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Previewing Florida-Texas A&M, FSU-Notre Dame, USF-East Carolina and more

Who is the better quarterback whisperer: Jimbo Fisher or Dan Mullen? FSU’s coaching staff is used to slow offensive starts, and keep an eye on Miami’s tight ends at No. 1 Clemson.
Florida Gators coach Dan Mullen has worked wonders with Kyle Trask.
Florida Gators coach Dan Mullen has worked wonders with Kyle Trask. [ LYNNE SLADKY | AP ]
Published Oct. 9, 2020
Updated Oct. 9, 2020

Viewing guide

Lamest time window: None. There are excellent matchups in every slot. Enjoy!

Noon: No. 4 Florida at Jimbo Fisher’s No. 21 Aggies is the most important locally. But No. 19 Virginia Tech at No. 8 North Carolina could be the most entertaining and the most relevant nationally.

3:30: We’ll see if No. 14 Tennessee is really an SEC East contender when it travels to No. 3 Georgia.

6: Temple finally plays its first game, against underachieving Navy.

7:30: No. 1 Clemson finally gets a challenge against No. 7 Miami.

Related: Are these Miami Hurricanes for real? We’ll find out at Clemson on Saturday

Local of the week

CCC product Justus Reed has finally found a nice home at Virginia Tech.
CCC product Justus Reed has finally found a nice home at Virginia Tech. [ MATT GENTRY | AP ]

Virginia Tech defensive end Justus Reed (Clearwater Central Catholic)

After previous stops at Florida and Youngstown State, Reed has found a home at Virginia Tech. He’s one of the team’s most disruptive players with two sacks through two games. If he and the No. 19 Hokies can pressure North Carolina star quarterback Sam Howell, Virginia Tech will have a chance against the No. 8 Tar Heels.

USF’s turnover edge

Linebacker Antonio Grier has been a part of a USF defense that has succeeded in forcing turnovers so far.
Linebacker Antonio Grier has been a part of a USF defense that has succeeded in forcing turnovers so far. [ AARON DOSTER | AP ]

Only eight teams in the country have forced more turnovers than USF (seven). Expect more of that this weekend. East Carolina’s seven turnovers lost are tied for the seventh most in the nation.

Related: USF long snapper filmed practices, now participates in them

QB gurus

Florida’s Dan Mullen and Texas A&M’s Jimbo Fisher both have reputations as excellent quarterback developers:

Dan Mullen

Dak Prescott is one of the notable quarterbacks Dan Mullen helped develop.
Dak Prescott is one of the notable quarterbacks Dan Mullen helped develop. [ ROGELIO V. SOLIS | AP ]

Heisman Trophy winner: Tim Tebow

No. 1 overall pick: Alex Smith

Other notable quarterbacks drafted: Tebow, Dak Prescott, Josh Harris

Current passer: Kyle Trask (sixth nationally with 196.4 passing efficiency)

Related: What makes Florida Gators’ Dan Mullen a quarterback guru?

Jimbo Fisher

Jimbo Fisher helped Jameis Winston become the Bucs' No. 1 overall pick.
Jimbo Fisher helped Jameis Winston become the Bucs' No. 1 overall pick. [ Tampa Bay Times ]

Heisman Trophy winner: Jameis Winston

No. 1 overall picks: Winston, JaMarcus Russell

Other notable quarterbacks drafted: EJ Manuel, Christian Ponder, Rohan Davey

Current passer: Kellen Mond (125 yards from passing Jerrod Johnson for the most passing yards in Aggies history)

Related: Beating Florida helped Jimbo Fisher build Florida State. Can he do the same with Texas A&M?

Slow-starting Seminoles staff

Tamorrion Terry and the rest of the Seminoles' offense hasn't been great so far. That's not unusual for this coaching staff.
Tamorrion Terry and the rest of the Seminoles' offense hasn't been great so far. That's not unusual for this coaching staff. [ DON JUAN MOORE | Don Juan Moore ]

Sluggish offensive starts don’t concern Florida State coordinator Kenny Dillingham.

“That’s one thing if you look at the track record of this offense, it usually gets better throughout the season because we figure out what we’re good at.”

The numbers at Memphis back him up:

2016

August-October: 37.4 ppg

November-January: 41.2 ppg

2017

August-September: 35.5 ppg

October-January: 50 ppg

Related: Florida State’s new starting quarterback: Jordan Travis

2018

August-October: 42.5 ppg

November-January: 43.5

2019

August-September: 36.8 ppg

October-January: 41.9 ppg

GameDay breakdown

Miami's Brevin Jordan is the best tight end in the country not named Kyle Pitts.
Miami's Brevin Jordan is the best tight end in the country not named Kyle Pitts. [ Times (2019) ]

As ESPN’s David Hale pointed out, tight ends have troubled Clemson at times. FSU’s Nick O’Leary put up 161 yards in the 2013 blowout. The Bucs' O.J. Howard had 208 yards for Alabama to earn the 2015 national championship. LSU’s Thaddeus Moss caught two touchdowns in last season’s title game. Tight end also happens to be a position of strength at Miami; the Hurricanes are high on Will Mallory, and Brevin Jordan is the best tight end in the country outside of Florida’s Kyle Pitts. Miami’s upset hopes could hinge on whether Jordan and Mallory find enough holes in the defense.

