The 2019 college football season is getting more and more intense as the College Football Playoff grows closer. Here are the winners and losers from week five:
Winner: Justin Fields
One of the biggest questions in the Big Ten this season was whether Ohio State’s Justin Fields would be able to fit into the Buckeyes’ offensive system after transferring from Georgia and produce the kind of consistent quarterback play that could lead to another Big Ten Football Championship for the Buckeyes. Five weeks into the season, the answer is undoubtedly yes. The sophomore has had only 35 incompletions all season — that’s just seven per game. He has 23 total touchdowns on the year and owns the fifth-best passer rating in the Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS) up to this point. Putting up these numbers against the likes of Florida Atlantic and Miami (OH) is one thing; doing so at Nebraska isn’t as simple, yet Fields managed to do it in a 41-point thrashing of the Huskers (3-2, 1-1 Big Ten) last weekend. Tougher opponents lie down the road, but if Fields continues to shine, Ohio State (5-0, 2-0 Big Ten) will be on its away to another conference title.
Earlier in the season, I wrote about how North Carolina had the potential to ruffle some feathers in the Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC). Since then, the Tar Heels lost a couple of winnable games, but that did not stop them from fulfilling predictions when the nation’s top team rolled into Chapel Hill. No. 1 Clemson struggled, losing both the turnover battle and the time-of-possession battle. Sophomore quarterback Trevor Lawrence did not have a great game either, leading an offense that looked out of sorts the entire contest. The Tigers did not take their first lead until the fourth quarter, and would have lost the game entirely were it not for a failed two-point conversion by the Tar Heels with under two minutes remaining. Clemson (5-0, 3-0 ACC) still won, but it wasn’t pretty. And as a result, the Tigers are number one no longer. In the most recent AP Top 25 Poll, Alabama eclipsed them and reclaimed the top spot that it held for most of last year. And when the Crimson Tide claim the top spot in the AP Poll, they rarely let it go.
There has not been a single team in the entire FBS that has gone more under the radar this season than No. 14 Iowa. Yes, you read that correctly — the Hawkeyes (4-0, 1-0 Big Ten) have attained 14th place in the AP Poll practically without anybody noticing. At the beginning of the season, many thought that the most formidable challenge to Wisconsin in the Big Ten West would come from Nebraska, one of Iowa’s biggest rivals. Since then, the Huskers have only spiraled downward, punctuated by the massive home loss to Ohio State this past week. Nebraska now possesses two losses on the season, while Iowa remains undefeated. Clearly, it is Iowa that will be the team in the Big Ten West to pose the biggest threat to Wisconsin this season. Their week-11 meeting is certainly one to look forward to.
Loser: Geoff Collins
Things have gone from bad to worse for Georgia Tech and first-year head coach Geoff Collins. Starting off the year with a blowout at the hands of Clemson is embarrassing but expected. Going down to a Football Championship Subdivision team at home in week three of the season, though, is beyond terrible. With that as a backdrop, Georgia Tech traveled to play another non-Power Five school last weekend, and got bashed by Temple, Collins’ former team. It’s always bad when a coach is beaten by the team that he left behind; it’s worse when his new team is a Group of Five school. Now the Jackets are 1-3 to start the year and have many tough conference matches, along with their annual contest against Georgia, still to come. Not what Collins had in mind for his Georgia Tech debut, I’m sure.
Honorable Mentions: Surprisingly undefeated teams
Not much zaniness or weirdness took place in week five, so instead I am going to give a shoutout to three teams who have surprisingly managed to make it this far in the season without a loss: No. 22 Wake Forest (5-0, 1-0 ACC), Baylor (4-0, 1-0 Big 12) and Minnesota (4-0, 1-0 Big Ten). None of these teams have had any major success in the past three or four seasons, and no one expected that to change at the start of the season, yet so far, so good for these three programs. I’m not saying that any of them will make any real noise this season, but they definitely have the chance to play spoiler and throw a monkey wrench into the playoff race. All three of these teams play at least one top contender this year, and smart college football fans will circle those games on their calendars and watch for potential upsets.