Chris’s Column: Previewing key matchups for Week 5 top-25 games in Division 1 College Football

Arkansas’ Hudson Clark, right, makes a tackle against LSU during an NCAA college football game in Baton Rouge, La., Saturday, Sept. 23, 2023. (Scott Clause/The Daily Advertiser via AP)

As the college football season progresses, week five will feature another good slate of matchups among the top 25 teams across college football. As fans eagerly anticipate the outcomes for each game, it’s time to dive into the most important matchups of the week. Below, we will analyze and predict some key battles that could affect each team’s rank and individual journey to the college football playoffs. 

1. LSU v. Ole Miss: Saturday, Sept. 30, 6:00 p.m. 

Location: Vaught-Hemingway Stadium, Oxford, Mississippi 

In this SEC West battle, the LSU Tigers face off against the Ole Miss Rebels, making for yet another intense in-conference rivalry. The LSU Tigers are led by senior quarterback Jayden Daniels and Ole Miss is led by junior quarterback Jaxson Dart. The Tigers suffered a devastating loss in their season opener against Florida State but have since won three games in a row. In last year’s matchup, unranked LSU defeated a No. 7 ranked Ole Miss team 45-20. Homefield advantage has played a vital role between these two teams, as Ole Miss has won eight of their last 10 SEC home games. However, getting early points on the board and containing Daniels is crucial for the Rebels. Ole Miss scored 10 points last week against Alabama after averaging 52.7 ppg through their first three games. LSU has owned Ole Miss in recent years, winning six of the last seven games. This game will determine crucial seeding in the SEC West and will have greater implications for a push for the college football playoffs. 

2. USC v. Colorado: Saturday, Sept. 30, 12:00 p.m.  

Location: Folsom Field, Boulder, Colorado 

The USC Trojans take on the Colorado Buffaloes in a PAC-12 showdown that should certainly create some buzz this upcoming Saturday. USC, led by head coach Lincoln Riley and future first round NFL quarterback Caleb Williams, looks to disrupt the buzz of Colorado’s Deion Sanders and his son Shedeur Sanders, the team’s Heisman-candidate QB. The Buffaloes got blown out of the Oregon Ducks’ stadium last week 42-6. Without dual-threat Travis Hunter for the Buffaloes, the offense and defense looked invisible on the field. Colorado’s edge rushers have been productive, but this game will determine if the Buffaloes can keep up with a skilled leader in Williams. 

3. Georgia vs Auburn: Saturday, Sept. 30, 3:30 p.m.  

Location: Jordan-Hare Stadium, Auburn, Alabama 

Two SEC powerhouse schools are set to clash in a historical rivalry. The defending 2-time national champions have surprisingly started off slow the first couple weeks; the Bulldogs have yet to find their championship strides. For the Tigers, it’s all about containing tight-end Brock Bowers. Georgia head coach Kirby Smart will be a big factor in this game with his championship pedigree and experience in playing in hectic environments like Jordan-Hare Stadium. Auburn’s quarterback Payton Thorne has struggled mightily, but with both schools leading the country in scoring defense and third down defense, the score of this game might not be as high as people might expect it to be. Smart’s plan with quarterback Carson Beck has seen him throw for over 1,000 yards this season, but he has not found his touch as he struggles against SEC opponents. 

4. Notre Dame vs Duke: Saturday, Sept. 30, 7:30 p.m.  

Location: Wallace Wade Stadium, Durham, North Carolina 

An intriguing non-conference matchup awaits Saturday night in Durham. Notre Dame, led by head coach Marcus Freeman, aims to solidify their college football playoff run alive after suffering a devastating loss to Ohio State on a last-second touchdown on the goal line. The Fighting Irish quarterback Sam Hartman against Blue Devils quarterback Riley Leonard will come down to who’s better in the red zone. The Blue Devils have held opponents to low scores, but their running defense could be exploited by Freeman. 

5. Clemson vs Syracuse: Saturday, Sept. 30, 12:00 p.m.  

Location: Carrier Dome, Syracuse, New York 

An ACC clash between the Tigers and the Orange stands as a highly anticipated matchup on Saturday. Clemson struggled mightily in the first three weeks, first losing to Duke and then to Florida State in an overtime battle. Syracuse has yet to play a solid opponent, but they look to change their team’s fortune in this one. Quarterback Garrett Shrader and running back LeQuint Allen are a tough one-two punch that should cause problems for the Tigers’ defense. For Clemson, running back Will Shipley and quarterback Cade Klubnik have not been as productive in the fourth quarter. 

These five thrilling machtchups for college football fans will certainly be a treat to watch, with intense competition on the horizon. Make sure to mark your calendars for these epic showdowns that could shape the College Football Playoff this season. 

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