This weekend’s college football slate appeared to have a fairly sturdy tag: Purple River Week. It doesn’t matter what else was occurring, you knew there could be no less than one season-defining sport on the docket.
A lot for that. Texas and Oklahoma are a mixed 3-3, and neither is within the AP high 20.
Massive video games stay, nonetheless. We’ve got 4 matchups of ranked groups — two in Saturday’s early slot, one within the afternoon and a top-10 banger (OK, doable banger) within the night. That is the most important weekend of this unusual season to this point. So let’s swim round in these matchups and determine how issues are going to go.
If you happen to do not belief Miami but, it is comprehensible. The Hurricanes have misplaced their previous three video games as a top-10 workforce, they usually have not completed a season within the AP high 10 since 2003. They’ve overwhelmed three respectable however unspectacular groups — Louisville, Florida State and UAB every ranked between thirty fifth and 52nd in SP+ — by a mean rating of 43-19. They’ve risen to ninth themselves in SP+, however now comes the final word progress test: a visit to Clemson. Mixed rating of their previous two conferences: Clemson 96, Miami 3.
What does a Clemson loss appear like?
We see Dabo Swinney’s Tigers fall so sometimes that after some time it turns into fairly tough to even envision it. They’re 72-5 because the begin of 2015. However in these 5 losses you do discover just a few tendencies:
Each workforce generates higher stats in wins than losses, clearly, however it’s typically instructive to look into what particularly modifications for sure groups after they do effectively or poorly.
For Clemson, it seems you’ve gotten to have the ability to sustain on the scoreboard; you are not going to close down the Tigers. They’ve scored no less than 24 factors in 4 of those 5 losses.
Success normally comes via the air. Taking out the outlier of the losses, a 24-6 slog towards Alabama in 2017, opponents have accomplished a mean of twenty-two of 36 passes for 346 yards and three.8 touchdowns within the Tigers’ different 4 losses. You can not flip the ball over — opponents suffered solely three turnovers in these 5 losses — and you need to generate some explosiveness.
Miami has had loads of the latter. The Canes are seventh in marginal explosiveness, and whereas a whole lot of these massive positive aspects have come from the run sport, quarterback D’Eriq King has nonetheless accomplished passes of 75, 47, 40 and 31 in his first three video games as a Hurricane. He additionally has but to throw a choose.
Regardless of dropping some stars from final season’s secondary and getting solely 21 snaps from standout cornerback Derion Kendrick to this point, Clemson’s go protection numbers have been superb: seventeenth in passing success charge allowed, twenty eighth in ANY/A (a yards-per-attempt measure that features sacks, provides 20 yards for each landing and subtracts 45 for each interception). However that is not essentially nice contemplating the competitors (Wake Forest, The Citadel, Virginia).
Miami’s receivers might need a chance to make some performs, however they completely should capitalize on their probabilities. Vast receivers Mike Harley and Mark Pope have suffered three drops every general, and a whole lot of King’s success has come from throwing to tight finish Brevin Jordan and working backs.
Stress Trevor Lawrence … or else
Clemson’s offense is mostly sturdy even in losses, but when there is a weak point, it comes towards a powerful go rush. The Tigers have allowed a 3.6% sack charge in wins since 2015 (1.3 per sport on common) and a 6.3% sack charge in losses (3.0). Snuffing out an additional drive or two with a adverse play can work wonders.
That is simpler mentioned than executed, however after dropping 4 offensive-line starters, the Tigers have been a bit glitchier than regular up entrance. Each Virginia and Wake Forest sacked Lawrence twice, and regardless of dealing with minimal blitzes, Clemson ranks thirty fifth in sack charge allowed to date (5.1%).
That is a chance for Miami. The Canes at all times hunt for tackles for loss below coach Manny Diaz, and they’re at the moment fifteenth in sack charge and second in stress charge. Temple grad switch Quincy Roche has been nearly as good as marketed, and finish Jaelan Phillips is having fun with a late-career explosion too. If they’ll hurry Lawrence, they’ll forestall him from hitting Amari Rodgers and Frank Ladson Jr. (mixed: 21 catches, 385 yards) downfield.
