The Atlantic Coast Conference doesn’t take center stage during the football season all that often, so let’s give the conference better known for basketball a chance to stick its chest out this week.
No. 5 Florida State and No. 3 Clemson deftly dodged upsets and now get together for the game of the week. It’s just the fourth matchup of top-five teams in ACC history and first since 2005.
The winner will emerge as a serious national championship contender. A serious Heisman Trophy contender also could emerge. Clemson quarter Tajh Boyd and Florida State’s fabulous redshirt freshman Jameis Winston are both putting up numbers worthy of Heisman attention.
Beyond the Dabo and Jimbo show in Death Valley, here are five things to know during Week 8 of the college football season.
BEARS’ ATTACK: No. 12 Baylor fell off its 70-points-per-game pace last week, only getting half that in a win against Kansas State. The Bears return home this week to face Iowa State. Expect another Bears blitz from quarterback Bryce Petty and RB Lache Seastrunk. The Cyclones rank last in the Big 12 in yards allowed per game (447.6) and are second-to-last in yards allowed per play (5.64).
DIFFERENT STORY: You might not have noticed but Southern California is at Notre Dame this week. The Trojans and Fighting Irish have already combined for four losses and one coach firing. The storied rivalry hasn’t quite been as glamorous lately. This will mark the third time in the last four seasons that neither team has been ranked coming into the game, and the fourth straight season the Trojans are unranked when they play the Irish.
MAUK TO START: No. 14 Missouri returns home from its big win against Georgia last week to face No. 22 Florida and its nasty defense with quarterback Maty Mauk making his first start. The redshirt freshman steps in for the injured James Franklin (shoulder). Mauk was a three-star recruit, according to Rivals.com, who had offers from Notre Dame and out of Kenton, Ohio, who also drew interest from Notre Dame and Michigan. He’s known for a quick release and decent mobility that he showed off last week against Georgia.
ON A ROLL: UNLV is winning. The Rebels (4-2) have won four straight games, doubling last season’s win total. In fact, UNLV has won only two games in each of the last three seasons under coach Bobby Hauk — so who cares if the Rebels have beaten up on bad teams to get where they are heading into a road game against No. 17 Fresno State? The last time UNLV even broke even in a season was 2003. The last winning season was 2000. The Rebels’ solid pass defense will be challenged by Bulldogs quarterback Derek Carr.
BIG TEN EXPECTATIONS: Illinois won its first two games and three of its first four, giving hope that coach Tim Beckman’s second season would be much better than his first (2-10). A 39-19 loss last week at Nebraska has Illini fans feeling a bit less optimistic. Illinois tries to break 15-game Big Ten losing streak against No. 25 Wisconsin.