The important thing storylines for Florida-Tennessee, Clemson-Wake Forest and the remainder of Week 4’s largest video games
School soccer’s final weekend in September is formally right here, which means convention rivalries transfer to the forefront of Saturday’s slate.
Certain, we’ll miss the nonconference battles like Appalachian State upsetting Texas A&M in School Station or Georgia proving why the title nonetheless runs by means of Athens, however convention play is the place seasons are outlined.
Saturday’s schedule kicks off with some historic matchups and newfound rivalries. Wake Forest welcomes Clemson to city in what must be a litmus take a look at for this system whereas Ohio State hosts Wisconsin in an age-old rivalry that has been somewhat one-sided of late.
Talking of current lopsided rivalries, Florida travels to Tennessee, the place the Vols are favored regardless of their ineptitude within the SEC East conflict over the previous couple of many years. Arkansas and Texas A&M meet within the Southwest Basic, the place the Hogs erased a nine-year dropping streak final yr and, whereas it is not a convention recreation, Kansas and Duke play in a battle of unbeatens — sure, you learn that proper.
With October across the nook and the season heating up whereas the temperatures settle down, these are school soccer’s prime storylines this weekend.
Seems, he was proper.
After all, suggesting a QB below stress performs worse than one who’s not is not precisely breaking information, however the important thing to Liberty’s near-upset was the Flames’ potential to disrupt the Wake backfield. The Deacons all however deserted their run recreation, and Hartman had an up-and-down day. Via three video games now, Wake’s QBs are 5-for-13 with an interception and 6 sacks when pressured, with a uncooked QBR of 0.5 — second-worst in FBS.
Here is the actual downside: This week, the Deacons get Clemson, which can have one of the best defensive entrance in school soccer.
“That is the place we misplaced this recreation a yr in the past,” Wake coach Dave Clawson stated. “I imply, instantly. What number of sacks did we have now within the first quarter?”
The reply: 4. Wake averaged a few half-yard per dropback within the first quarter of final yr’s 48-27 loss to the Tigers, and admittedly, Clawson stated, there weren’t many solutions up entrance. Clemson introduced unique seems to be, stacked the field, blitzed repeatedly. That helped neutralize Wake’s largest asset — a deep and proficient receiving corps that had feasted on explosive performs.
“Attempting to mess up their timing, on the again finish, it helps,” Clemson co-defensive coordinator Mickey Conn stated. “That is an enormous a part of defensive soccer.”
The road of scrimmage gives a transparent benefit for the Tigers.
What Wake has is an skilled O-line with far much less pedigree.
That is largely been the distinction between the Deacons and the large, dangerous Clemson Tigers, who’ve received each head-to-head matchup relationship again 15 years, together with final season, when Wake received the division title however nonetheless proved no match for the Tigers on the sector.
“It is somewhat bit the character of our offense is that they outnumber us within the field,” Clawson stated. “Final yr, we did not execute the passing recreation, partially, due to the stress. We did not defend effectively sufficient. They don’t seem to be going to allow us to run the ball. They by no means have. And they will stress the quarterback and be disruptive. That is the sport. Can we defend lengthy sufficient to get guys open?” — David M. Hale
It took Josh Heupel all of what he says was “in all probability 30 seconds” as soon as he arrived on Tennessee’s campus as coach final yr to comprehend what the Florida recreation means to the oldsters on Rocky Prime.
As soon as one of the vital anticipated rivalries on the sector within the SEC, the Florida-Tennessee rivalry has been a rivalry in identify just for a lot of the previous 20 years. The Gators enter Saturday’s recreation at Neyland Stadium having received 16 of the final 17 conferences within the collection.
Therefore the significance to Tennessee followers of lastly breaking free from the Florida stranglehold on this collection. Even in these years when the Vols had been at the very least nearly as good (and even higher), the Gators have managed to discover a method to win the sport, and extra instances than not, the Vols have managed to discover a method to lose the sport.
