Oct 20, 2017

ACC & Big 12 Week 8 Preview: Top-15 Foes USC and Notre Dame Face Off in Storied Rivalry

In the eighth week of the college football season, members of the Florida Citrus Sports Team Selection Committee are making visits throughout ACC and Big 12 country, meeting with fans across both conferences in advance of the Camping World Bowl on December 28.

Here are a few of the games our representatives will be taking in this week:

No. 11 USC (6-1, 4-1 Pac-12) at No. 13 Notre Dame (5-1) – 7:30 p.m. on NBC

USC takes a break from Pac-12 play to visit Notre Dame in one of the greatest intersectional rivalries in college football. Last week, USC posted a crucial comeback victory at home over Utah, rallying from a 14-point halftime deficit and stopping the Utes’ last minute two-point conversion to preserve the one-point win.

The Trojan offense is putting up an average of 477 yards each game this season, and ranks 19th nationally in total offense. Quarterback Sam Darnold is coming off his second straight game with at least 300 passing yards and three touchdowns and has benefited greatly from the play of Deontay Burnett, who ranks first in the conference and 10th nationally in receiving yards (626). Running back Ronald Jones II had his ninth career 100-yard rushing effort against the Utes and has now scored a touchdown in 13 consecutive games. The Trojan defense, meanwhile, has a total of 10 interceptions so far this season and is guided by inside linebacker and leading tackler Cameron Smith and defensive lineman Christian Rector, the Pac-12 co-leader in sacks per game and recovered fumbles.

The Irish are coming into Saturday’s game rested after a bye week following their 33-10 win at North Carolina in Week 6. Notre Dame’s ground-based offense is in the national Top 25 in rushing offense (5th), scoring offense (13th) and total offense (21st). Running back Josh Adams ranks second nationally in yards per carry with an average of 9.02 and is also 10th nationally in rushing yards. Quarterback Brandon Wimbush, who has completed 69 of 132 passes for 782 yards, six touchdowns and two interceptions this season, will return to the field on Saturday after suffering a minor foot injury that took him out of the game against UNC. Notre Dame’s defense has been allowing an average of just 16.8 points per game and ranks 15th in the nation in scoring defense and is ninth in the nation in turnover margin.

Saturday will be the 89th time the programs play in a series that dates back to 1926. Notre Dame leads the series 44-36-5, but USC has won 13 of the last 20 games. This will be the first USC-Notre Dame meeting since 2009 with both teams ranked in the AP poll and is also the 259th consecutive sellout in the 77,622-seat Notre Dame Stadium. This year’s matchup is just the fourth night game between the programs at Notre Dame Stadium and is tied for the latest kickoff ever in the series history. The teams hold a tradition in which the winner each year gets possession of the jeweled Shillelagh — a foot-long Gaelic war club that has ruby-adorned Trojan heads with the year and game score representing USC victories, while emerald-studded shamrocks stand for Notre Dame wins.

Louisville (4-3, 1-3 ACC) at Florida State (2-3, 2-2 ACC) – 12:00 p.m. on ESPN

The Cardinals hit the road this week, visiting Florida State for a noon kickoff at Doak Campbell Stadium. Louisville dropped to a 4-3 on the year with a loss at home to Boston College last week.

In the loss to the Eagles, defending Heisman Trophy winner Lamar Jackson, the national leader in total offense, became the school’s all-time leading rusher with a total of 3,211 yards, breaking Walter Peacock’s (1972-75) school mark of 3,204 yards. Jackson’s three rushing touchdowns against BC also set a new school mark with a total of 42. Dez Fitzpatrick tied the freshman record for receiving touchdowns in a season with seven after hauling in a 40-yard touchdown pass in the fourth quarter. Louisville’s offense stands at the top in the nation in total offense (4th), passing offense (7th) and first downs (2nd).

Last week the Seminoles got their second win of the season after defeating Duke 17-10. Florida State rushed for a season high of 228 yards against a Blue Devils run D that entered the game ranked seventh nationally, continuing a trend of a posting season-best rushing effort each game this season. Cam Akers scored his first career touchdown in his second consecutive 100-yard rushing game, while Auden Tate extended his streak of consecutive games with a scoring reception to five, which is tied for the longest active streak among FBS players. Florida State’s rush defense ranks 21st nationally and has allowed an average of just 114.6 yards per game. The only opponent to cross 150 yards rushing against the Seminoles this season was Alabama, as the Tide posted 173 in the season opener. Florida State also ranks 28th in the nation for total defense and seventh in first down defense.