If the Canes cannot stress Lawrence sufficient, although, or in the event that they overpursue and go away themselves susceptible to screens and dump-offs to working again Travis Etienne (9 catches, 172 yards), they in all probability will not get many stops. Etienne can also be averaging 6.2 yards per carry, and Braden Galloway is getting extra concerned than any Clemson TE was final season. The Tigers are averaging 3.2 factors per drive (ninth in FBS) regardless of by no means actually being compelled to dip all that far into the playbook.
The Tigers’ secondary and offensive line will acquire in expertise because the season progresses. They’re the one workforce to rank within the high 10 in all three phases of SP+ (third on offense, fourth on protection and seventh in particular groups). Their closing 2020 type is prone to be devastating, however this could be the very best time to face the Tigers.
SP+ projection: Clemson 32, Miami 21
Whereas looking on the No. 3 Georgia vs. No. 14 Tennessee matchup, Marty & McGee attempt to decipher if the Vols are formally again.
Tennessee is coming off a 35-12 victory over Missouri that featured environment friendly working and nice pink zone execution on either side of the ball. The Volunteers’ reward is a top-15 battle towards Georgia and the nation’s high protection.
Avoiding apparent go conditions
Towards what had been imagined to be stable South Carolina and Missouri defenses, Tennessee has scored 30-plus factors twice, rating twentieth in success charge and twenty second in general factors per drive. The Vols are ending scoring probabilities in the long run zone. Vast receivers Josh Palmer and Brandon Johnson are making performs downfield, and after rating a hundred and first in speeding success charge final season (39%), Tennessee is at the moment twenty first (50%).
Nevertheless, on blitz downs, the Vols are 71st out of 74 groups in success charge, forty fourth in big-play charge and 72nd in sack charge. Quarterback Jarrett Guarantano stands tall within the pocket and appears to make performs downfield, and he typically finally ends up on his again.
To this point, 66% of the third downs Georgia opponents have confronted had been of the third-and-long selection (7-plus yards to go). Opponents have gone three-and-out 52% of the time, most within the nation. Auburn threw virtually the whole lot it may consider on the Dawgs and was rewarded with 216 yards and 6 factors.
In components of three video games towards Georgia, Guarantano hasn’t thrown any picks, however he is been sacked 4 occasions and averaged simply 5.2 adjusted internet yards per go. The Vols have scored solely 26 mixed factors of their previous three video games towards the Dawgs, however you work they want no less than 21 or so to have an opportunity. That may require good execution, and a few creativity from offensive coordinator Jim Chaney, on commonplace downs.
The ultimate piece of the puzzle for Georgia: massive performs
With Georgia already up 17-0 on Auburn halfway via the second quarter final Saturday, Stetson Bennett heaved a stunning deep ball to Kearis Jackson for a 49-yard acquire. 4 performs later, it was 24-0 and the sport was successfully over.
The play was noteworthy for causes apart from its common magnificence: First, it got here to Jackson, a sophomore who has thrived to this point, catching extra passes (15) than incumbents George Pickens and Demetris Robertson mixed (12). Second, and fewer positively, it was additionally the one acquire of 30-plus yards that Georgia has generated this season.
Granted, the Dawgs’ area place has been so good — their common beginning area place is 37.4, second in FBS — that they have not essentially had a ton of 30-yard alternatives. However UGA ranks 71st in marginal explosiveness, and 51% of the Dawgs’ third downs have been third-and-long. As environment friendly as Bennett has been to date, big-play points should not but solved.
If Tennessee’s protection can get off the sector when it will get the prospect, this might flip into fairly the defensive slugfest. However the Vols have some cracks to paper over in that regard. They allowed Missouri to transform first downs on third-and-14, second-and-12 and two second-and-10s final week, they usually rank simply forty eighth in passing-downs success charge allowed. For an in any other case stable protection, that is a blind spot. But when Georgia affords you a shot at a three-and-out and a field-position increase, you need to take it, since you simply aren’t going to get many good scoring probabilities.
