School soccer Week 4 – Florida-Tennessee, Clemson-Wake Forest spotlight the most important video games

School soccer Week 4 – Florida-Tennessee, Clemson-Wake Forest spotlight the most important video games

School soccer’s final weekend in September is formally right here, that means convention rivalries transfer to the forefront of Saturday’s slate.

Certain, we’ll miss the nonconference battles like Appalachian State upsetting Texas A&M in School Station or Georgia proving why the title nonetheless runs by Athens, however convention play is the place seasons are outlined.

Saturday’s schedule kicks off with some historic matchups and newfound rivalries. Wake Forest welcomes Clemson to city in what ought to be a litmus take a look at for this system whereas Ohio State hosts Wisconsin in an age-old rivalry that has been a little bit one-sided of late.

Talking of latest lopsided rivalries, Florida travels to Tennessee, the place the Vols are favored regardless of their ineptitude within the SEC East conflict over the previous couple of a long time. Arkansas and Texas A&M meet within the Southwest Traditional, the place the Hogs erased a nine-year shedding streak final yr and, whereas it is not a convention recreation, Kansas and Duke play in a battle of unbeatens — sure, you learn that proper.

With October across the nook and the season heating up whereas the temperatures quiet down, these are faculty soccer’s prime storylines this weekend.


No. 5 Clemson Tigers at No. 21 Wake Forest Demon Deacons (Saturday, midday ET, ABC/ESPN app)

Every week in the past, Liberty’s Dennis Osagiede raised eyebrows by calling the Wake Forest offense “cute.” Get stress on Sam Hartman, he surmised, and the Deacons had been weak.

Seems, he was proper.

In fact, suggesting a QB below stress performs worse than one who’s not is not precisely breaking information, however the important thing to Liberty’s near-upset was the Flames’ skill to disrupt the Wake backfield. The Deacons all however deserted their run recreation, and Hartman had an up-and-down day. By way of three video games now, Wake’s QBs are 5-for-13 with an interception and 6 sacks when pressured, with a uncooked QBR of 0.5 — second-worst in FBS.

This is the actual drawback: This week, the Deacons get Clemson, which can have the perfect defensive entrance in faculty soccer.

“That is the place we misplaced this recreation a yr in the past,” Wake coach Dave Clawson mentioned. “I imply, straight away. What number of sacks did we’ve got within the first quarter?”

The reply: 4. Wake averaged a couple of half-yard per dropback within the first quarter of final yr’s 48-27 loss to the Tigers, and albeit, Clawson mentioned, there weren’t many solutions up entrance. Clemson introduced unique appears, stacked the field, blitzed repeatedly. That helped neutralize Wake’s largest asset — a deep and gifted receiving corps that had feasted on explosive performs.

“Attempting to mess up their timing, on the again finish, it helps,” Clemson co-defensive coordinator Mickey Conn mentioned. “That is a giant a part of defensive soccer.”

The road of scrimmage gives a transparent benefit for the Tigers.

Clemson has NFL-caliber expertise throughout the D-line, from Bryan Bresee to Tyler Davis, Ok.J. Henry to Myles Murphy.

What Wake has is an skilled O-line with far much less pedigree.

That is largely been the distinction between the Deacons and the large, unhealthy Clemson Tigers, who’ve received each head-to-head matchup relationship again 15 years, together with final season, when Wake received the division title however nonetheless proved no match for the Tigers on the sector.

“It is a little bit bit the character of our offense is that they outnumber us within the field,” Clawson mentioned. “Final yr, we did not execute the passing recreation, partially, due to the stress. We did not defend effectively sufficient. They don’t seem to be going to allow us to run the ball. They by no means have. And they are going to stress the quarterback and be disruptive. That is the sport. Can we defend lengthy sufficient to get guys open?” — David M. Hale


No. 20 Florida Gators at No. 11 Tennessee Volunteers (Saturday, 3:30 p.m. ET, CBS)

It took Josh Heupel all of what he says was “most likely 30 seconds” as soon as he arrived on Tennessee’s campus as coach final yr to understand what the Florida recreation means to the parents on Rocky Prime.

As soon as some of the anticipated rivalries on the sector within the SEC, the Florida-Tennessee rivalry has been a rivalry in title just for a lot of the previous twenty years. The Gators enter Saturday’s recreation at Neyland Stadium having received 16 of the final 17 conferences within the collection.

