It’s “Military Appreciation Day” in Death Valley, which means it is time to pay tribute by donning the purple uniforms. The opponent this week is Duke, who have been a “Jekyll and Hyde” team this year. They boast 2 TD+ wins over #22 Northwestern, an 8-2 Army team that took Oklahoma to the wire, and both Miami and Georgia Tech, but have lost by 2 TD+ to Virginia and Virginia Tech. Against probable Coastal division Champion Pitt, they were tied 45-45 with 5 seconds left when Pitt connected on a 25 yard pass to get the win.
So who knows what Duke team will show up on Saturday? What I do know is that nobody in DukeNation cares. If you ask a Duke fan, “Who do you guys play next?” The answer will be San Diego State. I mean, have you seen Zion Williamson? Ain’t nobody got time for football right now.
College Football doesn’t offer the best slate of games this week. It’s “Cupcake Week” in the SEC, so that heavily diminishes football in the south. Other than Clemson, the biggest game around these parts is probably Syracuse vs. Notre Dame, just because we’d like to compare ourselves against the Irish.
The primetime game tonight features UCF getting their biggest test since they blasted Pitt by 30 earlier in the year. Cincinnati is 9-1 and ranked #24, but they’ll have to travel to Orlando and face the atmosphere created by Gameday being in town.
12:00, SECN, The Citadel at #1 Alabama
2:30, NBC, #12 Syracuse at #3 Notre Dame
3:30, ABC, #9 West Virginia at Oklahoma State
3:30, CBS, Missouri at Tennessee
7:00, ESPN, Duke at #2 Clemson
7:30, SECN, Chattanooga at South Carolina
7:30, FOX, Kansas at #6 Oklahoma
8:00, ABC, #24 Cincinnati at #11 UCF
10:30, ESPN, Arizona at #8 Washington State
Duke at #2 Clemson
Duke started off the season by impressing on the defensive side of the ball in the month of September. Since October though, they have gotten progressively worse. The team that stifled Army and Northwestern and allowed 4.9 yards per play could give us a test, but after giving up 8.9 and 6.6 yards per play to Pitt and UNC recently, I don’t know if they can keep us under 50. Pitt and UNC are ranked #10 and #7 respectively in ACC Total Offense. We’re #1 in total offense and yards per play. Clemson averages 100 yards more per game than UNC. This could get ugly.
While the defense has gotten worse, Duke’s efficiency on offense has remained about the same all season. Duke is in the middle of the pack in the ACC in yards per play and total offense which puts them below Georgia Tech, Syracuse, and N.C. State in that regard.
This game is all about Clemson. Duke wins this game if we are thinking ahead, making mistakes, and turning the ball over. We should have no problem getting to the QB in this game and they should struggle to run the ball. On the flipside, we should be able to run the ball right at them for good yardage. If we come out focused and ready to play, this one should be all but decided by halftime. If not, anything can happen. As soon as we don’t show up ready to play, we will get our wake up call. So here’s to hoping we avoid that scenario this year.
I haven’t posted the AlgoStats in a while, but here’s how they stand heading into the games today. These are all the teams with at least one ranking in the top 12 of one of these algorithms. The algorithms are then weighted based on their accuracy to predict the CFP top four and National Champion. F/+ and SOR have been the best at predicting the playoff field. FPI and Pred have been the best at predicting the National Champion.
Maybe the question Rece Davis asked the Playoff Committee Chairman Tuesday night can be answered here. The answer is that the gap between 2 and 3 is larger than the gap between 1 and 2. Alabama and Clemson are the consensus #1 and #2 and the only things all of the algorithms agree on. The other two spots are fluid and highly contested by these algorithms.
The AlgoStats think Notre Dame is overrated. The strength of record is nice, but the strength of performance is lagging behind the other teams in the top 4. Notre Dame has already ground through the meat of their schedule and the win over Michigan looms large. If they get by Syracuse this week, they have only a mediocre USC team to get by for a playoff spot.
We know there is a lot to be decided between Alabama/Georgia, Michigan/Ohio State, and Oklahoma/West Virginia. Three of these teams are going to add “Conference Champion” to their resume. Therefore, I think this is the last week we can lose and still make the College Football Playoff.