Another week of college football down, and we’re on to week 6. There were no surprises in week 5. We’re almost at the halfway mark of the season, and soon enough the playoff chase will start to heat up and we’re going to see some separation. So without further ado, here are the critical games by conference for the playoff chase:
ACC: No marquee matchups this week, as front-runners Florida State and North Carolina should win their games easily. Duke is off after their loss to Notre Dame. Speaking of Notre Dame, they face 5-0 Louisville. Who would have expected to be talking about Duke, North Carolina, and Louisville this far into the football season? We’re used to these schools being ranked in basketball, but not football. Don’t expect Louisville to win against Notre Dame however.
Big 12: There are only 2 unbeaten teams left, and they play each other in the game of the week this week. It’s the 119th annual Red River Showdown between Texas and Oklahoma. Regardless of who wins this game, both teams will still have a shot at the playoff. Both will likely win out after this game and face each other again in the Big 12 championship game. It’ll be a lot harder for Oklahoma though if they lose because they don’t have a signature win. Texas’s win over Alabama is up there with Ohio State’s win over Notre Dame for the best non-conference win. But like I said last week, Quinn Ewers is showing himself to be the real deal, and possibly the best quarterback Texas has had since Vince Young and Colt McCoy. Texas wins this one in a shootout, and Ewers overtakes Caleb Williams in the pole position for the Heisman.
SEC: What a game between LSU and Ole Miss. The Rebels came back from 9 points down in the 4th quarter to win the game and likely eliminate LSU from the playoff chase. But we all know SEC bias is real. If LSU beats Alabama in November, all bets are off what can happen. Speaking of Alabama, they travel to College Station to play Texas A&M. The last time they went to College Station, they lost on a walk-off field goal. I’m calling an upset, as Alabama has looked very shaky and inconsistent this year. In the SEC East, nothing has changed. Until Georgia loses, it’s their division to win. They looked shaky against Auburn last week, but they’ll get back on track against Kentucky.
Pac-12: A light schedule this week as 4 teams are off and there are no ranked vs. ranked matchups. USC gets a tuneup vs. Arizona before they travel to South Bend to face Notre Dame next week. Washington State and Oregon State, the only Pac-12 teams who don’t have a home for next year, should win their matchups against UCLA and Cal, respectively.
Big 10: This is a 3 horse race between Michigan, Penn State, and Ohio State. Penn State is off this week before facing UMass and then Ohio State. Michigan faces Minnesota, and Ohio State plays Maryland. Michigan and Ohio State will remain undefeated. On the Brian Ferentz watch, due to a nepotism clause in his contract, in order for him to keep his job, the Hawkeyes must win at least 7 games this season, and score at least 325 points in 13 games, for an average of 25 points per game. Points from the defense and special teams count towards the total as well. Iowa is 4-1, and through 5 games they have scored 111 points, putting them 14 off the pace.