Clear Your Schedule 2016 | Week 7

By Brian Wilmer -

How in the world is it already Week 7? Gone are the 95-degree temperatures and excitement of a new college season, replaced simply by my annual regret for keeping my head shaved in the increasingly-cooler weather.

This week was a bit of a struggle, in terms of coming up with six games of season-defining significance, but again we persevere to break down six of this week’s most compelling matchups.  We’re even trying something a little different in breaking down one of those games, and I’d love to hear your thoughts on how it turned out.

I could talk your ear off, but let’s get to trivia and this week’s action! Test your skill in picking these six games at this link.

Trivia:  This week’s question is hidden within our special feature.  Enjoy!

Keyword Search (all times Eastern and rankings AP)

NC State (4-1, 1-0 ACC) at #3 Clemson (6-0, 3-0 ACC) | The Textile Bowl
Noon | ABC

  • A little bit of history repeating:  Clemson has knocked off 44 straight teams not ranked in the AP Top 25 at the time of the game.  The last team to knock off the Tigers from outside the Top 25? That’s right…the Wolfpack.  NC State drubbed then-number 8 Clemson, 37-13, on November 19, 2011.  Mike Glennon completed 19-of-29 throws for 253 yards and three scores, while the Wolfpack defense ripped Tajh Boyd twice and recorded six sacks.
  • Drive for five:  Clemson’s offense may have started a bit slow, particularly in the run game, but the last four games have seen the Tigers turn it up.  The Tigers have eclipsed the 500-yard mark in three of those four games, with total offensive marks of 507 and 508 yards in back-to-back conference victories against Louisville and BC.  A resurgent running game has helped fuel the success, as those same three of four games have resulted in 200-plus rushing yard efforts for Clemson.  After failing to eclipse 59 rushing yards in three consecutive games, Wayne Gallman has 110 and 109 in the last two.
  • ‘Pack it in:  NC State’s offensive prowess has been quite the story this year — the ‘Pack have turned in greater than 30 points in every game that wasn’t played in a hurricane this year — but that Clemson rush success of late is going to be put to the test against the nation’s ninth-best rushing defense.  Three teams have rushed for 69 or fewer yards against NC State this year, and the ‘Pack have surrendered only five rushing touchdowns in five games.  

Print that, tweet that, whatever:  This is the third straight year in which NCSU has started 4-1.  They lost the previous two.  Clemson looks to make it three.

North Carolina (4-2, 2-1 ACC) at 16 Miami (4-1, 1-1 ACC)
3:30pm | ABC/ESPN2

  • Complete analysis:  Tar Heel radio voice Jones Angell points out an interesting statistic about Carolina quarterback Mitch Trubisky.  Trubisky has thrown just 26 incompletions in UNC’s four victories.  In their two losses, he has missed the mark 36 times.  One of those can be forgiven, of course, considering last week’s conditions.  20 of those 36 misfires came in that outing against Virginia Tech, as the junior completed 13 passes for just 58 yards in the middle of a quagmire in Chapel Hill.  The Tar Heel signal-caller was 24-for-40 in much better conditions against Georgia in week one.
  • The first 15:  The next first-quarter point the ‘Canes surrender will be their first of the year.  North Carolina has been somewhat of a Jekyll-and-Hyde team in the opening stanza this year, scoring 38 points.  The Tar Heels have been shut out in three first quarters, however, and were held scoreless in the opening period of both of their losses.
  • Carolina in my mind:  Carolina has won its last seven games away from Chapel Hill (not counting neutral sites), and trails just five other FBS schools for longest such active streak (Ohio State leads with 19).  The Tar Heels will also play three straight ranked teams for the first time in 10 years.  UNC lost all three of those games (#24 Wake Forest, at #11 Notre Dame and #18 Georgia Tech) as part of a 3-9 season that got coach John Bunting fired.  Their only win prior to their final two regular-season victories against NC State and at Duke was a 45-42 decision against FCS opponent Furman.

Print that, tweet that, whatever:  Miami allowed their highest passing total by far in last week’s game (240 yards).  UNC will need to exploit that to win in Coral Gables.

#24 Western Michigan (6-0, 2-0 MAC) at Akron (4-2, 2-0 MAC)
3:30pm | CBSSN

  • Feels like the first time:  The Broncos find themselves ranked for the first time ever this week.  Not the first time under P.J. Fleck, or the first time since some random year…the first time ever.  It’s been 75 years since Western even started a season with six consecutive victories.  They are also bowl-eligible for the third straight year, and the program has also never gone to three consecutive bowls.  WMU’s first-ever bowl victory came last season, when they defeated MTSU, 45-31, in the Bahamas Bowl.
  • Making MAC history?:  These two teams currently lead the West and East divisions of the MAC, respectively, and if they somehow meet in the championship game, it will mark a first.  This year will mark the 20th MAC championship game, and though Western Michigan has participated in the game twice (1999 and 2000) and Akron once (2005, which they won), they have never faced each other in that game.  Western Michigan has defeated Akron 13 of the 17 times they’ve played, including a 49-point beatdown the last time they played, nearly five years ago.
  • ‘Zipping’ the ball around:  Akron will likely have to throw early and often — which is good, considering they have the 29th-ranked passing offense in the land.  WMU’s rush defense is 30th-best, allowing 130.7 yards per game, which is right around where the Zips’ 111th-ranked rushing game lands (130.5 yards per game).  Akron’s leading rusher, Manny Morgan, has just 249 carries in six games.  The Zips have a potent quarterback tandem in juniors Thomas Woodson and Tra’Von Chapman.

