The coronavirus continues to interfere with the college football schedule, taking a big chunk out of this weekend’s slate.
Among the 14 games postponed or canceled, four are SEC games, including No. 1 Alabama at Louisiana State, and one that matched two quarterbacks – No. 3 Ohio State’s Justin Fields and Maryland’s Taulia Tagovailoa – who picked Penn State apart the last two weeks.
Here are some of Saturday’s best games:
No. 2 Notre Dame at Boston College, 3:30 p.m., 6ABC
The question is how sharp the Fighting Irish’s focus has been on this game after last week’s emotional 47-40 double-overtime victory over top-ranked Clemson. A potential scenario must remind the team’s old-timers of a similar situation with the Eagles 27 years ago.
One week after Notre Dame upset No. 1 Florida State to take over the top ranking, the Irish were upset by BC, 41-39, on a 41-yard field goal as time expired on Nov. 20, 1993.
Notre Dame’s defense got beat up a little bit last week by Clemson, but it’s still one of the nation’s better units – 10th in points allowed (14.6 per game) and ninth in total defense (296.6 total yards per game). A strong running game led by Kyren Williams (740 yards) sparks the offense.
The Eagles have a Notre Dame transfer at quarterback, Phil Jurkovec, who has thrown for 2,083 yards, the best eight-game start in school history. Their kicker is Temple transfer Aaron Boumerhi, who is 10-of-14 on field goals with a long of – wait for it – 41 yards.
Arkansas at No. 6 Florida, 7 p.m., ESPN
Given the postponements, this is Saturday’s best SEC game. The Gators are looking to stay on track toward winning the Eastern Division crown and a spot in the conference championship game, and possibly earning a College Football Playoff berth.
Kyle Trask has been sensational, passing for 1,815 yards and 22 touchdowns in only five games. He may be without one of his favorite receivers, tight end Kyle Pitts (Archbishop Wood High), who left last week’s game against Georgia with a concussion.
Razorbacks head coach Sam Pittman tested positive earlier this week for COVID-19 and will not be on the sideline. The game marks a return to Florida Field for Hogs quarterback Feleipe Franks, who was a three-year starter for the Gators before transferring. He has thrown 14 TD passes this year.
No. 10 Indiana at Michigan State, noon, 6ABC
The Hoosiers continue their giddy ride through the Big Ten East carrying their highest ranking since 1969 while doing everything right. They carry a plus-6 turnover margin. They are 16-of-16 in the red zone with 12 touchdowns. Michael Penix Jr. has thrown seven TDs.
The Spartans followed a rivalry win over Michigan by suffering a 49-7 pounding last week to Iowa. Quarterback Rocky Lombardi can throw to a pair of deep threats in Ricky White and Jailen Naylor, each of whom averages more than 20 yards per catch.
No. 13 Wisconsin at Michigan, 7:30 p.m., 6ABC
The Badgers won their Big Ten opener on Oct. 24, and then disappeared in a COVID-19 outbreak that saw games against Nebraska and Purdue canceled. They have to be wondering if redshirt freshman quarterback Graham Mertz still has the magic of his only game played: 20 completions in 21 attempts and five touchdowns against Illinois.
It doesn’t figure to be a fun game for the secondary of the Wolverines, who rank 104th in the nation in pass defense. Embattled Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh is 0-10 as an underdog in his current job.
No. 9 Miami at Virginia Tech, noon, ESPN
The Hurricanes' D’Eriq King produced the following statistics last week against North Carolina State: 430 passing yards, 105 rushing yards, five touchdown passes, zero interceptions. He is the first FBS quarterback to post those kind of numbers since 2013. The Hokies were embarrassed at home last week by Liberty, and their productive rushing attack may be without Khalil Herbert, who has a hamstring injury.
Expatriate of the Week
Former Archbishop Wood star Raheem Blackshear may see extended time at running back Saturday for Virginia Tech. The 5-foot-9, 194-pound redshirt junior has rushed for 254 yards and two touchdowns backing up starter Khalil Herbert, who is questionable with a hamstring injury. He also has nine catches for 59 yards. Blackshear transferred from Rutgers after last season and was denied a waiver by the NCAA for immediate eligibility last August. But the NCAA changed its ruling after the Hokies appealed.