SP+ projection: Georgia 28, Tennessee 15
Gators QB Kyle Trask and TE Kyle Pitts have already related six occasions for touchdowns to date in Florida’s two wins this season.
Texas A&M is 1-1 and has but to play like something near the borderline top-10 workforce many thought the Aggies could be. A&M will get an early-Saturday shot to show issues round.
Kyle Trask‘s Heisman alternative
By means of two video games, Dan Mullen’s Gators have been nearly as good as anybody may have hoped on offense, scoring a mixed 89 factors on Ole Miss and South Carolina and rating second in each yards per play (7.8) and success charge (56%).
Florida was dreadfully inefficient working the ball final season, however the Gators are eighth in speeding success charge to date. Trask has posted almost Burrow-ian numbers — 72% completion charge, 10-1 TD-INT ratio, 196.4 passer ranking. Tight finish Kyle Pitts has caught 12 of 17 balls for 227 yards and 6 touchdowns — in two video games! — and large receiver Kadarius Toney is a yardage thief. He catches principally quick passes and turns them into double-digit positive aspects (13.2 yards per catch). Neither has dropped a go but.
Texas A&M may render Florida one-dimensional. The Aggies restricted Alabama’s Najee Harris final week and rank seventh in speeding success charge allowed. Linebacker Buddy Johnson does not miss tackles, and linemen Micheal Clemons and DeMarvin Leal have already got 4.5 tackles for loss.
Sadly for the Aggies, you need to additionally cease the go. Alabama’s Mac Jones was 20-for-27 for 435 yards, 4 touchdowns and a choose final week. A&M is now 63rd out of 74 groups in passing success charge allowed and ANY/A. Now Trask will get a shot at this shellshocked secondary. Jones threw excessive of the Ags, which is not essentially Trask’s MO, however, effectively, Florida watches movie. Whereas Pitts runs a very good seam route, and Toney may at all times become involved with double strikes, this may very well be a chance for one in every of Florida’s extra go-route-heavy receivers — Trevon Grimes, Jacob Copeland or Xzavier Henderson — to become involved. Regardless of the Gators try, it would take an enormous turnaround from A&M to cease a lot of it.
Florida’s defensive inefficiency
Gators defensive coordinator Todd Grantham’s answer to only about the whole lot is “blitz it.” He seems to be the prototype boom-or-bust sort of coach, however Florida’s protection has been much more bend-don’t-break in 2020. The Gators prevented massive performs fairly effectively towards South Carolina, however they’re sixty fifth in success charge allowed.
Even worse, on blitz downs — second-and-super-long or third-and-5 or extra, which I ought to mainly name Grantham Downs — they’re 69th in success charge and 69th in big-play charge. They’re sacking the QB, certain (seventh in blitz-down sack charge, seventeenth in general sack charge) however at fairly a price.
Veteran A&M quarterback Kellen Mond has been definitively mediocre this season whereas breaking in a brand new receiving corps. WR-turned-RB Ainias Smith had a very good factor going towards Bama (six catches, 123 yards), and tight finish Jalen Wydermyer is stable, however the high three Aggies large receivers — Chase Lane, Jalen Preston, Caleb Chapman — have caught simply 20 of 37 passes for 212 yards. Not ok.
A&M’s largest offensive energy to this point is three-and-out avoidance. The Aggies achieve this solely 13% of the time, fifth within the nation. If A&M can generate a few first downs on every drive and Mond can join with a wideout on a key third-and-7 or two, possibly the Aggies will management the ball effectively sufficient to restrict Trask’s alternatives.
SP+ projection: Florida 33, Texas A&M 23
That is the week we get readability within the race for the ACC’s No. 2 slot. Notre Dame, Miami, North Carolina and Virginia Tech to date have all principally appeared the half.
Tech will in all probability truly need to throw the soccer
Virginia Tech’s offense has been hyper-explosive to date. Working again and Kansas switch Khalil Herbert has rushed for 10-plus yards on 10 of his 26 carries (which have gained a cool 312 yards) and large receiver Tayvion Robinson has reeled in a few balls on go routes. The Hokies rank fifth in marginal explosiveness, a field-position-adjusted measure of the magnitude of a workforce’s profitable performs.
