everyone finally got to see how Hill and the rest of the team performed under the pressure of having to come back and its safe to say they handled it well. It’s these kinds of wins that separate the good teams from the great teams.
Michigan State Spartans
Week 5 result: Defeated Wyoming, 56-14
Saturday’s game certainly wasn’t the hardest on Michigan State’s schedule, but the Spartans looked impressive, throttling Wyoming 56-14. The defense has always been the best part about the Spartans, but it was their offense that took center stage this past weekend, thanks to dominating performances by quarterback Connor Cook and running back Jeremy Langford. The Spartans have a favorable schedule with their two toughest opponents – Nebraska and Ohio State – both at home. If the offense can keep playing at a high level and there’s no hiccups in the defense, there’s no reason to believe the Spartans can’t move up into playoff consideration, especially as the SEC teams above them start knocking each other off.
Week 5 result: Defeated New Mexico State, 63-7
Yes, it was only against New Mexico State, but I’m buying into the Brandon Harris hype. He’s a true freshman, but it’s obvious that the LSU offense has an entirely new level of energy and swagger when he’s in the game. And let’s face it, the defense has had some issues this season, but it’s the quarterback that has been the Tigers’ largest issue so far this season. If Harris continues to sling the ball well around the field, the combination of he and a powerful LSU run game would make this a tough team to stop. LSU has a big test in the upcoming week with a night game at Jordan-Hare. We’ll see if Harris is the real deal then, but he definitely looks the part.
Week 5 result: Defeated Tennessee, 35-32
Despite a victory in a classic SEC East rivalry game, Georgia looked less than impressive in several areas. Quarterback Hutson Mason struggled, even though offensive coordinator Mike Bobo seemed determine to prove Mason could sling the ball around the field. The senior quarterback completed just 16-of-25 passes for 147 yards, one touchdown and two interceptions. His arm strength isn’t particularly great and he’s definitely a liability moving forward for the Bulldogs. Surprisingly, the UGA defense didn’t play well as a thin secondary was exposed by a middle-of-the-road Tennessee passing attack. The front seven had a hard time containing running back Jalen Hurd, despite a overwhelmingly unexperienced Tennessee offensive line. Georgia still remains in control of their own destiny in the SEC East race, but there are some definite holes in this Bulldogs team.
Ole Miss Rebels
Week 5 result: Defeated Memphis, 24-3
For a while there, it looked as if quarterback Bo Wallace had finally shaken the turnover-prone stigma that’s plagued him throughout his college career. But all it took was Memphis to bring it back out in him. Wallace threw another two interceptions this weekend against an average Tigers’ pass defense and it took two touchdowns in the fourth quarter just to put this game away. Still, Ole Miss is undefeated and faces the ultimate measuring stick with Alabama coming to town next week. As great as this Rebels’ defense is, Ole Miss’ success will be determined by the play of Wallace. And based off this weekend’s performance, I don’t believe he can hold up against some of the SEC’s best defense to get his team enough wins to be a part of the College Football Playoff discussion.