College Football: Week 5 Who’s Hot & Who’s Not

    Week 5 got the offense going with plenty of huge performances. Here's who's hot and who's not, including Corey Coleman and the Baylor offense, Ezekiel Elliott, and Nebraska in close games.

    October 4, 2015

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    @RichCirminiello

    Who’s Hot: Week 5

    The hottest, the best and the brightest from Week 5 of the 2015 college football season.

    Houston QB Greg Ward Jr.

    Ward won’t win the Heisman. But if there was an individual award for the top player from the Group of Five, he’d be on the watch list. Ward is flourishing as the conductor of Tom Herman’s attack, guiding the Cougars to a 4-0 start with his ability to make plays with his feet and arm. In Saturday’s West Division showdown with Tulsa, Ward was again dynamic by accounting for 455 yards and three rushing scores.

    Baylor WR Corey Coleman

    Coleman is a scoring machine in the passing game for the Bears. His three touchdown catches in Baylor’s demolition of Texas Tech gives him eight on just 17 receptions. He’s also scored in 12 of his last 13 games, providing QB Seth Russell with an outside playmaker to complement the running of Shock Linwood. Still early, but Coleman looks like a solid pick to be one of this year’s finalists for the Biletnikoff Award.

    Oklahoma State

    The Cowboys are gaining a head of steam that comes with winning consecutive games in the waning moments over Big 12 opponents. Last week, they defeated Texas in Austin, 30-27. And this past Saturday, Oklahoma State rallied behind sophomore QB Mason Rudolph to get past Kansas State, 36-34. Now 5-0, the Cowboys have an opportunity to keep building, even if they’re unable to crack into the league’s upper echelon of Baylor and TCU.

    Oklahoma LB Eric Striker

    Yeah, the Sooners scored 44 points on Saturday. But it was the play of the defense that was so pivotal in handing West Virginia its first loss of the year. And no one was more impactful on the Sooners than Striker. He was a ticking time bomb for the Mountaineer backfield, notching a game-high 13 tackles, three stops for loss, two sacks and a forced fumble that resulted in a game-sealing touchdown.

    Ohio State RB Ezekiel Elliott

    When discussing the Buckeyes’ offensive issues, be sure to point out Elliott as a glaring exception to the rule. On an afternoon that the top-ranked team was pushed to the limit by Indiana, Elliott rescued his teammates by exploding for 274 yards and three touchdowns on 23 carries to offset the rest of the attack. He’s gone over 100 yards in 10 straight games, including north of 200 yards four times.

    Michigan Defensive Coordinator D.J. Durkin

    Durkin is the architect of one of the tightest defensive units in the country and an early contender for the Broyles Award. His Wolverines have pitched back-to-back shutouts for the first time since 2000, while allowing just seven points over the last 15 quarters. Michigan didn’t get much offense against Maryland, but didn’t need it, setting the stage for a defensive gem next weekend with Northwestern.

    Clemson

    The ACC might have a serious contender for the College Football Playoff after all. After struggling to dispose of Louisville two weeks, the Tigers answered questions about their ceiling by holding off No. 6 Notre Dame, 24-22. The defense might be among the 10 best in the country and the rest of the schedule is light on landmines, relatively speaking. Now that Clemson has passed its best test of the first half, it has a pretty good shot being 8-0 when Florida State visits in a month.

    Alabama

    Saturday’s 38-10 deconstruction of Georgia was textbook Alabama. Doubted—even by Vegas—since the Ole Miss loss, the Tide played with something to prove. The Dawgs did a lot of jawing before kickoff. Bama let its play do the talking, scoring on offense, defense and special teams. The Tide ran the ball effectively, didn’t make mistakes and shut down Georgia, save for one Nick Chubb burst through the D. And just like that, Bama is back in the playoff hunt.

    Florida

    One week after extending their winning streak over rival Tennessee in thrilling fashion, the Gators solidified their Top 25 ranking by crushing No. 3 Ole Miss, 38-10. Yup, the same Ole Miss team that knocked off Bama in Tuscaloosa just two weeks earlier. Behind a stifling defense, new head coach Jim McElwain has Florida believing it can win a wide-open SEC East, an improbable ascent for a team that began 2015 with such modest expectations.

