Three games to watch: Week 5

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Three games to watch: Week 5

Max Schneider, Associate Sports Editor

Week 5 in college football features three games in which Top 10 teams face off against one another, a situation that’s sure to shake up the playoff picture. There’s no need to look further than those three games for our three games to watch this week.

No. 7 Stanford at No. 10 Washington:

Stanford has owned the Pac-12 in recent years and are the heavy favorite to win the conference title again this year behind Heisman Trophy candidate Christian McCaffrey. McCaffrey has already accounted for 555 yards from scrimmage and five touchdowns but will face his biggest challenge yet this week, going up against a stingy Huskies defense that ranks 15th in the country in points allowed. The Cardinal have been tested early, with wins over UCLA and USC in the past two weeks, but the offense has yet to explode and prove that they are a true playoff team.

Washington is coming off a seven-point victory in Arizona, after rolling easily in its first three contests. But it’s not just the Huskies’ defense that’s dominated so far. The offense is led by sophomore quarterback Jake Browning, but it’s an offense that loves to spread the ball around, as 12 different players have scored a touchdown this year. Washington looks poised to make a statement, and it’s on the verge of starting the season 5-0 for the first time since 1992.

No. 8 Wisconsin at No. 4 Michigan:

After a performance against Georgia State that raised a lot of questions, the Badgers responded with a dominating victory over a Michigan State team that many people thought would win the Big Ten, one that seemingly made Mark Dantonio disappear.  Now comes an even bigger test in a showdown against Jim Harbaugh and the Michigan Wolverines, who are back in the Top Five with more star power than we’ve seen in Ann Arbor in a while. Wisconsin doesn’t have the offensive firepower that we’ve seen in the past from Russell Wilson, Montee Ball, or Melvin Gordon, but the defense is as strong as ever, and they’ll look to quiet the Wolverine offense.

Often times we see running backs by committee in college football, but those committees are rarely bigger than two, maybe three. The Wolverines use a five-headed rushing attack and have succeeded in pounding their opponents with 15 rushing touchdowns in their first four games. Coming from his stint with the San Francisco 49ers, Harbaugh must be sick and tired of losing to Wisconsin quarterbacks. But a defense that features weapons like shutdown corner Jourdan Lewis and do-it-all Jabrill Peppers will make things difficult for whoever the Badgers decide to throw out there.

No. 3 Louisville at No. 5 Clemson:

With the exception of the National Championship game, this might be the game of the year in college football. Deshaun Watson came into the season as a Heisman favorite, but it didn’t take long for Louisville quarterback Lamar Jackson to burst onto the scene with 25 touchdowns in his first four games, making his name on that trophy almost inevitable. This is a Louisville team that put its name on the map after demolishing FSU, handing the ‘Noles their biggest loss in history, and they look to do the same to this week in Death Valley.

Surprisingly, the Tigers have flown under the radar this season, dropping three spots from their rankings in the preseason polls despite winning their first four games. Now they have the hottest team in the country coming to town, with a chance to prove that they belong back in the National Championship this year. Watson looks ready to show the country why he should be a top pick in this year’s draft, and defensive coordinator Brent Venables has the defense playing at an elite level. Screw the debate, this is undoubtedly the fiercest matchup of two powerhouses this week has to offer.

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