A belated welcome to the college football portion of this chaotic year known as 2020. The next 14 or so weeks will be unpredictable and uncertain, not to mention uncrowded — no fans at many venues. Will any conference be able to play a full season? Will a spike in COVID-19 cases wipe out an entire position group some weeks? This is going to be unlike anything we’ve ever seen.
One example came Friday. Officials of Houston and Baylor talked last Saturday and scheduled a game for this weekend after each had games postponed because of coronavirus outbreaks on the opposing teams. But the Bears had to call off the game because the team did not meet the Big 12 COVID threshold for playing.
This is a matchup of two potent offenses. The Hurricanes amassed 492 total yards last week in their 31-14 win over UAB and rushed for 337, 134 coming from Cam’Ron Harris. The Cardinals rolled up 487 yards in a 35-21 victory over Western Kentucky.
The quarterback matchup is particularly intriguing. Miami fifth-year senior D’Eriq King, who accounted for 6,346 yards of total offense and 78 touchdowns in 22 games at Houston before transferring last winter, started 2020 a little slowly with 224 total yards last week.
Meanwhile, Louisville redshirt junior Micale Cunningham comes into this week leading the ACC in total offense with 364 yards, including 343 through the air. He threw three TD passes and ran for another score against WKU.
The Bulls are one of three American Athletic Conference teams to be matched up with a Power 5 opponent this week, and it’s safe to say they will keep their collective eye on sophomore running back Kyren Williams.
In his first career start last week, Williams made an auspicious debut for the Fighting Irish with 205 all-purpose yards — 112 rushing and 93 receiving — in the 27-13 home victory over Duke. Ian Book, coming off a 2019 season in which he accounted for 2,500 passing yards, 500 rushing yards and 30 touchdown passes, threw for 236 yards and a touchdown.
The Bulls defeated The Citadel, 27-6, last week and rushed for 302 yards, averaging 7.7 per carry. In their last trip to South Bend, they defeated Notre Dame, 23-20, in a 2011 game that took almost six hours to play because of two weather delays.
This game was scheduled for last week, but the Golden Hurricane had several multiple positive COVID-19 tests in August that led to a nine-day pause in their preparations for the season.
This could be a tough opener for the visitors. The Cowboys are led on offense by All-America running back Chuba Hubbard, who rushed for 2,094 yards and 21 touchdowns last year, and receiver Tylan Wallace. Wallace caught 53 passes for 903 yards and eight touchdowns but tore his anterior cruciate ligament after eight games.
Oklahoma State owns a 21-game home winning streak against Tulsa.
Another former Temple coach, Geoff Collins, led the Yellow Jackets to a big victory last week at Florida State despite 10 penalties and two blocked field goals. Jeff Sims (23-for-34, 277 yards) was the first true freshman quarterback in Tech history to win a season opener.
Playing its only game this season against a Power 5 team, UCF will lean on sophomore quarterback Dillon Gabriel, who passed for 3,653 yards and 29 touchdowns in 2019.
The Panthers, who defeated overmatched Austin Peay, 55-0, in their season opener, have enough talent on both sides of the ball — senior defensive end Patrick Jones, junior safety Paris Ford, senior quarterback Kenny Pickett — to contend for the ACC championship. The Orange gave up seven sacks last week against North Carolina. Their quarterback, redshirt junior Tommy DeVito, has thrown 201 consecutive passes without an interception, second-longest active streak in FBS.