College Football Week 5 Winners: Jaivian Lofton Lights up Liberty With Ludicrous One-handed Touchdown

Jaivian Lofton's one-handed touchdown, the UCLA Bruins, and the state of Mississippi headline the college football Week 5 winners.

College football Week 5 gave us a Sunday game, a cacophony of one-handed catches, and as much excitement as you can handle across four phenomenal days of football. There was high scoring, high drama, and ultimately, some coaches who were left high and dry as the reality of a lack of results through five weeks resulted in two more CFB firings.

College Football Week 5 | Winners

The State of Mississippi

College football Week 5 featured two high-profile SEC matchups involving two teams from the state of Mississippi that have flown somewhat under the radar so far this season. After earning statement wins over in-conference opponents, they’ll likely receive much more national attention going forward.

“It was good to have some people in the stands. What are we 5-0? Alright.”

College football is better when Lane Kiffin is on form in front of the camera. His team has been on form on the field, too. As his post-game comments reflected, however, the Ole Miss Rebels haven’t received a deal of national focus and haven’t been particularly well supported at home either despite their winning start.

On Saturday, they were in full voice as a combination of fan power and defense allowed Ole Miss to overcome a seventh-ranked Kentucky team that had been many people’s tip to be “best of the rest” behind Alabama and Georgia in the SEC this year.

Kiffin’s teams have traditionally been offensive powerhouses, and in Zach Evans, Ulysses Bentley IV, and freshman phenom Quinshon Judkins, they might have the best running back room in the nation.

Yet, it was the Rebels’ defense that held firm in the fourth quarter, forcing a turnover that sealed a 22-9 win that catapults Ole Miss into the AP Top 10 for the first time this season. They’re 5-0 for the first time since 2014.

Meanwhile, Mississippi State is ranked in the AP Top 25 for the first time since October 2020 as master of the media soundbite, Mike Leach, entrenches the Bulldogs as a major player in college football. Mississippi State’s schedule gets significantly tougher down the stretch, but in Week 5, the Bulldogs bared their teeth to trounce a turgid Texas A&M team in tremendous fashion.

It’s easy to mock Leach for his unique thoughts and random outbursts in press conferences, but he’s performing magic with this Mississippi State team. In quarterback Will Rogers, they’ve found the passer to perform consistently in Leach’s Air Raid offense. The third-year QB added another 329 yards and three touchdowns to his résumé as the Bulldogs’ offense carved up the Aggies’ defense in a 42-24 win.

Meanwhile, Emmanuel Forbes led a defensive effort that held Texas A&M to under 400 total yards, less five yards per rush, and allowed just two third-down conversions all game. The highly rated 2023 NFL Draft cornerback prospect had a career day, with two interceptions and a blocked field-goal attempt that resulted in 14 points for the Bulldogs.

Sound those cow bells, the state of Mississippi is officially back at the top of the college football stage after impressive performances by the Rebels and Bulldogs in Week 5.

Jayden de Laura

Jayden de Laura has had a roller coaster ride of a football journey. The highly rated quarterback out of Saint Louis School in Honolulu had an on-off recruiting process with Washington State before firmly committing to the Cougars. The 6’0″, 190-pound passer became the first ever true freshman to start for Washington State, starting four games amongst the disruption of the global pandemic that particularly impacted the Pac-12.

De Laura’s college career was thrown into further confusion following a 2021 suspension from Washington State after an arrest under suspicion of driving under the influence. Having been cleared, he threw for 23 touchdowns and almost 3,000 yards as a sophomore. However, de Laura entered the transfer portal at the conclusion of the 2021 campaign.

While widely derided by coaches, the transfer portal allows the transformation of careers, and in Arizona, de Laura is reigniting his. As the Wildcats overcame a hopeless (and now coach-less) Colorado team in Week 5, the junior QB threw for a program-record six touchdowns. He’d amassed almost 300 yards with four scores by halftime.