    Who’s Not: Week Five

    The disappointments from this week in the college football world.

    UCF

    Just two years removed from a signature Fiesta Bowl win over Baylor, UCF is making a strong play to be this year’s worst FBS team. Tulane, another awful FBS squad, embarrassed the Knights, which finished well below zero in rushing yards. The offense is anemic and even the trademark D is struggling. George O’Leary could be headed toward the indignity of a winless debut (2004) and a winless finale (2015) at the same school.

    Nebraska In Nail-biters

    Three times this season the Huskers have been involved in games decided by five points or less, BYU, Miami and Illinois. And Nebraska has lost all three to fall a game below .500 in Mike Riley’s debut in Lincoln. It’s up for debate which loss was more painful, the Hail Mary to the Cougars on opening day or Saturday’s blown lead in Champaign that ended with a Wes Lunt touchdown pass with 10 ticks left on the clock.

    Tennessee

    A season that began with so much optimism is beginning to slip away from the Volunteers. Unable to pull out close games, Tennessee has slipped below .500 after losing to an Arkansas team that took a three-game losing streak into Knoxville. The Vols have now played in three games decided by a touchdown or less, and lost each of them. Up next is a visit from an ornery Georgia team followed by a trip to Tuscaloosa to play Bama.

    Virginia Tech

    Somehow, some way, the Hokies need to figure out a tactful exit plan regarding legendary head coach Frank Beamer. While there’s no denying what Beamer has meant in Blacksburg, he’s lost the ability to elevate this program. After falling meekly at home to Pittsburgh, Va Tech has now dropped two straight as a favorite and is under .500. The offense probably won’t figure things out until a new staff is in charge.

    UCLA

    The Bruins’ hypothetical hold on the top rung of the Pac-12 ladder did not last very long. Just a week after impressively thrashing Arizona in Tucson, UCLA bowed at home to Arizona State, which was reeling at the start of Week 5. The Bruins rallied, but then imploded down the stretch for a loss that’ll recalibrate their ceiling. UCLA still has as good a shot as anyone to win the league, but this wasn’t supposed to be the week it squandered some of its margin for error.

    Miami Coach Al Golden

    A larger than usual slice of the country saw what Cane fans have been witness to for the past five years—the program is no closer to the glory than when Golden arrived. Miami used its nationally televised trip to Cincinnati to showcase its insufficient growth under this staff, falling to a Bearcat team that was reeling entering Week 5. The backfield aside, there’s not a lot of scary talent on the roster, piling even more pressure on Golden to win the ACC Coastal now.

    Big Ten’s Big Two

    Ohio State and Michigan State may still be the nation’s top two teams when polls are released this week. But should they be? Both had inexcusably close calls with the Big Ten’s Indiana teams; the Buckeyes beat the Hoosiers, 34-27, while the Spartans escaped the Boilermakers, 24-21. All schools, especially those with a perpetual target on their chests, deserve an off week. OSU and MSU, though, have looked surprisingly vulnerable for such high rankings programs.

    Texas Coach Charlie Strong

    This has gone very bad. Very fast. It never seemed possible that Strong would be vulnerable after just two seasons, but that’s exactly where he’s at through the first 18 games of his tenure. The Longhorns, bumbling on special teams and off to their worst start in almost six decades, were battered by TCU, 50-7. Plus, Strong’s area of expertise, defense, has been a major disappointment. UT is off the tracks, with no sign of righting this wreck in 2015.

    Georgia

    There’s no shame in losing to Alabama under any circumstances. But the Dawgs were in Athens facing one of Nick Saban’s most vulnerable teams. And yet, Mark Richt’s kids were overmatched from wire-to-wire. After coasting versus much weaker competition in September, Georgia got exposed. The defense did nothing special, while the offense was lost. Week 5 was particularly costly for Richt, who needed to show signs that this will be the year he pilots his kids over the hump.

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