Most schedules are starting to move into conference play, but don’t tell the teams in some of the biggest games this week.
Teams like South Carolina, UCLA, Arizona State, Stanford and Washington all could look like they use another week or two to get into shape before critical games.
UCLA and Arizona State both have health concerns for the quarterback position. Washington and UCLA have played down to lesser teams. Stanford can’t find its way to the end zone. And South Carolina is just embarrassing (says Steve Spurrier).
There’s no more time shake off the offseason cobwebs, so someone’s going to have to figure things out before Saturday.
Week 5’s Top Five Games
All Times Eastern
UCLA at Arizona State
When and where: Thursday, 10 p.m., Fox Sports 1
We’re watching because... the Pac-12 South is becoming increasingly unpredictable thanks to the emergence of Arizona and Utah plus USC’s egg-laying at Boston College. UCLA’s had its share of close calls with and without quarterback Brett Hundley, who may be ready to return after he missed most of the Texas win a week ago. Arizona State isn’t so lucky with Taylor Kelly out with a foot injury. Arizona State will replace him with Mike Bercovici, who has been on campus long enough to back up Brock Osweiler.
Vegas says: UCLA by 6
Arkansas vs. Texas A&M (Arlington)
When and where: Saturday, 3:30 p.m., CBS
We’re watching because... we like surprises, and Arkansas and Texas A&M being relevant in the powerhouse SEC West counts. Picked to finish sixth and seventh in the West, the Aggies and Razorbacks are a combined 7-1. Arkansas will try to control the clock with the run game as it did against former A&M offensive coordinator Kliff Kingsbury at Texas Tech. The Aggies have yet to face a high-level, full-strength offense all season.
Vegas says: Texas A&M by 10
Stanford at Washington
When and where: Saturday, 4:15 p.m., FOX
We’re watching because... one of these teams has to start looking like a Pac-12 North contender, right? Stanford has been inept in the red zone, and Washington is letting bad teams hang around. Even after converting all three red zone chances for touchdowns against Army, Stanford’s red zone touchdown rate (six TDs in 14 red zone trips) is last in the Pac-12. And a week after Washington made easy work of Illinois, the Huskies let Georgia State jump to a two-touchdown halftime lead in a 45-14 win. Oregon is vulnerable, but neither of these teams looks ready to take advantage.
Vegas says: Stanford by 7
Missouri at South Carolina
When and where: Saturday, 7 p.m., ESPN
We’re watching because... at this rate the game between two SEC East contenders may devolve into a comedy of errors. South Carolina coach Steve Spurrier said the way his team plays is “embarrassing” and took over kickoff coverage coaching duties after giving up two returns for touchdowns against Vanderbilt. His team won by two touchdowns. Wonder what Spurrier would say if his team lost at home to Indiana as Missouri just did.
Vegas says: South Carolina by 6
Tennessee at Georgia
When and where: Saturday, noon, ESPN
We’re watching because... Tennessee is an improved team. Improved enough to further spoil Georgia’s season, though, we’re not sure. Either way, Todd Gurley facing linebacker A.J. Johnson promises to be an interesting matchup. Gurley missed the matchup last season, a 34-31 Georgia win in Knoxville.
Vegas says: Georgia by 18