Related: D’Eriq King and Kyle Trask battled as Texas high school quarterbacks. Now they’re 1A and 1B in Florida.

Hurricanes history lesson

Miami's last win against a top-ranked team was memorable.
Miami's last win against a top-ranked team was memorable. [ WILFREDO LEE | AP ]

Miami’s last win against the nation’s No. 1 team was a 27-24 upset of Florida State in 2000 (Wide Right III). The Hurricanes were ranked seventh at the time. Is that an omen for this time, as No. 7 Miami tries to knock off No. 1 Clemson?

Eye on the NFL draft

Enjoy another chance to watch Clemson phenom Trevor Lawrence, NFL fans.
Enjoy another chance to watch Clemson phenom Trevor Lawrence, NFL fans. [ WALT UNKS | AP ]

Clemson doesn’t get many real challenges, so use this game as a chance to enjoy its top-tier playmakers. Quarterback Trevor Lawrence has been a presumptive first-round pick since high school and is the best NFL passing prospect since … Andrew Luck? Peyton Manning? John Elway? Running back Travis Etienne is electric, too. We’ll see if Miami’s own talented defenders can contain them.

Audible

Of course Ole Miss coach Lane Kiffin is cracking jokes about Nick Saban.
Of course Ole Miss coach Lane Kiffin is cracking jokes about Nick Saban. [ BRYAN WOOLSTON | AP ]

“I wish it was the old one, the one we played at Tennessee that didn’t score any touchdowns.” — Ole Miss coach Lane Kiffin, who faces his former boss, Nick Saban. Alas, Alabama is third nationally at 45 points per game.

Hurricane Delta

Instead of getting a home game, Ed Orgeron's Tigers will have to travel to Missouri because of Hurricane Delta.
Instead of getting a home game, Ed Orgeron's Tigers will have to travel to Missouri because of Hurricane Delta. [ MARK HUMPHREY | AP ]

It wouldn’t be football season in the South without storms messing up schedules. The LSU-Missouri game moved from Baton Rouge to Columbia. Coastal Carolina’s trip to No. 23 Louisiana Lafayette was postponed to Wednesday. And the kickoff for No. 2 Alabama’s game at Ole Miss was moved back 90 minutes to 7:30 p.m. to try to play in drier conditions.

BYU behemoth

Zach Wilson's BYU Cougars might be the most impressive team of the season so far.
Zach Wilson's BYU Cougars might be the most impressive team of the season so far. [ RICK BOWMER | AP ]

No, the No. 15 Cougars have not yet played a good team. But their dominance is still impressive. BYU leads the nation in total offense and total defense while ranking in the top 10 nationally in more than 30 offensive categories and more than 20 defensive categories. Quarterback Zach Wilson has as many touchdowns (11) as incompletions. Will 3-1 Texas San Antonio finally provide a challenge?

Related: Listen: 911 callers describe the fire at The Swamp

Red River remains

We're not sure what's going on with Texas and Oklahoma, either, Spencer Rattler.
We're not sure what's going on with Texas and Oklahoma, either, Spencer Rattler. [ CHARLIE NEIBERGALL | AP ]

For the first time since 2008, the Oklahoma-Texas shootout at the Cotton Bowl doesn’t feature either team in the top 20. It is, however, still relevant. Tom Herman is 1-3 against the Sooners since taking over the No. 22 Longhorns, and his unimpressive 2-1 start would be hot-seat fodder during normal years. A win, even in these circumstances, would help his standing among Texas boosters.

By the numbers

Can Velus Jones and the Volunteers knock off Georgia this week?
Can Velus Jones and the Volunteers knock off Georgia this week? [ SEAN RAYFORD | AP ]

8 Consecutive wins by Tennessee, tied with Notre Dame for the second-longest active streak in the country

15 Years since the Volunteers beat a top-five team (a 30-27 overtime win over No. 4 LSU)

2012 The last time Florida visited Texas A&M. It was the first college game for Heisman Trophy winner Johnny Manziel

Related: Five things we’ve learned about college football in the coronavirus era

6 Overtimes needed in last year’s Virginia Tech-North Carolina game, a 43-41 Hokies win that was the longest game in ACC history

$10 million Approximate total buyout from Arkansas to former coach Chad Morris, who will face the Razorbacks as No. 13 Auburn’s offensive coordinator

6-3 FSU’s all-time record against Notre Dame

3 Consecutive games the Irish have had a 100-yard rusher