Print that, tweet that, whatever:  Terry Bowden’s troops have clearly turned the corner, coming off a 2015 bowl appearance.  WMU just appears too tough to stop.

#1 Alabama (6-0, 3-0 SEC) at #9 Tennessee (5-1, 2-1 SEC)
3:30pm | CBS

  • Anything you can do, we can do better:  Alabama ranks 61st in the nation in pass defense, allowing nearly 224 yards per game.  Aside from that one statistic, Alabama’s worst ranking in any major statistical category (252.8 passing yards per game, 47th) is better than Tennessee’s best (33.8 points per game, 48th).  Bama’s pass defense has been particularly problematic against ranked teams, as 12th-ranked Ole Miss and 22nd-ranked Arkansas torched the Tide for an average of 410.5 yards per game.  Both of those games yielded the only quarterback efficiency ratings over 100 that Alabama has surrendered this season.
  • One streak down, another to go?:  Tennessee, as you’ll recall, earlier this year snapped a string of losses to Florida dating back to 2004 with their improbable victory in Neyland Stadium.  The Vols will now look to break a skid against the Crimson Tide that dates back to 2006, a span of nine games.  The two teams combined to rush for 110 yards and two scores on 51 carries in that game, while Erik Ainge — also, interestingly, the last quarterback to beat Florida, before Joshua Dobbs did so — completed 28-of-46 throws for 302 yards.  Tennessee overcame three Ainge picks and two fumbles — both of which they recovered — in the victory.
  • My goodness!:  Tennessee again finds itself playing on CBS, and the Vols’ sports information staff points out an interesting tidbit about the legendary Verne Lundquist, who is set to retire after the year ends.  Verne has called 41 Tennessee games during his tenure at CBS, with the Vols winning just 12 of those games.  Lundquist worked at CBS from 1982 to 1995, and has been behind the “Eye” mic flag in his current run since 1998.

Print that, tweet that, whatever:  Tennessee’s luck appeared to run out a bit last week.  This current run of bad luck for Alabama’s defense should do so this week.

#2 Ohio State (5-0, 2-0 Big Ten) at #8 Wisconsin (4-1, 1-1 Big Ten)
8pm | ABC

  • Take to the air:  The running game will probably not be much of a factor Saturday night — at least, for one side.  Only four Big Ten clubs have fewer rushing touchdowns than Wisconsin’s eight.  Ohio State, meanwhile, has not allowed a rushing touchdown all year, the only FBS club that can claim that distinction.  The numbers get more dismal in the red zone, as Wisconsin ranks tenth in the conference in red zone conversion percentage (78.95 percent).  The Buckeyes’ defense further stiffens inside the 20, allowing scores on just 58.33 percent of opponent tries.
  • Making it count:  Wisconsin has won just one of its last eight outings against Ohio State, but that one win was a quite notable outcome in the school’s history.  The Badgers took down then-number one Ohio State, 31-18, in Camp Randall just one day shy of six years ago.  Both teams rushed over 40 times in the game, with Ohio State scoring twice on the ground and Wisconsin three times.  Wisconsin has taken down six straight top-ten foes and seven of nine.
  • Piling on the yards:  Ohio State’s last ten games have resulted in some truly eye-popping offensive numbers.  The Buckeyes have gained 376 yards or greater in nine of their last ten games, with the lone exception being a 132-yard effort in a 17-14 loss to Michigan State late last season.  The nation’s third-most prolific scoring offense (53.2 points per game) has also put up a downright ridiculous 669 yards or greater this year, with a season-high of 776 in a 77-10 thrashing of Bowling Green to start the year.

Print that, tweet that, whatever:  The inevitable matchup with Michigan awaits to end the year, but Ohio State looks to be on a collision course with Alabama.  Again.

And now, this week’s special feature:  an audio analysis of week six!

Press play, and abuse your eardrums!

Note:  This feature will be taking a week off next week.  We’ll see you back here in Week 9 for more Clear Your Schedule! Thanks for your continued support.

  1. Josh
    October 14, 2016 at 4:58 pm

    Would not have guessed Southern Miss-LA Tech as the 2nd most played C-USA series. Especially with LA Tech being somewhat of a vagabond concerning conference affiliation for a while.

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