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USC quarterback Caleb Williams (13) celebrates with fans as he leaves the field following a 48-41 win against Colorado at Folsom Field on Saturday, Sept. 30, 2023, in Boulder, Colorado. (Gina Ferazzi/Los Angeles Times/Tribune News Service)
USC quarterback Caleb Williams (13) celebrates with fans as he leaves the field following a 48-41 win against Colorado at Folsom Field on Saturday, Sept. 30, 2023, in Boulder, Colorado. (Gina Ferazzi/Los Angeles Times/Tribune News Service)

Elms' Essentials: Week 5

West Coast quarterbacks are dueling for this year's Heisman Trophy

Week five of the college football season had a tall task in front of it: live up to the ridiculousness of the slate during the previous week. And for the most part, it did that, and it did that in a big way. Lots of big statlines, ridiculous comebacks and exciting games all around. This week showed me lots of things about several different teams. And if that sounds vague, well, this is the intro, so it’s kind of intentionally so.

Anyway, let’s recap the biggest storylines of week five!

Michigan proved me wrong in a big way

Now, I understand that the Wolverines were playing Nebraska, and the Cornhuskers, while they had lots of success in the past, have been, well…not nearly as good over the past couple of decades or so. And they just had a coaching reset, so it was bound to be a struggle for them this year.

But last week, I said that Michigan did not look like a team that could seriously win a national championship. The offense was not operating at an appropriate level for such an achievement. The defense was playing well, but it looked like they were carrying the rest of the team sometimes. A slow start against Rutgers was not encouraging.

However, they must have heard me, because they completely and utterly dismantled Nebraska in Lincoln.

J.J. McCarthy looked sharp, efficient and precise. The defense played excellent and did not have to carry the offense to the win. McCarthy’s connection with Roman Wilson and the rest of his receivers is legit. It was, simply put, a really solid performance in all aspects of the game, and the Wolverines were able to neutralize a raucous crowd in Lincoln and cruise to victory.

This inspired much more confidence in me about this Michigan team and its national title hopes, and if the Wolverines can put together a performance like this next week on the road against a pesky Minnesota team, then I will be even more convinced that they can go all the way.

Texas is the best team in the country right now

Texas is…back?

Is that joke getting old yet? Anyway, going into this game, I thought that Kansas had more than a good chance to give the Longhorns a scare. Even without dynamic quarterback Jaylon Daniels, I thought that they would keep it close throughout the game.

Well, I was wrong.

The Longhorns came out and not only looked comfortable throughout the game, they really turned on the burners in the second half. They used an excellent combination of the passing and running game to keep the game out of reach. It was clear that Kansas missed Daniels, and Texas just seemed to be one step ahead throughout the entire game.

Texas has been consistently good for the longest amount of time of any team this season, and because of this, they are the best team in the country at this moment in time. You heard it here first.

Bo Nix is rising up the Heisman rankings

Caleb Williams is my current favorite for the Heisman Trophy, especially with his performance this past weekend against Colorado, which I’ll get to in a second.

But after his performance on the road against Stanford, Bo Nix is skyrocketing up the rankings, and I am once again saying that he must be seriously considered for the award.

Against the Cardinal, he completed 27 passes with a mere five incompletions, along with 290 passing yards and four touchdowns with no interceptions. It looked too easy for Nix throughout, as he simply picked apart Stanford’s defense throughout the night.

The reason I’m saying this now is that while Michael Penix Jr. threw 363 yards against Arizona, he didn’t throw a touchdown or rush for a touchdown. And the Huskies only managed to win by seven, particularly due to a two-touchdown night from running back Dillon Johnson.

Nix now has 15 touchdowns as opposed to just one interception. If he wants to be in the race throughout the year, his time is right now.

That being said…Caleb Williams is still the Heisman favorite

Told you we’d eventually get to this game!

Williams had another dominant performance against Coach Prime and Colorado, throwing for 403 yards and a whopping six touchdowns, with the only blemish being one interception. Other than that, he was absolutely superb.

Williams is now my favorite for the Heisman, especially when taking into consideration Penix Jr.’s performance. While he didn’t play badly at all, he did not throw a touchdown for the first time this year.

And Williams’ Heisman standing more than took advantage of that, as he now overtakes Penix Jr. in my rankings. Against Colorado, Williams threw 30 completions to only 10 incompletions, which is good for an efficient 75% completion rate.

Williams should have another massive game in a home showdown with Arizona next week, but the two weeks after that game is where things really start to get interesting: after the Arizona game, the Trojans take on Notre Dame on the road and then get Utah at home. Those two games should be instant classics, and Williams has a prime opportunity to keep that lead in the Heisman rankings.

LSU-Ole Miss was a contender for game of the year

I can’t really come up with the adequate words to describe what happened in this game.

But I’ll try my very best to recap it here.

This was a game for the ages, and it featured some of the best quarterback play of the weekend (and as I’ve been over, there was a lot of good quarterback play this weekend). LSU’s Jaylon Daniels threw for a ridiculous 414 yards and four touchdowns, while Ole Miss QB Jaxson Dart threw for 389 yards and four touchdowns of his own.

The running game was ridiculous as well, as Logan Diggs ran for 101 yards and two scores for the Tigers, while Quinshon Judkins ran 33 times for 177 yards and a touchdown for the Rebels.

Brian Thomas Jr. and Malik Nabers were dominant once again on the outside for LSU, each catching two of Daniels’ four touchdown passes. Tre Harris put up eight catches for 153 yards and a score for Ole Miss, and Jordan Watkins added five catches for 103 yards and a score for the Rebels as well.

It ended in a 55-49 win for Ole Miss, and it moved the Rebels to 4-1 on the season. LSU dropped to 3-2, but I think they are much better than their record indicates. I think it has, in part, been due to a tough opening schedule, but that being said, now that they are fully into SEC play, the schedule doesn’t get much easier. This midseason stretch is key for both teams in order to prove just how good they really are.

Notre Dame-Duke was strangely entertaining

Even though this game was not close to the barnburner that the above game was, it was still pretty entertaining to watch — but not in the way that an average college football fan might expect.

Notre Dame got off to a pretty fast start, going up 13-0 into halftime before the Duke offense finally woke up early in the second half, scoring a touchdown to cut it to 13-7. And then, the Duke defense decided to get in on the fun, forcing punts on Notre Dame’s next two drives before the offense did their job and got into the end zone, giving Duke a 14-13 lead going into the final quarter.

However, in that quarter, Notre Dame showed why it is the better (and more experienced) team, as running back Audric Estime carved up Duke’s defense on a 30-yard touchdown run. From there, the defense sealed the job, forcing a fumble that was recovered deep in Blue Devil territory. Time ran out, and that was that.

You have to feel good about this win if you’re a fan of the Irish, as coming off last week’s heartbreaking loss to Ohio State, a win was badly needed. To come into a rowdy environment in Durham and grind out a tough road win is extremely gratifying for head coach Marcus Freeman and this Notre Dame team. It’s time for them to turn their attention to next week’s road showdown with No. 25 Louisville.

The Blue Devils should not be hanging their heads too low after this one. They were in this game throughout the night, and if not for some untimely turnovers and the offense stalling out on a couple of drives, they would’ve easily had a shot to steal a win. A second straight home game against NC State could be a get-right game for them.

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