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Tag:Dabo Swinney
Posted on: October 11, 2011 10:05 am
 

Keys to the Game: Clemson at Maryland

Posted by Chip Patterson

CLEMSON WILL WIN IF: If the offensive line can keep Tajh Boyd upright and allow him to get comfortable, the Tigers should win against Maryland on Saturday night. They can expect that Maryland will try to bring pressure on Boyd, who suffered a strained hip last week in the win against Boston College. If the offensive line can keep Boyd from getting hit and open up seams for running back Andre Ellington, the Tigers should be able to wear down a Terps defense that has been banged up at key positions in recent weeks.

With Maryland's questions at the quarterback position, defensive end Andre Branch and the Tigers' pass rush should be ready to hunt as well. Clemson has recorded 17 tackles for loss in their last two victories against Virginia Tech and Boston College, after starting the season with just 12 total in their first four contests. The Tigers will need more pressure like this to rattle the Maryland quarterback - whoever ends up getting the nod.

MARYLAND WILL WIN IF: The Terrapins need to feed off of their home crowd and get a fast start, the same way they did in the season opener against Miami. This is Maryland's Homecoming weekend, and their first night game since that win over the Hurricanes. The defense has to create some turnovers to keep Clemson's offense from hitting a rhythm and taking the crowd out of the game early.  On paper a healthy Clemson team should run away with this game, so they'll need every extra boost they can get.  

Head coach Randy Edsall benched Danny O'Brien in the loss to Georgia Tech, allowing freshman C.J. Brown to step in for his first action of the season. Brown struggled to move the ball through the air, but racked up 124 yards rushing including a 77-yard run for a touchdown. We still don't know who will be under center against the Tigers, and probably won't until kickoff. All the more reason for the defense needs to create turnovers to set either quarterback up with a short field.

X-FACTOR: The health of starting quarterback Tajh Boyd. Watching the awkward way Boyd fell to the ground on the play he strained his hip, there was nervousness that he could miss significant time. However every report out of Clemson's camp has been positive, and head coach Dabo Swinney expects him to play against the Terps on Saturday. Backup quarterback Cole Stoudt was able to show the ability to manage the offense in the second half and close out Boston College, but four quarters against Maryland in Byrd Stadium under the lights will be a different challenge.

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Posted on: October 10, 2011 1:25 pm
Edited on: October 10, 2011 1:26 pm
 

ACC poll reactions, Week 6

Posted by Chip Patterson

This week's polls have been released. Here's how the ACC fared, from the top of the polls to the bottom, and what it means.

(AP/Coaches)

8/8. Clemson

Clemson got their first big scare of the season on Saturday, with Tajh Boyd leaving the game after falling awkwardly thanks to a hit from Boston College defensive end Max Holloway.  Backup quarterback Cole Stoudt was able to enter the game and help the Tigers hold on to the win, and the good news is Boyd is expected to not miss much, if any, playing opportunities.  The sophomore quarterback is a breakout star in Clemson's new offense, and having him in the game is key to the unit operating at full potential.  If Boyd is able to compete at 100% after straining his hip, the Tigers' will be in a position to continue their quest for an ACC Atlantic Division title.

12/12. Georgia Tech

The Yellow Jackets looked shakier than usual against Maryland, but held on to a three score lead in the fourth quarter to win 21-16.  Paul Johnson was cricital of his team's offense after the game, citing a lack of "continuity" as a reason for their struggles.  The team looked out of rhythm, but leading the Coastal Division and sitting at 6-0 does wonders for maintaining your status in the polls.  Georgia Tech will get healthier defensively heading into this week's game against Virginia, and we have all seen the potential of that offense when things are clicking.

19/17. Virginia Tech

Virginia Tech bounced back from their disappointing loss to Clemson in the conference opener with a trilling 38-35 shootout victory over Miami.  For one game, the story of the Hokies' offense was not running back David Wilson.  Tyrod Taylor was on the Hokie sideline, and with his mentor watching sedshirt sophomore Logan Thomas put together the most memorable game of his young career.  Thomas completed 23 fo 25 passes for 310 yards and three touchdowns.  Most importantly, on 4th and 1 Thomas took the ball in his hands with intentions to dive for a first down with less than a minute remaining.  When he looked ahead after faking the handoff to Wilson, there was a giant gap and Thomas ran 19 yards for the winning touchdown.  "Enter Sandman" blared through Lane Stadium, and Virginia Tech was back on track.   



