We take you back to Oct. 13-14, 2017, the last time before this weekend that a college football weekend did not involve two Top 25 teams playing against each other.
Seven ranked teams lost to unranked teams that weekend. Six of the ranked teams were playing on the road. Three of them were favored by at least two touchdowns.
One of those upsets happened on a Friday night when No. 2 Clemson went into the Carrier Dome and lost, 28-24, to Syracuse. The Tigers return to upstate New York for a prime-time meeting Saturday, one of nine ranked teams to play on the road, including four of the top six teams, all of which are favored by more than two touchdowns.
Cue the scary horror-movie music.
No. 1 Clemson at Syracuse, 7:30 p.m., 6ABC
The Tigers don’t have any more games remaining against teams that are currently ranked — not any of their ACC opponents or Charlotte or Wofford (Wofford?). The Orange were thought to be a Top 25 team before Maryland put up 63 points on them last week.
That raises the question: Can Clemson keep its No. 1 ranking with an unimpressive schedule even if it keeps adding on to its current 17-game winning streak?
The Associated Press reports that a No. 1 team has fallen from the top rung of its Top 25 poll after a win 27 times since 1980. The last time it happened was November 2015, when Ohio State dropped to No. 2 and was replaced by Clemson.
The sold-out dome will be loud and hostile, but quarterback Trevor Lawrence and running back Travis Etienne must be looking forward to going up against an Orange defense that was knocked around for 650 yards by Maryland. The Clemson defense must deal with Syracuse quarterback Tommy DeVito, who passed for 330 yards and three touchdowns last week.
No. 5 Oklahoma at UCLA, 8 p.m., Fox29
We never thought we’d ever say this, but poor Chip Kelly.
The former Eagles head coach, known once as a guru of offenses, has fallen short in that area at UCLA. After an 0-2 start, the Bruins rank 119th in points scored (14.0 per game) and 126th in total offense (239.5 yards per game) out of 130 FBS schools.
“You don’t tear up the root of the tree to see if it’s growing,” Kelly told reporters Monday. “You just keep watering it, you keep growing it and doing what you’re supposed to do, and that’s what happens over the course of time.
“I think we all live in a society where we want a quick fix and an instant pill, but it doesn’t exist, and it’s never existed in this game.”
Kelly, who signed a five-year, $23.3 million contract when he was hired, is 3-11 in his second season with the Bruins.
It will take more than deep thoughts to contend with the Sooners, who have a 20-game winning streak on the road, longest in the nation. Quarterback Jalen Hurts leads all of FBS in passing efficiency and engineers an offense that averages 10.9 yards per play and 709.5 yards per game.
No. 2 Alabama at South Carolina, 3:30 p.m., CBS3
Gamecocks freshman quarterback Ryan Hilinski will play with a purpose in the second start of his career, and not only because of the quality of the opponent.
Hilinski’s brother, Tyler, took his own life about three weeks after the 2017 football season at Washington State, where he also played quarterback. Ryan Hilinski wears No. 3 in honor of his brother. His parents have created Hilinski’s Hope, a foundation that advocates mental health care for student-athletes.
Hilinski replaced fourth-year starter Jake Bentley, who broke his foot on the last play of the opening game against North Carolina and will miss the rest of the season. Last week, he threw for 282 yards and two touchdowns and ran for a score against Charleston Southern.
The Crimson Tide, who haven’t lost to an SEC East team since South Carolina defeated them in 2010, allowed a total of 13 points in their first two games. Tua Tagovailoa has completed 76.4% of his passes for 563 yards and seven touchdowns.
New Mexico at No. 7 Notre Dame, 2:30 p.m., NBC10
This was supposed to be a homecoming for Bob Davie, who went 35-25 as head coach of the Fighting Irish from 1997 to 2001, but the Lobos coach cannot make the trip because of an undisclosed health issue. The Fighting Irish had last week off after a season-opening win over Louisville, and with a game at No. 3 Georgia coming next week, they must stay focused.
No. 19 Iowa at Iowa State, 4 p.m., FoxSports1
This is the tightest point spread (Iowa by 1) of any game involving a ranked team, and the only place where ESPN’s College GameDay will set up shop Saturday. The Hawkeyes have won the last four games in this intrastate rivalry and have quarterback Nate Stanley (six touchdowns in two games) for what seems like his seventh season.
Stanford at No. 17 Central Florida, 3:30 p.m., ESPN
The Knights own a 26-game regular season winning streak, but only two of those victories have come against Power 5 teams: Maryland and Pittsburgh. Quarterback Brandon Wimbush missed last week’s game with an undisclosed injury, and it’s not known if he or true freshman Dillon Gabriel will start. Cardinal QB K.J. Costello is back in the lineup after sitting out a game because of a head injury.
- Two days after Southern California returned to the Top 25 with a 45-20 win over Stanford, life became more uncertain for embattled head coach Clay Helton following the resignation of athletic director Lynn Swann, who supported him. The No. 24 Trojans have a tough test at BYU.
- Penn State transfer Tommy Stevens has completed 72.5 percent of his passes and has thrown for four touchdowns for Mississippi State, but his status is questionable against Kansas State because of an upper-body injury.
- For the second straight year, Army took a Top 10 team to overtime on the road and lost, this one a 24-21 defeat at Michigan. “It still stings,” Black Knights coach Jeff Monken said. “It’s hard to swallow being that close to beating another Top 10 team and falling short. But we move on” against Texas-San Antonio at the Alamodome.