College football’s Week 5 provided further separation between the contenders and pretenders in the SEC and across the country.
Alabama and Georgia remain favorites to win their divisions. However, they still have a few hurdles to jump before meeting in Atlanta. Here is your Week 5 college football notebook.
ALABAMA KEEPS WINNING THROUGH INJURIES, PENALTIES
Alabama treated fans to two separate blowouts in their road game against Arkansas this weekend. The game began looking like most matches against Arkansas under Saban. But the Tide let off the gas after halftime, needing a fourth quarter surge to deliver a convincing victory.
Injuries and continued problems with penalties will drive the plot as the Tide welcomes Jimbo Fisher’s circus this Saturday. Reigning Heisman winner Bryce Young’s shoulder injury created opportunity for backup quarterback Jalen Milroe and Georgia Tech transfer Jahmyr Gibbs to showcase their talents.
Young is expected to be back for Texas A&M this Saturday.
TURNOVERS DESTROY AUBURN IN LATE MINUTES
Auburn took a big step toward finding its backfield identity this week. It’s just a shame the Tigers couldn’t have been accompanied it with a win. After feeling fortunate to escape with a home win against Missouri last week, Auburn was on the business end of Lady Luck’s wrath in their game against LSU.
Sure, the play calling was questionable late for Auburn. The wide receiver sweep pass – if that’s what it was supposed to be – was head-scratching at best. But Auburn had every chance to keep the early lead or to come back in the game’s final minutes.
This kind of loss couldn’t come at a worse time for Auburn. They travel to Georgia this week in a game the Bulldogs will want to make a statement.
THE RACE TO ATLANTA
Alabama and Georgia are still favorites to win their divisions. And each team likely has only one team to worry about making a run to take their place in the SEC Championship game in Atlanta.
If Tennessee beats Georgia on Nov. 5, they’ll control their own destiny in the East – with or without a win against Alabama. If Mississippi can get past Alabama when the Tide visits Oxford on Nov. 12, they will likely have done so without tripping up earlier in their schedule.
Let’s be clear: none of this will happen. But it’s fun to dream, isn’t it?
THERE ARE OTHER CONFERENCES, TOO
Yes, it’s true. Other college football conferences will send teams to the playoffs, but only because the College Football Playoff committee is biased against the SEC.
In the Pac-12, USC is looking more like a team that’s built to last – at least until the playoffs. They still have plenty of hurdles on their way to the conference championship, but right now they’re the belle of the ball on the West Coast.
Nebraska can still make it to the Big Ten championship game. None of that matters, of course, because whoever wins the West will run into the Ohio State buzzsaw after the Buckeyes begin to separate themselves from the pack in the East.
The Big 12 is giving Oklahoma and Texas the worst kind of going away party. Still a couple of years away from exiting the conference, both have essentially taken themselves out of contention for a conference championship before the thick of October. True to our predictions, the path is clear for Oklahoma State.
Clemson did all they really needed to do this week, in beating North Carolina State, to make it to the ACC title game. The way the conference looks this year, that may not be enough to make the playoffs.