College Football Preview for Week 5: Spanning the Nation

Photo: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Photo: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

After a very subpar slate of games last week, week five packs more of a punch with 18 out of the top 25 teams in action. Even better, the pre-conference cupcakes are gone. This Saturday features four games with both opponents ranked among the top 25. Even some of the match-ups without ranked teams are intriguing.

Following is a rundown of what to watch around the country (minus the SEC). The festivities kick off Thursday night with Virginia Tech at Georgia Tech, so grab some couch and settle in for a long weekend of intriguing football.

Note: All times Eastern.

American

Must See: South Carolina at UCF – The Knights are the second best team in the league. Compared to Louisville, however, they’ve actually faced a tough test, at Penn State, and come out victorious. This game has the potential to be a stunning upset in large part due to UCF’s solid offense. If the Knights can pull it off, it would be the second week in a row the AAC has knocked off an SEC team. This would probably pass the Georgia win as the biggest in program history. 12:00 pm, ABC

Slepeer: SMU at TCU and Houston at UTSA – A Texas sized double-dip with these two games.

First, the Iron Skillet is a tightly contested rivalry every year. This year, both teams enter the match-up reeling and looking for a huge win to help put their season back on track. The loser will drop to 1-3 and have their work cut out.

Houston is still undefeated, and has been getting by in exciting fashion. UTSA is only 2-2, but pretty tough minded and well coached by Larry Coker. This won’t be cakewalk for Houston and could be a big win in terms of recruiting for the still young Roadrunner program.

SMU/TCU is at 12:00 pm on FOX Sports 1, while UH/UTSA gets underway at 4:00 pm, but unfortunately won’t be nationally televised.

Avoid: Temple at Idaho – Even with USF set to be humiliated by Miami, and Connecticut traveling to Buffalo for a game that will be as exciting as watching grass grow, the Owls-Vandals match-up takes the cake. They enter a combined 0-7.

ACC

Must See: Virginia Tech at Georgia Tech – GT has been rolling, while VT sits at a very un-easy 3-1. A win on the road could be just the ticket for the Hokies. Meanwhile, the Jackets look to remain unbeaten and expand the lead in the Coastal. Thursday, 7:30 pm, ESPN / Watch ESPN

Sleeper: Virginia at Pittsburgh – Both teams enter the game at 2-1, but I don’t think both will make bowl games. That means this contest is huge for each program’s post-season hopes. Tom Savage has been on fire for Pitt and the last time Virginia had to deal with a good offensive threat they were crushed by Oregon. Pitt isn’t Oregon, but this will be a measuring stick to see if the Cavs have improved any. 12:30 pm, GamePlan / ESPN 3

Avoid: Wake Forest at Clemson – The worst team in the league, and one of the worst FBS AQ teams in the nation takes on the best team in the league and one of the best FBS AQ teams in the nation. This one should be wrapped up by the 10 minute mark…of the second quarter.

Big 12

Must See: Oklahoma at Notre Dame – The Irish’s best win last season came in Norman in a romp. OU should be out for blood. A win by either team keeps them in the title hunt. A loss for OU wouldn’t be detrimental, the Sooners would have time to make up for it, but one for Notre Dame would all but end their title hopes. 3:30 pm, NBC

Sleeper: SMU at TCU – Like I said, a lot is on the line since 2-2 looks and feels a million times better than 1-3. The fact that this is a fierce rivalry makes it that much better. 12:00 pm, FOX Sports 1

Avoid: Iowa State at Tulsa – Does anyone want to skip Thursday night’s ACC shootout to watch winless ISU and 1-2 Tulsa?

Big Ten

Must See: Wisconsin at Ohio State – Big Ten title (and for OSU national title) implications. Added bonuses are Wisconsin’s backs and OSU’s brewing quarterback situation. Should be a fun one in the Shoe. 8:00 pm, ABC

Sleeper: Iowa at Minnesota – These bitter rivals enter the game at a combined 7-1; a surprising record even for fans of each team. In the wide open Legends Division (thanks to Michigan, Nebraska and Northwestern all having flaws), a win here could help propel one of these teams to a stunning run to Indy. Plus, Floyd of Rosedale is the second best trophy in all of sports behind the Stnaley Cup.

Avoid: You have a choice between a good Big Ten team against a terrible MAC team or a terrible Big Ten team against a good MAC team. Hmm…as awful as Purdue is, Northern Illinois QB Jordan Lynch is always entertaining, so I’ll stay away from the Illinois-Miami (OH) game.

Pac 12

Must See: Arizona at Washington – This marks the league debut for the Pac 12 North sleeper and the Pac 12 South sleeper. Both are hungry to make statements, but with the South being a touch easier, I like Washington to come out of this contest unscathed. They enter a combined 6-0 and each have top-20 offenses and top-10 defenses. Arizona thumped the Huskies in this game a season ago, so it could be payback time for UW. 7:00 pm, Fox

Sleeper: USC at Arizona State – The two South Division foes had dreams of the Pac-12 title game, but both started 0-1 in the league and both did so in depressing fashion. ASU was smoked at Stanford and two weeks ago USC dropped a low-scoring tilt to Washington State. 10:30 pm, ESPN2 / Watch ESPN

Avoid: Cal at Oregon – One of the teams is really really REALLY good. The other has the 121st ranked defense in the nation.

Independent and Non AQ

Must See:

Utah State at San Jose State – Both are really good teams that let BCS league wins slip through their fingers. Both also have quarterbacks who could easily be playing on Sunday. Each will be making their Mountain West debuts. Friday, 9:00 pm, ESPN / Watch ESPN

Oklahoma at Notre Dame – Would you just watch this game already?!

Sleeper:

East Carolina at North Carolina – UNC needs a pick-me-up after a rough one against Georgia Tech. Problem is, ECU is a pretty solid club. Heels have to be on guard for the upset. 12:00 pm, GamePlan / ESPN 3

Wyoming at Texas State – Wyoming boasts the 22nd ranked scoring offense and Texas State counters with the 26th best scoring defense. Interesting match-up on paper. 7:00 pm, Longhorn Network

Fresno State at Hawaii – Fresno cracks the top 25 after beating Boise last week. Curious to see if they avoid the hangover after the long plane trip. 12:00 am on Sunday (No national tv listed so might have to do some digging and/or streaming)