We continue to monitor the national landscape leading up to the Big Ten's Oct. 24 weekend kickoff.
Great news, folks. The college football world will soon be back to some sense of normalcy when Ohio State and the rest of the Big Ten kick off on the weekend of Oct. 24. We look forward to recapping the conference slate each week. But for now, we'll continue scoping out the national scene and the potential competition for this season's College Football Playoff.
A number of games were canceled or postponed this weekend, and that's bound to continue as we move forward. The good news? Many of the issues are related to contact tracing, and the Big Ten's new rapid testing program should really help to limit any potential spread amongst the teams and players. Ohio State doesn't have any open dates built into the schedule, so there's not going to be a large margin for error.
We now know the start date, and we know that two of Ohio State's best players have opted back in so they can chase a national title. I no longer get a sick feeling in my stomach when it comes to watching other teams playing on Saturdays. Just four more weekends and then Big Ten football will be back in our lives.
Boston College 26, Duke 6
In his head coaching debut, Jeff Hafley was a 5.5-point underdog on the road against Duke. It would be a pretty big understatement to say the former Buckeye defensive coordinator was impressive in his first game. The Eagles' defense forced five turnovers and was dominant against a team that put up a solid fight against Notre Dame just one week ago.
Notre Dame transfer Phil Jurkovec won the starting quarterback job – his first start since his senior year of high school in 2017 – and threw for 300 yards with a pair of scores and one interception. Wideout Zay Flowers stole the show with five receptions for 162 yards and a 61-yard score. Two interceptions and three lost fumbles didn't help the Blue Devils' chances against Hafley's defense.
Jaelen Gill earned a starting wideout role for the Eagles, but he'll look to make more of an impact moving forward. He caught just one pass for a three-yard loss in his debut.
No. 11 Oklahoma State 16, Tulsa 7
This wasn't the start Mike Gundy and the Cowboys were looking for, and the score isn't even indicative of how close this one was. Tulsa was up 7-3 at the half, had a chance to retake the lead early in the fourth, and then got the ball back late with another chance to drive down the field and take over. A turnover on downs gave the ball back to Okie State and a field goal then lifted the lead to nine.
The Cowboys have 18 returning starters, but it hardly looked like it on Saturday. Expected to be one of the nation's top backs, Chuba Hubbard rushed for just 93 yards and a touchdown on 27 carries (3.4 per attempt) as the ground game struggled immensely. Returning starter Spencer Sanders exited the game early, and Gundy ended up playing three quarterbacks on the day. True freshman Shane Illingworth was the third to see action and seemed to provide a bit of a late spark. All-American wideout Tylan Wallace was the game's leading receiver with four receptions for 94 yards.
Desmond Howard picked Oklahoma State to make the playoff, so this probably shouldn't come as a surprise to anyone. It's been an ugly start for the Big 12.
No. 7 Notre Dame 52, South Florida 0
It was quite the showing for Brian Kelly's ground attack. Ian Book and his backfield stable accounted for six touchdowns against the Bulls. Book found the endzone three times while C'Bo Flemister, Chris Tyree, and Jafar Armstrong also added rushing scores. Flemister led the way with 126 yards on 13 carries. The only non-rushing touchdown came courtesy of a blocked punt return in the fourth quarter.
South Florida put up just 231 yards of total offense. The Irish's performance was even more impressive when you consider how many players were held out of the contest. Star safety Kyle Hamilton missed the game after suffering an ankle injury last week, but it was the linebacker unit that was looking a little rough as two key contributors were held out. Isaiah Pryor was moved to linebacker and saw some late action as a third-stringer.
Well-known "nice guy" Brian Kelly is already trying to impress the committee. And I honestly can't say I blame him at all.