Heupel is not a lot of a believer in psychological hurdles. He is modified the atmosphere contained in the Tennessee soccer complicated and introduced a much-needed steadiness to this system. The Vols are as much as No. 11 within the newest AP ballot and taking part in with as a lot confidence and momentum as they’ve in years.
“Our children are extraordinarily assured, as they need to be,” Heupel stated. “They’ve ready the fitting method. They’ve labored laborious, and we proceed to develop. They know that preparation goes to be crucial factor.”
In different phrases, Heupel is not seeing ghosts. He has a veteran quarterback in Hendon Hooker, who has accounted for 42 touchdowns, thrown simply two interceptions and accomplished 68% of his passes since taking up because the starter a yr in the past in Week 3.
It is at all times a plus in a majority of these video games to have a seasoned quarterback. Florida’s Anthony Richardson continues to be studying the way to play the place, however has uncanny athletic potential and an enormous upside. However after dazzling within the season-opening win over Utah, he is thrown 4 interceptions in his final two video games and has but to throw a landing cross this season. The 6-4, 232-pound Richardson could look to run extra on this recreation and take a look at the Tennessee protection on the sting. He rushed for 106 yards and three touchdowns towards Utah, however the subsequent week, Kentucky stored one participant assigned to Richardson (a spy) and restricted him to only 4 yards on six carries.
An much more necessary matchup on this recreation is Florida’s entrance seven on protection towards a Tennessee offense that operates at warp velocity and averages 7.1 yards per play. The Gators allowed 230 speeding yards towards Utah and 286 speeding yards final week in a 31-28 win over South Florida. The Vols’ operating recreation is augmented by Hooker’s potential to run on zone learn performs, and so they’ve additionally damage groups with explosive performs. In three video games, they have already got seven performs from scrimmage of 40 yards or longer.
This shall be Florida’s first highway recreation of the season and Richardson’s first profession begin in a real highway recreation. Napier, whereas not particularly dissing the atmosphere at Neyland Stadium, nonetheless stoked the fires amongst Tennessee followers when he downplayed what a highway atmosphere would imply for Richardson.
“It isn’t like we will Canada and they will change the principles,” Napier stated. “It will be the identical recreation. It will be somewhat louder and taking part in at a unique location.” — Chris Low
It has been 17 years — seventeen — since Wisconsin has received at Ohio State, and it might be a jaw-dropping, field-storming upset if it occurred on Saturday.
(Not that we have seen any of these this season.)
Unranked Wisconsin, which is 1-2 in three straight house video games and has but to beat a Energy 5 crew, hasn’t defeated the Buckeyes since 2010, and hasn’t received within the Shoe since 2004. The Badgers are making their first highway journey for what would be the Massive Ten opener for each groups, and ESPN’s FPI provides Ohio State an 89% likelihood to win.
Here is why Wisconsin has a shred of hope: The Badgers can run the ball, management the clock and boast one of many nation’s finest defenses. Since 2015, Wisconsin’s opponents have scored a landing on simply 46.4% of pink zone drives, the bottom proportion allowed by any crew throughout that span. The Badgers enter Columbus permitting simply eight factors per recreation — however are dealing with an offense that is averaging 47.7 factors.
Whereas Ohio State and Wisconsin are in several divisions, they’re effectively conscious of what to anticipate from one another. Wisconsin is infamous for its punishing operating recreation, which this yr is led by Braelon Allen. He is averaging 4.6 speeding yards per try after contact, the third-most in FBS amongst gamers with at the very least 40 rushes.
Wisconsin’s first-year offensive coordinator, Bobby Engram, has aimed to make the Badgers’ offense extra balanced, and to this point it is working. Via the primary three video games, Wisconsin has 1,436 yards of whole offense, 781 by means of the air and 655 on the bottom.
