Welcome back, everyone! Let’s save the extended run-up and just give you what you want…the standings!
Now, while I try to figure out how to avoid losing games because my picks don’t save (my fault), it’s trivia time!
The Sixer Trivia, Week 9 (answer at the end of the column): Temple defeated East Carolina last week after having reentered the Top 25. In what year did Temple secure their last win as a ranked team before that win?
Georgia (5-2, 3-2 SEC) vs. #11 Florida (6-1, 4-1 SEC) (The World’s Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party)
3:30pm | CBS | Everbank Field, Jacksonville, FL
- Tempting Faton: A writer whose name you probably know is reporting that Georgia will start Faton Bauta under center against the Gators. Bauta, a junior, has not played this season, but went 4-for-5 for 48 yards last season. The Bulldogs currently rank ninth in the SEC in passing, averaging 213.9 yards per game. Georgia’s ten passing touchdowns are also just below the middle of the pack in the league. Florida’s pass defense ranks fifth in the SEC (42nd nationally), allowing 197.9 yards per game.
- Triumphant Treon: For those aware of the history of Florida quarterback Treon Harris, they’ll know that his first career victory came last season in a defeat of Georgia. Harris has won four additional games as a starter since, though his Gators fell to LSU last week. Harris completed just over 50 percent of his passes (17-for-32) in the outing, throwing for 271 yards and two touchdowns. Georgia’s pass defense is even more stout than Florida’s however, ranking second in the SEC and allowing 187 yards per contest.
- We can’t agree on anything: This rivalry is so contentious that the two schools can’t even come to a consensus on how many games they’ve played against each other. Georgia states that the schools have played 93 times, with the Bulldogs winning 50 (two ties). Florida says they have played 92, with the Bulldogs winning 49. Georgia defeated Florida 52-0 in Macon, Georgia, in 1904, a game the Bulldogs count and the Gators do not.
Print that, tweet that, whatever: The winner of this game has the inside track on representing the East in Atlanta. Simple as that.
#3 Clemson (7-0, 4-0 ACC) at NC State (5-2, 1-2 ACC)
3:30pm | ABC/ESPN2 (reverse mirror)
See this week’s ACC edition of Clear Your Schedule for a breakdown of this game.
#12 Oklahoma State (7-0, 4-0 Big 12) at Texas Tech (5-3, 2-3 Big 12)
3:30pm | ESPN
- Lucky sevens: This is the third time a Mike Gundy-coached Cowboys club has started a season with seven consecutive wins. The 2008 Cowboys performed the trick before a 28-24 loss at Texas. That team finished 9-4, with a Holiday Bowl loss to Oregon. The 2011 edition won ten in a row before a 37-31, two-overtime loss at Iowa State, their only loss of the year. That team defeated Stanford in the Fiesta Bowl.
- Basketball on grass: If you like offense, this is your game. Texas Tech ranks third in the nation in total offense (behind fellow Big 12 schools Baylor and TCU) at 598.9 yards per game. Oklahoma State ranks 22nd, tallying 480.1 yards per game. Both quarterbacks are also extremely proficient. Tech’s Patrick Mahomes II ranks fourth in the nation in total offense at 391.5 yards per game. OSU’s Mason Rudolph is 16th at 312.3 yards per game.
- A tale of two conferences: OSU and Tech have quite the disparate history, considering their meetings before the Big 12 formed and after it formed. Tech was 12-8-3 before the conference formed 20 years ago. Since then, though, Oklahoma State is 10-9 against the Red Raiders, including a six-game winning streak that began in 2009. Three of those consecutive Oklahoma State wins have come in Jones AT&T Stadium.
Print that, tweet that, whatever: This should be an entertaining, high-scoring affair. TCU lurks on the horizon for the Cowboys, however.
Vanderbilt (3-4, 1-3 SEC) at #18 Houston (7-0, 4-0 American)
7:00pm | ESPN2
- Defensive Derek: It was made plainly obvious when former Stanford defensive coordinator Derek Mason arrived in Nashville to coach the Commodores — and even more so when he named himself defensive coordinator that defense would be a Vanderbilt staple. VU certainly has not disappointed in that arena, as they rank 13th in the FBS in scoring defense (16.3 points per game). Vandy also ranks third in the SEC in rushing defense (just shy of 110 yards per game), while ranking 22nd nationally in total defense (316.6 yards per game). This is a 54-spot and nearly 85-yard per game improvement in total defense from a year ago.