Hendon Hooker‘s skills may turn out to be useful towards North Carolina, nonetheless. Tech’s returning beginning quarterback has but to play this season due to coronavirus quarantine and a scarcity of apply time. He could be in control this week.
Tech, in the meantime, has been extra “nothing” than “all” in throwing the ball in Hooker’s absence. Oregon switch Braxton Burmeister has accomplished solely 44% of his passes, with a 110.8 passer ranking. Tech has been a one-trick pony, rating eleventh in run charge on commonplace downs and seventh on passing downs. Hooker’s presence is sweet for a run sport too, however we assume the Hokies should take to the air a bit extra to maintain Jay Bateman’s protection from loading as much as cease Herbert.
Inconsistency vs. vulnerability
Nearly as good because the North Carolina protection has been, the offense has been a bit disappointing.
In two video games, the Tar Heels have battled two droughts, scoring solely as soon as of their first seven drives towards Syracuse and twice of their final seven towards Boston School. General, their 2.3 factors per possession ranks simply thirty seventh, their 35.9 yards per drive forty eighth. Star large receiver Dazz Newsome has but to actually become involved, and whereas effectivity ranges are stable, massive go performs have been uncommon.
Virginia Tech’s go rush has been dynamite — its 6.5 sacks per sport leads the nation — and the truth that the Hokies rank twenty second in ANY/A allowed regardless of enjoying towards Duke with out mainly their total beginning secondary is a minor miracle. (It is also an indictment of Duke’s offense.) The Hokies have been fairly sketchy towards the run, although, and that may very well be problematic towards the UNC speeding duo of Michael Carter and Javonte Williams, who’ve mixed for 313 yards (6.5 per carry) and 4 touchdowns. If Tech cannot put itself in pass-rush conditions, and if it has to overcommit to stopping the run, the secondary turns into awfully susceptible.
SP+ projection: North Carolina 31, Virginia Tech 26
Week 6 playlist
Listed below are 10 weekend video games — no less than one from every time slot — it’s best to take note of if you wish to get absolutely the most out of the weekend, from each info and leisure views.
All occasions Jap.
Friday night time
Louisville at Georgia Tech (7 p.m., ESPN): This can be a prime rebound alternative for 1-2 Louisville, however the Cardinals permit a whole lot of go stress, and Georgia Tech generates a whole lot of it. Not a layup for Louisville.
No. 4 Florida at No. 21 Texas A&M (midday, ESPN): If the SEC is to get two groups within the School Soccer Playoff, it in all probability wants Florida and Georgia to maneuver via fairly just a few “favored, however not dramatically so” video games like this one with no blemish. Simpler mentioned than executed.
No. 19 Virginia Tech at No. 8 North Carolina (midday, ABC): Winner stays well-positioned for a shot on the ACC title sport. Loser has some work to do.
No. 14 Tennessee at No. 3 Georgia (3:30 p.m., CBS): An ideal likelihood for Tennessee to indicate how far it has come over the previous 12 months (or find out how far it nonetheless has to go).
UTSA at No. 15 BYU (3:30 p.m., ESPN2): BYU has been completely unimaginable to date, overachieving towards the unfold at document ranges. The Cougars are five-touchdown favorites towards Jeff Traylor’s 3-1 Roadrunners. Can they maintain the good run going?
Kansas State at TCU (4 p.m., Fox): The Massive 12 race may very well be decided by who finest pulls out shut video games, and all 4 of those groups’ convention video games have been decided within the closing minutes. This one in all probability will probably be too.
No. 2 Alabama at Ole Miss (7:30 p.m., ESPN): Ole Miss’ Matt Corral is averaging 15.5 yards per completion in 2020, and Alabama’s Mac Jones is averaging 18.0. Sure, Bama will in all probability win, however there may very well be a lot of explosions on this one.
No. 7 Miami at No. 1 Clemson (7:30 p.m., ABC): An ideal likelihood for Miami to indicate how far it is come over the previous 9 months (or find out how far it nonetheless has to go).