College Football Week 6 Preview – Can Miami Get Its Mojo Back?
With a hurricane threatening the east coast and Top 25 matchups in the ACC and SEC, it could be a wild weekend of college football. Here are some of the big question marks going into Week 6.
Will Matthew Be the Star of the Weekend?
We generally hate to see weather play a role in the outcome of games. And this weekend, with Hurricane Matthew bearing down on the southeast, it could not just be a factor but outright dominate.
As if press time, here is the latest news:
- A couple of smaller games (Tulane vs. Central Florida and UMass vs. Old Dominion) have already announced rescheduled game times.
- The much anticipated rivalry showdown between No. 21 Florida State and No. 10 Miami is still scheduled for 8:00 PM Saturday night, but both schools and the ACC say they are continuing to monitor the situation.
- No. 18 Florida is still planning to host LSU at noon on Saturday but the Gators announced in no uncertain terms, "The game will not be moved out of Gainesville.” In other words, they will not allow the game to be moved to Baton Rouge and, if the game doesn’t happen this weekend, the SEC could be on the hook to pay for both schools to cancel Nov. 19 nonconference games (South Alabama vs. LSU and Presbyterian vs. Florida) in order to reschedule this matchup in The Swamp.
- South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley has already told Gamecock officials that all state emergency personnel and resources will be focused on coastal evacuation and other public safety efforts. As such, the state will not provide any support for the Gamecocks’ game against Georgia Saturday evening.
- Although nothing has been changed yet, Notre Dame coach Brian Kelly acknowledged the school has had discussions about moving the team’s game against North Carolina State to South Bend.
The weather forecast continues to change by the hour so, if you have plans to attend or watch one of these games, keep a close eye on your sports ticker of choice. And speaking of hurricanes . . .
Can Miami Reverse The Trend?
At the start of the season, many people thought a Top Ten team would be coming into this week’s matchup between Florida State and Miami. Significantly fewer thought it would be the Canes.
But new coach Mark Richt has given the Miami faithful cause for optimism. Sure, the No. 10 Hurricanes’ victories haven’t been against top competition, but they have come in dominating fashion. Miami ranks third nationally in pass defense, second in scoring defense and has held three of its four opponents to ten or fewer points. This week, however, they’ll be tested by Dalvin Cook and a Florida State offense that averages nearly 510 yards and over 41 points per game. With two losses already on the board and fighting for their ACC lives, No. 22 Florida State will not be lacking for motivation.
This rivalry has swung back and forth over the years. Miami dominated much of the 80’s and early 90s, winning four national championships. The Seminoles turned the tables in the late 90s, winning six of seven against Miami en route to two national titles. The Hurricanes won the next six straight until 2004 and, since then, Florida State has dominated, winning nine of the last 11. Miami has lost the last six straight in this rivalry and has not beaten the Seminoles at home since 2004. A win this week would not only cement Miami as a legitimate contender in the ACC, but end years of frustration at the hands of the Noles.
What Happened to the Red River Rivalry?
Remember when the annual Oklahoma/Texas (or Texas/Oklahoma, depending on which side of the Red River you are on) shootout was the biggest game in the country? Between 2000 and 2009, one of these two teams went on to play in the BCS championship game six times. But oh how the mighty have fallen.
For the first time since 1999, neither team is ranked higher than 20th and, for the first time since 1998, both teams enter the game already saddled with two losses. A preseason playoff favorite, Oklahoma has already been elminiated from title contention while Texas coach Charlie Strong may already be a dead man walking on the Longhorn sideline.
The Oklahoma pass defense has been terrible this year, ranking 116th nationally. In last week’s win over TCU, Oklahoma gave up 449 yards and five touchdowns through the air. Texas quarterback Shane Buechele has been respectable in the passing game (959 yards, eight touchdowns and three picks as a freshman), so look for him to test the shaky Sooner secondary. While Baker Mayfield was a Heisman contender last year, the OU offense is still built around the run. Expect Oklahoma to try to pound the Longhorns into submission with Joe Mixon and Samaje Perine to set up Mayfield in the play-action passing game.
Strong was on thin ice last year before pulling an upset of the Sooners. He’ll likely need to do so again—plus a lot more the rest of the way—to save his job.
Could the SEC West Be Decided This Weekend?
OK, technically the answer to that question is no. But that’s not to say this weekend couldn’t go a long way toward determining the ultimate champion.
No 8 Texas A&M currently leads the field with a 3-0 conference mark. But a loss to No. 9 Tennessee would put a big chink in their armor with No. 1 Alabama looming in two weeks. LSU could be saddled with a second loss at Florida and the Crimson Tide could send No. 16 Arkansas to 0-2 in conference.
If somehow Alabama loses, then the division standings get blown up and it will be a four or five-team dogfight the rest of the way. But if Alabama and Texas A&M can both win this weekend, it could well set up a Top Ten showdown between the two on Oct. 22 with an SEC title game slot on the line.
Is Mitch Trubisky the Best Player You’ve Never Heard Of?
While the focus will be on Florida State/Miami, there is another big game between ranked teams in the ACC.
New coach Justin Fuente has No. 25 Virginia Tech on the upswing, with a 3-1 mark and an average margin of victory of more than 36 points per game. So look for a high-scoring affair against a North Carolina offense that has averaged 44.5 points per game during its current four-game winning streak.
But the player to watch will be Tarheel quarterback Mitch Trubisky. The junior has already thrown for 1,711 yards this year (sixth nationally), 13 touchdowns and, perhaps most importantly, zero interceptions in 175 pass attempts. While he may not have the flash or name recognition of his ACC counterparts, Lamar Jackson and Deshaun Watson, Trubisky can keep UNC in the conference title mix and quietly work his way into the Heisman discussion.