Big Board: Week 5

The college football season is more than four full weeks in the books. 

It’s still early to sort out the pretenders from the contenders, especially since the calendar has yet to flip to October, but it’s still worthwhile to take stock in the first four games for many teams around the country.

PODCAST: What’s the Perception of Marcus Freeman After Notre Dame’s Loss to Ohio State?

Missouri, Kansas and Fresno State entered the Associated Press Top 25 Poll this week, and all three programs are off to 4-0 starts. 

The Bulldogs are on a 12-game winning streak, behind only the Georgia Bulldogs for longest in the country. Quarterback Mikey Keene is completing 67.5% of his passes and averaging over 301 passing yards per game. 

Here are several players and notes to keep a tab on in this week’s Big Board. 

Are Ryan Day and the No. 4 Buckeyes for real? 

Ryan Day made his statement known after the game last Saturday in South Bend, Indiana. 

Day emphasized Ohio State’s “toughness” and its will to gain one more yard in order to come up on the winning side of a 17-14 tilt with then-No. 9 Notre Dame. 

But after a top-10 win of this magnitude, can the Buckeyes maintain it and build from it? 

Through the first three games of the season, Ohio State’s offense didn’t exactly resemble the explosive offenses of years past. It’s worth noting that Kyle McCord, who won the starting quarterback competition over Devin Brown, was settling into his role as starter. 

The Buckeyes averaged 474.7 yards per game through their first three games, and their defense captured most of the early talking points shown in the strides taken over the offseason. 

Explosive plays have cost Ohio State in recent years, notably in its two losses to Michigan and its College Football Playoff semifinal loss to Georgia. It seems the Buckeyes are being rather stingy on defense, and they have the No. 2 scoring defense holding opponents to 8.5 points per game.

READ: Quotables: Week 4

After a bye week this week the Buckeyes will face 4-0 Maryland which hung around in last season’s meeting trailing 33-30 with as few as six minutes left in the fourth quarter before Ohio State pulled away 43-30. 

This version of Ohio State is different, yet, it is out to a 4-0 start with a top-10 victory under its belt. We’ll see how the Buckeyes fare in October when they host the Terrapins and No. 6 Penn State and travel to Purdue and Wisconsin. 

No. 1 Georgia holds top spot firmly, but has more to be desired 

The Bulldogs have held firm at the top of each week’s Top 25. They’ve yet to lose a game this season and are riding a 21-game winning streak, the longest in the country. 

Georgia has the No. 11 passing offense in the country, its run game is No. 64 and its total defense is No. 17. Those are notable positions when jockeying with other programs, but let’s take a look at which teams are ahead of the Bulldogs in those categories. 

No. 7 Washington holds the top spot in passing offense. Quarterback Michael Penix Jr. has made an early Heisman Trophy campaign leading the Huskies behind an average of 467.2 yards per game. 

Air Force far and away has the rushing offense that is most productive. The Falcons average 340.5 yards per game on the ground — almost 70 more yards than the No. 2 rushing offense — and does so behind Emmanuel Michel and mobile quarterback Zac Larrier. 

The top total defense goes to Penn State, which is holding opponents to 219.5 yards per game. The Nittany Lions are giving up 81.5 rushing yards and 138 passing yards per game, which is rather stout, and have 11 players with at least one sack.

READ: Stat Pack: Week 4

The Bulldogs have yet to face stiff competition compared to their competitors. Their opposition this season has a combined record of 7-9. 

That should change on Saturday when Georgia travels to Auburn for its first road game of the year, and the Bulldogs haven’t lost away from home in a true road game since falling at Alabama in 2020. Head coach Kirby Smart will have greater tasks ahead of him in order to hold the top spot in college football. 

Bo Nix, Oregon 

Bo Nix is a returner to the Big Board

And he and No. 9 Ducks made a statement victory last weekend over Colorado. 

Oregon trounced the Buffaloes, handing Deion Sanders and Colorado their first loss of the season. Nix largely played catalyst for an explosive Oregon offense that put up 35 points in the first half. 

Nix himself is getting into position to be among the country’s premier quarterbacks, and a possible Heisman contender. He’s completing passes at a 79.4% rate, good for second in the NCAA. 

Nix also stacks up with other quarterbacks in other statistical categories. He’s averaging about 26 completions per game, seventh-most in the country, and he’s No. 13 in passing efficiency with a rating of 180.53.

PODCAST: Calculated Risk: Week Four delivered

He’s no stranger to college football. The fifth-year quarterback has played in big games at Auburn where he spent the 2019-21 seasons and is settling in well in Year 2 with the Ducks. 

Nix’s Heisman odds are +1000 according to FanDuel Sportsbook, and his odds are better than his +2000 position a week ago. He’s an interesting contender on a CFP-caliber team, and it’ll remain interesting to see how Nix and Oregon can build on their momentum.