- An on-the-job interview?: Tom Herman’s name is all the rage among those discussing South Carolina’s coaching opening — to the point that he’s had to shoot it down to the media — and it’s easy to see why. Houston is ranked 18th — its highest ranking in four years — and 7-0 in Herman’s first year leading the Cougars. He’s also a national champion coach, having helmed the Ohio State offense last season. This will be his first real chance to prove himself against an SEC defense as a head coach, though, and it could do for him what Memphis’ win over Mississippi did for Tiger coach Justin Fuente, in terms of buzz.
- Querying the QBs: Both quarterbacks on display Saturday will be drawing eyes, but for totally different reasons. Vanderbilt seems to be undecided — again — on a starting quarterback. Johnny McCrary, Kyle Shurmur and Wade Freebeck are all listed on the 2-deep, with the dreaded “or” separator. Shurmur got the nod against Missouri last week, completing 10-of-20 passes for just 89 yards (for what it’s worth, The Tennessean’s Adam Sparks seems to indicate it will be Shurmur). Houston’s Greg Ward, Jr. is in quite the opposite category, ranking in the top ten in total offense (344.4 yards per game), rushing touchdowns (15, leading FBS) and six other statistical categories.
Print that, tweet that, whatever: Vanderbilt seems to slowly be figuring things out, but this could be Herman’s national showcase. Interesting storylines on both sides.
#9 Notre Dame (6-1) at #21 Temple (7-0, 4-0 American)
8:00pm | ABC
- Rhule of law: Temple coach Matt Rhule is doing things in an unprecedented manner, just like his American Conference colleagues Herman and Fuente. The Owls have never started a football season 7-0, and have not been ranked in 36 years. Temple is ranked 14th in the nation in total defense (307.7 yards), sixth in rush defense (91.86 yards) and eighth in scoring defense (14.6 points per game).
- Prosise measurements: Part of the reason for Notre Dame’s offensive success rests in running back C.J. Prosise. Prosise has cracked the hundred-yard mark in five of seven contests this year, running 40 times for 272 yards and five scores in Notre Dame’s last two games. The Irish senior is tied with four other rushers with 11 touchdowns, just four off the national lead.
- Yet another stellar runner: Temple’s Jahad Thomas shows the same quick-hitting capabilities displayed by Prosise. Thomas is tied with LSU’s Leonard Fournette for fourth-most plays of 10 or greater yards (39 – Prosise is third with 41). Thomas leads the American with 822 rushing yards, and while Prosise has the lead in big plays, Thomas has one more touchdown than does Prosise (12).
Print that, tweet that, whatever: On one hand, Temple looks to have a tough matchup against Notre Dame. However, a win would be the biggest in program history.
#8 Stanford (6-1, 5-0 Pac-12) at Washington State (5-2, 3-1 Pac-12)
10:30pm | ESPN
- Ground-dwelling Cardinal: It’s just as we expected. The son of a long-time NFL great, leading the Cardinal and among the national top ten in rushing. No, not Barry Sanders…Christian McCaffrey. McCaffrey has five consecutive 100-yard rushing outings, averaging 136.14 yards per game this season. He also leads the nation in all-purpose yards, nearing 260 all-purpose yards per contest.
- Not outta Luke: The Pac-12 is known for its incredible offensive exploits — witness Thursday night’s wacky three-overtime game between Oregon and Arizona State, for example — but Washington State quarterback Luke Falk tops them all. Falk leads the league in passing, tossing for 412.1 yards per game. The sophomore has thrown for 26 touchdowns against just four picks. His 514-yard performance last week earned him the Walter Camp FBS Player of the Week award. The Cougar signal-caller has thrown for a ridiculous 1,426 yards and 16 scores in his last three games, and leads the nation in completion percentage (72.9 percent).
- On the other hand: With all of this talk about Stanford’s powerful rushing attack and Washington State’s high-powered throwing prowess, the Wazzu running game is frighteningly anemic. The Cougars are last in the Pac-12 in rushing, totaling just over 91 yards per game. They are third-from-last in the nation in rushing yardage per game, leading just Georgia State and UCF. No team has fewer rushing attempts than Mike Leach’s troops. Further, Washington State carried 11 times for minus-26 yards in their last outing against the Cardinal, a 34-17 loss last season.
Print that, tweet that, whatever: If Washington State can somehow get past the Cardinal here, they could play for a Pac-12 title. This is one tough game, however.
Trivia answer: I asked earlier: Temple defeated East Carolina last week after having reentered the Top 25. In what year did Temple secure their last win as a ranked team before that win?
Temple last won a game as a ranked team in 1941. The Owls were ranked 13th in the October 27, 1941 poll after having beaten Bucknell 41-14. Boston College whitewashed Temple 31-0 on November 1, 1941, after which they fell out of the poll.