CFB Wrap-Up: Takeaways from Week 5's biggest games
College Football Wrap-Up recaps the most important developments from the day's action and examines the significance of them moving forward.
Georgia battles red-zone issues in narrow win
For 56 minutes of game action Saturday, the impossible looked like it was about to become reality. Georgia, which has looked utterly unbeatable all season, trailed for virtually the entire game at Missouri, falling behind by as many as 13 points. The Bulldogs would claw back and score the eventual game-winning score with just over four minutes to play, but the rest of the SEC should feel much better about their chances versus the defending champions.
It always feels like nitpicking when you try to find issues with the Bulldogs, but after Saturday, it's clear they need to address the offensive performance in the red zone. Georgia entered play sitting 68th in the country at scoring touchdowns inside the opponent's 20-yard line, finding the end zone 65% of the time. Considering it scores points of some kind over 96% of the time, it's clear the offense is settling for field goals too much.
Georgia found itself inside the red zone five times Saturday night, converting three field goals and two touchdowns. That 40% touchdown rate is significantly below the team's success rate on the season - a number that was already underwhelming.
With Brock Bowers and Darnell Washington arguably the best tight ends in the country, the Bulldogs should be utterly dominant in the red zone. However, Saturday showed yet again it's an area of concern as they get deeper into the heart of their schedule.
Clemson's defense rebounds in dominant fashion
The struggling Clemson defense that allowed 447 yards and 45 points last weekend to Wake Forest must have stayed behind in Winston-Salem. The inspired unit that took the field Saturday looked like a completely different outfit in shutting down Devin Leary and NC State in a 30-20 win.
A week after Wake Forest's Sam Hartman threw for 337 yards and six touchdowns while averaging a whopping 11.6 yards per pass, Clemson's secondary shut down Leary and the Wolfpack's offense. NC State finished with just 279 total yards and averaged a paltry 5.1 yards per pass.
Clemson's offense wasn't as explosive as it was in the overtime victory at Wake Forest, but the Tigers moved the ball enough to make the win feel very comfortable over the 10th-ranked Wolfpack.
The victory is the 37th straight at home for Dabo Swinney to tie the longest streak in ACC history. It also cemented the idea that No. 5 Clemson belongs in the conversation with any team in the country.
Ole Miss' defense stands up
Lane Kiffin has made his name as an incredibly gifted offensive play-caller, but the veteran coach was quick to thank Ole Miss' defense Saturday for securing a huge win over No. 7 Kentucky. The Rebels' unit rose to the occasion multiple times down the stretch for a 22-19 win in Oxford.
After Ole Miss took a slim three-point advantage, Kentucky had three fourth-quarter drives with the chance to tie or take the lead. They ended in a turnover on downs and two forced fumbles. On the last drive, after Will Levis set up the Wildcats with first-and-goal following a huge 51-yard completion, Jared Ivey rose up and ended the threat with a huge individual play.
The victory is Kiffin's first over a top-10 opponent in the regular season at Ole Miss and the Rebels' ninth straight triumph in a non-bowl game. With dates against Vanderbilt and Auburn next, Ole Miss should be 7-0 heading to LSU on Oct. 22.
Alabama runs wild to overcome Young injury
Saturday started well enough for Alabama, but the Crimson Tide are now waiting with bated breath on the injury report for star quarterback Bryce Young. The Heisman winner led Alabama to a 14-0 lead over Arkansas before falling awkwardly on his shoulder. He'd remain in the game but exited quickly after his next throw and would not return.
Nick Saban turned to the running game to overcome that injury, and to say it worked might be the understatement of the year. Jalen Milroe showed his elite running ability in Young's absence, finishing with 91 yards on the ground in the win.
Milroe ripped off a 77-yard run to set up an easy score in the fourth before Jahmyr Gibbs followed with a 72-yard touchdown on the following drive. Gibbs wasn't done there, as the Georgia Tech transfer raced 76 yards for another score on the next possession. Those three lengthy runs happened over a five-play span in the fourth quarter.
It's not a stretch to say Young is the most important player to his team in college football. While Alabama's talent was able to win the day Saturday, its hopes for a national title are hanging on Young's injury diagnosis.