De Laura finished with a career-high 484 passing yards to make it two consecutive games surpassing the 400-yard marker. The young quarterback is finding his feet and helping transform an Arizona team that was once the laughing stock of the Power Five level. This college football Week 5 performance will be one he can look back at as a stepping stone in his career progression.

UCLA Bruins

UCLA has become a college football afterthought, a perennial non-contender in the Pac-12. Head coach Chip Kelly is the first name that you think of when you utter the words “head coach hot seat,” potentially saved from demise by the dollars in his buyout rather than the performances on the football field or the promise of a climb into CFB playoff consideration.

Heading into their Week 5 clash with a Washington Huskies team that was gathering steam as a championship contender, no one had given the Bruins a chance of emerging with five wins from their Friday night encounter.

And yet, here we are in the aftermath of college football Week 5, and Kelly’s Bruins are one of just 16 unbeaten teams. UCLA’s defense held strong against a Michael Penix Jr.-led Washington offense that has ripped through college football. The Bruins’ offense was able to match them punch for punch and land that critical finishing blow.

While Dorian Thompson-Robinson threw for over 300 yards and three scores, it was the QB’s ground contributions coupled with RB Zach Charbonnet that was able to trample the Huskies into submission. UCLA is one of only two unbeaten Pac-12 teams remaining, both of which will head out of the conference in 2024.

Jaivian Lofton

Hands up if you knew who Jaivian Lofton was prior to college football Week 5. The reality is, with the departure of Malik Willis, there hasn’t been any focus on the now 4-1 Liberty Flames.

But one play, one moment in their college football Week 5 win over Old Dominion will ensure that wide receiver Lofton will be remembered by CFB fans for years to come.

Not even two minutes into the first quarter, and on Liberty’s very first play of the game, quarterback Kaidon Salter rolled out to the right, scrambled, and heaved the ball downfield from inside Old Dominion territory. With one Monarchs’ defensive back draped over him and another honing in, Lofton sprang skywards, throwing up a solitary hand and snagging the lofted ball in a backwards one-handed catch that rivals the best we’ve ever seen.

Now being affectionally referred to as simply “The Catch” by Liberty, it was the No. 1 play on SportsCenter’s Top 10. Social media mentioned Lofton’s name alongside wide receiver luminaries such as Odell Beckham Jr. and George Pickens. In a college football Week 5 where we saw several sensational one-handed grabs, Lofton’s was simply the best.

College Football Week 5 | Losers

Paul Chryst and Karl Dorrell

College football Week 5 saw us reach the point where pressure begins to burst pipes rather than make diamonds. We’re reaching that critical point in a season where you’re treading the fine line between a bad start and an unrecoverable situation that results in an embarrassing stain on the record books of your program. Athletic directors are starting to get itchy trigger fingers, and two of them pulled the plug on the man leading their program in the aftermath of one-too-many disappointing performances.

The first we could see coming a mile off. In fact, in this column last week, we questioned how long Karl Dorrell might have at the Colorado Buffaloes’ helm. The answer was just one more pitiful performance that ended in a dire defeat to Arizona. Those two programs have essentially switched places at the basement of the Pac-12, and there have been no encouraging signs that the Buffs could turn it around. They rank near the bottom of just about every metric you can think of to evaluate.

The other Sunday firing was a little bit more surprising. While waiting for Auburn to terminate Bryan Harsin in the wake of their collapse against LSU, Wisconsin terminated the contract of head coach Paul Chryst. The Badgers had fallen to a Week 5 shellacking at home to Illinois, but Chryst’s firing still came out of left field somewhat.

The Wisconsin head coach had compiled a 67-26 record with the Badgers while leading them to six wins in seven bowl appearances in as many seasons. Chryst entered his eighth season with the program having never had a losing season in Madison. A 2-3 record while losing each of their three clashes with Power Five opponents — including the first home defeat to Illinois in 20 years — was clearly too much for the Wisconsin decision-makers to take.

