Will UCLA Have Its Quarterback and Other Big Questions for Week 5 in College Football
After the most exciting week of the season so far, we have a handful of big games and key conference matchups this week. Here are some of the big questions this week.
Will the Last Longhorn Left Please Turn Out the Lights?
Texas coach Charlie Strong made it clear when he took the job that a new sheriff was in town, one with a very low tolerance for bad attitudes and poor decision making. That trend continued this week when Strong announced that offensive tackle Kennedy Estelle had been dismissed from the team for a violation of team rules, the ninth player already kicked off the team this year. Combined with quarterback David Ash’s recent announcement that he was quitting football after repeated concussions, the Texas ranks are getting thin. Will Coach Strong’s “my way or the highway” approach improve Texas long-term and bring the toughness the Longhorns had lacked in recent years? Maybe. But with a depleted roster and upcoming games at Kansas and against No. 7 Baylor and No. 4 Oklahoma in the next three weeks, Texas’ struggles are likely to get worse before they get better.
Will a Backup Quarterback Decide the Pac-12 South?
Thursday night’s matchup between No. 11 UCLA and No. 15 Arizona State could see both teams lining up without their star quarterbacks. The Sun Devils have already announced that signal caller Taylor Kelly will miss the game with a foot injury. Fortunately for ASU, backup Mike Mercovici has had a bye week to get plenty of practice reps and get comfortable as the man under center. For UCLA, Bruins coaches are being a little more secretive about the status of quarterback Brett Hundley. Hundley left last week’s game against Texas with an elbow injury, but it is rumored that he’ll be ready to go. If not, he’ll be replaced by Jerry Neuheisel, who rallied the Bruins to a come-from-behind win over the Longhorns. If Hundley can’t go, give a slight edge to Arizona State thanks to running back DJ Foster, who is averaging 9.4 yards per carry, and a potent running game that ranks seventh nationally in rushing. If Hundley goes, the advantage swings back to the Bruins.
How Many Times Will We See Jameis Winston on TV?
I can’t be the only one who thought ESPN’s coverage of last week’s Florida State-Clemson game was a little ridiculous. I mean, we saw more coverage of Winston on the sideline than we did of players actually on the field. Fortunately, this week Winston is expected to be back under center after his one-game suspension. But don’t expect his comeback to be a cakewalk. Although unranked, North Carolina State is undefeated and is a team that has been Florida State’s kryptonite over the years, upsetting the ‘Noles six times since 2001. Although not as talented, the Wolfpack is less likely than Clemson to collapse down the stretch. So if NC State keeps this close late, expect to see a few more sideline closeups of a nervous Winston.
How Does Missouri Recover?
It’s bad enough losing at home to a Big Ten team. But Indiana? Losing to Michigan State or Ohio State is one thing. You could even forgive a slip-up against Wisconsin, Nebraska or Penn State. But for an SEC school to lose at home to Indiana? Inconceivable.
Unfortunately for the Tigers, things don’t look much brighter this week with a road trip to No. 13 South Carolina on tap. And thanks to a variety of injuries, they’ll have to do it behind a makeshift offensive line with three players either seeing their first start or playing new positions. Fortunately, the Gamecocks’ defense has been lousy (109th nationally in points allowed), so the Tigers should still be able to be competitive and potentially avenge their only SEC loss from last year.
How Much Hotter Can Brady Hoke’s Seat Get?
With the Wolverines sitting at 2-2, coach Brady Hoke’s relationship with the Michigan faithful is getting more tenuous by the day. It’s not so much that they’ve lost two games; it’s the way they lost them. Three weeks ago, they were shut out for the first time in three decades by Notre Dame. Then this week Utah closed out the final 30 minutes of play with 16 unanswered points, during which it frankly looked like many of the Wolverine players were just going through the motions. After starting 19-0 at home, Hoke has now lost three of his last five home games. In the Wolverines’ last 10 overall, they are just 3-7 with four of those losses coming by 16+ points.
How bad are things getting? After a wave of negative publicity, the Michigan athletic department had to pull the plug this week on a “Buy two bottles of Coca-Cola, get a free ticket to this week’s Michigan/Minnesota game” promotion.