“They’re much more a number of than you assume whenever you take a look at what they’re doing on offense,” Ohio State coach Ryan Day stated. “They’re throwing the ball greater than they ever have, at the very least in recent times. We have to be ready as a result of they’re very clever. They will deal with excessive ranges of knowledge.”
The query is that if they’ll deal with Ohio State’s offense. — Heather Dinich
In maybe probably the most unbelievable matchup of undefeated groups this week, Duke (3-0) travels to Kansas (3-0) to play an enormous early season … soccer recreation. Be aware to misplaced readers: Their basketball groups, which have mixed for 9 nationwide titles, are scheduled to play one another Nov. 15.
There are such a lot of “firsts” with each groups, it might take up an excessive amount of area to incorporate all of them. However you will need to level out that Kansas soccer has had a for much longer dry spell than Duke. That is its first 3-0 begin since 2009. Duke began 3-0 as just lately as 2018, however coach Mike Elko is the primary Duke soccer coach since Fred Goldsmith in 1994 to win his opening three video games.
Maybe most spectacular for Kansas is the way in which the Jayhawks have completed it, with two large come-from-behind victories towards West Virginia and Houston on the highway. Take into account this: The Jayhawks received simply three highway video games whole from 2010-21.
Kansas officers predict a capability crowd of 47,233 to fill Memorial Stadium on Saturday, an indication that enthusiasm is excessive for a crew that coach Lance Leipold has rolling proper now. That begins with the offense and quarterback Jalon Daniels, who has thrown for seven touchdowns and rushed for 3 extra. The Jayhawks have scored 159 factors by means of three video games, matching its finest three-game offensive stretch to start out the season (2007).
Kansas director of sports activities efficiency Matt Gildersleeve has had a entrance row seat for the transformation of the crew, coming with Leipold from Buffalo following the 2020 season. He stated each step of the method put in place was intentional. “Day-after-day on this program, we have at all times talked about making the most of day-after-day we have now to fill the hole of the place we had been, the place we at the moment are and the place we need to go.
“I am so completely happy for the fellows that the work that they put in is all coming to, however additionally they know we will not sit there and discuss 3-0. We’re not apprehensive about that. That is handed. It is this recreation proper now. It is this second.”
Kansas has gone 12 straight seasons successful three or fewer video games. The Jayhawks have already got their three. That countdown to basketball season must be placed on maintain in the interim.
“The thought of getting the chance to go take over a program that’s thought-about a basketball college,” Gildersleeve stated, “I really like that.” — Andrea Adelson
On its face, this outdated rivalry recreation seems to be a battle of weaknesses. Texas A&M ranks 99th nationally in passing offense, throwing for 208 yards per recreation. Arkansas, in the meantime, permits 335 passing ypg, 131st nationally.
The Aggies are favored within the recreation by 1.5 factors, however have scored simply 31 whole factors previously two weeks towards Appalachian State (a shocking 17-14 loss) and Miami (a 17-9 win).
“I do know this sounds loopy, however we’re loads nearer than it appears in some issues,” Aggies coach Jimbo Fisher stated this week. “We’re getting it and it is bought to maintain progressing.”
The Aggies’ offense struggled mightily towards the Razorbacks final yr, gaining simply 272 yards in a 20-10 loss that snapped a nine-game successful streak over Arkansas because the Aggies joined the SEC in 2012.
Might the Razorbacks be the treatment for Fisher’s ailing passing assault? Razorbacks coach Sam Pittman is annoyed along with his crew’s efficiency within the secondary.
“We will stay with guys getting good throws,” he stated. “We won’t stay with guys vast open.”
However the Hogs lead the nation with 17 sacks, so stress could possibly be a difficulty towards a struggling Aggies offensive line.
Pittman, in the meantime, is not letting on if he thinks he has a bonus.
“I am positive that coach is engaged on no matter issues they might have,” he stated of Fisher. “I do not see lots of them. I see an incredible opponent we’re on the point of play.” — Dave Wilson