Others receiving votes:
North Carolina
and Wake Forest both received some attention from the voters this week after picking up victories this weekend.  The Tar Heels escaped with an ugly 14-7 victory over Louisville to improve to 5-1, while the Demon Deacons make their first splash near the Top 25 after knocking off Florida State 35-30.  The Seminoles, ranked No. 23 last week and as high as No. 5 earlier in the season, did not receive any votes in either poll. 

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Posted on: October 9, 2011 2:46 am
Edited on: October 9, 2011 3:15 am
 

ACC Winners and Losers: Week 6



Posted by Chip Patterson


A handy recap of who really won and who really lost that you won't find in the box score.

WINNER: Logan Thomas

The struggles of the Virginia Tech offense and sophomore quarterback Logan Thomas were well documented after the 23-3 loss to Clemson a week ago. But Thomas absolutely silenced his critics with a near-perfect performance in the 38-35 win over Miami on Saturday. With 2010 ACC Player of the Year Tyrod Taylor watching from the sidelines, Thomas did his best Taylor impression orchestrating a game-winning touchdown drive in the final minutes of the game. Thomas may have capped his memorable night with a 19-yard touchdown rush to win the game, but it was performance through the air that showed the most improvement. Thomas completed 23 of 25 passes for 310 yards, three touchdowns, and no interceptions against a Miami back seven with NFL-caliber talent at nearly every position. The young quarterback had shown flashes of potential, but not quite put it all together until Saturday's victory. If Thomas can replicate that kind of production, the Hokies may not be as far removed from division contender status as we thought.

LOSER: Miami's defense

Miami defense - For the first time all season, the Hurricanes did not turn the ball over once on offense. Jacory Harris and Lamar Miller had the offense humming in the second half against Virginia Tech, giving the defense an opportunity to win the game in the final minutes. The unit has become significantly thinner in recent weeks, particularly with the loss of seniors Ramon Buchanan and Marcus Forston to season-ending injuries. That lack of depth showed late in the game, with the Hurricanes defense a step slower all over the field as the Hokies stormed back and won the game on a 19-yard Logan Thomas run up the middle.

WINNER: Wake Forest, your new ACC dark horse

With a 3-0 conference record, the Demon Deacons are tied with No. 8 Clemson and No. 13 Georgia Tech as the best team in the ACC. A national ranking may arrive for Jim Grobe's squad on Sunday, but the team's arrival as a contender was made on Saturday with the victory over Florida State. Sophomore Tanner Price and Josh Harris were impressive against a talented Seminoles defense, but the play of Wake's defense has changed the team's outlook in conference play. Nearly the entire starting lineup was part of 2010's disastrous 1-7 ACC record, but the unit is back and playing at an unexpectedly high level. Grobe is notorious for being tagged as a "player development" coach, but 2011's team might be another one of those squads that keeps that reputation going. The unit forced five Florida State turnovers on Saturday, picking off both Clint Trickett and EJ Manuel two times each to set up a short field for Price and the unpredictable spread offense. There are plenty of challenges left on Wake's schedule, including next week's contest against Virginia Tech, but the similarities that some have drawn to the 2006 team don't seem to be that radical.

LOSER: Florida State's offensive line

There are a lot of aspects to Florida State's team that aren't going as planned, but the struggles of the offensive line can be blamed for many of the most glaring problems. The Seminoles were one of the most productive rushing teams in the conference in 2010, and now the running backs have become a non-factor against quality opponents. The line is not opening up the lanes, and the backs are not finding their holes. The inability to rush the ball has now begun to have an increasingly negative effect on the passing game, as Florida State's opponents treat them as a one-dimensional team. The unit entered the season dealing with injury issues, and has continued to search for a working rotation. Getting EJ Manuel healthy brings 2011's best rusher back to the lineup, so that should be a start. But the line has to improve if Florida State wants to try and make the most of the season after this three-game losing streak.

WINNER: Clemson's winning streak

The Tigers improve to 6-0, even losing Boyd to the strained hip. Luckily the Tigers had built a lead at the time of the starting quarterback's injury, so Cole Stoudt's job was not too difficult. But considering how much time Boyd spent mastering the intricacies of Chad Morris' system in the offseason, it has to be comforting for Tigers fans to know that Stoudt can keep the machine moving forward while under center. If Stoudt gets the start against Maryland next week, there will be some drop-off. But after seeing the freshman move the ball against Boston College's defense, head coach Dabo Swinney was able to get some comfort in Stoudt's ability if Boyd is unable to play. Rushing Boyd back and/or causing further injury would be the worst possible situation for the undefeated Tigers, and if there is any question regarding Boyd's health the Tigers should be able to continue performing at a high level with Stoudt.