IM TIRED OF BEING THE NICE GUY pic.twitter.com/NbWakd9EU1— Jessica Smetana (@jessica_smetana) September 19, 2020
No. 14 Central Florida 49, Georgia Tech 21
My biggest takeaway from this one is that true freshman tailback Jahmyr Gibbs is going to be a star. After being held out against Florida State last week, the former Buckeye target did a little bit of everything for the Jackets in his debut. Gibbs started the game with a bang by taking his first career touch 75 yards on the opening kick return. He was utilized all over the field and finished with 219 all-purpose yards and two touchdowns.
During the broadcast, Greg McElroy shared a particular quote from head coach Geoff Collins regarding his prized freshman. And I'm a huge fan of any old-man statement that manages to include both "dude" and "bro."
“Dude, He’s Reggie Bush, bro.”
Unfortunately, the true freshman's performance didn't do much to change the outcome. Fellow 2020 signee Jeff Sims threw a pair of interceptions as this game got away from the Jackets late. He had a productive day with 326 yards of total offense, but Sims mostly just looked like a young, inexperienced quarterback yesterday.
The Knights scored 21 unanswered points after a fourth-quarter Gibbs score brought Tech to within a touchdown. Quarterback Dillon Gabriel had a monster day throwing for 417 yards with four scores and one pick. Three different running backs added touchdowns and a pair of wideouts – Marlon Williams and Oklahoma transfer Jaylon Robinson – topped the century mark. Williams went for 154 and hauled in a pair of touchdown passes.
Georgia Tech's performance probably doesn't have the folks in Tallahassee feeling all warm and fuzzy inside. Mike Norvell also just tested positive for COVID, and we're wishing the first-year Noles' coach a speedy recovery.
No. 17 Miami 47, No. 18 Louisville 34
D'Eriq King had a fine showing and looks to be the real deal, though he did benefit from several Cardinal coverage busts. The Houston transfer threw for 325 yards and three scores as the Canes had little trouble with Louisville. Cam'Ron Harris ran for 134 yards and a score and Brevin Jordan showed why he's one of the top tight ends in America hauling in seven for 120 and a touchdown. I feel pretty confident in saying that Miami's kicker has robot legs. FIU transfer Jose Borregales booted a 57-yarder that looked like it would have been good from about 75.
Jahmyr Gibbs wasn't the only 2020 Buckeye running back target to make his presence felt. Miami's Jaylan Knighton hit the Cardinals with a bit of a backbreaker when he scored on a 75-yard touchdown catch and run late in the third. Louisville had a coverage breakdown and the freshman was left wide open on the play. It was Knighton's second touchdown on the day. One has to wonder what Bijan Robinson would have done had the Longhorns played this weekend.
Miami has the look of a serious contender in the ACC. I know that may not be saying much considering the competition, but the Canes truly could be a dangerous team if last night's win was any indication of what's to come. Louisville did put up 516 yards of offense in its come-from-behind effort, so maybe that's a bit of a concern for Manny Diaz. Three takeaways led to several turnover chain appearances. Watching that thing get sanitized couldn't be more fitting for 2020.
Dumb Game of the Week
No. 1 Clemson 49, The Citadel 0
Can you imagine playing against The Citadel during a shortened season in the midst of a pandemic? Congrats to Dabo Swinney and the Tigers for squeaking by the Bulldogs. If you were a bettor who had Clemson -49, you probably felt pretty good about your bank account when it was 49-0 at the half. I'm guessing you felt much differently when this one ended. Yikes.
So Dabo elected for the running clock in the second half but The Citadel declined. So no running clock.— Anna Hickey (@AnnaH247) September 19, 2020
Trevor Lawrence hit on eight of nine attempts for 168 yards and accounted for four scores. Frank Ladson Jr. (2) and Amari Rodgers (1) both were on the receiving end of touchdown passes. True freshman D.J. Uiagalelei – the country's No. 1 2020 quarterback – saw most of the action under center. Lawrence's heir apparent threw for just 75 yards on 11 attempts but did add a pair of rushing touchdowns.