Three Top-10 match ups, upsets and a miracle in Athens, Georgia? That’ll do college football, that’ll do.
Week 5 was a barnburner, and the ramifications of this slate of games will resonate throughout the season.
Here’s what we learned in Week 5 of the college football season.
Lamar Jackson deserved better
Louisville-Clemson was the game of the year to this point — an impressive showdown between two of the best teams in the nation.
It was a game worthy of its de-facto playoff status, and Lamar Jackson was the best player on the field.
Louisville could have won Saturday — if not for a braindead play by wide receiver James Quick, who went out of bounds a yard short of the first down marker without much aid in the final minute.
Clemson’s defense was stout and the crowd was in a state of pandemonium, but Jackson took over in the third quarter and put Louisville in a position to pencil their name into the College Football Playoff field.
The Cardinals still have good playoff chances, and Jackson should still win the Heisman Trophy, but, despite Clemson’s impressive performance, the outcome of Saturday’s game felt unsatisfying.
Joshua S. Kelly-USA TODAY SportsJoshua S. Kelly
Butch Jones is the luckiest man alive
I don’t know what kind of a deal Butch Jones made with a higher power, but it’s working out like gangbusters for him at the moment.
Tennessee needed a tremendous amount of luck to take a late lead against Georgia in Athens, only to then lose it with 10 seconds remaining in the game. Then, THE Hail Mary. The Vols are 5-0 and still in control of a who-wants-to-win-it SEC East. Somehow.
Charlie Strong’s seat is hot … again
The Texas defense is a joke, even for the Big 12, and that’s not a good look for defensive ace Charlie Strong. Given the regression of his unit, Strong’s job could well be on the line with next Saturday’s game against Oklahoma.
While it’s hard to see Texas moving on from Strong in-season, a loss to Oklahoma could be the deciding factor in Texas’ choice to keep him or let him go at the end of the year.
Strong needs a win (and a few more after that) in the worst way.
Erich Schlegel-USA TODAY SportsErich Schlegel
The Big 12 doesn’t stack up
The league has apparently decided to collectively eschew defense, and that’s not a good thing to do when you’re competing for a spot in the chaotic College Football Playoff selection process.
Saturday might have been the final blow for the Big 12 as a true "power" conference — TCU and Texas, two of the league’s best playoff shots (which says a lot, doesn’t it?) lost, and Baylor gave up 42 points to Iowa State, needing 17 unanswered fourth-quarter points to win.
Even if Baylor wins out, it’s hard to see anyone saying they stack up with the best in the nation. The Big 12’s playoff hopes are all but dead.
Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY SportsKevin Jairaj
Florida State’s season is effectively over
Speaking of dead hopes, Florida State was beaten by a North Carolina team that, if it can carry this level of play into the next two weeks, has a great shot at winning the ACC. (Sorry, Clemson...)
The Seminoles miss do-it-all safety Derwin James desperately, though at this point it’s questionable if they should bring him back from his meniscus injury. Without James, the Noles’ defense looks markedly below average, and that’s a bad thing to have with a redshirt freshman quarterback and a shaky offensive line.
Melina Vastola-USA TODAY SportsMelina Vastola
Miami says hello
Staying in the ACC: Is The U back? We’ll find out over the next two weeks, when they’ll play FSU and North Carolina (both at home).
Miami had an impressive win over Georgia Tech in Atlanta Saturday, scoring two defensive touchdowns and grinding out three more on offense.
Despite what might end up being a Top-10 ranking, no one can honestly say if Miami is one of the nation’s best teams or not — good thing we’ll get the answer soon.
Coach O is going to make this hard for LSU
The Tigers power brokers want Tom Herman? They’re going to have to fire Ed Orgeron first, and Coach O is going to make that hard.
LSU looked like a team reborn Saturday against Mizzou (which boasts a good defense) as the (purple version of) Tigers amassed a team conference record of 634 yards in a 42-7 win.
The defense flew, the offensive line was dominant against one of the better defensive lines in the nation, and ... was that a passing game? It was!
Coach O is fighting to keep the job he’s always wanted — he’s not even hiding it — and if his team has half that fight, it’s going to make the rest of the season a fascinating soap opera on the bayou.
Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY SportsDerick E. Hingle
Don’t doubt Wisconsin
The Badgers lost to Michigan Saturday, 14-7, in a game that was hard-hitting, well-coached and borderline unwatchable.
The Wolverines could have run away with the contest a few times — Michigan’s defense was impressive enough to hold Wisconsin down, but the Badgers’ defense held strong time and time again.
Wisconsin is going to give an incredibly impressive Ohio State team a run next week, and while they’re likely to take a loss, they should play the rest of the season knowing that they’re the best team in the Big Ten West and that they can win in the Big Ten Championship Game.
An Oct. 29 matchup with Nebraska (5-0) looms huge. Take care of that and they'll get their rematch.
Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY SportsRick Osentoski
Where’s this boat rowing?
If you haven’t heard of PJ Fleck, you need to get up to speed. His Western Michigan Broncos are 5-0 on the season with two wins over Power 5 teams already.
An undefeated season and perhaps even a New Year’s Six bowl appearance are not out of the question.
The real question: Where’s Fleck going to be next year? He’s too good for Purdue, but is he going to get a look at LSU? There has to be a team somewhere in the middle and they’re going to land one of the best coaches in the nation.
All is not well at Oregon
The Ducks might not make a bowl this season.
Let that sink in for a moment.
Oregon is now 2-3 on the year after a blowout loss to Washington State Saturday. The Ducks' defense is broken (or Hoken...I'll show myself out) and the offense isn't producing enough to cancel out the issue.
Should Oregon keep playing like this, six wins is going to be a tough number.
Mark Helfrich's $78,000 chair is getting hotter, and it's not the built-in heating pad.
Think about this: Tom Herman might get to choose between LSU, Texas, and Nike U this winter.
Don't let anyone tell you coaching doesn't pay, kids.
Coaches on the rise:
Neal Brown - Troy: The Air Raid guy has a team that’s fundamentally sound and can hit hard. An enterprising team (perhaps not even Power 5) should make a move.
Joey Jones - South Alabama: The Jags have beaten Mississippi State and ranked San Diego State this season. Jones is long overdue for a move up.
Larry Fedora - North Carolina: Does six-pack Larry get some buzz for the LSU job after that win over Florida State? It’d make sense.
Matt Bush-USA TODAY SportsMatt Bush
Coaches who might want to turn off their phones:
David Bailiff - Rice: The Owls are 0-5 and getting worse. With a bye week coming up, this should get dealt with now.
Darrell Hazell - Purdue: A 50-7 loss to Maryland is unacceptable. Purdue needs to get a head start on convincing Fleck to head to Indiana.
Charlie Partridge - Florida Atlantic: A loss to rival FIU in the first game after Ron Turner was fired is not a great way to ensure you see a fourth year. The Owls are 1-4 and getting worse, but FAU might not have the money to move on from Partridge, whose buyout is more than $1 million.