Oct 23, 2014

ACC & Big 12 Week Nine 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 five of the notable games across our partner conferences where we will be in attendance this weekend:

West Virginia (5-2, 3-1) travels to Boone Pickens Stadium in week nine following a huge upset win over Baylor. The Moutaineer defense held the Bears to their lowest point total of the season (27) and the offense scored 41 points to hand Baylor its first loss in 2014. Oklahoma State (5-2, 3-1) returns to Stillwater after suffering its first loss in the Big 12 at TCU. The Cowboys were held to a season-low nine points during the game and, as a result of the loss, are out of the AP Top 25 standings for the first time since week four.  West Virginia is currently second in Big 12 conference standings despite being ranked eighth in the ten-team conference in some preseason polls. Experts had little hopes of the Mountaineers earning bowl eligibility – they are now just one win away. When the Cowboys hosted the Mountaineers last year, West Virginia handed Oklahoma State its first of only two losses in the regular season. It was also one of only four wins for West Virginia and the only victory over a ranked opponent.

Though Texas (3-4, 2-2) never trailed in its 48-45 win over Big 12 opponent Iowa State, the teams were tied six different times throughout the game and the Longhorns pulled away with a game-winning field goal with just three seconds left. Kansas State (5-1, 3-0) had a close win in week eight as well, upsetting Oklahoma by just one point and moving up three spots in the AP Top 25 poll to No. 11.  With the only undefeated record in the Big 12, the Wildcats are atop the standings but face tough opponents in coming weeks. When Kansas State and Texas met in 2013, the Longhorns snapped a two-game losing streak and defeated the Wildcats 31-21.

Virginia (4-3, 2-1) returns home to Scott Stadium to host ACC Coastal opponent North Carolina (3-4, 1-2). In week eight the Tar Heels earned their first conference win over Georgia Tech but remain at the bottom of the Coastal division standings.  Following a loss to the Duke, the Cavaliers are now second in the Coastal standings. When the two schools met in 2013, the Tar Heels came away with a 45-14 victory.

Clemson (5-2, 4-1) will host ACC Atlantic opponent Syracuse (3-4, 1-2) at Memorial Stadium on Saturday following a win at Boston College in week eight. The Orange earned their first conference win in week eight, defeating Wake Forest. The Tiger defense will be a tough test for a struggling Syracuse offense – the Orange rank 106th in the FBS in points per game with an average of 22.6. The Tiger defense is ranked 20th in points allowed with an average of 20 per game. Clemson’s two losses have come to two of the nation’s top teams – the Tigers lost to Georgia in week one to Florida State in OT in week four. When Syracuse hosted Clemson in the Carrier Dome in 2013, the Tigers had a dominating 49-14 win.

Pittsburgh (4-3, 2-1) snapped a three-game losing streak in week eight against Virginia Tech, bringing both its overall and conference records above .500. Georgia Tech (5-2, 2-2) suffered its second loss in a row as it was upset by North Carolina by just five points. This will be the second road game in a row for the Yellow Jackets who fell below the Panthers in the Coastal division standings with the loss.  Both teams feature a strong running attack. Pitt running back James Connor has amassed nearly 1,000 yards and scored 11 rushing touchdowns. The Panthers rank 20th in the nation in average rush yards per game with 239. Georgia Tech ranks 5th in the FBS with an average of 306.3 rush yards per game. Quarterback Justin Thomas is also the team’s leading rusher – he has 108 carries for 625 yards and three touchdowns. Thomas has a total of 13 touchdowns through week eight. Georgia Tech and Pitt faced each other in week ten of the 2013 season and the Yellow Jackets earned the 21-10 victory. 

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