Clear Your Schedule 2017 | Week 7

By Brian Wilmer -

Another week down, and another really weird week of the college football schedule is in the books. Much of the “big” action was over by mid-afternoon, with three of the top five teams in the polls playing in noon games. Oklahoma’s loss set much of the tone for a football Saturday that ended earlier than usual and left much of us wanting more.

We found an interesting mixture of games for this feature last week, and they turned out this way:

Virginia 28, Duke 21
#8 TCU 31, #23 West Virginia 24
Navy 48, Air Force 45
#10 Ohio State 62, Maryland 14 (oof)
Houston 35, SMU 22
#11 Washington State 33, Oregon 10

Just like every week, we’ll break down three more games in this column and three more on the podcast. If you want to hear our breakdown of those three podcast games and our weekly trivia question, click the handy little play button below this text!

Keyword Search (all times Eastern and rankings AP)

Georgia Tech (3-1, 2-0 ACC) at #11 Miami-FL (4-0, 2-0 ACC)
3:30pm | ABC

  • That’s one way to beat traffic: The ACC points out this week that Georgia Tech has rushed for 37,055 yards (just over 21 miles) since 2008. That number, as one might imagine, tops all FBS schools. In an interesting — and, likely, more stupid — note, the Jackets could almost have run between Miami’s campus and Hard Rock Stadium. 22.1 miles separate the University of Miami and its football home. The ‘Canes rank 11th in the ACC in rush defense, giving up 148 yards per game. The Jackets are second in the land — obviously first in the conference — in rushing, totaling 396 yards per contest. ACC foes average 193 yards per tilt against Miami. Further, the Jackets rushed for 267 yards in a 35-21 loss to Miami last year, which was the highest total allowed by the Hurricanes.
  • Recent domination: That aforementioned 2016 victory was the seventh in the last eight games for the ‘Canes against the Jackets. Six of those seven victories — 2012 being the exception — were by double digits. Georgia Tech last won in the Miami vicinity (using “at” Miami seems a bit weird here) in 2007, securing a 17-14 victory over the ‘Canes ten years ago. Neither starting quarterback hit 50 percent in that contest — Georgia Tech’s Taylor Bennett was 11-for-28 passing for 114 yards, while Miami’s Kyle Wright hit on eight of 17 throws for 56 yards. Future Cowboy and Bill Tashard Choice ran 37 times for 204 yards in that victory.
  • There’s no place like home: It’s not often that a team plays its first road game in the second week of October, but this is the spot in which Georgia Tech finds itself. Hurricane Irma blew out — pardon the pun — its first road game at UCF, so this is the first official Jacket road tilt. Three of Tech’s next four will be away from Atlanta (this game and roadies to Clemson and Virginia), with only Wake Forest traveling to Bobby Dodd Stadium prior to November 11. Tech has lost six ACC road games in the last two years, including its last trip to Miami in 2015.

Print that, tweet that, whatever: The winner will enjoy a huge advantage in the Coastal. With Mark Walton out for the year, Miami very well may need that advantage.

UTSA (3-1, 0-1 C-USA) at North Texas (3-2, 2-0 C-USA)
7:00pm | ESPN3

  • It’s been awhile: North Texas is 2-0 to start its conference season for the first time in 13 years. In fact, it’s been so long since the Mean Green found itself victorious in its first two conference games that it occurred in a completely different conference. UNT won the Sun Belt by a two-game margin in the 2004 season, going on to fall, 31-10, to Southern Miss in the New Orleans Bowl. The 2017 edition of the Mean Green leads C-USA in total offense (510.8 yards per game), passing offense (295.2) and scoring offense (38.8 points per game), among other stats.
  • Closer to Fine: Owing largely to the relative infancy of UTSA’s program, this is only the fifth meeting between the schools. The Roadrunners have hung three wins in those first four outings, scoring greater than 30 points twice. UTSA will hope to continue that string, featuring under center C-USA’s leader in total offense. Quarterback Dalton Sturm averages 306 yards per contest, pacing his competition by 13 yards. That competition, however, is North Texas quarterback Mason Fine. Fine eclipses Sturm by 33 yards per tilt through the air, which helps to narrow the margin.
  • The roads separate: These schools are atop the conference in most categories, until it comes to team defense. The Roadrunners pace the league in total defense, allowing just south of 270 yards per game. No one else in the league is even close, as Middle Tennessee (just over 341 yards per contest) is second. North Texas allows over 130 more yards per game, surrendering nearly 401 per game. Interestingly, both teams were gashed by Southern Miss. USM hung 458 yards on the Roadrunners in a 31-29 victory, while tallying 415 in a 43-28 loss to North Texas.

Print that, tweet that, whatever: Seth Littrell was brought in to bring North Texas back to relevance. A win here would be one step closer to that being reality.

Utah (4-1, 1-1 Pac-12) at #13 USC (5-1, 3-1 Pac-12)
8:00pm | ABC

  • A long dry spell:  Utah’s sports information department notes that the Utes have beaten USC on the road once in eight tries in the series. That win came 101 years ago, in the final season the Trojans played in Fiesta Park. The facility, located at 12th and Grand in Los Angeles, was one of five at which USC regularly played prior to its move to the Coliseum 94 years ago. Utah beat the Trojans, 27-12, on October 21, 1916. (No, Lee Corso did not put on the Trojan headgear that day.)
  • Keeping the home fires burning:  Whether playing in Fiesta Park, the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum or on a city street, the Trojans get it done on their home turf — as long as it’s not 1916. USC has won 13 games in a row at home, last losing to Washington in October of 2015. Utah’s sports information department notes that the Utes are 0-5 in the Coliseum. Of its three recent losses (2011, 2013 and 2015), each has been by nine points or greater.
  • Guiding from the pine:  The only quarterback to claim victory against Sam Darnold last season will watch this one from the bench. Senior Utah signal-caller Troy Williams will defer to sophomore Tyler Huntley, who missed last week’s loss to Stanford due to injury. Williams completed 20-of-39 passes for 238 yards last week, throwing for a score and two picks. Last year against USC, Williams went 20-for-34 for 270 yards and two TDs. For his part, Huntley trails only Oklahoma’s Baker Mayfield in completion percentage, completing 88-of-120 throws for 966 yards and eight scores, being picked just twice.

Print that, tweet that, whatever:  Saturday starts a series of “elimination games” for both teams. Everything’s a must-win to maintain any championship hopes.

Music break!:  As you know, we’re celebrating the music on the charts from 1992, the first year of the SEC championship. Boyz II Men were still atop the charts this week in 1992, but the song at number three has arguably had more of a shelf life. You hear it in every stadium you visit, and it’s a tradition in many places. For those of you who have spent a Saturday in Camp Randall, you know what to do. Jump up and down, friends!

Thanks for hanging out, as always. Next week will be a bye week for your humble correspondent, but please come back and join us in this very space in two weeks. Until then, click the handy little follow button below you to keep up with me on Twitter. Until we meet again…