Two First-year Head Coaches With Defensive Reputations

As the hot seat begins to take its toll on established coaches, there are two first-year head coaches who are already under significant pressure with their respective programs. Brent Pry and Brent Venables have the reputation as top-tier defensive minds and there was excitement around Virginia Tech and Oklahoma, respectively, when they were announced. However, after Week 5 of the college football season, there are serious questions emerging around their tenures.

Pry’s Virginia Tech team is 2-3 following a 41-10 loss to North Carolina. After holding Boston College and Wofford to 10 and seven points, respectively, they’ve given up over 30 points in consecutive games. The Hokies currently rank 50th in scoring defense, but that is plummeting rapidly as they begin to face stiffer competition. Meanwhile, their offense is one of the worst in the nation, ranking 117th out of 131 FBS teams.

The problems at Virginia Tech pail into insignificance compared to Oklahoma. The expectations for that program are so much higher, and in Week 5, the Sooners’ defense was embarrassed by TCU. The Horned Frogs tallied over 650 yards of offense in a 55-24 win. That came one week after the Sooners gave up over 40 points to Kansas State.

Oklahoma ranks 109th in total defense, having given up an average of 423 yards per game. Teams have been able to run all over the Sooners with substantial ease, with their rush defense ranking 199th in the nation. In Week 5, they made Max Duggan look like the world’s greatest dual-threat QB, as he racked up 116 yards and two touchdowns on just five carries. Something needs to change soon for the Sooners.

Bryce Young

In many respects, you could say that college football Week 5 showcased how important Bryce Young is for the Alabama Crimson Tide. After marching out to a comfortable lead, Arkansas mounted something of a comeback once the Alabama QB was away from the action.

The Razorbacks scored 23 unanswered points that saw the game enter the fourth quarter as a close contest. A late ground-game rally ensured Alabama emerged unscathed with a 49-26 win. Yet, it’s hard to look upon Young’s shoulder injury as anything other than a negative from Week 5.

Firstly, Alabama was able to win without him, once again playing into the Crimson Tide quarterback narrative that the surrounding cast is greater than the passer himself. Secondly, his Heisman Trophy odds took a considerable knock with his absence. Of course, the oddsmakers aren’t a true indicator of the chances of success, but once again, it feels like Young emerged as second fiddle to C.J. Stroud in the race to be named college football’s most outstanding player.

Finally, there is a certain element of fragility around Young as it pertains to his NFL draft stock. Listed at 6’0″ and almost definitely shorter, while weighing south of 200 pounds, there were already concerns about how Young’s size might translate to the NFL level. Adding an injured throwing shoulder — although not caused directly by contact — may raise further red flags for NFL evaluators. Thankfully for Young, the injury is not considered serious.

Pittsburgh Panthers

Poor Pittsburgh. It’s never easy to face a team coming off the back of a coach firing. There always seems to be a mystique in the first game of an interim head coach. You see it in all sports where the week following a dismissal, the team powers to a win. Regardless of fairytales and mystique, Georgia Tech had no right coming into Pittsburgh and emerging with a win over the reigning ACC champions.

But that’s exactly what they did in college football Week 5. However, it’s not the defeat in isolation that causes concern for Pitt. After a flurry of exits in the wake of the program’s most successful season in years, they’re truly not the same program that they were one year ago.

The defense is stacked with legitimate playmaking talent, and kicker Gavin Stewart scoring over half of their points powered the Yellow Jackets to victory. But the Pitt offense is struggling for an identity and production in a post-Kenny Pickett/Mark Whipple world. Pittsburgh’s 26 points were the least that Georgia Tech has allowed to a Power Five opponent this season.

As a result of their Week 5 defeat, the Panthers slipped to 3-2 on the season as several other ACC contenders pulled away with impressive wins. Pitt has also slipped outside of the AP Top 25 for the first time in almost a year.

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