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September 30, 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.
Clemson QB Tajh Boyd. He has been so spectacular in the past two games that he deserves to get in the Heisman discussion. But all four Clemson games have been played at Death Valley. I want to see how Boyd performs in his first road start, in a hostile environment such as Lane Stadium against a strong Virginia Tech defense.
- OLIN BUCHANAN
Can Nebraska pass at Wisconsin? For the Huskers to have a shot at the upset in "Mad City," QB Taylor Martinez must pass. No one doubts his ability to run, as he ranks second in the Big Ten in rushing (105.3 ypg). But can Martinez pass against a Wisconsin defense that ranks No. 2 in the Big Ten (246.5 ypg)? Nebraska will arrive in Madison with the Big Ten's 11th-rated (106th nationally) passing attack (166.5 ypg). All eyes will be on Martinez, who is the Big Ten's 10th-rated passer, hitting just 50.6 percent of his attempts for 647 yards with four touchdowns and two interceptions. The Badgers know this, which is why Martinez often can expect to see eight men in the box to take away the Nebraska run and force him to pass.
- TOM DIENHART
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Nebraska's pass rush. Wisconsin QB Russell Wilson looks like a Heisman winner so far this season, playing behind an offensive line that is giving him plenty of time to rack up passing yards. That's partly because of a typically strong Wisconsin offensive line but also because the Badgers have not played anyone who poses a serious threat with a pass rush. It remains to be seen if Nebraska can pressure him. The Huskers' defense has been shaky at times, but some of that can be credited to absences on the defense, including tackle Jared Crick and cornerback Alfonzo Dennard. I want to see if Nebraska's defense can pressure Wilson, and if so, how will Wilson respond?
- DAVID FOX
Florida's line play. The Gators have run the ball extremely well - they lead the SEC in rushing offense - and they also are the only team in the nation that hasn't allowed a rushing TD. Saturday, though, is a big step up in competition with Alabama invading the Swamp. If Florida can't run, the offense is in big trouble because the Gators don't look to have any type of downfield passing attack. Defensively, Florida wants to make Tide QB A.J. McCarron throw the ball, but McCarron won't have to - and instead can rely on TBs Trent Richardson and Eddie Lacy - if the Gators' defensive line doesn't rise up.
- MIKE HUGUENIN
Will Stephen Garcia redeem himself? South Carolina has enough talent to compete for an SEC and BCS title if it gets consistent production from its quarterback, but that might be expecting too much of Garcia. The senior's up-and-down career reached another pitfall last Saturday, when he threw four interceptions against Vanderbilt. South Carolina won anyway because of its dominant defense, but Auburn's offense figures to give the Gamecocks much more of a challenge. On the other hand, Garcia should be able to have success against Auburn's vulnerable defense as long as he avoids mistakes. Garcia needs to turn things around this week. If he can't perform well against a mediocre Auburn defense, it's tough to imagine him leading South Carolina to an SEC title.
- STEVE MEGARGEE