LOSER: Georgia Tech's ability to close out opponents

Georgia Tech was not a loser on Saturday, but they took a step back with yet another poor defensive showing in the fourth quarter. In their three ACC contests combined, the Yellow Jackets have given up 48 fourth quarter points, while only allowing 31 points in the first three quarters of play. The reasons seem to be different every time, but the result is always the same. Against Maryland, it was allowing backup quarterback C.J. Brown and Davin Meggett to establish a powerful downhill running attack. Against N.C. State it was soft coverage and lack of focus with a big lead. The Yellow Jackets are 6-0 and sitting on top of the ACC standings, but they might not be so lucky if they let another opponent climb back into the contest late.

WINNER: Maryland quarterback C.J. Brown

Maryland's inconsistencies and offensive struggles since their opening night win have been well documented, but a quarterback change in the loss to Georgia Tech introduced a new aspect to the offense. Sophomore quarterback C.J. Brown took over for 2010 ACC Rookie of the Year Danny O'Brien in the second half, and led two touchdown drives in the fourth quarter to bring the Terps back into the game against the Yellow Jackets. Brown presented a new rushing threat for the opposition, and was able to get an effective read game going with running back Davin Meggett. The backup quarterback finished as the game's leading rusher, thanks in large part to a 77 yard touchdown run early in the fourth quarter. Brown struggled mightily trying to move the ball through the air, but he at least presents offensive coordinator Gary Crowton the option of possibly using a two-quarterback system to keep opposing defenses on their toes. Imploring the two quarterback tactic can be toxic to a team in certain situations, but at 2-3 Maryland needs something to jump start the sputtering offense.

LOSER: This Clemson fan

Tajh Boyd's hip was not the only Clemson thing slightly out of place on Saturday. CBSSports.com's Adam Jacobi pointed out this lost soul from the Michigan-Northwestern game.





WINNER: N.C. State CB David Amerson

N.C. State's sophomore cornerback was responsible for two of the Wolfpack's four interceptions in the second half against Central Michigan. After the Chippewas came out firing and took an early lead in Raleigh, N.C. State's defense answered with big stops and turnovers in the second half while the offense piled on the points and N.C. State picked up a much-needed bounce back win after dropping two straight.

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Posted on: October 8, 2011 5:38 pm
Edited on: October 8, 2011 8:29 pm
 

UPDATE: Tajh Boyd suffers hip injury against BC

Posted by Chip Patterson

UPDATE: Clemson has announced that Boyd's injury is a hip injury, not a leg injury.

Clemson quarterback Tajh Boyd suffered a strained hip in Saturday’s 36-14 victory over Boston College. Boyd had X-rays at Memorial Stadium, then had an MRI at Oconee Hospital in Seneca on Saturday night. The X-rays and MRI were negative. His status for next Saturday’s game against Maryland in College Park would be termed questionable at this point. An update of Boyd’s status will be given this coming week.
Clemson starting quarterback Tajh Boyd has left Saturday's game against Boston College with an apparent left leg injury. Boyd was hit by Boston College defensive end Max Holloway as he completed a pass to Dwayne Allen inside the Eagles' 10 yard line. Boyd's leg appeared to buckle underneath him as he was brought to the ground, and the trainers were tending to his knee after he was helped off the sideline.

Boyd was carted to the locker room for X-rays, and his return to the game is not expected. He has been replaced by freshman Cole Stoudt. You can follow the rest of the game here.

Be sure to follow our Clemson Tigers Rapid Reports and keep it here at the Eye on College Football for more developments on Boyd's status as the week progresses.

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Posted on: October 2, 2011 6:38 pm
Edited on: October 4, 2011 2:26 am
 

ACC poll reactions, Week 5

Posted by Chip Patterson

This week's polls have been released. Here's how the ACC fared, from the top of the polls to the bottom, and what it means.

