Week 5 of college football is over. No. 1 Alabama and No. 2 Oregon are still clearly the top two teams in the country, while the remainder of the top five held their spots for the third consecutive week.
The Ducks are closing in on Bama’s endeavor for supremacy, however, and with that, the teams left on the schedule become increasingly important to look at.
Alabama revived its defense this past weekend, and in a time of need. A week after the offensive onslaught against Texas A&M, the Tide dominated a streaking Ole Miss team in taking the shutout win, 25-0. The Rebel’s came into the game averaging 38 points per game but were outmatched by the reigning champs. The Crimson Tide forced two turnovers and allowed just 205 yards of offense, with only 46 of those yards coming on the ground.
An unyielding Bama defense is always a good sign for fans in Tuscaloosa, especially with a one-loss LSU Tiger team visiting in November. LSU came up short in a shootout versus Georgia on Saturday, but we learned that these boys could play. Zach Mettenberger has put up fantastic numbers, completing 64.1% of his passes, adding 13 touchdowns to just one interception.
The only issue with the Tigers is their inability to run the football. Running back Jeremy Hill has been terrific this season, but he and back up Terrence Magee were ineffective against a battle-tested Georgia Bulldog defense, which is not on the same level as that of Alabama’s. Their defense may need a little work after the Dawgs put up nearly 500 yards of offense against them, but if there is an opponent that can challenge the Crimson Tide from here on out, LSU is that team.
The Oregon Ducks’ schedule looks less promising on their journey to Pasadena. No. 5 Stanford, No. 12 UCLA and No. 15 Washington are three teams that could derail Oregon’s NCG dreams.
All three teams are undefeated, but that will change when Washington travels to Palo Alto this Saturday.
Stanford continues to dominate and has firmly established its place in the talks surrounding the national championship. The Cardinal torched Washington State in Seattle for a 55-17 win, and they looked just as good as they have all year. A slow start on offense resulted in the score being just 17-3 at the half, but the offense quickly caught fire in the third and never looked back.
Stanford looked very good against the Cougars but an even tougher team in the state of Washington is on the horizon. The Huskies have a chance to make some noise facing Stanford this week and then Oregon the next, and so far this season they have shown they have the talent to do so. Their defense has been exceptional, allowing 10.8 points per game, good for fourth fewest in the country.
To complement the tenacious defense, QB Keith Price is the leader of one of the most effective offenses in the country. With a well-balanced attack of Price and the nation’s fifth-leading rusher in Bishop Sankey, Washington can put up points against anybody – which makes them a serious threat to both the Ducks, and the reigning Pac-12 champion Cardinal.
Another team being noticed in the Pac-12 is the UCLA Bruins. The Bruins had their bye week in Week 5 but jumped South Carolina to No. 12 after the Gamecocks beat Central Florida by just three points.
Young quarterback Brett Hundley leads the Bruins’ high-powered offense that averages just less than 53 points per game. They, too, have a very balanced offensive attack but are even more dangerous because of Hundley’s absurd athleticism as a runner.
It seems like a tough road, but the Ducks continue to legitimize their tenacious defense, holding Cal to just 16 points and forcing five turnovers in their win last weekend. They have not been through the heart of their schedule, but Oregon has played better than anyone this year – averaging nearly 60 points a game on offense, while allowing fewer than 11 points per game on defense.
The Ducks also showed off their offensive weaponry. Byron Marshall and freshman Thomas Tyner stepped up in relief of De’Anthony Thomas, who left the game with an ankle injury in the first quarter. Bralon Addison starred on special teams, adding two punt returns for touchdowns.
If the top two can win out from here, I don’t see anybody taking their spots in the national title game, but what we’ve learned from college football, nothing is certain until all games are played.
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