Therefore the significance to Tennessee followers of lastly breaking free from the Florida stranglehold on this collection. Even in these years when the Vols had been a minimum of nearly as good (and even higher), the Gators have managed to discover a strategy to win the sport, and extra occasions than not, the Vols have managed to discover a strategy to lose the sport.

Heupel is not a lot of a believer in psychological hurdles. He is modified the surroundings contained in the Tennessee soccer advanced and introduced a much-needed steadiness to this system. The Vols are as much as No. 11 within the newest AP ballot and enjoying with as a lot confidence and momentum as they’ve in years.

“Our children are extraordinarily assured, as they need to be,” Heupel mentioned. “They’ve ready the suitable method. They’ve labored laborious, and we proceed to develop. They know that preparation goes to be crucial factor.”

In different phrases, Heupel is not seeing ghosts. He has a veteran quarterback in Hendon Hooker, who has accounted for 42 touchdowns, thrown simply two interceptions and accomplished 68% of his passes since taking up because the starter a yr in the past in Week 3.

It is all the time a plus in all these video games to have a seasoned quarterback. Florida’s Anthony Richardson remains to be studying how you can play the place, however has uncanny athletic skill and an enormous upside. However after dazzling within the season-opening win over Utah, he is thrown 4 interceptions in his final two video games and has but to throw a landing move this season. The 6-4, 232-pound Richardson could look to run extra on this recreation and take a look at the Tennessee protection on the sting. He rushed for 106 yards and three touchdowns towards Utah, however the subsequent week, Kentucky stored one participant assigned to Richardson (a spy) and restricted him to only 4 yards on six carries.

An much more necessary matchup on this recreation is Florida’s entrance seven on protection towards a Tennessee offense that operates at warp velocity and averages 7.1 yards per play. The Gators allowed 230 speeding yards towards Utah and 286 speeding yards final week in a 31-28 win over South Florida. The Vols’ working recreation is augmented by Hooker’s skill to run on zone learn performs, and so they’ve additionally damage groups with explosive performs. In three video games, they have already got seven performs from scrimmage of 40 yards or longer.

This might be Florida’s first highway recreation of the season and Richardson’s first profession begin in a real highway recreation. Napier, whereas not particularly dissing the surroundings at Neyland Stadium, nonetheless stoked the fires amongst Tennessee followers when he downplayed what a highway surroundings would imply for Richardson.

“It isn’t like we’ll Canada and they are going to change the foundations,” Napier mentioned. “It is going to be the identical recreation. It is going to be a little bit louder and enjoying at a unique location.” — Chris Low


Wisconsin Badgers at No. 3 Ohio State Buckeyes (Saturday, 7:30 p.m. ET, ABC/ESPN app)

It has been 17 years — seventeen — since Wisconsin has received at Ohio State, and it might be a jaw-dropping, field-storming upset if it occurred on Saturday.

(Not that we have seen any of these this season.)

Unranked Wisconsin, which is 1-2 in three straight residence video games and has but to beat a Energy 5 workforce, hasn’t defeated the Buckeyes since 2010, and hasn’t received within the Shoe since 2004. The Badgers are making their first highway journey for what would be the Large Ten opener for each groups, and ESPN’s FPI provides Ohio State an 89% probability to win.

This is why Wisconsin has a shred of hope: The Badgers can run the ball, management the clock and boast one of many nation’s greatest defenses. Since 2015, Wisconsin’s opponents have scored a landing on simply 46.4% of purple zone drives, the bottom proportion allowed by any workforce throughout that span. The Badgers enter Columbus permitting simply eight factors per recreation — however are dealing with an offense that is averaging 47.7 factors.

The statistics for each groups are a bit deceptive, because the Buckeyes are coming off a 77-21 win towards Toledo, and Wisconsin’s wins had been towards FCS Illinois State and New Mexico State.

Whereas Ohio State and Wisconsin are in several divisions, they’re effectively conscious of what to anticipate from one another. Wisconsin is infamous for its punishing working recreation, which this yr is led by Braelon Allen. He is averaging 4.6 speeding yards per try after contact, the third-most in FBS amongst gamers with a minimum of 40 rushes.

Wisconsin’s first-year offensive coordinator, Bobby Engram, has aimed to make the Badgers’ offense extra balanced, and up to now it is working. By way of the primary three video games, Wisconsin has 1,436 yards of complete offense, 781 by the air and 655 on the bottom.

