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Last Updated Aug 30, 2021, 13:56 PM

Saturday's Essentials

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Here’s a look at what must be considered before wagering on Saturday's slate in select FBS vs. FBS matchups:

Early Starts

Clemson (-24.5/62) at Louisville, 12 p.m. ET, ABC: The Cardinals ruled “Puma” Pass out for the remainder of the season after foot surgery and are hoping to get through the rest of the season with sophomore Micale Cunningham and freshman Evan Conley under center. Cunningham was banged up in the 62-59 upset at Wake, the second consecutive shootout the Cards have had go their way after edging BC 41-39. Yep, the ‘Ville is a 2-0 in ACC play this month, winning by an average score of 55-49. An upset here would give Louisville control of the ACC Atlantic, not to mention throw the national title picture into chaos since it would end the ACC’s pursuit of a third championship in four years.




Coming off its most impressive performance of the season in a 45-14 rout of FSU, Clemson wants no part of flirting with disaster like it did last time it took the field on the road at UNC, so we’ll see where Dabo Swinney’s team is as we approach the season’s halfway point. Following last season’s 5-0 start, the Tigers outscored their next four opponents by 204 points, an average margin of victory of 51 points. Clemson has defeated Louisville in all five meetings since they began ACC play in ’14, covering in the last three.

Purdue at Iowa (-4.5/50.5), 12 p.m. ET, ESPN2: Redshirt freshman Jack Plummer threw for 420 yards and three scores in routing Maryland last week, so watching his growth the rest of the season should be interesting, particularly since Purdue has such little room for error if it is going to reach a third straight bowl game under Jeff Brohm. Top WR/returner Rondale More is still out and RB Richie Worship is expected to be a game-time decision, so the Boilermakers will need playmakers to step up on the road, where they’ve gone 0-2 thus far.

The Hawkeyes have scored 15 total points in their two losses against Michigan and Penn State this month and are hoping to turn things around offensively in this Homecoming game. Kirk Ferentz has lost back-to-back meetings against Brohm and the Boilers and saw his team lose a 38-36 shootout in West Lafayette last season, producing the most points they’ve managed in a loss since 2011. Iowa has lost guard Cole Banwart for the season and won’t have Kyler Schott back until November, so it will be doing some reshuffling up front. Despite sputtering offensively, count on the Hawkeyes to try establishing the run to take advantage of Purdue’s thin linebacker group.

Florida (-4.5/46) at South Carolina, 12 p.m. ET, ESPN: After stunning Georgia in Athens in the upset of the season to date, the Gamecocks return home looking to pull off another upset and give themselves a shot at a trip to the SEC Championship game if it can get some help in the form of teams knocking off Mizzou. Head coach Will Muschamp is 1-2 against his former employer since taking over in Columbia, winning the only matchup at Williams-Brice Stadium. South Carolina will have watched a lot of last season’s tape by the time it takes the field, so it will have it drilled in that it collectively blew a 31-14 third-quarter lead by surrendering the game’s final three touchdowns.

Florida’s heavily hyped defense surrendered over 500 yards and six TDs without forcing a turnover in last week’s loss at LSU, so they’ll be looking to rebound after dropping the first true road game of the Dan Mullen era after opening with five straight wins. DE Jabari Zuniga and LB Jon Greenard suffered ankle injuries they’ll look to overcome in order to participate here. South Carolina should have freshman starting QB Ryan Hilinski in the mix after suffering a knee sprain in Athens, but will have redshirt freshman Dakereon Joyner prepared if necessary. Expect to see both. Senior WR Bryan Edwards, second in program history in receptions, will look to overcome an ankle injury in order to participate.

West Virginia at Oklahoma (-33/63.5), 12 p.m ET, FOX: This matchup became more compelling when former Sooners QB Austin Kendall, who served as backup to Baker Mayfield and Kyler Murray, was cleared to play after taking a big hit in last week’s 24-point loss to Iowa State. The Mountaineers come into Norman 3-3 under new head coach Neal Brown, who took the job after a strong run at Troy following Dana Holgorsen’s departure for the University of Houston.

Losing your defensive leader before running into one of the country’s most prolific offensive teams is never ideal but is the situation facing West Virginia after LB VanDarius Cowan, an Alabama transfer, was lost for the rest of the season following knee surgery. Already thin at the linebacker spot, the Mountaineers have also seen safety Jamari Stewart exit the program and won’t have top corner Hakeem Bailey in the first half here after being ejected for targeting. The Sooners are relatively healthy coming of their Red River Rivalry win but will be missing standout TE Grant Calcaterra (undisclosed) for a second straight week. Oklahoma has won its last four games following the Texas showdown and has beaten West Virginia seven consecutive times.

Afternoon Delights

Duke at Virginia (-3.5/45), 3:30 p.m. ET, ACCN: The winner of this one will join Pitt atop the ACC Coastal, so even though this matchup is always more appealing on the hardwood, this matchup is definitely worth watching. Duke is the highest-scoring team in the division, ranking third behind Clemson and Louisville in ACC play in averaging 39 points per game. Bronco Mendenhall’s defense hopes to put a dent in that gaudy average by continuing a run that featured making first-round NFL draft pick Daniel Jones look terrible over the past few seasons.