Louisville and Florida State’s matchup will be the 18th time in the schools’ history. The Seminoles own a 14-3 series advantage, but the Cardinals won last year’s meeting 63-20 at home in one of the program’s biggest wins. The only Cardinals win at Doak Campbell Stadium came in their very first meeting in 1952, a 41-14 win for Louisville. In Tallahassee, FSU is 9-1 including a 41-21 win the last time the programs met there. Saturday’s game will also feature two of the six active head coaches who have coached a Heisman Trophy winner — Nick Saban, Kevin Sumlin, Urban Meyer and Frank Solich are the others — and is the last of three scheduled games this season featuring active Heisman Trophy-winning head coaches.

No. 10 Oklahoma State (5-1, 2-1 Big 12) at Texas (3-3, 2-1 Big 12) – 12:00 p.m. on ABC

Texas football returns home on Saturday as the Longhorns welcome the Oklahoma State Cowboys to town. After OSU’s blowout of Baylor last week, Mason Rudolph now has the longest active streak in the country with seven straight 300-yard passing games and has accounted for at least four touchdowns in all five of the Cowboys’ wins this season. The Heisman-shortlisted quarterback leads the FBS in points responsible for per game at 25.0 and is among the top five players nationally in every major passing statistic this season. The Cowboys marked a new school record for offensive yards in last week’s game with 747, leaving them with the No. 1-ranked offense in college football at 610.7 yards per game.

Texas enters the matchup against the Cowboys after a narrow 29-24 loss to the then-No. 12 Oklahoma Sooners. The Texas offense is led by freshman quarterback Sam Ehlinger, who has six passing touchdowns against three interceptions on the year along with 68 carries for 275 rushing yards. The Longhorns’ leading wide receivers are Collin Johnson (27 catches for 511 yards) and Reggie Hemphill-Mapps (29 for 303). Their defense is ranked sixth nationally on third-down, making for an interesting matchup against OSU’s second ranked third-down offense. Texas is also among the FBS top 25 in rushing defense (23rd), fourth down defense (3rd) and net punting (1st).

The Longhorns and Cowboys enter Saturday’s game with identical 2-1 records in Big 12 conference play. Texas leads the all-time series 24-7, but Oklahoma State put its mark on the series recently, winning five of the last seven meetings. Texas holds a 14-5 advantage in Austin, but OSU currently holds the longest win streak by one team at Darrell K. Royal-Texas Memorial Stadium with four consecutive wins in the 94-year-old facility. Saturday will mark the 32rd contest between the programs and the 22nd consecutive year the teams have met.

Here are the rest of the ACC and Big 12 games our selection committee members will attend:

Boston College (3-4, 1-3 ACC) at Virginia (5-1, 2-0 ACC) – 12:30 p.m. on ACC Network
North Carolina (1-6, 0-4 ACC) at No. 14 Virginia Tech (5-1, 1-1 ACC) – 3:30 p.m. on ESPN2
Syracuse (4-3, 2-1 ACC) at No. 8 Miami (5-0, 3-0 ACC) – 3:30 p.m. on ESPN
No. 9 Oklahoma (5-1, 2-1 Big 12) at Kansas State (3-3, 1-2 Big 12) – 4:00 p.m. on FOX
Wake Forest (4-2, 1-2 ACC) at Georgia Tech (3-2, 2-1 ACC) – 7:30 p.m. on ESPNU

Other ACC and Big 12 games being played this week:

Iowa State (4-2, 2-1 Big 12) at Texas Tech (4-2, 1-2 Big 12) – 12:00 p.m. on FS1
Pittsburgh (2-5, 0-3 ACC) at Duke (4-3, 1-3 ACC) – 12:20 p.m. on ACC Network
Kansas (1-5, 0-3 Big 12) at No. 4 TCU (6-0, 3-0 Big 12) – 8:00 p.m. on FOX
No. 23 West Virginia (4-2, 2-1 Big 12) at Baylor (0-6, 0-3 Big 12) – 8:00 p.m. on FS1

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