ACC & Big 12 Week Eight Preview
Throughout the college football season, members of the Florida Citrus Sports Team Selection Committee are out on the road to meet with fans of our partner schools (including new Big 12 partners) to spread the word about the Russell Athletic Bowl’s new matchup and our brand-new home field opening for the 2014 bowl season.
Here are ten of the notable games across our partner conferences where we will be in attendance this weekend:
One of this week’s highly-anticipated games matches Notre Dame against Florida State at Doak Campbell Stadium. Both programs are 6-0 and rank in the top five of the AP Top 25. Despite some issues off the field, Heisman winning quarterback Jameis Winston is expected to play on Saturday and face the stingy Fighting Irish defense that is ranked eighth in the FBS for average points allowed per game with 17.2. The Seminoles have scored under 30 points only once this season when Winston was suspended against Clemson in week three. Notre Dame quarterback Everett Golson has led his team to six wins and is ranked 12th in the nation in touchdown passes thrown with 16. The last time these two schools met was in the 2011 Champ Sports Bowl – Florida State earned the 18-14 win.
Baylor nearly lost its perfect record on Saturday against TCU – down by 21 points with just under 12 minutes left in the fourth, the Bears scored 24 unanswered points and Baylor now stands at 6-0, 3-0 as it heads to Milan Puskar Stadium to take on West Virginia. The Mountaineers had a close win over Texas Tech in week seven improving to 4-2 overall and 2-1 in the Big 12. This will be the third tough test for West Virginia this season; its two losses came to Alabama and Oklahoma. Quarterback Clint Trickett ranks third in the nation in passing yards this season with 2203 and he has thrown for 12 touchdowns through six games. The Mountaineer defense will be tasked with stopping the Bear offense that holds the number one spot in average points scored per game at 52.7. When Baylor and West Virginia met in 2013, the Mountaineers were able to put up 42 points but could not outscore the Bears who scored 73, their highest point total that season.
Texas (2-4,1-2) hosts Iowa State on Saturday hoping to wrap up a three game home stand with a win. The Cyclones (2-4, 0-3) defeated Toledo at home in week seven and have a bye following this week’s matchup. The Longhorns’ only conference win this season was a shutout of Kansas and it faces three more Big 12 opponents ranked in the current AP Top 25 before the season concludes. Since taking over as starting quarterback in week two, Tyrone Swoopes has 1,068 yards and ten touchdowns. The Longhorns have struggled to put points on the board this season, ranking 114th in the FBS in average points per game with 19.7. Last year’s matchup was decided by just a point as Texas took the 31-30 victory.
Oklahoma State enters week eight undefeated in the Big 12 and with just one loss on the season. Its opponent, TCU, had an upset win in week six against Oklahoma and a three-point loss to Baylor last weekend. The Horned Frogs, host the Cowboys on Saturday hoping to upset their perfect conference record. TCU started the season unranked and under many people’s radars – preseason projections had it finishing in the bottom half of the Big 12. However, in week seven of the season, the Horned Frogs climbed all the way to No. 9 in the AP Poll despite the loss. Oklahoma State was also unranked in the preseason but have not dropped a game since losing in week one to reigning National Champion Florida State. Its game against the TCU is the first of four more currently ranked opponents the Cowboys must face before the season’s end. When the schools played in 2013, Oklahoma State came away with a 24-10 victory.
Following a dominating win over Texas Tech, Kansas State (4-1, 2-0) travels to Norman to face Oklahoma (5-1, 2-1) who recovered from a week six upset against TCU and beat Texas 31-26. The Wildcats’ only loss this season was against Auburn and they have a tough road ahead in Big 12 conference play. Though many anticipated Oklahoma’s appearance in the College Football Playoff, the loss to the Horned Frogs may have eliminated the Sooners from contention. Kansas State ranks second in Big 12 standings and Oklahoma is third with one loss in the conference. When the Sooners visited Bill Snyder Family Football Stadium in 2013, Oklahoma snapped Kansas State’s four-game winning streak, defeating the Wildcats 41-31.
Syracuse is in the midst of a four-game skid that it hopes to turn around when it visits Wake Forest at BB&T Field on Saturday. Currently ranked fifth in the ACC Atlantic, the Orange does not yet have a conference win with its most recent loss coming to Florida State by 18 points. Wake Forest also has not won an ACC game yet. The Demon Deacons fell to Louisville 20-10 in week five and its offense struggled to score against Florida State in week six, losing by 40 points – the largest margin of defeat since it lost to the Seminoles 59-3 in 2013. Wake Forest is tied with Syracuse for fifth place in the Atlantic standings as they have identical conference and overall season (2-4) records. When the Orange hosted the Demon Deacons last season, it shut them out 13-0.
North Carolina (2-4, 0-2) suffered its fourth loss in a row on Saturday to Notre Dame by just a touchdown. Georgia Tech (5-1, 2-1) was defeated for the first time in 2014 by ACC opponent Duke 31-25 despite being the favorite to win the game. The Yellow Jackets now travel to Kenan Stadium hoping to add a fifth loss to the Tar Heels’ losing streak. Georgia Tech has so far exceeded preseason expectations that had the team ranked 10th in the 14-program conference. The Yellow Jacket option offense averages close to 300 yards per game and should be able to utilize the ground game against the Tar Heel defense that ranks 95th in the nation in defending the run. However, the North Carolina offense averages 285 passing yards per game. When the two schools met in 2013, the Yellow Jackets came away with the 28-20 win.
Since its near upset of Florida State in week five, NC State (4-3, 0-3) has not won a game, losing to Clemson and Boston College in the following weeks. Clemson did not allow the Wolfpack offense to score and Boston College held them to just two touchdowns despite the offense scoring 40 or more points in four games this season. Louisville (5-2, 3-2) also has a loss to Clemson as well as one to Virginia but has fared well in its first year in the ACC and is third in the Atlantic. Not only does the road game atmosphere work against the Wolfpack, the team will be missing some starters after seven players were suspended for an off-campus incident. Louisville and NC State have played each other four times and the overall record favors Louisville 3-1.
Virginia (4-2, 2-0) travels to Wallace Wade Stadium after defeating Pitt in week six and a bye in week seven. The Cavaliers face Duke (5-1, 1-1) who upset Georgia Tech last Saturday – the Yellow Jackets were then ranked No. 22 in the AP Top 25. The Duke defense will be a tough test for Virginia, ranking seventh in the nation in points allowed per game with an average of 15.5. The Blue Devil offense has scored over 30 points in five of the six games it has played. The Cavaliers have already reached their win total from last year as they only won a total of two games the whole season. When Duke and Virginia met in 2013 the Cavaliers lost 35-25 and it was the fourth defeat in what would be a 10-game losing streak.
Clemson’s (3-2, 3-1) fifth conference game of the season will be played at Boston College (4-2, 1-1) this Saturday. Last week the Tigers came away with a 23-17 win over Louisville that put them back in the AP Top 25 poll at No. 24. Clemson fell from the rankings after its loss to Florida State in week five. The Eagles also won their game in week seven, defeating NC State 30-14. Clemson’s freshman quarterback Deshaun Watson sustained an injury to his hand against Louisville and will be out for a month following surgery. The Tiger’s other quarterback, Cole Stoudt, also was dealing with an injury but is expected to play this weekend. Stoudt has taken snaps in every game this season so the adjustment to losing Watson should not slow down the offense significantly. This will be the second opponent ranked in the AP poll that Boston College sees this season – in its week three matchup against USC, it upset the Trojans 37-31. When the Tigers hosted the Eagles last season, Clemson walked away with the 24-14 victory.