(AP/Coaches)

8/8. Clemson

No surprise here to see Dabo Swinney's squad getting a bump into the top 10 after knocking off their third straight ranked opponent.  The most impressive takeaway from Saturday's 23-3 win over Virginia Tech in Blacksburg was the complete effort in all aspects of the game.  Tajh Boyd, Sammy Watkins, and the rest of the Tigers offense was well covered heading into the game, but a dominating performance by defensive end Andre Branch and the Clemson defense stole the show.  In a matter of weeks the Tigers have become the ACC frontrunners, now they just have to avoid the predicted letdown.

13/13. Georgia Tech

The Yellow Jackets also see a boost in the rankings after improving to 5-0 on the weekend.  Georgia Tech once again held off a relentless ACC opponent in the 45-35 win at N.C. State.  Twice the Yellow Jackets scored in three touchdown bursts, and twice the Wolfpack climbed back into the game. Georgia Tech leads the nation in rushing offense averaging 378.2 yards per game, while their total offense ranks second in the nation behind Case Keenum-led Houston.  Up next will be a visit from Maryland, who struggled early before taking care of Towson 28-3.

21/17. Virginia Tech

The Hokies take a predictable tumble down the polls to the edge of the top 20.  The 4-0 start always seemed to have an asterik in many people's mind due to the level of competition in the Hokies' opening games.  But no one wants to give up on a Frank Beamer-led squad after just one conference loss to a hot Clemson team.  Virginia Tech faces Miami this weekend, and digs right in to a challenging ACC conference schedule that should give us an idea if the defending conference champs have a shot to return to the title game.

23/22. Florida State

Florida State had the week off, and did not see much shift in the polls.

Others receiving votes:No other teams in the ACC received any attention from the media, but both North Carolina (10 points) and Duke (1 point) made appearances on the coaches' ballots.

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Posted on: October 2, 2011 12:29 am
 

What I learned from the ACC (Oct. 1)



Posted by Chip Patterson

1. Clemson is a contender, Virginia Tech is a pretender - The Tigers made ACC history on Saturday, being the first team to defeat three ranked opponents in consecutive weeks. Georgia Tech and Virginia Tech (well huh) have both accomplished the feat once in program history, but neither school was a member of the ACC at the time. Their win against one of the highest ranked team ended up being their most impressive, with Clemson holding Virginia Tech from the end zone at home for the first time since 1995. But as much attention as Chad Morris' offense has gotten under Tajh Boyd's direction, the Tigers had not gotten a performance like that from their defense yet this season. It all seems to be coming together for Clemson, and just at the right time. With the victory over Florida State, the Tigers are in the driver's seat for the Atlantic Division title. If they take care of business, they will find themselves back in the ACC Championship Game.

The Hokies, on the other hand, might not be back in the conference title game. The Coastal Division is much more difficult to project, but Georgia Tech has arguably replaced Virginia Tech as the frontrunner. The Yellow Jackets did allow a relentless N.C. State team to climb back into the contest twice, but you cannot expect any conference road game to be a breeze.

Frank Beamer's squad will have a chance to bounce back immediately, with a divisional showdown against Miami in Blacksburg. The Hurricanes' also have one conference loss, and some consistency issues of their own. A lot more to learn about the Coastal in the week ahead.

2. Georgia Tech is still very impressive, but not unstoppable - With N.C. State missing their leading rusher and severely depleted on defense, the Yellow Jackets were predicted to roll over the Wolfpack in Raleigh. But after jumping out to a quick 21-0 lead, N.C. State's defense clamped down on quarterback Tevin Washington. Middle linebacker Audie Cole directed the defense as they filled the gaps and cut the Georgia Tech lead to one touchdown in the third quarter. Georgia Tech then scored three more touchdowns in under three minutes of game time in the fourth quarter, which was followed by three more touchdowns from N.C. State. The entire period was sloppy on both sides, but the first comeback might provide some helpful insight for the rest of the conference.

3. Giovani Bernard is the real deal. North Carolina has not been known as a program that produces star running backs recently, but they may have one with redshirt freshman Giovani Bernard. Bernard continued his impressive rookie campaign in North Carolina's 35-20 win at East Carolina, picking up 146 yards and a touchdown on 24 carries. Bernard's numbers on the season rank among the nation's best for freshmen, but they are already good enough to earn him a spot in program history. On Saturday Bernard became the first North Carolina running back to rush for 100+ yards since Pro Bowler Natrone Means did it in 1992. His seven touchdowns on the season already match the count for last year's team leader, Johnny White - now with the Buffalo Bills.