Mendenhall is 3-0 against the Blue Devils, part of a four-game win streak the ‘Hoos hold as they take the field in Charlottesville. After last week’s 17-9 loss at Miami, Virginia will be looking to overcome the loss of top corner Bryce Hall while getting its inconsistent offense sparked back up behind senior QB Bryce Perkins, who is no longer wearing his cumbersome brace and will have top weapons Joe Reed and Hasise Dubois to throw to if his questionable offensive line gives him time. Duke will visit Chapel Hill next week before its bye, so it has reached a critical juncture in its season before even facing Notre Dame, ‘Cuse, Wake and Miami in November.

Oregon (-2.5/48) at Washington, 3:30 p.m. ET, ABC: Chip Kelly turned the Ducks into an offensive juggernaut and Marcus Mariota and current standout QB Justin Herbert have kept the tradition going, but this year’s team is unquestionably led by the defense despite the presence of another highly-rated future first-rounder under center. Defensive coordinator Andy Avalos is climbing up those lists every athletic director keeps of up-and-coming potential coaching targets, designing a defense that has surrendered an average of five points per game over their last five wins since blowing a late lead vs. Auburn in the season opener.

Oregon safety Jevon Holland has been cleared to play, joining top linebacker Troy Dye in being up for the challenge of stopping Huskies QB Jacob Eason, who helped dominate in a 51-27 rout of Arizona. Oregon won last season’s game in OT to snap a two-game losing streak in the series. Washington will look to find top WR Aaron Fuller and speedy back Salvon Ahmed room to work with against a stingy, aggressive defense. This will be the first time the Huskies have been a home underdog since 2015. Head coach Chris Petersen has led U-Dub to victories in 22 of 24 in Seattle but may not have center Nick Harris, one of the country’s best at his position. The Ducks won’t have elite tight end Jacob Breeland. Steady rain is in the forecast.

LSU (-18.5/62) at Mississippi State, 3:30 p.m. ET, CBS: The Tigers have had no problems packing their prolific offense on both occasions they’ve hit the road this season, averaging 55.5 points in their wins over Texas and Vanderbilt. LSU’s next non-cover against an FBS foe will be its first since last season’s 72-70, seven-OT loss at Texas A&M, so Ed Orgeron has his group on quite the run. Joe Burrow LSU QB Joe Burrow is tied for second (+275) alongside Oklahoma’s Hurts in the latest Heisman odds update, trailing only Alabama’s Tua Tagovailoa. He ranks first in the SEC in yards per game, completions and completion percentage and is on track to throw for over 4,000 yards while ranking second in rating and touchdown passes behind Tagovailoa.

Mississippi State has dropped three of four after being held to a season-low 10 points in falling at Tennessee. Kansas State has already won in Starkville this season, but Joe Moorhead is 8-2 in home games since taking over for Dan Mullen. LSU has won three of the last four in this SEC West Division series but fell 37-7 in its last trip into town. The Bulldogs are going to start freshman Garrett Shrader, who has endeared himself to the fan base with his toughness and ability to make plays with his feet and his arm. The first recruit of the Moorhead era, Shrader is expected to be the starter going forward and will look to team with RB Kylin Hill in moving the chains enough to play keepaway from powerful LSU.

Primetime Matchups

Tulane at Memphis (-3.5/59), 7 p.m. ET, ESPN2: Although unbeaten SMU is currently getting the bulk of the attention, the Green Wave is also undefeated in the West Division. The Tigers have won it the past two seasons and are talented enough to prevail again since they host both Tulane and SMU at the Liberty Bowl. Memphis has won 31 of its last 37 home games and had defeated the Green Wave 11 straight times before losing in New Orleans last season. Patrick Taylor, Jr., who ran for over 1,100 yards last season, has made progress from a troubling ankle injury and could suit up, forming an excellent tandem with Kenny Gainwell. Tulane QB Justin McMillan is suddenly looking like the top quarterback in an American Conference that has no shortage of them. He and Darnell Mooney should hook up often on a clear day in Memphis. Nose tackle O’Bryan Goodson, one of the league’s top interior lineman, hasn’t been healthy due to a leg injury since the beginning of the season.

Florida State at Wake Forest (-1.5/68), 7:30 p.m. ET, ESPN: After losing their first game of the season, the Demon Deacons attempt to end a seven-game losing streak at the hands of the Seminoles. Dave Clawson’s team scored 28 points in the fourth but still fell short after digging themselves too large a hole to dig out of but will be favored against FSU for the first time. We’ll see how the weather holds up considering a tropical storm is headed in the direction. RB Cam Akers’ speed makes him a danger to the Wake defense, while FSU’s inability to get stops through the air makes them awfully vulnerable given the presence of Sage Surratt, Scotty Washington and Kendall Hinton.

Late-night Snacks

Boise State (-7/46) at BYU, 10:15 p.m. ET, ESPN: Although the Broncos haven’t made it official, the expectation is that freshman Hank Bachmeier may be too banged up to play after inuring his hip against Hawai’I last week. That sets the stage for Chase Cord to get more work after excelling in last week’s win, proving he’s back from a torn ACL. Senior Jaylon Henderson is also available to start on the road in Provo as Boise State looks to remain the top Group of Five team ahead of fellow unbeatens SMU and Appalachian State, but Cord is the most likely candidate to be out there as Boise State looks to post what would be just the third road win in 10 tries in this series. Boise won at BYU in ’17 and has won four of five, including the last three. With Zach Wilson sidelined by a thumb injury and Jaren Hall potentially not out of concussion protocol, freshman Baylor Romney or sophomore Joe Critchlow will start. The Cougars are 6-9 over their past 15 home games under head coach Kalani Sitake.

Follow Tony Mejia on Twitter at @TonyMejiaNBA

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