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October 14, 2011
Each week, Rivals.com's college football experts give fans things to keep an eye on over the course of the weekend. Here are some key things to watch in Week 5.
Kansas State. I'm curious to see whether Kansas State's defense can contain Texas Tech's offense and help the Wildcats stay undefeated. The Wildcats' defense has made big plays when needed in the past three weeks. But it also gave up 35 points to Baylor two weeks ago. Though Texas Tech has lost RB Eric Stephens to injury, the Red Raiders still are capable of scoring a lot of points. K-State has rightfully drawn a lot of praise for its 5-0 start and return to the national rankings, but it won't be easy to stay there. Texas Tech is a tough team to beat, especially in Lubbock.
- OLIN BUCHANAN
Michigan. Is Michigan for real? The trip to Michigan State will say a lot about the program's surge under first-year coach Brady Hoke. The Wolverines' hopes rest with their offense, as QB Denard Robinson is the unquestioned catalyst. "Shoelace" paces the Big Ten and ranks fourth in the country in rushing (134.8 ypg). But he'll be facing a Michigan State defense that ranks first in the nation overall (173.4 ypg). Something will have to give in this heated rivalry that has seen the Spartans win the past three meetings.
- TOM DIENHART
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Logan Thomas. Virginia Tech's quarterback was marvelous against Miami last week. He was the Robert Griffin of the weekend, with more touchdown passes (three) than incompletions (two). It was a breakout day for Thomas, a sophomore who had struggled. I'm curious if he can string two good performances together, with this week's on the road against Wake Forest. Thomas' previous road starts weren't great - he was 8-of-20 with an interception against East Carolina and 22-of-33 with a pick and no touchdowns against Marshall. Time to see if Thomas can build on last week's success.
- DAVID FOX
Oregon's offense. The Ducks will be going against a tough, aggressive Arizona State defense without star TB LaMichael James, who suffered a dislocated elbow in last week's win over California. Oregon managed just 125 rushing yards against the Sun Devils last season with James; that was the Ducks' second-lowest total of the season. In addition, Oregon had 385 total yards - also their second-lowest output of the season. Arizona State, though, committed seven turnovers and lost 42-31. Oregon backup TB Kenjon Barner is a burner, but he's not as physical as James, who's small but incredibly tough. The way to beat Oregon is to make Ducks QB Darron Thomas take to the air. Can Arizona State do the job?
- MIKE HUGUENIN
How does Texas bounce back? I still have no idea what to make of this Texas team. It's apparent now that the Longhorns didn't merit the No. 10 ranking they had in the coaches' poll a week ago, but I also think they're much better than they looked in an embarrassing 55-17 loss to Oklahoma. How much better? We should find out Saturday when Texas hosts unbeaten Oklahoma State, ranked sixth by The Associated Press and seventh in the coaches' poll. I'm interested in seeing how Texas responds to its shellacking against Oklahoma, and I'm going to be paying particularly close attention to how young QBs Case McCoy and David Ash perform now that they've experienced some adversity. I also want to see how Texas' secondary defends Justin Blackmon and Co. after getting picked apart by Oklahoma's passing attack last week.
- STEVE MEGARGEE
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