4. Florida State and Virginia Tech should not overlook Wake Forest. Nowhere close to putting either team on "upset alert," but Wake Forest has continued their play that is significantly improved from 2010. Both Florida State and Virginia Tech will travel to Winston-Salem to face Jim Grobe's squad at home in the next two weeks. Few teams returned more starters than the Demon Deacons, and some assumed that would lead to similar results. But Grobe has once again lived up his "player development" reputation, taking basically the same lineup that went 1-7 in ACC play and already doubling that win count in 2011. Hitting the meat of their schedule at 3-1, the Deacons will need to find four more victories on the schedule in order to return to the postseason for the first time since 2008.

Wake Forest's success has been due to noticeable improvement on both sides of the ball. The defense, particularly the back seven, is communicating better and swarming to the ball in space. Tanner Price finally is leading an offensive scheme that fits the personnel with Josh Harris, Chris Givens, and Michael Campanaro all emerging as dynamic playmakers. The one weakness Wake Forest has displayed has been the inability to hold a lead late in the game. It cost them the season opening win at Syracuse, and nearly got them in trouble against N.C. State and Saturday at Boston College. But as far as the visits from the Seminoles and Hokies go, I wouldn't imagine a quick Deacs lead would be in the cards anyway.

5. Miami has consistency issues. Miami's consistency issues aren't just game-to-game, they seem to be half-to-half and even quarter-to-quarter at times this season. The dominant performance against Ohio State is sandwiched between frustrating losses to Maryland and Kansas State, while the first 22 minutes of Saturday's matchup with Bethune-Cookman was vastly different to the 45-3 blowout in the final 30+ minutes of play.

You could put some of the blame on the shifting personnel or distractions from the NCAA investigation. You could look at the new coaching staff, as they try to implement a new culture on a roster that is loaded with talented upperclassmen. But whatever the issues are, the Hurricanes need to get them straightened out quickly. The ACC Coastal is now wide open, and despite the rocky 2-2 start the Canes can still salvage their season with strong conference play.

Unfortunately for Al Golden's staff, those tests are coming now. Miami travels to Virginia Tech and North Carolina in the next two weeks before hosting Georgia Tech on October 22 in the comfy confines of Sun Life Stadium. In the next month Miami's season will be defined. The time to tighten up is now.

6. Duke to bowl game? Three straight wins is a start. Okay, maybe a bit of a stretch there. But the Blue Devils have won three straight games since starting the season 0-2. Most importantly, those three victories have all been against FBS opponents. Duke has nothing but conference games left, so three wins is the magic number to make David Cutcliffe's squad bowl eligible for the first time since 1994. Virginia is winnable, but on the road. Wake Forest is looking less winnable, but will be played at home. Steal both of those and one upset victory against Florida State, Virginia Tech, Miami, Georgia Tech or North Carolina and the Blue Devils are golden. Doesn't sound probable, but they've at least go the momentum to make it seem possible.

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Posted on: October 1, 2011 9:29 pm
Edited on: October 1, 2011 11:41 pm
 

QUICK HITS: No. 13 Clemson 23, No. 11 VT 3



Posted by Chip Patterson

CLEMSON WON. The Tigers have stepped up to every challenge this season, and for the first time in school history have defeated three straight ranked opponents. The 23-3 victory over Virginia Tech came thanks to a dominating defensive performance and enough just enough big plays from Tajh Boyd and Chad Morris' offense. While freshman standout Sammy Watkins was mostly held in check by Virginia Tech's secondary, tight end Dwayne Allen was once again a reliable target - hauling in four catches for 75 yards and a touchdown to lead the Tigers.

HOW CLEMSON WON: As great as Clemson's offense has been in the last two weeks, the victory over Virginia Tech was in large part thanks to the defense. The Hokies were held to just 258 total yards of offense, and held touchdown-less for the first time since 2006. The Tigers pressured quarterback Logan Thomas relentlessly, forcing him out of the pocket and sacking him on four occasions. Andre Branch, in particular, was a monster in the second half preventing the Hokies from getting back into the game.

WHEN CLEMSON WON: Virginia Tech's first drive of the second half stalled at the Clemson 45 yard line. When punter Scott Demler tried to pin the Tigers deep in their own territory, he ended up with an embarrassing 11 yard punt that was downed at the 34. The next three plays ended Virginia Tech's evening. Tajh Boyd 27 yard pass to Brown, Ellington seven yard run, Boyd to tight end Dwayne Allen for a 32-yard touchdown. With the Hokies' offensive struggles, there was little hope for a two touchdown comeback in the second half.

