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5 Winners, 5 Losers College Football: Week 5

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Posted at 10:36 AM, Oct 03, 2016
and last updated 2016-10-03 11:36:33-04

In the span of minutes Saturday college football fans were treated to the interception of the year by Michigan's Jourdan Lewis, a walk-off 54-yard field goal by North Carolina and Tennessee's final play Hail Mary at Georgia. 

That was before the much anticipated top five showdown between Louisville and Clemson in Death Valley. 

College football always delivers. Every Saturday. 

Here are my five winners and losers from week five of the college football season. 

WINNERS

1. CLEMSON

It wasn't always pretty; the Tigers were outgained by Louisville, lost time of possession by nearly 16:00 and turned the ball over five times, but there's a swagger from the team in Death Valley these days. DeShaun Watson threw five touchdowns and  Clemson made enough plays down the stretch to hold off a furious second half rally. Even in defeat, the Cardinals did little to hurt their standing as a playoff contender, and Lamar Jackson's 457 total yards and three touchdowns only further cemented his place as the Heisman frontrunner. 

2. TENNESSEE

It doesn't matter how big the deficit, Tennessee isn't done until 0:00 is on the clock. The latest example of that came Saturday where the Vols erased a 17-3 deficit, taking the lead on a Corey Vereen fumble recovery with 2:56 to play, only to watch Georgia regain the lead on a Jacob Eason touchdown pass with :10 left. Even then, the Vols believed they would still win and, as improbable as it was, they did on Joshua Dobbs' 43-yard Hail Mary to Jauan Jennings on the game's final play. 

So far this season Tennessee has erased deficits of 10, 14, 21, and 17 on the way to a 5-0 record. We still may not know just how good the Vols are (games at Texas A&M and vs. no. 1 Alabama the next two weeks should tell us), but there's no question they believe they're going to win each time out. 

3. WASHINGTON

The Huskies were impressive in a 3-0 start against inferior competition, figured out how to survive against Arizona in their PAC-12 opener and then blitzed Stanford Friday night. Washington's defense continues to impress, completely shutting down a physical Cardinal offense in a 44-6 beatdown. Quarterback Jake Browning continues to show his experience in leading a much improved offense. The Huskies can grab control of the PAC-12 North race if they can end a 12-game losing streak to Oregon this week. 

4. NORTH CAROLINA

Mitch Trubisky is the nation's best quarterback that not enough people are talking about. On Saturday he led the Tar Heels into Doak Campbell Stadium and to a huge ACC road win over no. 12 Florida State. Trubisky answering what appeared to be a game-winning touchdown by Dalvin Cook with :30 to play with a last minute drive to get UNC in field goal range. Nick Weiler did the rest, perfectly splitting the uprights on a 54-yard game-winning field goal that keeps the Heels perfect in ACC play. 

5. MICHIGAN

The Wolverines still haven't left the Big House this season, but seemingly take on more and more of the personality of their head coach Jim Harbaugh each week. The Wolverines defense held no. 8 Wisconsin to just seven points Saturday, limiting running back Corey Clement and shutting down the Badgers' passing game. The offense struggled against a stout Wisconsin defense, but quarterback Wilton Speight made the big time throw in the clutch, dropping a fourth quarter dime to Amara Darboh on a go route for a 46-yard touchdown that proved to be the game-winner. 

LOSERS

1. CHARLIE STRONG

The seat in Austin was already warm, and after Saturday's 49-32 loss at Oklahoma State the Texas faithful has placed Strong squarely on it. The Longhorns defense was hapless against Mason Rudolph and company, and the offense managed just one score in the second half. Throw in three blocked extra points and everything that could've gone wrong did. Strong feels the pressure, so he's taking over the defense from Vance Bedford ahead of Saturday's Red River Rivalry showdown with Oklahoma. Strong's biggest win to date was last year's upset of the Sooners. He may need another stunner in Dallas to save his job. 

2. MICHIGAN STATE

The Spartans had lost two Big Ten games in three years entering last week's game against Wisconsin. Now the defending Big Ten champs are 0-2 in league play after an overtime loss at Indiana. Mark Dantonio's defense is still one of the best around but the offense is really struggling, averaging just 10 points per game in regulation so far in league play. 

3. IOWA

The Spartans' problems seem minor in comparison with the team they narrowly beat in last year's Big Ten Championship game. Three weeks ago Iowa gave head coach Kirk Ferentz a new $45 million dollar contract extension through 2026. Since then, the Hawkeyes have just one win over Rutgers, sandwiched by home losses to FCS power North Dakota State and Saturday's 38-31 defeat to Northwestern that leaves one wondering if the Hawkeyes' investment in Ferentz for another decade was a wise one. 

4. SAN DIEGO STATE

South Alabama 42, San Diego State 24. That's the most surprising result of the week in college football. The Aztecs entered the game ranked 19th in the country and riding a 13-game winning streak that was the second longest in the nation. They walked away with a loss that severely damaged their hopes of crashing a New Year's Six bowl game. 

5. AUSTIN PEAY

The Governors had lost 19 games in a row, but seemingly had the best chance to snap that streak this week hosting fellow OVC bottom feeder Murray State. Austin Peay had a shot to make it a one possession game early in the fourth quarter, but the Racers came up with a goal line stand and then drove 98 yards for a touchdown to put the game out of reach, stretching the losing streak to 20.