This week’s marquee matchup, Florida State vs. Clemson, is full of interesting storylines. First and foremost, it’s a matchup between AP Top 5 teams — the first this season. As far as the ACC is concerned, it’s their first Top 5 matchup since 2005. The conference isn’t exactly on its way back to prominence (after these two, Miami, and Tech, there’s still a lack of depth), but the winner here will be firmly planted in the BCS discussion.
It’s also a battle between two Heisman contenders at quarterback. Clemson senior Tajh Boyd has been on a roll since last year’s Chick-Fil-A Bowl, where he led the Tigers to a win against LSU. To begin this season, he slayed another SEC giant in Georgia.
Florida State’s freshman quarterback Jameis Winston was talked about during the pre-season as a possible upgrade over departing quarterback E.J. Manuel, but no one could have predicted this hot of a start (19 total touchdowns to just two interceptions). Winston had his first legitimate test of the season last week and passed with flying colors, throwing five touchdowns on the way to a 63-0 rout of Maryland.
But at the end of the season, we may look back on this matchup as the final controversy of the oft-criticized BCS era. SVP & Russillo put it best, as they often do, on ESPN Radio earlier today (beginning around the 10:00 mark).
To sum up their conversation: regardless of who wins tonight, should Florida State or Clemson run the table, along with Alabama and Oregon, what are the chances of the winner jumping either team in the BCS rankings (which come out this Sunday)? On paper, they’re very slim and that’s why we’re getting rid of this mess after the season.
Clemson would hold wins over a good Georgia team, Florida State, South Carolina, and the ACC Costal champion (let’s say Miami). Florida State’s resume would be highlighted by Maryland, Clemson, Miami (possibly twice), and Florida. Even still, Bama and Oregon’s wins would be impressive enough for them to maintain their position.
Of course, there’s still plenty left to be decided and the good money is on at least one of the three to lose. But it’s still something to keep in mind.
*Thursday Game* #10 Miami (FL) vs. North Carolina, 8pm (ESPN)
Stephen Morris may not have a worse game this season (no touchdowns, four interceptions), but the Tar Heels simply couldn’t convert turnovers into touchdowns. Frustrating to watch.
*Friday Game* UCF vs. #8 Louisville, 8pm (ESPN)
I didn’t put this one on the viewing guide originally. I assumed that Teddy Bridgewater and Louisville would roll over 4-1 UCF, but the Golden Knights scored 21 points to end the third and capped the upset in the final minute. Can’t blame Bridgewater here, but Louisville will still tumble down the polls next week.
#11 South Carolina vs. Tennessee, 12pm (ESPN)
After losing a thriller at home to Georgia two weeks ago, the Vols get another chance to knock off one of the SEC’s elite. The Gamecocks may field a better team than Georgia did, but Tennessee’s home field advantage should still make this a ballgame.
#15 Georgia vs. Vanderbilt, 12pm (CBS)
The Bulldogs should get a big part of their offense back in Todd Gurley, but they’re still pretty decimated by injury. This is Vandy’s best chance to knock them off.
#16 Texas Tech vs. West Virginia, 12pm (Fox Sports 1)
The Red Raiders ranked #16 may be a surprise to some, but the real bulk of their schedule is yet to come. They’re in Morgantown today before traveling to Oklahoma next weekend.
#22 Florida vs. #14 Missouri, 12:30pm (ESPN 3)
The Gators’ rough three-game stretch got off to a bad start last week at LSU. This week’s Tigers team is coming off a big win over Georgia.
#24 Auburn vs. #7 Texas A&M, 3:30pm (CBS)
A&M begins a four-game home stand this week and it looks like quite a manageable stretch if they can get past Auburn. They have two tough road games to close out the season, however.
#9 UCLA vs. #13 Stanford, 3:30pm (ABC/ESPN 2)
Another big Pac-12 matchup. Brett Hundley and UCLA have their hands full today in Paolo Alto before traveling to Oregon next week. The Cardinal are looking to bounce back from a loss at Utah last week.
#20 Washington vs. Arizona State, 6pm (Pac-12 Network)
Surprised to see the Sun Devils favored at home? Don’t be. They have a talented team and could very well hand Washington their third straight loss.
#6 LSU vs. Ole Miss, 7pm (ESPN 2)
We saw Ole Miss come dangerously close to beating Texas A&M last week. They get a second chance at the upset this weekend as LSU comes into town.
#5 Florida State vs. #3 Clemson, 8pm (ABC)
It’s somewhat surprising that both teams made it to this point undefeated, but the quarterback play from Tajh Boyd and Jameis Winston has been great up to this point. The winner is in the driver’s seat of the ACC Atlantic.