WHAT CLEMSON FORCE WON: Validation. Before the season this set of games (Auburn, Florida State, Virginia Tech) was supposed to give us an idea of how good Clemson was going to be this season. Perhaps they would win two, and hopefully stay competitive in all three. The Tigers have proved any and all doubters wrong (for the time being) by knocking off

WHAT VIRGINIA TECH LOST: Respect. The defending ACC champions kicked off their season with a cushy non-conference schedule that posed little threat to their status. But the Hokies were exposed on Saturday night, particularly on the offensive end. Combined with Georgia Tech's fast start, Virginia Tech's performance might have removed them from consideration as Coastal Division favorites.

THAT WAS CRAZY: Virginia Tech's inability to find the end zone against the Tigers was rare. In fact, the last time the Hokies did not score a touchdown at home was against Cincinnati in 1995. Another crazy fact? Clemson becomes the first ACC team in league history to beat three straight ranked teams. Virginia Tech and Georgia Tech have done it, but neither were members at the time.

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Posted on: September 30, 2011 3:19 pm
Edited on: September 30, 2011 4:41 pm
 

The Saturday Meal Plan: Week 5

Posted by Tom Fornelli

The Saturday Meal Plan is a helpful guide put together for you to maximize the results of your college football diet.  Just enough to leave you feeling full, but not so much you spend your entire Sunday in the bathroom. 

I respect you all too much to lie to you, so I'll be upfront about the fact that outside of our dinner menu this week, we're a little light on the calories this weekend. Yes, having a matchup between two ranked non-conference opponents to kick things off in the morning is a wonderful way to start you day, but after that, it's kinda thin.

Of course, none of this means you shouldn't eat lunch. Many times the simplest meals turn out to be the best ones of the day. So keep an open eye while perusing this week's Meal Plan.

BREAKFAST

#18 Arkansas vs. #14 Texas A&M (in Dallas) - ESPN 12pm ET

The final meeting between these two schools as non-conference foes, and both teams are coming into the game with a bit of a limp. Texas A&M blew a halftime lead at home against Oklahoma State last weekend, and Arkansas did not enjoy its trip to Tuscaloosa to take on Alabama. What better way to move on from a defeat than by beating one of your oldest rivals? It's not often that we're given a matchup like this so early in the morning, so take advantage of it while you can. - Tom Fornelli

#24 Illinois vs. Northwestern - ESPN2 12pm ET

You want points? You're going to get points. Northwestern finally welcomes 2010 dynamo Dan Persa back from his Achilles injury, and the Illinois pass/option attack led by Nathan Scheelhaase has led the Illini to over 32 points a game -- and a 4-0 record. Both teams are looking to make a darkhorse run at their respective Big Ten division crowns, and each would welcome a hard-fought win to begin the conference slate. I know it's an early kickoff, but don't sleep on this game. - Adam Jacobi

Navy vs. Air Force - CBS 12pm ET

Restaurants of all kinds tend to offer "alternative" meals for customers, so think of this matchup of two of our nation's military branches to be our vegan offering of the week. Just replace animal products with passing game, and that's exactly what this is. When these two teams meet it's like looking through a window back in time as both teams employ option attacks. - TF

LUNCH

#10 South Carolina vs. Auburn - CBS 3:30pm ET

Neither team enters this game feeling particularly good about itself, not after the Tigers wheezed their way past an awful FAU team 30-16 and Carolina watched Stephen Garcia throw four hideous interceptions against Vanderbilt. But given Auburn's persistent tackling issues, even Garcia shouldn't be able to keep Marcus Lattimore from racking up another Heisman-type day on the ground. - Jerry Hinnen

Kansas State vs. #15 Baylor - ABC/ESPN 3:30pm ET

I don't think many people saw this game on the schedule at the beginning of the year and envisioned a battle of unbeatens in Manhattan, but that's exactly what we're getting. Even if that weren't the case, this one would still be worthy of your attention for the prospect of seeing Robert Griffin play football for three hours on its own. It's the first time Griffin and Baylor have had to venture outside of Waco this season, so it'll be interesting to see how he performs in hostile territory. - TF