Wake Forest's complete showing
Wake Forest has risen to prominence over the past few years by using one of the nation's best offensive units to overcome a below-average defense. Despite ranking 88th in scoring defense last season, the Demon Deacons still won the ACC Atlantic thanks to the fourth-best offense in the country. This year is more of the same, with the country's 13th-best offense offsetting the 94th-ranked defense. However, Wake Forest put together a complete game Saturday in an upset win against Florida State.
Sam Hartman and the offense were again a juggernaut, piling up over 400 yards of total offense and 31 points, but the defense finally held up its end of the bargain. The Seminoles were held to just 4-of-11 on third-down and limited to 21 points. Outside of the scripted drives to start each half, which resulted in touchdowns, the Demon Deacons held Florida State to just one other end-zone trip on eight possessions.
Ohio State's embarrassment of riches
There's no roster in the country with more offensive firepower than Ohio State. The Buckeyes served the latest reminder Saturday in a 49-10 drubbing of Rutgers that their arsenal is virtually unfair. With star running back TreVeyon Henderson sidelined, Ohio State fed backup Miyan Williams early and often. The result: a school record five rushing touchdowns and 189 yards on the ground.
The Buckeyes entered play ranked third in the nation in scoring despite star receiver Jaxon Smith-Njigba only having four receptions this season. They only added to that per-game average Saturday. The biggest problem Ryan Day might have coming down the stretch in Columbus is whether there are enough scoring plays to keep everyone happy.
Big plays bring Oklahoma State revenge
Oklahoma State finally exacted some revenge Saturday nine months after falling one inch short of a College Football Playoff berth at the hands of Baylor. The difference in Waco this time around was the Cowboys' ability to execute big plays in the second half to grab a huge 36-25 conference victory against the Bears.
The Cowboys started well with a 16-3 halftime lead and wasted no time in the second half to add some distance. They took the kickoff 63 yards to push the advantage to 20. That would be key as the Bears raced back with two touchdowns to cut it to 23-17. Oklahoma State leaned on another big play with Braydon Johnson's 49-yard grab setting up an easy score.
Oklahoma State would finish it out from there to grab a huge conference win that could go a long way toward deciding the Big 12. Look for the Cowboys to make a move in the AP Poll with No. 7 Kentucky's loss earlier in the day.
Where's that Venables defense?
While most expected Oklahoma's offense to take a step back following Lincoln Riley's departure, Brent Venables' arrival brought great optimism for a dominant defense in Norman. Safe to say nobody is feeling particularly optimistic about that after Saturday's showing against TCU.
In five of his last six seasons as Clemson's defensive coordinator, Venables led a top-10 unit in the country. If the rest of Big 12 play looks anything like the Sooners' opening two games of conference action, a top-100 unit might be difficult to achieve.
Last week saw Kansas State pile up 275 yards rushing and 41 points in an upset win in Norman. Saturday was even worse, as the Horned Frogs embarrassed the Sooners with 668 total yards of offense in a 55-24 blowout.
Oklahoma's defense was non-existent from the start, with TCU scoring back-to-back touchdowns of 73 and 67 yards in the opening quarter. A 62-yard score toward the end of the second quarter sent the Horned Frogs to the locker room with 479 yards of total offense, 21 first downs, and over 10 yards per play.
The Sooners won't have much time to get things fixed, as the Red River Rivalry against Texas kicks off next week with prolific quarterback Quinn Ewers expected to return from injury.
Bret thumps Wisconsin
Bret Bielema departed Wisconsin in 2012 after seven seasons and an impressive 68-24 record in 92 games. Paul Chryst entered Saturday's contest against Bielema and Illinois at Camp Randall Stadium with an almost identical 67-25 record in 92 games with the Badgers. It's safe to say both coaches will remember Chryst's 93rd game with the program, albeit for significantly different reasons.
The Illini rolled over the Badgers 34-10 for their first win in Madison since 2002. It was classic Bielema football with Illinois piling up 140 yards and four touchdowns on the ground, while the defense absolutely stifled Wisconsin's attack.
The Badgers came in ranked fourth in the Big Ten in rushing at 211 yards per contest. That number will drop dramatically after the Illini's defense held Wisconsin to -26 rushing yards on 26 carries. That figure isn't a miscalculation - Wisconsin actually averaged one negative yard per attempt Saturday. The final rushing number was the program's lowest in a single game since 2015.
The Badgers have now lost four of the last five games against Power 5 competition. After beginning his tenure in Madison with a sparkling 52-16 record, Chryst has gone 15-10 the last three seasons and is quickly losing support from the students.