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LSU at Georgia is top game in Week 5 of college football

  • By NFL.com
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If cupcake opponents, blowout victories and an all-in-all weak slate of games were the themes of Week 4 in college football (and they were), this week's matchups will be a welcome sight for fans of competitive football between elite teams. The main event takes place in Athens, Ga., where the sixth-ranked LSU Tigers visit the ninth-ranked Georgia Bulldogs in a game loaded with top-tier talent at nearly every position. Three other games between Top 25 teams are also on tap.

10. Stanford vs. Washington State (at Seattle), Saturday, 10 p.m. ET, ESPN

The skinny: The Cardinal barely held off the Cougars at home last season, with safety Ed Reynolds' 25-yard interception return for a touchdown being the difference in the 24-17 escape. Now Stanford will be without All-America left guard David Yankey (personal reasons) against a Washington State defense that has made great strides. But to pull the upset and remain atop the Pac-12 North, the Cougars need quarterback Connor Halliday to play better in the red zone and feature emerging sophomore wide receiver Gabe Marks against a depleted Stanford secondary.

9. South Carolina at UCF, Saturday, Noon ET, ABC

The skinny: Victor Hampton, a cornerback prospect for the Gamecocks, will be back on punt return duty after taking a couple of games off. Defensive lineman E.J. Dunston is probably UCF's top prospect and will be looking for his second sack of the season against a massive South Carolina offensive front. Scouts will expect tackles Corey Robinson and Brandon Shell -- both NFL prospects, particularly Robinson -- to have their way with the UCF defensive ends. Golden Knights offensive tackle Chris Martin is a converted tight end and considered very athletic for the tackle position, which could make for some intrigue on speed moves by bone spur-hobbled Jadeveon Clowney at defensive end.

Texas A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel (2) celebrates after eluding Alabama defensive lineman Jeoffrey Pagan (8) to make a pass during the second quarter of an NCAA college football game Saturday, Sept. 14, 2013 in College Station, Texas. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip)
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Johnny Manziel celebrates

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8. Texas A&M at Arkansas, Saturday, 7 p.m. ET, ESPN2

The skinny: The Johnny Manziel Show returns to Southeastern Conference play this week and is sure to please once again after the quarterback dismantled SMU last week. Arkansas CB Tevin Mitchel is a decent pro prospect who figures to draw the assignment on massive Aggies WR Mike Evans. Mitchel is no bigger than the corners from Alabama that Evans destroyed, so it's a big chance for Mitchel to shine. Razorbacks center Travis Swanson, a Rimington Trophy candidate as one of the nation's top centers, will get to face a borderline pro prospect in Texas A&M's Kirby Ennis. The way Arkansas likes to run the ball downhill, Ennis could do a lot to grab the attention of scouts if he beats Swanson consistently in a smashmouth-style challenge.

7. Arizona at Washington, Saturday, 7 p.m. ET, Fox

The skinny: Washington junior Bishop Sankey is second in the FBS in rushing yards per game, and Ka'Deem Carey of Arizona is averaging almost one yard more but doesn't have enough carries yet to qualify for NCAA rankings. The Huskies are going to load up the box and force Wildcats quarterback B.J. Denker and an unproven passing game to derail their terrific start. It will also be worth monitoring how Arizona decides to defend tight end Austin Seferian-Jenkins. Linebacker Marquis Flowers, a 6-foot-3, 233-pound former safety, would seem to match up best against the mammoth All-American.

6. Virginia Tech at Georgia Tech, Thursday, 7:30 p.m., ESPN

The skinny: A big game in the ACC Coastal Division race. Georgia Tech already owns a win over North Carolina, has the Hokies this week, then gets division favorite Miami next week. Virginia Tech senior QB Logan Thomas (6-6, 254) continues his freefall on most draft boards. He is completing 48.5 percent of his passes, with four TDs and six interceptions. Georgia Tech senior DE Jeremiah Attaochu (6-3, 242) has just one sack and seems to be struggling after moving from outside linebacker. Georgia Tech guards Will Jackson (6-3, 295) and Shaquille Mason (6-1, 305) and C Jay Finch (6-3, 285) vs. Virginia Tech DTs Derrick Hopkins (6-0, 311) and Luther Maddy (6-1, 296) is where the game will be won or lost.

