ACC & Big 12 Week Six Preview
Throughout the college football season, members of the Florida Citrus Sports Team Selection Committee are out on the road to meet with fans of our partner schools (including new Big 12 partners) to spread the word about the Russell Athletic Bowl’s new matchup and our brand-new home field opening for the 2014 bowl season.
Here are ten of the notable games across our partner conferences where we will be in attendance this weekend:
West Virginia will host Kansas at Milan Puskar Stadium hoping to earn its first Big 12 win of the season. The Mountaineers were tied with Oklahoma at the end of the second quarter two weeks ago, but the Sooners pulled away in the second half. The Jayhawks hosted Texas in week five and the offense was unable to score against the Longhorn defense, eventually falling 23-0. Both teams enter the matchup 2-2 overall and have a tough conference schedule ahead, making early wins key. The Mountaineer offense has put up impressive numbers in the passing game and is ranked 3rd in the nation with an average of 401.8 passing yards per game – quarterback Clint Trickett threw for 511 yards and four touchdowns against Maryland in week three. When West Virginia and Kansas met in 2013, the Jayhawks came away with the 31-19 win – it was one of only three wins for them that season.
Baylor continued its high-scoring streak last Saturday as it defeated Iowa State 49-28 at Jack Trice Stadium. The Bears lead the nation in points scored per game with an average of 56.8. Travelling for the second week in a row, Art Briles’ team meets Texas on Saturday in Austin. Baylor’s defense has put up impressive numbers this season as well – they are ranked 8th in the nation for points allowed with an average of 13.8 scored by opposing teams. Texas (2-2) also won its first conference matchup against Kansas in week five. It was the first shutout for the Longhorns since week two of the 2012 season. When Baylor and Texas met in the final week of regular season play in 2013, the Bears had won 10 of their twelve games and defeated the Longhorns for their 11th victory and the outright Big 12 Conference title for the first time since 1980.
TCU hosts Oklahoma on Saturday for its first Big 12 game and toughest opponent so far in 2014. Both the Horned Frogs and Sooners enter week six undefeated and Oklahoma has a conference win under its belt after defeating West Virginia in week four. As an early favorite pick for the inaugural College Football Playoff, Oklahoma has not had any close calls this season, defeating opposing teams by an average of 28.3 points. However, TCU is allowing just seven points per game, second best in the nation. The Sooners slipped by the Horned Frogs in 2013, holding off a late rally for the 20-17 win.
Oklahoma State (3-1, 1-0) will finish up a four-game home stand against Iowa State (1-3, 0-2) Saturday hoping for its second conference win and fourth win in 2014. The Cowboys hosted Texas Tech in week five and came away with a 45-35 victory. Oklahoma State’s only loss came to Florida State in week one; since then the Cowboys have scored 40 points or more in every game. When the Cowboys and Cyclones met in week nine of 2013, Oklahoma State came away with a 58-27 win.
Despite winning its first three games Pitt has lost its last two games and travels to Virginia looking to get back on track. The Cavaliers are tied for second with the Panthers in the Coastal division rankings. Though Pitt has a huge offensive threat in its running back James Conner, he will face the number 10 rushing defense in the country Saturday – the Cavaliers allow an average of just 86.6 yards per game and Conner alone has run for at least 92 in every game in 2014. He ranks second in the country for total rush yards through week five and his season high came in week two – he ran for 214 yards against Boston College. The last time Pitt and Virginia met, the Panthers hosted in their first season as an ACC member and came away with a 14-3 victory.
Stanford travels to South Bend, Ind. Saturday to take on undefeated Notre Dame at Notre Dame Stadium. As one of the top defenses in the nation, the Cardinal is ranked number one in the nation for both total defense (198 ypg) and points allowed per game (average 6.5). The Fighting Irish defense has also kept opponent scoring low, ranking fourth in the FBS with an average of 11.5 points per game. Stanford and Notre Dame first met in 1925 and have played 28 times since. The Fighting Irish have the advantage in the overall series at 18-10 but the Cardinal beating Notre Dame 27-20 in 2013.
North Carolina returns to Kenan Stadium after two weeks on the road to face Virginia Tech. The Tar Heels allowed 120 points in their last two games and the defense has given up an average of over 500 yards per game (nearly 800 in its week four game against East Carolina). The Hokies are 3-2 with a 0-1 record in the ACC following a tough loss to Georgia Tech on a field goal as time expired. When the Tar Heels and Hokies met in Virginia in the 2013 season, VT defeated UNC 27-17 to earn its 19th win in the overall series, which stands at 19-11-6.
Georgia Tech, still undefeated after shocking the Hokies, remains home this weekend to host Miami (3-2). The Hurricanes defeated defending Coastal champions Duke last Saturday, evening its ACC record at 1-1. The Yellow Jacket offense has the potential to gain a lot of yards on the ground against the Hurricane defense that ranks outside the top 50 in the FBS for rushing yards allowed per game. Sophomore quarterback Justin Thomas is not only the leading passer for Georgia Tech, he also leads the team in rushing yards with 443. He has thrown seven touchdowns and has rushed for two, as well. When the Hurricanes and Yellow Jackets met in 2013, Miami handed the Yellow Jackets their second loss of the year and the Hurricanes earned their fifth win in what would be a seven-game winning streak. The overall record between these schools favors Georgia Tech by one win at 10-9.
The last two weeks of the season have seen Florida State’s perfect record on the verge of being erased. Despite the close calls, the Seminoles held onto their 20-game winning streak and return to Doak Campbell Stadium to host Wake Forest. The Demon Deacons are 2-3 (0-1 ACC) through week five and most recently lost to Louisville by ten points. The defense has been able to hold its opponents to an average of 20 points per game but its offense has not been able to make the scoring plays it needs to win more games. When Florida State and Wake Forest met late in the 2013 season, the Seminoles were ranked third in the nation and blew out the Demon Deacons 59-3.
Though NC State was handed its first loss of the season by FSU last Saturday and must now travel to Clemson (2-2, 1-1). The Tigers, who also lost to Florida State this season, will host the Wolfpack for its second in a three-game home stand. Clemson recovered from an overtime loss to the Seminoles and defeated North Carolina 50-35. Freshman quarterback Deshaun Watson had six touchdowns in the win, bringing his season total to 11 (passing and rushing). The last time N.C. State defeated Clemson was the 2011 season – the unranked Wolfpack upset the Tigers who were ranked 7th in the nation at the time. Last season it was Clemson who came away with a 26-14 win.