NCAA Football: Louisiana State at Mississippi

The Week 5 slate in college football was not nearly as loaded as its predecessor, which featured six matchups pitting teams ranked in the AP Top 25 against one another, but there are no uneventful weeks in this sport. The action was still aplenty with winners and losers across the board as we learned more about the pecking order in college football with the 2023 season moving along into the month of October. 

Is No. 1 Georgia mortal? It might be after narrowly avoiding a defeat on the road that would have hindered its chances for a historic three-peat. But, in the process, a hero stepped up and revealed himself to be the most integral part of this Dawgs dynasty. No. 8 USC handed Colorado and Deion Sanders their second consecutive loss, though a familiar flaw that's become common with Lincoln Riley-led teams reared its ugly head as the Trojans avoided disaster. Speaking of a familiar flaw -- No. 13 LSU may have played itself out of the College Football Playoff race because of an inconsistency on one side of the ball. 

Let's have a look now at some winners and losers from the Week 5 college football action. 

Winner: Georgia TE Brock Bowers

There have been a number of incredibly talented players to walk through Georgia's program during its back-to-back national championship run. I'm ready to say it: Tight end Brock Bowers is the most important player to grace Athens, Georgia, with his presence during this time.

In a come-from-behind victory on the road against Auburn, Bowers was absurd. The junior posted 148 of his 157 yards receiving in the second half, including a go-ahead, highlight-reel 40-yard touchdown reception that ranks among the plays of the year. Georgia needed every one of them to avoid an upset. 

The Bulldogs haven't been perfectly clean during their 5-0 start, but Bowers has been the trump card. He has 24 catches over his past three games and his score on Saturday pulled him into a tie with A.J. Green for the second-most touchdown catches in Georgia history. On a Georgia team that looks slightly short of the last two national championship squads, Bowers is an early MVP

Loser: USC coach Lincoln Riley

Stop me if you've heard this one before: A Lincoln Riley team went up big and gave up on the game far too early. This time, it was Colorado fighting back from a 34-7 first-half deficit as No. 8 USC barely held on for a 48-41 win. After the game, Colorado coach Deion Sanders told the media that he believed that if the game lasted one more possession, the Buffs win. 

The defense will get most of the blame, for good reason. A Colorado team that mustered just six points against Oregon scored 41 points in three quarters. However, the issues are bigger than just the defense. The offense scored its final points with 2:14 remaining in the third quarter, while Caleb Williams completed just two of his final six passes. 

Last year, Tulane came back by scoring 16 points in the final four minutes to shock the Trojans in the Cotton Bowl. In 2017, Georgia came back from down 17 points to beat Riley's Oklahoma and head ot the national championship game. Blowing leads has become part of Riley's DNA as a head coach, and the program needs to get that in order if it ever hopes to compete for a national championship. 

Winner: Baylor

Through three quarters in Orlando, Florida, the Dave Aranda era looked dead in the water. The Bears looked hapless and trailed by 28 points against first-year Big 12 member UCF. A loss would have been Baylor's eighth against an FBS opponent, one of the longest streaks in the nation. 

But, for the first time this season, the Bears didn't flinch. After giving up a touchdown on the first drive of the second half, Baylor took over. The Bears scored on all four drives of the second half, including a go-ahead field goal. A 72-yard fumble return by cornerback Caden Jenkins swung the game. A return field goal from UCF swung wide right and the Bears overcame the biggest deficit in program history, sliding past the 61-58 win over TCU in 2014. 

Since beating Oklahoma on Nov. 5, 2022, the best Baylor result was a 29-28 loss to rival TCU. Baylor has been consistently deflated against quality competition and has very few positive moments since the 2021 season, during which the Bears won the Big 12 title, came to a close. Going on the road and pulling off an upset as an 8-point underdog gives Aranda some juice for the first time in a while. Now, it's up to Baylor to capitalize with in-state rival Texas Tech coming to town next week. 

