As the nation’s elite college football teams continue to separate themselves from the rest, the fifth Saturday of the season will feature no less than four games pitting Associated Press (AP) ranked Top-25 teams against one another.
In fact, six of the AP’s Top-10 teams will compete in high-profile conference games, with each putting an undefeated record and playoff aspirations on the line.
But before moving on to the meat of the Week 5 schedule, let’s get the gimme games out of the way.
Top-ranked Alabama (4-0) takes on Kentucky (2-2), and the defending national champions are 35-point home favorites after last week’s 48-0 drubbing of Kent State (1-3).
Second-ranked Ohio State (3-0) gets a home game against Rutgers (2-2), and following a bye last week, the Buckeyes are installed as 38.5-point favorites at online sportsbook Bovada.
As for third-ranked Louisville (4-0), the high-flying Cardinals offense – which hasn’t been held under 59 points all year – will face a fellow ACC powerhouse in fifth-ranked Clemson (4-0). The Tigers nearly won it all last year, falling just short in the title game to Alabama, but that 45-40 shootout may have inspired head coach Dabo Sweeney to renew his commitment to defense.
This season the Tigers are surrendering just 11 points per game, so this potentially ACC-deciding game will present a classic contest: the irresistible force that is Louisville’s offense contending with Clemson’s immovable object of a defense.
Fourth-ranked Michigan (4-0) is clearly the class of the Big Ten’s East division, but eighth-ranked Wisconsin (4-0) has held serve over in the West. The two rivals square off to decide the class of the conference, and with the game being played in the Big House in front of 110,000 rabid Michigan faithful, the Wolverines are listed as 10.5-point favorites at Bovada.
Head coach Jim Harbaugh has Michigan humming as expected, but they’ve dominated a soft schedule so far with blowout wins over Hawaii (63-3), UCF (51-14), Colorado (45-28), and Penn State (49-10).
Wisconsin, meanwhile, entered the year with low expectations under second-year head coach Paul Chryst. But the Badgers opened the year with a big win over then fifth-ranked LSU (16-14), before beating eighth-ranked Michigan State (30-6) in convincing fashion last week. The Spartans were 6-point home favorites in that tilt, so Wisconsin should feel more than comfortable as underdogs playing in hostile conditions against Michigan’s foremost football institution.
Out on the West Coast it’s seventh-ranked Stanford (3-0) battling 10th-ranked Washington (4-0) for supremacy in the Pac-12 North division. Neither team has played an opponent of note early on, so this game will mark the first true test for both.
The Huskies have the benefit of home field advantage over the Cardinal, which seems to be the only point of separation between these evenly matched opponents. Accordingly, Bovada has Washington as 3-point home favorites, giving them the standard field goal venue advantage in what would otherwise be a pick’em if played at a neutral site.
The 11th-ranked Tennessee Volunteers (4-0) lead the SEC East, but the 25th-ranked Georgia Bulldogs (3-1) are nipping at their heels. Based on the strength of last week’s rousing 38-28 victory over then 19th-ranked Florida, Tennessee has been tabbed as 3.5-point consensus favorites despite playing on the road.