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Previewing Florida-Georgia, FSU-Pitt, USF-Memphis and the rest of the college football weekend

A Wesley Chapel native is an X-factor for Georgia, and why the most important player for Clemson isn’t the backup quarterback.
Florida Gators receiver Trevon Grimes will have a big showcase opportunity for himself and his team against No. 5 Georgia this weekend.
Florida Gators receiver Trevon Grimes will have a big showcase opportunity for himself and his team against No. 5 Georgia this weekend. [ Times (2019) ]
Published Nov. 6, 2020

Viewing guide

Lamest time window: Early. This is the first full weekend we’ve had, so it’s a nice, full slate. If you must run errands, make sure you’re settled in by 3 p.m.

Noon: No. 13 Indiana has already knocked off one big-name program, Penn State. Can the Hoosiers do it again to another (No. 23 Michigan)?

3:30: The defacto SEC East title game (No. 8 Florida vs. No. 5 Georgia) is the main game. Houston at No. 6 Cincinnati is worth watching during commercials.

4: Florida State-Pitt and No. 14 Oklahoma State at Kansas State are both intriguing games with teams I haven’t figured out yet.

7:30: No. 1 Clemson outlasted Boston College without Trevor Lawrence. Can the Tigers keep it going against No. 4 Notre Dame?

8: No. 15 Coastal Carolina is fun to watch, even against South Alabama.

10:30: Washington will try to rebound from last year’s down 8-5 season against Cal in the return of Pac-12 After Dark.

Local of the week

Tre' McKitty (right) could emerge as a key target for Georgia this weekend.
Tre' McKitty (right) could emerge as a key target for Georgia this weekend. [ ANDREW DAVIS TUCKER | University of Georgia ]

Georgia tight end Tre' McKitty (Tampa Catholic/IMG Academy)

The grad transfer from Florida State has started the last three games and shown flashes of emerging as a receiving target. UF’s defense gave up five catches each to tight ends from Ole Miss and Texas A&M, so the Wesley Chapel native could have more opportunities for a big play or two in Jacksonville.

Related: Why a former Bucs assistant could be the key to Florida-Georgia

Eye on the NFL draft

Florida receiver Kadarius Toney has a chance to impress NFL scouts this weekend against Georgia.
Florida receiver Kadarius Toney has a chance to impress NFL scouts this weekend against Georgia. [ JOHN RAOUX | AP ]

Florida’s offense is loaded with NFL talent (including quarterback Kyle Trask, tight end Kyle Pitts and receivers Trevon Grimes and Kadarius Toney). Georgia’s depleted defense is still one of the best in the nation with prospects like end Malik Herring and cornerback Tyson Campbell. This is the type of matchup NFL teams will be dissecting in the offseason as they figure out their draft boards.

Related: Why Florida’s Kyle Pitts is the perfect mismatch maker for Dan Mullen

GameDay breakdown

Travis Etienne is one of the best players in ACC history and might need to carry his Tigers to a win at Notre Dame.
Travis Etienne is one of the best players in ACC history and might need to carry his Tigers to a win at Notre Dame. [ KEN RUINARD | AP ]

The obvious focus on Clemson is how freshman quarterback D.J. Uiagalelei will handle the biggest game of his young career. But the matchup could come down to his star teammate, running back Travis Etienne. If Etienne can crack the Irish’s top-15 rushing defense or break off an explosive play or two as a receiver, the Tigers have a good chance of continuing their perfect season.

First-year AAC coaches

USF’s Jeff Scott and Memphis' Ryan Silverfield are good friends who have a lot in common as first-year coaches:

Jeff Scott

Jeff Scott is the youngest head coach in the AAC.
Jeff Scott is the youngest head coach in the AAC. [ LUIS SANTANA | Times ]

Age: 39

Record: 1-5

First head coaching job: Won a state title at South Carolina’s Blythewood High at age 25

Last boss: Dabo Swinney, Clemson’s two-time national championship coach

Long-time Florida ties: Born in Arcadia

Related: ‘Some things were unacceptable’: Jeff Scott on why Nick Roberts is no longer with USF

Ryan Silverfield

Memphis head coach Ryan Silverfield is friends with USF's Jeff Scott.
Memphis head coach Ryan Silverfield is friends with USF's Jeff Scott. [ GARY LANDERS | AP ]

Age: 40

Record: 3-2

First head coaching job: Took over Georgia’s Memorial Day High at age 24

Last boss: Mike Norvell, who was Memphis' head coach before leaving for FSU

Related: Four things I learned from Memphis about FSU coach Mike Norvell

Long-time Florida ties: Played and coached at Jacksonville Bolles, a prep powerhouse

