College football Week 5 review: what we learned from a wild weekend

Trevor Lawrence (16) celebrates a touchdown
Photo of Andrew Ortenberg

Andrew Ortenberg

NCAAF · 1 year ago

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I'm an editor here at Pickswise who was raised in a household full of sports fanatics. Since I unfortunately never had LeBron James' jumping ability I wasn't able to make it to the NBA, and chose writing about sports as the next best thing. An avid sports bettor myself, I'm excited to get to write about the industry as it gets set to take off across the country. Buckle up.

Everybody knew the 2020 college football season was going to be unprecedented due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, but I’m not sure anybody saw it being quite this wild. We’ve seen some massive upsets, some bizarre finishes, and a whole lot of craziness all around.

The power structure is much more up in the air then it usually is, and there’s a feeling of uncertainty across the entire college football landscape. As we try to make sense of what we’re seeing, today we’ll be breaking down a few of the biggest takeaways from this past weekend’s action:

1. Arkansas could make some real noise in the SEC

It’s been a long time since the Razorbacks were relevant nationally, but that could be changing under new head coach Sam Pittman. Arkansas pulled off a huge upset of #16 Mississippi State on Saturday, beating them 21-14. That was right on the heels of Mississippi State beating LSU, underscoring just how wild the SEC is going to be this season.

It’d be easy to write off Arkansas’ win as a fluke, but I don’t think that’s the case. Even though they lost decisively to Georgia in Week 1 they quietly led in that game at halftime, and I was impressed with the fight they put up. The defense mostly held Georgia in check, and they completely shutdown a Mississippi State offense that just put up record passing numbers against LSU.

Feleipe Franks was efficient and protected the ball, and the Florida transfer is the best quarterback they’ve had in a while. Franks can be erratic, but the gunslinger also has the upside to keep Arkansas in games against elite teams when he reaches his ceiling. I don’t think this is the last upset we’ll see them pull off this year.

2. Alabama and Clemson are in a league of their own

There’s Alabama and Clemson, and then there’s everybody else. Those two programs have shown pretty conclusively that they’re the two best teams in the country, and there’s a big gap between them and the next tier. Alabama dominated Texas A&M this past week and dropped 52 points on them, while Clemson cruised past Virginia.

There’s not a defense in the country that can stop Trevor Lawrence, and he looks like the best quarterback prospect in quite some time. The Crimson Tide clearly haven’t missed a beat without Tua Tagovailoa, and Mac Jones averaged 16.1 yards per attempt last week while throwing for 435 yards and four touchdowns. Ole Miss has looked pretty good through their first two games, and yet they are 24-point home underdogs to Alabama this week.

Clemson is facing Miami, who is ranked seventh in the nation, and yet oddsmakers have them as favorites of more than two touchdowns. That tells you all you need to know about what Vegas thinks, and everything we’ve seen through the first few weeks of the season indicates we might have yet another Clemson/Alabama national title game.

3. Tom Herman is in big trouble

Herman’s teams always seem to thrive as underdogs, and then fall flat on their faces in games they should win. That was the case yet again this past week, as #9 Texas lost at home as double-digit favorites against TCU. The Horned Frogs have now completely owned the Longhorns in recent years, and that kind of in-state domination is terrible for recruiting.

Texas has fallen to #22 in the polls, and Herman could be in the hot seat if he doesn’t get things figured out soon. Texas was in the top ten before last week, but they didn’t deserve to be. They quietly looked terrible the week before, as they very nearly lost to Texas Tech before a furious comeback gave them an overtime win. A pivotal matchup with Oklahoma awaits this weekend.

If Herman doesn’t show well in the Red River Shootout, the calls for him to be replaced will grow louder. The defense hasn’t been able to stop anybody, and Sam Ehlinger completed only 47 percent of his passes last week. The honeymoon period is long over, and it’s not hyperbole to say this game against the Sooners is pivotal for the future of the program. It’ll be interesting to see if the team rolls over or rises to the occasion.

Want the best college football picks all season long? Make sure to check out our ‘NCAAF Picks‘ tab!

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