The ACC dominates the college football rankings, including some big games this weekend
The top game is No. 1 Clemson hosting No. 7 Miami. While the Hurricanes have gotten out to a strong start, the question is how effective they will be against the Tigers' tough defense.
Four of our six featured games for Saturday match a pair of top 25 teams. Two of those contests are in the Atlantic Coast Conference, which raises this point: The ACC has four teams ranked in the top 10 this week for the first time in the nearly 70-year history of the league, although one of those teams is Notre Dame, spending what the AP calls its “year in residence.”
No. 7 Miami at No. 1 Clemson, 7:30 p.m., 6ABC
The only ACC team in the final top 25 of the 2019 season, the Tigers have been No. 1 since the preseason, a target at which the Hurricanes now take aim.
Miami has been impressive thus far under Manny Diaz, who was Temple’s head coach for 15 minutes. The Hurricanes average 232 rushing yards per game (12th in FBS), and quarterback D’Eriq King is 14th in total offense averaging nearly 298 yards.
The Tigers are the best defense the Canes will have played to this point, but they were a little loose last week, allowing 417 total yards to Virginia in a 41-23 win. Offensively, Trevor Lawrence hasn’t thrown an interception in his last 11 games, covering 314 pass attempts. Clemson has won 24 straight ACC games.
No. 4 Florida at No. 21 Texas A&M, noon, ESPN
The Gators have been a dynamic passing team this season behind the Kyles – quarterback Kyle Trask and tight end Kyle Pitts, a graduate of Archbishop Wood High. Trask has thrown 10 touchdown passes in two games, six to Pitts. Florida is averaging 44.5 points and 357 yards passing. Its defense could use a little fine-tuning, however, allowing 29.5 points and 471 total yards per game.
The Aggies' fan base isn’t too happy after watching its team get drubbed, 52-24, last week by Alabama, which threw for 435 yards and hit three touchdown passes of more than 60. A&M’s pass defense will be tested again, but quarterback Kellen Mond, who threw for 318 yards last week against the Crimson Tide, will make life difficult for Florida.
No. 18 Virginia Tech at No. 8 North Carolina, noon, 6ABC
After yielding only 108 yards in its first two games, the Tar Heels' defense must deal with the Hokies' relentless attack that has averaged 319 yards on the ground behind Khalil Herbert. A graduate transfer from Kansas, Herbert averages 156 rushing yards per game, best in the nation, for a team that has played shorthanded because of COVID-19 issues.
North Carolina needs to tighten up in the penalty department, where it’s averaging 9.5 per game. The Tar Heels are also minus-3 in turnover margin. Sam Howell has thrown three interceptions, matching his number of TD passes.
No. 14 Tennessee at No. 3 Georgia, 3:30 p.m., CBS3
The Volunteers have won eight straight games, their longest streak since their 1998 national championship team won 11 in a row, but their most recent streak has not included any upsets of ranked teams. The Bulldogs have played hellacious defense in their first two games, ranking third in rushing yards allowed (58.0 per game) and fourth in points given up (8.0) and total defense (248.0). They romped, 27-6, last week over then-No. 7 Auburn.
Florida State at No. 5 Notre Dame, 7:30 p.m., NBC10
Playing for the first time in three weeks, the Fighting Irish need to get back to business to continue a push that they hope will lead to a College Football Playoff spot. The Seminoles won their first game last week but needed to come back from deficits of 14-0 and 21-7 to beat FCS school Jacksonville State. FSU junior cornerback Asante Samuel Jr., son of the former Eagle, leads the nation with three interceptions.
Texas vs. Oklahoma at Dallas, noon, Fox29
So how bad have things been for these two teams lately? So bad that they’re not even the best game played at noon. The Sooners lost for the second straight time last Saturday and dropped out of the rankings for the first time since September 2016. The last time they started 0-2 in the Big 12 was 1998. The Longhorns fell to Texas Christian, leaving a real chance that neither they nor OU will earn a CFP berth – or maybe no team from the conference at all.
Expatriate of the Week
Keith Maguire, an all-state linebacker who played at Malvern Prep, has seen action in each of Clemson’s first three games. The 6-foot-2, 230-pound redshirt freshman has played 55 snaps thus far for the Tigers with six tackles, including one tackle for loss, a pass breakup and a quarterback pressure. A Media native, Maguire played in four games last season, the maximum allowed by the NCAA for him not to lose a year of eligibility.