History lesson

Jameis Winston's path to the Heisman Trophy and NFL began with a sensational game at Pitt.
Jameis Winston's path to the Heisman Trophy and NFL began with a sensational game at Pitt. [ Tampa Bay Times ]

Pitt and FSU don’t have much of a history (nine matchups before this weekend), but two of the past three games were noteworthy. The last time the Seminoles hosted the Panthers, Dan Marino threw a pair of fourth-quarter touchdown passes in a 37-17 victory in 1982. And seven years ago, FSU’s march to the national title began with Jameis Winston’s dazzling, 25-of-27 debut in a 41-13 triumph that spoiled Pitt’s first game in the ACC.

Related: Meet the FSU fan who got Mike Norvell’s cornrows tattooed on his leg

Comeback Khakis

Jim Harbaugh loses too often for Michigan's tastes, but he does bounce back well from defeat.
Jim Harbaugh loses too often for Michigan's tastes, but he does bounce back well from defeat. [ CARLOS OSORIO | AP ]

Say this for Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh: He usually responds well to his losses. Harbaugh is 8-1 after a loss during the regular season. That includes a 27-20 win over Indiana the week after losing to Michigan State in 2017. And the only defeat was, of course, his traditional loss to Ohio State in 2017.

Related: Is Dan Mullen a villain? It’s doubtful he cares.

CFP Cincy?

Desmond Ridder (seen here against USF last year) is a big reason why the Bearcats are College Football Playoff contenders.
Desmond Ridder (seen here against USF last year) is a big reason why the Bearcats are College Football Playoff contenders. [ Times ]

The No. 6 Bearcats are deserving of College Football Playoff consideration thanks to a great defense and a true dual-threat quarterback. Desmond Ridder is eighth nationally among all players at 8.8 yards per rush. He should be able to pad that figure against Houston.

A brief guide to the Pac-12, which opens today

Jesuit High alumnus Travell Harris could be in for a big year at Washington State.
Jesuit High alumnus Travell Harris could be in for a big year at Washington State. [ RICK SCUTERI | AP ]

Top team: Oregon. Led by former top recruit Kayvon Thibodeaux, the Ducks return most of a defense that helped them win the Pac-12 last year.

Most interesting team: USC. The Trojans could win the conference or finally get coach Clay Helton fired. Or somewhere in between. Nothing would be a surprise here.

Coaches to know: Remember when the Gators wanted Chip Kelly? He’s 7-17 in two years at UCLA and will try to turn it around with promising quarterback Dorian Thompson-Robinson. Herm Edwards isn’t a joke at Arizona State, but 15-11 isn’t great, either. Nick Rolovich has some personality traits in common with his Washington State predecessor, Mike Leach. We’ll see if he can put up points the way Leach did while keeping the Cougars relevant.

Tampa ties: Oregon defensive tackle Jordon Scott (Pinellas Park High) has started 37 of the past 38 games for the Ducks and has NFL talent. Washington State’s Travell Harris (Tampa’s Jesuit High) was one of the conference’s top returners last season and caught 47 passes for 536 yards last year. First-year Washington coach Jimmy Lake had two stints as a Bucs defensive assistant (2006-07 and 2010-11).

By the numbers

Jordan Travis has done something no other Florida State quarterback has ever done.
Jordan Travis has done something no other Florida State quarterback has ever done. [ NOTRE DAME ATHLETICS | Notre Dame Athletics ]

4 — Consecutive games with one rushing touchdown and one passing touchdown by FSU quarterback Jordan Travis. That’s the longest streak in school history

Related: How one drive shows every area of FSU quarterback Jordan Travis' growth

19:47 —Total time Notre Dame has trailed all season

1993 — Last time the Irish knocked off a No. 1 team (a 31-24 win over Florida State in one of the Games of the Century)

144 — Consecutive passes thrown by No. 7 Texas A&M without allowing a sack. Can Will Muschamp’s Gamecocks change that this week?

49 — First downs gained by Northwestern, its most through two games since 2013. That’s a credit to new offensive coordinator Mike Bajakian (the Bucs' quarterbacks coach from 2015-18)

2001 — Last time Penn State started 0-3. The Nittany Lions need to beat Maryland to avoid that mark

556.8 — Yards per game allowed by Memphis, which ranks third-to-last nationally and could bode well for the Bulls' offense