No. 2 Georgia gets toughest test yet at No. 13 LSU
BATON ROUGE, LA. >> LSU running back Nick Brossette said he’s been looking forward to playing Georgia “for a long time now,” and would search the internet for a telecast of the last time the Bulldogs played in Tiger Stadium.
The video from 2008 shows a Georgia squad that featured Matthew Stafford, A.J. Green and Knowshon Moreno — and which hardly looked intimidated by the environment in Death Valley while posting 52 points in a twotouchdown victory.
A decade later, the Bulldogs (60, 4-0 SEC) return with a No. 2 ranking, an unblemished record and a roster full of productive players who, on one hand, expect their toughest challenge of the season so far, and on the other, sound very confident they’ll handle it — even though none of the teams they’ve played so far are currently ranked.
“We’ve been tested,” Georgia tight end Isaac Nauta said. “We believe that some of the best competition we’re going to play is in practice.”
Georgia quarterback Jake Fromm is threatening to eclipse former Kentucky quarterback Tim Couch’s 1998 SEC single season completion percentage record of 72.3. The Bulldogs have a host of productive running backs who’ve combined to average 245 yards rushing per game. And Georgia’s defense is among the stingiest in the nation, allowing 13 points per game.
Virginia looks to finish job in rematch vs. No. 16 Miami
CHARLOTTESVILLE, VA. >> Virginia’s last meeting with Miami looked like it was going to be a highlight of the Bronco Mendenhall Era — until it turned sour.
The Cavaliers (3-2, 1-1 ACC) hope that if they get a lead this year against Miami, they will hold onto it when Virginia hosts the No. 16 Hurricanes (5-1, 2-0) on Saturday night.
Virginia led 28-14 early in the third quarter at Miami a year ago, but two touchdowns — one defensive — in a span of seven seconds pulled the Hurricanes even, and they scored the last 30 points in a 44-28 victory.
The game was on players’ minds as they prepared this week, along with a desire to make a statement.
“I think it’s a huge opportunity,” linebacker Charles Snowden said of the 7 p.m. start. “You don’t get to play ranked teams on prime-time TV every weekend. So I think our team is ready to get up for the challenge, and we’re really excited. It’s kind of like a do-over from last year . ... We had ‘em on the ropes and we let it get away.”
Turnovers were key to Miami’s rally — a 30-yard interception return for touchdown tied the game — but the Cavaliers are intent on keeping Miami’s now infamous turnover chain dormant at Scott Stadium.
Buckeyes seeking more from ground game vs. Minnesota
COLUMBUS, OHIO >> Ohio State quarterback Dwayne Haskins Jr. has been lighting up the scoreboard with touchdown passes. Next up is Minnesota, and the No. 3 Buckeyes will try to get their running game back on track.
Star tailbacks J.K. Dobbins and Mike Weber combined for just 3.2 yards per carry in the last two games. The focus will involve more push from the offensive line when the Buckeyes host the Gophers on Saturday.
Short-yardage situations have triggered some stress on the Ohio State sideline.
Haskins leads the nation with 25 touchdown passes and is on track to break school records this season. He’s also a drop-back guy and less likely to grind it out in short-yardage situations for the Buckeyes (6-0, 3-0 Big Ten).
Meyer liked having the “Q run” in his back pocket when dualthreat quarterback J.T. Barrett was there. The coach acknowledged some talk among coaches about having shifty backup quarterback Tate Martell come in the game on short-yardage situations.
“Third-and-1 is tough right now,” Meyer said.
Minnesota (3-2, 0-2) has deeper problems, having absorbed season-ending injuries to two of its best players — running back Rodney Smith and safety Antoine Winfield Jr. The Gophers start true freshman walk-on quarterback Zack Annexstad , who has thrown five interceptions in the past two games. Freshmen and sophomores are carrying the load on offense.
But ever-optimistic coach P.J. Fleck likes his team’s growth, despite the Gophers dropping the first two conference games.
“I hope everyone can see what we’re becoming, because I can,” he said.