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2020 College Football Thoughts & Reactions: Week 5

Shane Buechele, SMU

 The Big 12 Race Is An Absolute Mess

The Big 12 Title race was already confusing before another wild week in the league, as TCU upset Texas and Iowa State took down Oklahoma. The upsets leave Oklahoma State as the lone undefeated in the conference, and the Big 12's best hope for one of the four spots in the Playoff field. It's an uncomfortable position for a conference that has yet to win a Playoff game, despite regular representation from Oklahoma over this past half-decade. Speaking of the Sooners, their struggles so far in 2020 aren't completely shocking considering some of the injuries and opt-outs they had, but the frustrating thing? Their defense continues to struggle, and they just put together one of the worst tackling performances I've ever seen at any level in football. The Sooners have a chance to fall to 1-3 this next weekend as they take on a Red River rivalry that seems as unimportant as it ever has at the moment.

The SEC West Once Again Runs Through Tuscaloosca

One of the least surprising elements of Week Five was Alabama's handling of Texas A&M Saturday afternoon. Although the Aggies kept up with the Tide through the first half, Alabama was able to put their foot on the gas pedal, coming out with a 52-24 win. Mac Jones spent all off-season hearing about the potential QB competition between him and Bryce Young, but has come out this season with a vengeance. He totaled 435 yards and 4 touchdowns through the air, chucking the ball all over the field to a group of dynamic receivers. Even better news for 'Bama was the fact the rest of the division struggled on the field this weekend. Auburn looked extremely underwhelming in a 27-6 loss to Georgia and Mississippi State lost to Arkansas one week after their big victory over LSU. It's way too early to already crown the Tide the kings of the SEC West once again, but which team in the division has a reasonable chance to top them? I thought the Aggies would end up being the greatest challengers preseason, but they once again look like a good, but far from great, middle-of-the-pack team in the West once more.

The American Athletic Race: Cincinnati or SMU?

Cincinnati entered this weekend as the second-highest ranked Group of Five team in the polls, but following UCF's loss to Tulsa the Bearcats are now likely the league's favorite. This Cincy team is far from flashy, but their defense has been dominant over the season's first month. It's a defensive group that has allowed just over 12 points per game so far, and they forced five USF turnovers this Saturday. The other big winner in the AAC was SMU, who won a thriller over No. 25 Memphis. Shane Buechele outdueled Brady White to the tune of 474 yards and 3 touchdowns, while wide out Reggie Roberson went for 243 yards in the victory. I still have some concerns about the Mustangs on defense, but the offense is going to keep them in prime position every game they play. It will be two more weeks before these two square off in their regular season battle, which should be the biggest game in the American this season.

Could BYU Go Undefeated?

If you're not a fan of late-night Friday football, you may have missed BYU's dominant performance this week, as they pummeled Louisiana Tech by 31 points. It continued an amazing month for the Cougars, who have won their first three games by 52, 41 and now 31. It does raise the question: is this team legitimately good enough to go undefeated? The schedule down the line changed a bit over the last few weeks with the Mountain West announcing it would return, which added Boise State and San Diego State to their schedule. But, there's a good chance BYU is favored in every single remaining game they play, with the only exception being that road trip to Boise. This is not some crazy overreaction either; the BYU offense has looked aggressive and explosive, and the defense is well-rounded and disciplined. The way the Cougars have dominated the line of scrimmage is what has jumped out to me, they've looked more like an SEC team out there than an Independent.

The Heisman Race Starting to Heat Up?

It's hard to consider the Heisman race really started without the Big Ten or Pac-12 playing yet, but some names are already getting early consideration for college football's most prestigious award. Kyle Trask helped himself out with another big day over South Carolina, Mac Jones deserves attention after what he did to A&M, Trevor Lawrence went for 329 and 3 touchdowns against a solid UVA defense, and Buechele will continue to put up staggering numbers. With that being said, there are also several players who likely have already seen their Heisman hopes dashed. Sam Ehlinger has been really good but UT needs to be a legit Playoff threat if he wants the award, the same likely goes for Spencer Rattler, and K.J. Costello had an off-week after setting the SEC record for yardage.

The October 10th Slate

I've held off on my usual College Football Picks this year because this season has been so chaotic in terms of scheduling and postponements. However, I'll be making picks this week because this October 10th is just too good not to. A quick look at the biggest games this next Saturday:

  • Florida-Texas A&M: Biggest test of the season so far for the Gators, and also possibly an elimination game for any A&M West Title hopes.
  • Virginia Tech-UNC: Two undefeated teams who have yet to face a ranked opponent, this one will tell us a lot abut whether either can stage a legit threat to Clemson.
  • Okahoma-Texas: These two teams are reeling, but the Red River rivalry is always worth a watch.
  • Tennessee-Georgia: The Vols have been a great story so far, and this might be the biggest game they've had in a long, long time.
  • Clemson-Miami: Perhaps the biggest game in the ACC this season. The Hurricanes have been so good, but are they good enough to take down the league's Goliath?

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