Loser: LSU defense

One year ago, LSU rode a top-30 scoring defense and good-enough offense to an SEC Championship Game appearance. Now, that defense is nearly unrecognizable. The Tigers gave up 706 yards and let Lane Kiffin's squad become the first Ole Miss team in the last 20 years to both pass and rush for 300 yards in a 55-49 Rebels win

The Tigers defense has collapsed across the board. LSU has allowed 36.3 points per game against FBS opponents, including 100 combined points in two games against ranked opponents. Rebels quarterback Jaxson Dart was nearly unstoppable, throwing for 389 yards and four touchdowns on just 39 pass attempts. 

LSU was selected as a top contender in the SEC West and a dark horse College Football Playoff contender. Five weeks into the season, the Tigers defense is far from championship caliber. A matchup next week against Missouri will make or break LSU's season. 

Winner: RB Ray Davis, Kentucky

Kentucky lost star running back Chris Rodriguez to graduation and Kavosiey Smoke to the transfer portal. After the day that Vanderbilt transfer running back Ray Davis had in a 33-14 win against Florida, the Wildcats don't seem to be missing the pair much. 

Davis hit another level against Florida, rushing for 280 yards and three touchdowns on 26 carries against the Gators. The senior had more yards rushing at the half (206) than he had in his last three games against Vanderbilt, Akron and Eastern Kentucky (202) on one-third of the carries. 

The win was nice in its own right, but it's also a historic one for Kentucky. The Wildcats have not beaten Florida in three straight games since 1948-51 when Bear Bryant was the head man in Lexington. Kentucky is 5-0 heading into a matchup with No. 1 Georgia for the second time in three seasons. 

Loser: Utah

Utah's ability to manage injuries in the opening weeks of the season finally came due. The Utes offense proved completely hapless offensively in a 21-7 loss against No. 19 Oregon State that wasn't as close as the final score. Utah mustered just 198 yards and 1.8 yards per carry against a stout Beavers defense. 

The Utes have been without starting quarterback Cameron Rising and projected first-round tight end Brant Kuithe all season, but the injuries only continue to mount. Top running back Ja'Quinden Jackson and receiver Mycah Pittman were both out against OSU. Underclassman quarterback Nate Johnson showed some flashes over the first few weeks, but his ride came to an end in Week 5. 

The good news for Utah is that the cavalry could be on the way when the offense gets healthy. The Utes play California next week at home, which should be a bounce-back spot. If Rising and Co. aren't back by Oct. 21 on the road against USC, it's hard to imagine Utah getting back into the Pac-12 conversation.

Winner: Clemson

The Tigers faced few issues during a 31-14 win over Syracuse, cruising out to a 14-0 lead early and getting a good game from Cade Klubnik (263 yards and two touchdowns through the air). Clemson moved to 1-2 in conference play and above .500 for the first time this season. 

No. 17 Duke's 21-14 loss against No. 11 Notre Dame later in the evening should only make Clemson feel better about its situation. The two early-season losses against Duke and Florida State hit the Tigers hard and brought up serious questions about the future of the program. Five weeks into the year, however, the losses continue to age better. 

Clemson isn't performing up to its lofty standards. Luckily, it says more about the strength of Florida State and Duke than signs of imminent collapse. 

Loser: Big 12 newcomers

We'll put BYU to the side as the Cougars moved to 4-1 with a win over fellow newcomer Cincinnati. Otherwise, the other three members of the Freshman Four moved to 0-2 in Big 12 play. The Bearcats picked up the loss to BYU while UCF gave up the historic collapse to Baylor. Similarly, Houston jumped on Texas Tech early but ultimately gave up 21 unanswered points to end the game in a 49-28 loss. 

Transitioning to the Power Five level comes with complications, and all four teams are living it in different ways. Depth has shown up in late collapses. The three 0-2 teams have all shown real promise, including UCF competing against Kansas State and Cincinnati giving Oklahoma a scare, but there's a reason preseason voters gave the returning teams more respect.