Ohio State vs. Michigan State - ABC/ESPN 3:30pm ET

The Big Ten's night game is going to get all the attention, but this game could prove to be the most ruinous for whoever loses it. Michigan State is reeling after seeing its vaunted offensive attack shut down by Notre Dame's, um, inconsistent defense. Meanwhile, OSU hasn't looked great since Week 2, and if Braxton Miller can't get the Buckeyes moving against the MSU defense, that QB controversy is firing right back up and we haven't seen the last of Joe Bauserman. - AJ

N.C. State vs. #21 Georgia Tech - ABC/ESPN 3:30pm ET

The days of Paul Johnson's offense being defined as "three yards and a cloud of dust" are long gone in Atlanta.  The Rambling Wreck lead the nation in plays of 30 yards or more, and they passed their first conference test putting up 312 rushing yards against North Carolina's touted front seven. N.C. State did not pass their first conference test, allowing 438 yards of total offense against Wake Forest.  The Wolfpack are banged up on defense, and enter the game with only one of their top three running backs (not good for keeping the opposing offense off the field).  But Tom O'Brien's squad had their number a year ago in Atlanta, forcing some turnovers and blocking a punt on the way to a 45-28 win.  Unfortunately for the struggling Wolfpack, the Yellow Jackets remember that game all too well. - Chip Patterson

DINNER

#11 Virginia Tech vs. #13 Clemson - ESPN2 6pm ET

Two undefeated Top 15 ACC foes face off under the lights in Lane Stadium, and both have a lot to prove in this game.  The Hokies haven't been tested by any kind of noteworthy competition, and the development of sophomore quarterback Logan Thomas has taken a bit longer than some expected.  Clemson, on the other hand, is trying to win their third straight game against a ranked opponent - something an ACC member school has never done.  But the Tigers' undefeated record has all come in the comfy confines of Death Valley.  Before anyone anoints Dabo Swinney's squad as contenders, they need to prove themselves on the road.  Chad Morris' offense against Bud Foster's defense.  The young Dabo Swinney against the winningest active coach in the conference.  It's the premiere game in the conference and should live up to the hype.  Make sure you tune in early for a chance to see "Enter Sandman" in action. - CP

Iowa State vs. #17 Texas - FX 7pm ET

Another battle of unbeatens in the Big 12 takes place in Ames on Saturday night. Normally a matchup between Texas and Iowa State wouldn't seem like something you'd want to try, but remember that Iowa State went into Austin last season and beat the Longhorns. So Texas is going to want to return the favor this season, and if either team wants to have any legitimate chance to win the Big 12 this season, then this is one they'll have to win. - TF

#12 Florida vs. #3 Alabama - CBS 8pm ET

Another week, another serious challenge to Alabama's potential national title campaign. And given the environment (as hostile as you'll see in college football this season, most likely), the weaponry on the opponent's defensive line (Ronald Powell, Jaye Howard, Sharrif Floyd, etc.), and the big-play capability represented by Jeff Demps and Chris Rainey, the Gators should prove an even more substantial challenge than Arkansas did. But it's going to take the performance of John Brantley's life to keep the Tide from collapsing on Demps and Rainey, and something similar from the Gator back seven to keep Trent Richardson from uncorking another 60-plus-yard game-changing run. Are they up to it? - JH

#7 Wisconsin vs. #8 Nebraska - ABC 8pm ET

Saturday is the day of reckoning for one of the Big Ten's two divisional favorites; Nebraska is ranked eighth, but has not looked like a world-beater in any of its non-conference games, whereas No. 7 Wisconsin has rolled in early play, but against clearly inferior competition. Wisconsin's the only team of the two that's been able to run and pass at will, but with Nebraska's defense at its healthiest all year, it remains to be seen whether the Badgers can move the ball reliably this week. What a great way to finish the first week of Big Ten play. - AJ [Video Preview]

LATE NIGHT SNACK

#6 Stanford vs. UCLA - FSN 10:30pm ET

Bruins head coach Rick Neuheisel said earlier in the week that one of the biggest differences between his program and what the Cardinal have been doing is easy: Andrew Luck. No doubt Rick, no doubt. The Heisman front runner should enjoy facing a UCLA defense ranked 98th in the country. This is also Stanford's first game without linebacker Shayne Skov so keep an eye on how they handle UCLA's Pistol offense. - Bryan Fischer [Video Preview]
 
 
 
 
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