Like a well-oiled college football offense, we are going to spread it around this week. There are some high-powered offenses at work in different parts of the country and we are going to be moving with them. The end of October means we are nearly in the home stretch of the season. Of course, it also means the Halloween spooks and goblins are here ringing our college football doorbell. They want the College Football Preview-Week 9.
College Football Preview-Week 9; Trick Or Treat
Clemson (7-0) @ Florida State (4-3); Saturday 12n EST ABC
On the surface this does not look like much of a game. And at the end, it may not be. But there are not a lot of challengers left in the ACC for Clemson and with this being in Tallahassee, you want to at least give the Seminoles a puncher’s chance. Hey, maybe their costume is Rocky Balboa. Of course, we know Rocky eventually gets punch drunk, but that’s another story for another day.
Both teams are coming off their most complete games of the season. Clemson beat North Carolina State by 34 and Florida State beat Wake Forest by a solid 21 last weekend.
For not getting the buzz of other quarterbacks in the country, Florida State’s Deondre Francois leads the ACC in passing yards. The problem is, his worst games were against the best teams they have played so far, (VA Tech and Miami). The Seminoles offensive line has improved markedly over the course of the season.
But they are going to be seeing a Clemson defensive line that is the Halloween version of the kids that come trick or treating later at night after the cute little ones have come and gone. They are large, ominous, and foreboding. You generally just hand over your candy with no questions asked to make sure your front yard is still in tact the next morning. Clelin Ferrell leads a defensive front that has 21 sacks on the season. There have only been two game all year with no sacks. Running back Travis Etienne will get his yards and stay on many Heisman ballots but the match-up here is Florida State keeping Francois upright long enough to keep it a game.
Florida (6-1) vs. Georgia (6-1); Saturday 3:30pm EST CBS
Nothing says college athletes quite like officially endorsed drunkenness. Thus, the annual “Word’s Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party.” Hey, they even throw in a football game for good measure, and it is a good one this year.
Both teams are coming off a bye week, so they are well rested, and the bumps bruises should be well tended to.
Florida is like the Skull Trooper/Fortnite costumes we are going to see a lot of next week. They have gotten hot at the right time, but do they have the staying power? This is their best, maybe their only, shot to proclaim the SEC East. They have to knock off the top dogs, (every pun intended). Their pass defense leads the SEC but is it good enough to hang with Georgia? And really is Georgia going to even tempt fate? After all, the Bulldogs have the running attack of Elijah Holyfield and D’Andre Swift. The pair could go trick or tweeting together as peanut butter and jelly or something. You have to have them both. They are averaging 226 rushing yards per game.
While Jake Fromm has been good, he hasn’t always lived up to last year’s numbers. If you don’t have to put the game on his shoulders, why would you? Even if you are going to play Justin Fields, you aren’t going to throw him to the wolves of the Florida secondary.
Where Florida gets its offense will be a question. They have not had a 160+ rushing attack in the last five games. Feleipe Franks has been good enough, if inconsistent. He is coming off his best yardage game, (284 against Vanderbilt). He needs to come up big for the Skull Troopers to unlock their Ghost Portal back bling and keep moving on.
Washington State (6-1) @ Stanford (5-2); Saturday 7pm Pac 12 Net
We are going to put on our Captain Obvious costume and tell you how WAZZU is coming into Halloween looking like a gunslinger for Halloween. But they are the kind you may not be able to kill. They reload too quickly. We told you a week ago to watch quarterback Gardner Minshew against Oregon. Yeah, he had two interceptions, (six for the season now). But he was also 39 of 51 for 323 yards and four touchdowns in the win. The guy threw at a 76% completion rate in the biggest game of the season to date. He is not going to win the Heisman, but he belongs on the ballots.
If you don’t have the Pac 12 Network to watch this game, (and thanks to the conference’s laughable contract, many do not have it), you need to find a way to stream it, or go to a bar or do something to see this offense. They have out-gained every team they have played this season. That includes USC in their one loss of the season.
Stanford doesn’t need a costume. Have you seen the band’s tree???? What they do need is to control the clock the best they can. Their pass defense gave up 353 yards to Arizona State’s Manny Wilkins last week, so seeing Minshew is like a Halloween ghoul fest. The Cardinal are going to need to grind out their offense and play control. Get into a shootout here and the trick or treating will end early. It is doable. Oregon State, the worst team in the conference, rushed for 276 yards against the Cougars’ run defense.
The challenge is that their Captain America, Bryce Love, has spent much of the season banged up. David Shaw should be bold. Sit him. The offense is limited and predictable with a less-than-healthy Love right now. Cameron Scarlett had 54 yards and a touchdown in nine carries against Arizona State. Trevor Speights had 56 yards and a touchdown against Utah. Make a two-headed monster and diversify the offense.
With both teams being 3-1 in conference, the winner is going home with the best candy from the cool houses. The loser gets gum from the “get off my lawn,” neighbor.