“They’re much more a number of than you assume while you take a look at what they’re doing on offense,” Ohio State coach Ryan Day mentioned. “They’re throwing the ball greater than they ever have, a minimum of in recent times. We have to be ready as a result of they’re very clever. They’ll deal with excessive ranges of data.”

The query is that if they will deal with Ohio State’s offense. — Heather Dinich


Duke Blue Devils at Kansas Jayhawks (Saturday, midday ET, FS1)

In maybe probably the most unbelievable matchup of undefeated groups this week, Duke (3-0) travels to Kansas (3-0) to play a giant early season … soccer recreation. Observe to misplaced readers: Their basketball groups, which have mixed for 9 nationwide titles, are scheduled to play one another Nov. 15.

There are such a lot of “firsts” with each groups, it might take up an excessive amount of house to incorporate all of them. However it is very important level out that Kansas soccer has had a for much longer dry spell than Duke. That is its first 3-0 begin since 2009. Duke began 3-0 as not too long ago as 2018, however coach Mike Elko is the primary Duke soccer coach since Fred Goldsmith in 1994 to win his opening three video games.

Maybe most spectacular for Kansas is the best way the Jayhawks have performed it, with two big come-from-behind victories towards West Virginia and Houston on the highway. Contemplate this: The Jayhawks received simply three highway video games complete from 2010-21.

Kansas officers expect a capability crowd of 47,233 to fill Memorial Stadium on Saturday, an indication that enthusiasm is excessive for a workforce that coach Lance Leipold has rolling proper now. That begins with the offense and quarterback Jalon Daniels, who has thrown for seven touchdowns and rushed for 3 extra. The Jayhawks have scored 159 factors by three video games, matching its greatest three-game offensive stretch to begin the season (2007).

Kansas director of sports activities efficiency Matt Gildersleeve has had a entrance row seat for the transformation of the workforce, coming with Leipold from Buffalo following the 2020 season. He mentioned each step of the method put in place was intentional. “Every single day on this program, we have all the time talked about benefiting from daily we’ve got to fill the hole of the place we had been, the place we at the moment are and the place we wish to go.

“I am so completely satisfied for the fellows that the work that they put in is all coming to, however additionally they know we will not sit there and speak about 3-0. We’re not anxious about that. That is handed. It is this recreation proper now. It is this second.”

Kansas has gone 12 straight seasons successful three or fewer video games. The Jayhawks have already got their three. That countdown to basketball season must be placed on maintain in the interim.

“The thought of getting the chance to go take over a program that’s thought of a basketball faculty,” Gildersleeve mentioned, “I like that.” — Andrea Adelson


Arkansas Razorbacks vs. Texas A&M Aggies (at AT&T Stadium, Arlington, Texas, Saturday, 7 p.m., ESPN/ESPN app)

On its face, this previous rivalry recreation seems to be a battle of weaknesses. Texas A&M ranks 99th nationally in passing offense, throwing for 208 yards per recreation. Arkansas, in the meantime, permits 335 passing ypg, 131st nationally.

The Aggies are favored within the recreation by 1.5 factors, however have scored simply 31 complete factors prior to now two weeks towards Appalachian State (a shocking 17-14 loss) and Miami (a 17-9 win).

“I do know this sounds loopy, however we’re lots nearer than it appears in some issues,” Aggies coach Jimbo Fisher mentioned this week. “We’re getting it and it is bought to maintain progressing.”

The Aggies’ offense struggled mightily towards the Razorbacks final yr, gaining simply 272 yards in a 20-10 loss that snapped a nine-game successful streak over Arkansas because the Aggies joined the SEC in 2012.

Might the Razorbacks be the remedy for Fisher’s ailing passing assault? Razorbacks coach Sam Pittman is annoyed together with his workforce’s efficiency within the secondary.

“We will stay with guys getting good throws,” he mentioned. “We will not stay with guys huge open.”

However the Hogs lead the nation with 17 sacks, so stress could possibly be a difficulty towards a struggling Aggies offensive line.

Pittman, in the meantime, is not letting on if he thinks he has a bonus.

“I am certain that coach is engaged on no matter issues they could have,” he mentioned of Fisher. “I do not see loads of them. I see a terrific opponent we’re on the brink of play.” — Dave Wilson

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