As the 2022 college football season dives into conference play, national championship contenders are finding there are fewer and fewer cake walks. Just take the top two teams in the country, for example. No. 1 Georgia needed a fourth-quarter surge to escape the clutches of four-touchdown underdog Missouri. No. 2 Alabama found a way to pull away from No. 20 Arkansas after quarterback Bryce Young exited the game with a shoulder injury.
And, for the second straight week, No. 18 Oklahoma found itself on the losing end of a Big 12 game, knocking the Sooners to 0-2 in conference play for the second time in the past three years.
Other championship contenders took care of business, with No. 3 Ohio State having no issue with Rutgers, while No. 5 Clemson made a statement against No. 10 NC State. The national title picture looks much different now than it did going into Saturday's action, which should intensify the intrigue over the next two months.
It's time to hand out grades for all of the top national title contenders based on their odds from Caesars Sportsbook heading into the weekend.
College football grades: Week 5 report card
|The Crimson Tide showed complacency in the third quarter of a 49-26 win over Arkansas. However, Jahmyr Gibbs' second-half performance and Jalen Milroe's presence on the ground in place of Bryce Young were impressive.
|Georgia narrowly escaped the clutches of lowly Missouri in a 26-22 win, and its offense was sloppy for the second straight week. The only reason the Bulldogs didn't get an "F" is because they didn't give up and found a way to win.
|Ho-hum, just another blowout win for the Buckeyes. This time, it was a 49-10 triumph over Rutgers. Running back Miyan Williams was the star of the show, rushing for 189 yards and five touchdowns, tying a single-game school record. The only reason the Buckeyes didn't get an "A+" is because ... well ... it's Rutgers.
|The Tigers topped NC State 30-20 in a game that included a Wolfpack touchdown in garbage time. Quarterback DJ Uiagalelei was awesome through the air and on the ground, and the ferocious defensive front was all over NC State's Devin Leary all game.
|The Trojans had a fight on their hands through three quarters in their win over Arizona State, which is saying a lot considering the turmoil that exists in Tempe. They pulled away late, but it wasn't a clean performance by any stretch.
|It seemed like the Wolverines were going to cruise against Iowa, but the offense went stagnant in the middle stages of the game. They found a way to take it 27-14, but it was the second week in a row that they looked less than stellar.
|The Volunteers had an open week on Saturday.
|The Nittany Lions topped Northwestern 17-7 in what was a rather lackluster performance at home. James Franklin's team turned the ball over five times and looked disinterested for essentially the entire game.
|Utah cruised to a 42-16 win over Oregon State and held the Beavers to 3 of 10 on third downs. The Utes also forced four interceptions and were never really challenged by a good Beavers team.
|The Cowboys jumped out to an early lead and looked solid for almost the entirety of a 36-25 win over Baylor. Quarterback Spencer Sanders threw for 181 yards, rushed for 75 more and accounted for two touchdowns. It was a stellar offensive performance by a team flying way under the radar.
|The Sooners got smoked by TCU 55-24 in a game that wasn't even as close as the score indicated. The defense was absolutely wretched for the second straight week, and that has cost them a shot at the College Football Playoff.
|The Huskies lost their first game of the season on Friday night -- a 40-32 stunner vs. UCLA in Los Angeles. The defense couldn't stop quarterback Dorian Thompson-Robinson or running back Zach Charbonnet.
|The Rebels bested a top-10 Kentucky team 22-19 in Oxford, and they did so, for the most part, with their defense. Jared Ivey forced a fumble to end a Kentucky threat with under two minutes to go to save the game. Ole Miss showed that it's a complete team, which will make things interesting in the SEC West moving forward.
|The Aggies were blasted by Mississippi State 42-24. They were stagnant on offense until the game was out of reach and looked disinterested from the start. Coach Jimbo Fisher has some problems to fix, and it starts with the man in the mirror.
|The Minnesota offense was a non-factor in the 20-10 home loss to Purdue. The Golden Gophers seemed to have read too many of their own press clippings, and quarterback Tanner Morgan tossed three picks. The defense forced three turnovers of its own, so I guess that's a small positive.