Clear Your Schedule 2018 | Week 11

By Brian Wilmer -

I know what you’re thinking.

“Hey, Brian…something’s missing. A play button, extra games?”

Let me explain.

You see, friends, this is a chaotic week. Basketball has begun, as have the high school football playoffs here in South Carolina, and I didn’t want to go without writing something. Therefore, I’m trying something a little different this week, and may do the same for the last couple of weeks of this feature for the season (holy cow, that got on us quickly, no?).

We’ll do three games this week, with — in our estimation — the games of the week from the non-P5, FCS and FBS ranks. Let me know your thoughts, whether in the comments or by sending me a tweet (you’ll still see the handy little ‘follow’ button below, in its normal place).

Without further ado, let’s ask this week’s trivia question and get right to it!

Trivia question (answer at the end of the piece):  ESPN’s Gameday has hosted a show from a venue hosting a team ranked outside the top ten against a second-ranked visitor 11 times in its history. Who was the only host school to win in that scenario?

Keyword Search (all times Eastern and rankings AP)

Non-P5 Game of the Week
Troy (7-2, 5-0 Sun Belt) at Georgia Southern (7-2, 4-1 Sun Belt)

1:00pm | ESPN+

Kickin’ — errr, runnin’ — it old school:If you like old-school, smash-mouth football, you will want to watch Georgia Southern. The Eagles are last in the Sun Belt in passing, throwing for just 74 yards per game. In fact, GSU is just over two yards per game better than Navy, who finds itself DFL among passing offenses in FBS football. Georgia Southern has thrown for greater than 100 yards from the triple option exactly once this season, a 154-yard output in a 34-13, Week 2 output against UMass. Troy ranks seventh in the Sun Belt — 75th nationally — in pass defense, but that almost assuredly won’t matter here. That Sun Belt-topping, 26th-ranked rush defense that surrenders fewer than 127 yards per game, though…

Trojan horses:  If you thought about the G5 teams with the largest win total over the last three years, you’d probably name UCF, USF, or someone similar, right? Think again. Neal Brown’s Trojans top the list, compiling a 28-7 record over the last three seasons. Tte 2016 and 2017 seasons ended with 10-plus victories (including bowl wins), and Troy appears poised to head that way again this year. All of this is being done by, as Troy’s sports information department notes, the sixth-youngest head coach among FBS schools. No Sun Belt coach is younger than Brown.

A productive trifecta:  Numbers 8-10 in total offense among Sun Belt players will take the field in Statesboro Saturday afternoon.  Georgia Southern quarterback Shai Werts ranks eighth, tallying just over 144 yards per game. Werts is also the only Sun Belt quarterback to tally more rushing yards than passing yards.  Trojan quarterback Sawyer Smith ranks ninth (111.1 yards per game), while running back B.J. Smith (95.6 yards) is tenth. Smith — the running back — will go for his sixth-straight 100-plus yard rushing effort, which would expand his Troy-record string of trips above the century mark.

Print that, tweet that, whatever:A Troy win would set up a de facto Sun Belt East championship game at Appalachian State in two weeks. A Georgia Southern win, and all hell breaks loose.  This will be a classic.

FCS Game of the Week
#7 UC Davis (8-1, 6-0 Big Sky) at #3 Eastern Washington (7-2, 5-1 Big Sky)

4:05pm | SWX/Pluto TV

Gifted grabbers: Two of the more productive receivers at the FCS level will face off on Eastern Washington’s red turf Saturday. UC Davis receiver Keelan Doss has hauled in 79 balls for 779 yards and seven touchdowns, and the senior pulled down 15 throws for a blinding 208 yards and a score last year — in a loss — against Eastern Washington. Amazingly, EWU receiver Nsimba Webster has tallied 43 more yards than has Doss this year…on 27 fewer receptions.

The scary thing about Webster is that he came to Eastern Washington with a reputation as a playmaking quarterback.  Behold:

Breaking the chain:  A win by Dan Hawkins’ Aggies at Eastern Washington would all but seal the Big Sky title and a national seed for UC Davis. It may not be of more importance, but it is at least of some importance that a win for Hawkins’ crew would be its first in seven all-time tries against the Eagles. Davis has also never been ranked this high in the polls, so each week in which Davis records a win is a trip further into uncharted territory.

Maier is no lemon:  When breaking down this game, a team having a top-10 offensive player is a significant consideration. UC Davis quarterback Jake Maier fits that criterion, ranking 10th in the FCS in total offense. Maier averages nearly 297 yards per game in total offense, and a look at just his passing yardage bumps him to sixth-best in the country. Maier has thrown for fewer than 200 yards per game in one game this season, the Aggies’ 30-10 loss to Stanford, in which he recorded 194. That game against Stanford was also the last time Maier notched fewer than three touchdowns in a single contest (he did not throw for a score against the Cardinal).

Print that, tweet that, whatever:  It’s never easy to win on the red turf, but Davis has the goods to do just that this year. And hey, we’ll take any excuse to watch this again:

P5 Game of the Week
#2 Clemson (9-0, 6-0 ACC) at #17 Boston College (7-2, 4-1 ACC)
8:00pm | ABC

Put it on the ground:Boston College will face a rather familiar challenge in Chestnut Hill Saturday night. Clemson ranks seventh in the nation in rushing offense at greater than 265 yards a game, and the Eagles saw first-hand that of which the Tiger ground game is capable last year. Tiger rushers tallied 342 yards and five touchdowns in last season’s 34-7 victory over BC, and the same strategy is likely to be employed by this year’s club. Clemson has already neared the 500-yard mark against two conference foes, with last week’s 492-yard output against Louisville a season-high for the Tigers. Boston College, conversely, sports the 54th-best rush defense among FBS teams. The Eagles have allowed 100-plus rushing yards to four of five conference foes, with Louisville’s 47-yard total the lone exception.

Keep it on the ground: Boston College’s sports information department notes some pretty impressive stats about punishing sophomore running back A.J. Dillon. Among them:

  • BC is 31st nationally with 440.8 yards of total offense per game since Dillon became the starter.

  • BC is 22nd nationally with 35.7 points per game during the time span with Dillon as the starter.

  • Since Oct. 14, 2017, Dillon leads all players nationally with 153.8 rushing yards per game.

BC’s sports information department also notes that the Eagles are 12-4 in the 16 games after Dillon took over as the starting tailback. One of BC’s losses, a 28-23 result at NC State earlier this year, came with Dillon sidelined due to injury. The Eagles ran for just 120 yards on 25 carries in that loss. BC has run the ball 34 times or greater in every other game this season, rushing for 219 yards or greater all but one time. The lone exception was that 34-carry, 85-yard total in BC’s loss at Purdue.

Tim’s tidbits: As you know if you’ve read this feature for any time, if we’re covering a Clemson game, we’re paying homage to the incredible knowledge-filled tweets of Clemson SID emeritus, Tim Bourret. This week, we offer two! Take it away, legend!

The GOAT. Period.

Print that, tweet that, whatever:  Boston College presents Clemson’s biggest threat over the last few weeks. If the Tigers trip up anywhere before the Playoff, it’ll be here.

Trivia answer:  I asked earlier:  ESPN’s Gameday has hosted a show from a venue hosting a team ranked outside the top ten against a second-ranked visitor 11 times in its history. Who was the only host school to win in that scenario?

11th-ranked Florida beat second-ranked Auburn, 27-17, on October 14, 2006.

And so it ends for another week. May you all have a fun and wonderful weekend, and we’ll see you back here next week.