Anyone who has followed the College Football Preview over the last three years knows there is generally a theme tied in. This week, we lost a great actor and I saw many people referred to him from his role as “Benson.” But for true sports fans, Robert Guillaume was Isaac Jaffe, the executive producer of Sports Night on the Aaron Sorkin-produced TV show of the same name. For anyone who did not watch, you missed two seasons of great writing, all-star cast banter, and life’s lessons tied into sports. Fortunately, there are still avenues to find it. The games highlighted this week will be tied, as best we can, to Sports Night.
College Football Preview
Oklahoma State (6-1, 3-1) @ West Virginia (5-2, 3-1); Sat., Noon ET ABC
This one could have your head spinning by the end of the day. Two offenses that have been going crazy all season and are not likely to stop Saturday. Cowboys quarterback Mason Rudolph is still on the cusp of Heisman consideration. He tops in the nation in passing yards per game with a 392 average to go with 19 touchdowns against only four interceptions. Rudolph has the Cowboys on a three-game winning streak. He is also 2-0 against West Virginia.
Rudolph has, however, never faced a Will Grier Mountaineers team. Grier is meeting Rudolph and Oklahoma’s Baker Mayfield stride for stride in the Big XII. He has more than 2,500 yards passing and leads the nation in touchdowns with 27.
The loser of this game is out of the Big XII title game race. Pay attention and let the scoreboard take you for a ride.
Isaac (played by Robert Guillaume): Danny, I need to talk to you.
Dan (Josh Charles): Good, ’cause I need to talk to you too. Who should go first?
Isaac: Since I don’t really care what you have to say, I think it should be me.
Florida (3-3, 3-2) vs. Georgia (7-0, 4-0); Sat. 3:30pm ET CBS
The World’s Largest Outdoor Cocktail party is back, and the city of Jacksonville could not be happier to have more inebriated Gators and Bulldogs fans. On paper, this looks like a bit of a mismatch. On the field also. But believe it or not, Florida is playing to hold on to second place in the SEC East. Their last two losses, to LSU and Texas A&M, have been by a grand total of three points. Quarterback Feleipe Franks is struggling with only 428 yards passing and one touchdown over the last three games, but the Gators defense is keeping them in every game.
They will have their biggest challenge Saturday. When Jacob Eason was hurt in game one, no one saw the Georgia season going the way it is now. Freshman quarterback Jake Fromm is leading an offense that is averaging nearly 450 yards per game and just rolled up 696 against Missouri two weeks ago. Running backs Nick Chubb and Sony Michel have combined for 1,180 yards and 14 touchdowns. Coming off a bye week, they are rested. Plenty of reason for Florida fans to drink.
Dan (Josh Charles): If you wear something blue you get two dollars off a giant blue margarita.
Casey (Peter Krause): You know I make a pretty good living. I can actually afford to wear what I want and pay full price.
Dan: I’m not promoting the economic upside as much as I am the opportunity to drink something giant and blue.
North Carolina State (6-1, 4-0) @ Notre Dame (6-1); Sat., 3:30pm ET NBC
This is one of the strange games where Notre Dame agreed, years ago, to play a significant amount of ACC teams each year. It turns out that this is one of the more anticipated games of the day.
The Wolfpack are in first place in the ACC Atlantic Division and carrying a six-game winning streak. Two weeks ago, the defense held the Louisville Cardinals to 116 yards rushing. Defensive lineman Bradley Chubb is leading a unit with real bite, but Notre Dame will be the best run team they have faced so far and may face all season. NC State is coming off a bye week, so they have had plenty of time to prepare.
Notre Dame, on the other hand, is coming off a 49-14 pounding of historic rival USC last week in South Bend. Josh Adams ran for 191 yards and three touchdowns. Quarterback Brandon Wimbush had another 106 yards on the ground and two touchdowns. The Irish totaled 377 yards rushing and are now number six in the country on a per game average. Wimbush, however, is not a very adept passer yet. If North Carolina State can force him to throw, (something few have done successfully), this could prove to be a letdown game for Notre Dame after last week’s emotional win.
Dana (Felicity Huffman): How much do you love me?
Dan (Josh Charles): I want to grow a goatee.
Dana: Very, very bad idea. How much do you love me?
Dan: I think it would look good.
Dana: I think you would look like Colonel Sanders. How much do you love me?
Dan: A little less than I did before the Colonel Sanders thing.
Penn State (7-0, 4-0) @ Ohio State (6-1, 4-0); Sat., 3:30pm ET ABC
The highlight game of the day for many people. Penn State is coming off a 42-13 thrashing of Michigan in Happy Valley. The Nittany Lions got 506 yards of offense against what was one of the top defenses in the country. And that was without Saquon Barkley going crazy. He had 108 yards rushing and another 53 receiving to go with three touchdowns. The offense was well balanced. Quarterback Trace McSorley threw for 282 yards and a touchdown. The defense played the best it had this season. And now it gets difficult.
Ohio State is the best offense Penn State has faced this season, by far. While the Buckeyes are generally beating a line-up mostly devoid of bowl teams so far this season, quarterback J.T. Barrett is living up to Heisman hype. While he is never going to be the prolific downfield passer others are, he has improved. Mostly, he has cut down on his mistakes. He has 21 touchdowns against only one interception. Last week, he led the Buckeyes in rolling up 633 yards of offense against Nebraska and threw at an 82% completion rate.
First team to get a defensive stop has a decided edge.
Dana (Felicity Huffman): You have good ideas a lot. I find myself saying, “Natalie’s got a good idea.”
Natalie (Sabrina Loyd): But you also find yourself saying, “Natalie, if you screw that up again I’ll set you on fire.”
Dana: When was the last time you had a good idea?
Natalie: This morning, I decided not to stick my hand in the blender.
Dana: That’s what I’m talking about.
Georgia Tech (4-2, 3-1) @ Clemson (6-1, 4-1); Sat., 8pm ET ABC
If Clemson runs the table through the ACC title game, the Tigers could expect a playoff spot, despite their stunning loss two weeks ago at Syracuse. Last year, they held GA Tech’s high-powered triple option offense to 95 yards. But Yellow Jackets TaQuon Marshall was in for only a couple of snaps. This year, he has Georgia Tech as the #2 rushing offense in the country.
Clemson needs a big game from the defensive ends, in particular Clelin Ferrell and Austin Bryant, keeping the edges contained on the GA Tech run game. This is one of three tough games left for Clemson on the regular season schedule and they need every one of them.
Dan (Josh Charles): So, I’m gonna try telling you this story one more time.
Casey (Peter Krause): Can I just make a suggestion?
Casey: What if, instead of you telling me this story again right this second, you never tell me this story ever?
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