Week five featured several top-tier showdowns including two prime-time matchups of top ten teams which certainly saw a lot of heroes and failures emerge. Here are the top five studs and duds of week 5 of the 2018 college football season.
UCF may not be the reigning national champions, but they proved once again that they deserved at least another look from the college football playoff committee.
A win over Pitt may not open a lot of eyes, but UCF has registered yet another win over a power five opponent, this one coming convincingly. Quarterback McKenzie Milton torched the Panthers secondary with 328 passing yards and four touchdowns while the defense held Pitt under 300 total yards.
UCF could be head for a second consecutive perfect season if they can keep playing at this level through early December.
Dud: James Franklin
Talk about a soul-crushing loss for Penn State. James Franklin’s squad held a 12 point lead against arch-rival Ohio State, but couldn’t hang on for the win.
The Penn State defense, that had been stout all night long, suddenly fell apart, allowing two quick scoring drives while the offense wasn’t able to put together a drive to either put the game away or win it. The reason Franklin’s name alone will appear on this week’s dud list, however, is because of his mind bafflingly awful 4th down play call.
With quarterback Trace McSorley having a red hot—more on him in a bit—and the Nittany Lions run game being almost nonexistent, he opted to call for a zone read running play on fourth and five which was swiftly blown up by Ohio State. This play will live in college football infamy for some time.
Franklin’s fantastic recruiting ability has helped build Penn State back into a top tier program, but he is to develop a reputation for blowing big fourth-quarter leads against other top programs.
In 2016, it was a 14 point fourth quarter lead to USC, in 2017 it was a 15 point fourth quarter lead against Ohio State, and in 2018 it was 12 point lead against Ohio State.
Stud: Trace McSorley
Penn State may have taken the loss during week five’s premier matchup against Ohio State, but fans from both teams will tell you that Trace McSorley was the best player in the field that night.
Through four weeks the Nittany Lions offense ran almost entirely through runningbacks Miles Sanders and Ricky Slade, but Trace McSorley was Penn State’s first, second, and third option against the Buckeyes.
Through the air, McSorley had 286 passing yards with a pair of touchdown passes, but that was only on top of his 175 rushing yards on the ground. Whether the play was designed one way or the other, McSorley remained a threat with both his arm and his feet on every single offensive snap.
His unstoppable night only makes the decision to take the ball out of his hands the game-deciding fourth and five play even more puzzling.
Dud: Dino Babers
James Franklin’s night certainly wasn’t pretty, but he wasn’t the only coach to cost his team a big win during the final minutes.
Dino Babers and the Syracuse Orange were on the verge of pulling off a stunning upset of the No. 3 ranked Clemson Tigers, but clock management got the better of them.
While down three points late in the fourth quarter, Clemson drove deep into Orange territory and it became clear that they were either going to tie the game or take the lead. Babers, however, made the odd decision to not take any of his timeouts and let the clock bleed away. Clemson went on to score a touchdown, leaving Syracuse without the necessary time to drive for the win.
Even if the defense had held up late, Babers should have used his timeouts because Clemson was still in field goal range and would’ve easily tied the game with a field goal kick.
His team still would’ve needed the time to attempt a walk-off field goal to avoid going to overtime. Syracuse was so close to what would’ve been a program-changing win, but they let it slip away.
Stud: Kyler Murray
The college football world freaked out when Oklahoma announced that Kyler Murray would be benched for the opening drive against Baylor for disciplinary reasons.
That buzz quickly subsided however as Murray went on to have a dominant performance at quarterback. The Sooners’ star threw for 432 passing yards on the way to tossing six touchdown passes. He also managed an additional 45 yards on the ground.
Baylor may not boast the greatest defense in the world, but Murray was clearly motivated by his benching.
Dud: Jett Duffey
The sophomore quarterback wasn’t necessarily bad against West Virginia, but there is certainly a lot of room for improvement.
Duffey entered in the second quarter to replace starting quarterback Alan Bowman and while he was an improvement overall, he didn’t look great as a passer. His third pass of the game got intercepted and his pick six late in the fourth quarter cost Texas Tech the chance at a comeback.
He did, however, flash as a dual-threat player with 86 yards and a touchdown on the ground.
Stud: Notre Dame Football
It’s been a while since we’ve been able to talk about Notre Dame as a national championship threat, but the Fighting Irish look like they have a legit chance to make the playoff.
Quarterback Ian Book led the aerial attack with 278 yards and four touchdown passes while Dexter Williams racked up 161 rushing yards and a touchdown on the ground. The Fighting Irish now have home wins against both a ranked Michigan team and a ranked Stanford team.
It remains to be seen if they can truly challenge Clemson for the ACC, but they are certainly headed in the right direction.
Dud: Mississippi State’s Offense
Head Coach Joe Moorehead may be a fantastic offensive mind, but he’s struggled to get things going offensively at Mississippi State.
The Bulldogs failed to score a touchdown against Florida and looked completely lost at times. Nick Fitzgerald was held under 100 passing yards, but the team failed to turn their 104 total rushing yards into points.
Moorhead’s team isn’t ranked anymore, but that doesn’t mean their schedule is about to get any easier as they dive deeper into SEC play.
Stud: Oregon Football
Oregon fans are going to be kicking themselves all year long over the team’s week four loss to Stanford because they’re starting to look like a legit squad.
In week five, they traveled to a ranked Cal team and blew them out convincingly by a score of 42-24. They haven’t done a great job of spreading the ball around, but they continue to get strong individual performances every week.
The PAC 12 is in the midst of another down year, but Oregon will get their biggest test of the season with number 10 ranked Washington next week.
Dud: Northwestern in the Second Half
Not much to say here other than Northwestern had the chance for a huge win but couldn’t play for a full four quarters.
The Wildcats jumped out to a quick 17-0 lead over the Wolverines, but Michigan responded with 20 unanswered points to win the game. Northwestern’s defense played very well throughout the afternoon but the offense could never figure it out after a couple early scoring drives.