Lamest time window: Everything but the mid-afternoon slot. It’s a good day to enjoy the almost-autumnal weather.
Noon: No. 2 Cincinnati at Navy is the best of a weak window.
3: Fresh off an Iowa upset, No. 25 Purdue could be in for a letdown at home against Wisconsin.
3:30: The biggest game is No. 8 Oklahoma State at Iowa State. The most interesting is on-his-way-out Ed Orgeron at No. 12 Mississippi.
7: Keep an eye on Tennessee’s visit to No. 4 Alabama, just in case Josh Heupel’s Volunteers can keep it close early.
7:30: Miami’s Manny Diaz desperately needs to upset No. 18 North Carolina State.
USF’s key to victory
The Bulls are still looking for their first Division I-A win under second-year coach Jeff Scott. Playing Temple at home is their best chance to get one. The most important quarter could be the first. Temple has been outscored 60-7 in the first 15 minutes so far. If the Bulls can get out to an early lead, maybe they can hang on for that long-awaited victory.
Quick thoughts on the four incoming AAC members in action Saturday:
North Texas is 1-5, putting coach Seth Littrell in trouble. Knocking off Hugh Freeze’s Liberty team would be a positive step.
No. 24 Texas San Antonio is ranked for the first time in program history and visiting Skip Holtz and Louisiana Tech. The former USF coach hasn’t beaten a ranked team since the Bulls’ 23-20 triumph at Notre Dame to start the 2011 season.
Alabama Birmingham has a top-40 defense that’s allowed less than 400 combined yards over the last two weeks. That doesn’t bode well for a Rice offense ranked No. 109 nationally in yards per play (5.0).
Walt Bell Bowl
The awful Jacksonville State loss should remind Florida State not to look past any opponent. Even UMass. But the only interesting thing about this matchup is the fact that the Minutemen are coached by Walt Bell, who was Willie Taggart’s first Seminoles offensive coordinator. If Bell hadn’t left — or been nudged out — FSU probably would have signed standout quarterback Sam Howell, who instead went to North Carolina.
Eye on the NFL draft
Scouts will be watching USC’s trip to No. 13 Notre Dame. The Irish’s Kyle Hamilton is the rare versatile safety deserving of being a top-10 pick. He’s part of a secondary that will have to slow down USC receiver Drake London, an All-American candidate who’s also gaining first-round buzz.
Local of the week
Air Force offensive tackle Everett Smalley (Plant High)
You probably know that Georgia has the top defense in the nation (3.6 yards per play allowed). The second-best defense? That’s San Diego State (4.0 yards per play allowed). That means the pressure will be on Smalley and the rest of the Falcons’ line to find a way to get something going offensively against the undefeated No. 22 Aztecs.
Here’s something I didn’t expect to write in August: Clemson has a chance to upset No. 23 Pitt. Led by quarterback Kenny Pickett, the Panthers have the nation’s No. 2 scoring offense (43.8 points per game) and will face Clemson’s No. 2 scoring defense (12.5 points allowed per game). The Tigers have won 31 in a row at home since getting knocked off by Pitt in 2016. If Clemson is going to turn things around, this would be a good time to start.
Miami coach Manny Diaz didn’t get a ringing endorsement from his athletic director; Blake James declined to tell the Miami Herald whether Diaz will be the coach through the end of the season. Here’s how Diaz stacks up against the Hurricanes’ other recent coaches:
Record: 16-14 (.533 winning percentage)
Record against ranked teams: 2-4
Highest finish in AP poll: No. 22
Record: 26-13 (.650)
Record against ranked teams: 4-4
Highest finish in AP poll: No. 13
Record: 32-25 (.561)
Record against ranked teams: 3-11
Highest finish in AP poll: N/A
Record: 28-22 (.560)
Record against ranked teams: 5-14
Highest finish in AP poll: No. 19
I’m still not sure why ESPN is highlighting No. 10 Oregon’s trip to UCLA, but there’s always intrigue with the coaches. Bruins coach Chip Kelly is 0-2 against his former team, while the Ducks’ Mario Cristobal has the potential to be a big name on the coaching carousel, if he’s interested (especially if the Hurricanes job opens). The most interesting matchup is Kelly’s solid offense facing an Oregon defense led by potential No. 1 overall pick Kayvon Thibodeaux. A Ducks defeat would almost certainly knock the Pac-12 out of the College Football Playoff but be welcome news for No. 5 Ohio State (which lost to Oregon earlier this season).
By the numbers: Week 8
10 — Touchdown rushes by USF’s Jaren Mangham. That’s second nationally and already tied for the ninth-best single-season total in program history.
0 — Interceptions thrown by North Carolina State’s Devin Leary over the past four games.
2017 — The last time FSU won three consecutive games, winning four in a row (Delaware State, Florida, Louisiana Monroe and Southern Miss) to close that season.
10 — Jersey number for Eli Manning. Mississippi is retiring it Saturday.
14 — Consecutive wins for No. 4 Alabama over supposed rival Tennessee.
3-0 — Purdue’s all-time record while ranked 25th.
0 — Previous experience for Washington State’s Jake Dickert as a head coach at any level before Saturday’s game against BYU. The Cougars elevated him from defensive coordinator to acting head coach after Nick Rolovich lost his job for not taking the coronavirus vaccine.
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