5 college football games to watch in week five of the 2013 season (5 items)
After a week that featured just one matchup between two ranked teams and plenty of cupcake contests, week five of the 2013 college football season looks to be more exciting than its predecessor.
Two of this week's key matchups involve ranked teams atop the SEC, including Ole Miss traveling to Alabama and LSU visiting Georgia.
There will also be several key league contests for BCS teams around the country and opportunities for some teams to show they merit national discussion.
Here's a look at five top games to pay attention to this week:
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1 of 5. No. 5: USC at Arizona State
The stakes: The matchup pits a pair of teams that at some point have been ranked, but losses bounced them out of the top 25. Both teams are in desperate need of a Pac-12 victory, as both sit at 0-1 in league play.
The 3-1 Trojans have bounced back nicely from a stunning loss to Washington State in week two with victories over Boston College and Utah State and feature one of the top defenses in the country. USC has given up just one rushing touchdown this season and is allowing opponents only 11 points per game.
After playing three straight home games, USC plays four of its next six on the road, including three conference road matchups.
The Sun Devils, meanwhile, are coming into this game off a 42-28 loss to No. 5 Stanford and have lost 12 of their past 13 games against USC. Before the loss to the Cardinal, though, Arizona State (2-1) knocked off Wisconsin in Tempe and features the eighth-best passing offense in the country at 361.3 passing yards per game.
2 of 5. No. 4: No. 14 Oklahoma at No. 22 Notre Dame
The stakes: The Sooners (3-0) will try to stay unbeaten in their final game before starting Big 12 play; Notre Dame (3-1), after a loss to Michigan earlier in the season, is looking for its first victory over a ranked team this season.
Junior quarterback Blake Bell will be making his second straight start for Oklahoma in a matchup of two high-profile college football teams. The Sooners lost to Notre Dame last season in a contest that featured two top 10 teams and will be looking to return the favor in South Bend.
Oklahoma, while playing an easier schedule thus far than Notre Dame, has given up an average of nine points per game, tied for fifth nationally.
Notre Dame narrowly defeated Michigan State (17-13) and Purdue (31-24) in the past two weeks. Following a season where the Fighting Irish played for the national title, Notre Dame hasn't yet answered many questions facing it early in the season.
The test against Oklahoma will be a good barometer for the Irish, while the Sooners will try to show they can be BCS contenders.
"It's gonna have to be our best game of the year in all phases, including special teams," Notre Dame coach Brian Kelly told the South Bend Tribune. "This isn't a week where we have to get our guys' attention."
3 of 5. No. 3: No. 23 Wisconsin at No. 4 Ohio State
The stakes: Plenty is on the line in this early season Big 10 matchup. The victor will have the inside track to earning the Big 10 Leaders Division crown.
Ohio State has won 16 straight games and was victorious in its four non-conference games by an average score of 52.5 to 15.3. Wisconsin (3-1) picked up a 41-10 victory in its league opener last week against Purdue.
One matchup to watch will be the Buckeyes' rushing attack against the Wisconsin front seven. Ohio State ranks sixth nationally in rushing yards per game (311.0) while the Badgers are sixth in the country against the run (76.3 yards per game).
This is a series that has been close over the past decade. In the last 10 years, Ohio State has a 5-3 edge over Wisconsin, with four of those contests being decided by seven or fewer points.
"It is very much a game that I think our players and their players know that it's going to come down (to the finish)," Ohio State coach Urban Meyer told the Associated Press. "This will be a classic game."
4 of 5. No. 2: No. 21 Ole Miss at No. 1 Alabama
The stakes: Not long ago, the Rebels were sitting near the bottom of the SEC standings. But Ole Miss is 3-0 this season and would make plenty of noise with an upset victory this week over the two-time defending national champs.
For the Rebels, this weekend's game is the first of three in the next four weeks against a team currently ranked in the top 10. Still, Ole Miss appears confident it can perform well against an Alabama team it has lost to nine straight times.
"Yeah, I think we can put points on them," Ole Miss quarterback Bo Wallace told al.com. "I think we can put points on anybody. We just have to show up and play. It's the same thing every week, let's stay on schedule, control the tempo and don't have any turnovers."
Alabama stands at 3-0 and has already won one of its marquee matchups, beating Texas A&M 49-42 in College Station, Texas, two weeks ago. Quarterback A.J. McCarron put up a strong performance on the big stage that day, throwing for more than 300 yards and four touchdowns in the Crimson Tide victory.
A victory Saturday would set Alabama up to likely be 8-0 heading into a home matchup with LSU on Nov. 6.
5 of 5. No. 1: No. 6 LSU at No. 9 Georgia
The stakes: It's a big week in the SEC this week, with a second matchup of ranked division favorites going head to head.
While a loss to LSU may not severely hurt the Bulldogs' chances of earning the SEC East division title, Georgia (2-1) needs the victory Saturday to stay in the national title hunt after dropping its season opener at Clemson.
The Bulldogs feature a top-ranked offense, averaging 574.0 yards and 40.3 points per game this season. LSU (4-0) also has a powerful offense, led by quarterback Zach Mettenberger, a Georgia transfer who has thrown for 1,026 yards, 10 touchdowns and one interception this season.
LSU already has impressive victories over TCU (37-27) and Auburn (35-21) this season. A win Saturday would keep the Tigers in line to play Alabama for SEC West supremacy in November, though LSU still has games against Florida and Ole Miss before then.
“It’s got to be some type of record to start off with three top 10 teams in the first four games, but it’s been fun to play this type of game, in these atmospheres, against these teams," Georgia quarterback Aaron Murray told the Atlanta Journal-Constitition. "Everyone’s like ‘that must stink,’ but I think it’s fun. I think everyone on this team thinks it’s fun."