5. USC at Arizona State, Saturday, 10:30 p.m. ET, ESPN2

The skinny: The loser will effectively be out of the Pac-12 South race before October and in danger of seeing its season fall into a tailspin. Both the Trojans and Sun Devils will want to feature their fine running games to make life easier for passing attacks that have had issues. Arizona State was undone by critical drops at Stanford, while USC quarterback Cody Kessler fell apart after a decent start against Utah State because of an injured hand and lack of timing with wide receiver Marqise Lee. If USC's defense, whose star sophomore defensive end Leonard Williams has been limited in practice, cannot shut down the up-tempo approach of ASU, there isn't another realistic scenario where embattled head coach Lane Kiffin leaves the desert with a conquest rather than a calendar counting down to his dismissal.

4. Oklahoma at Notre Dame, Saturday, 3:30 p.m. ET, NBC

The skinny: The Fighting Irish played last season's 30-13 victory on their terms, limiting the Sooners to 15 rushing yards on 24 carries and 4-of-14 on third down, and Notre Dame linebacker Manti Te'o played one of the finest games of his college career (six tackles, one sack, one interception). Te'o is gone, but dominant defensive linemen Stephon Tuitt and Louis Nix III return. For Oklahoma, quarterback Blake Bell (27-of-37 passing for 413 yards and four touchdowns vs. Tulsa) is making his first road start and will have to give wide receivers Jaz Reynolds and Jalen Saunders chances to pick up yards after the catch against a secondary that has shown cracks. Saunders caught 15 passes for 181 yards against ND in his OU debut.

3. Ole Miss at Alabama, Saturday, 6:30 p.m. ET, ESPN

The skinny: Top head-to-head matchups here include Alabama linebacker C.J. Mosley vs. Ole Miss running back Jeff Scott. While Scott's size (5-7, 162) has him off the NFL radar, his quickness in the open field will be a stiff test for Mosley's best skill: open-field tackling. Watch for Alabama defensive end Jeoffrey Pagan and pass-rusher Denzel Devall working against standout Ole Miss freshman left tackle Laremy Tunsil, who is by all accounts an NFL prospect in waiting. Finally, expect Rebels receiver Donte Moncrief and Alabama's top cornerback, Deion Belue, to have some nice battles as well. A junior, Moncrief (6-3, 225) has a significant size advantage over Belue, a senior.

2. Wisconsin at Ohio State, Saturday, 8 p.m. ET, ABC

The skinny: This is one of the biggest games of the season in the Big Ten, and it seems a given that the winner will take the Leaders Division title. Ohio State expects junior QB Braxton Miller to play. How rusty will he be after basically not playing since the opener Aug. 31? Ohio State's big offensive line looks to have the advantage over Wisconsin's defensive line. The same can be said for Wisconsin's offensive line against Ohio State's defensive line. Both have star linebackers: Wisconsin with senior Chris Borland (5-11, 246) and Ohio State with junior Ryan Shazier (6-2, 230), who might be the best at his position in the nation. But Ohio State enjoys a huge advantage in the secondary. Look for Ohio State junior CB Bradley Roby (5-11, 192) to spend much of the game shadowing Wisconsin senior WR Jared Abbrederis (6-2, 190). If Abbrederis is shut down, Wisconsin's passing attack is in trouble. Wisconsin sophomore TB Melvin Gordon (6-1, 207) leads the nation with 627 rushing yards, and his big-play ability will tax the Buckeyes' defense. Indeed, if Gordon and senior James White (5-10, 195) don't hit some big plays and help the Badgers rush for at least 225 yards, the Badgers have no chance.

1. LSU at Georgia, Saturday, 3:30 p.m. ET, CBS

The skinny: Prospects at every turn in this one, to be sure. LSU wide receivers Odell Beckham and Jarvis Landry are playing as well as any receiving tandem in the nation, and Georgia cornerback Damian Swann, among others, will be called on to slow them down. Georgia linebacker Jordan Jenkins will have his work cut out against a massive, talented LSU offensive front that includes a potential NFL left tackle in La'El Collins. Meanwhile, Tigers running back Jeremy Hill is coming off a game in which he shredded the Auburn defense. Expect LSU defensive tackles Ego Ferguson and Anthony Johnson to have their way with the interior of Georgia's offensive front. Meanwhile, Georgia's star running back, Todd Gurley, will try to make his way past one of the SEC's top linebackers in Lamin Barrow. And, oh yeah, both quarterbacks -- LSU's Zach Mettenberger and Georgia's Aaron Murray -- should be in the NFL in 2014 as well. It's a can't-miss college game for NFL fans seeking a peek at what may be available at almost any position of need.

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