What already was set up to be a college football schedule without much sizzle has been further gutted by the pandemic this week.
Overall, 11 games have been postponed by COVID-19 issues, including five involving ranked teams. No. 1 Alabama, No. 3 Ohio State and No. 5 Texas A&M all got unscheduled off weeks.
What’s left is the possibility for a few high-profile upsets and an opportunity for the Big Ten to either sort itself a little or get even more muddled — beyond Ohio State.
No. 9 Miami at Virginia Tech
The Hurricanes (6-1, 5-1) still have a chance to reach the Atlantic Coast Conference championship game if they get some help. The Hokies (4-3, 4-2) have had a season filled with ups and downs — none farther down than last week when they lost at home to Liberty on a long, last-second field goal.
Despite the difference in records, the teams themselves are probably pretty closely matched. Miami quarterback D’Eriq King has been carrying the load on offense for the ‘Canes, with 1,831 yards passing and 406 rushing.
Virginia Tech’s Hendon Hooker is another dual-threat quarterback who has been playing at a high level, accounting for 15 touchdowns in five games.
Kyle Trask, QB, Florida
The senior is setting a torrid pace with 22 touchdown passes in five games. He lit up Georgia last week and this week gets to play while most of the other top Heisman contenders — Clemson’s Trevor Lawrence, Alabama’s Mac Jones and Ohio State’s Justin Fields — are off.
The sixth-ranked Gators face Arkansas in the Swamp. The Razorbacks have been plucky in a bounce-back season under new coach Sam Pittman, who is out this week with COVID-19. And they have the best pass defense in the SEC, with 12 interceptions and six yards allowed per pass.
NUMBERS TO KNOW
0 — Combine victories for Penn State and Nebraska going into a matchup of two programs that have combined for seven national championships.
0 — Points allowed in the second half this season by No. 23 Northwestern. The Wildcats face Purdue in a key matchup of Big Ten West unbeatens.
1 — Incomplete passes thrown by Wisconsin freshman Graham Mertz in his starting debut three weeks ago against Illinois. The 13th-ranked Badgers have not played since because of a COVID-19 outbreak. They get back in action against Michigan. Whether Mertz is available is uncertain.
4-0 — No. 10 Indiana is looking to start the Big Ten season with four straight victories for the first time since 1987 when the Hoosiers visit Michigan State.
7 — Consecutive victories for No. 2 Notre Dame against Boston College. The Fighting Irish try to follow up their upset of No. 1 Clemson by beating the team that nearly knocked off the Tigers two weeks ago.
147 — Yards rushing for Washington State’s Deon McIntosh last week against Oregon State. The transfer from Notre Dame was filling in for the injured Max Borghi and had the best rushing day for a Cougars player since 2007. Washington State hosts No. 11 Oregon on Saturday.
UNDER THE RADAR
UNLV at San Jose State
The Spartans are off to their best start in three decades at 3-0 behind quarterback Nick Starkel, a two-time transfer with previous stops at Texas A&M and Arkansas.
San Jose State last started a season 4-0 in 1955.
Chip Kelly, UCLA
No matter how bad things get for UCLA in year three under Kelly, they are probably stuck together for at least another season,
The Bruins can’t afford to pay him not to coach. There have been few signs of progress in Westwood and last week’s opening loss to a Colorado team with a new coach was especially discouraging.
This week Utah is scheduled to come to the Rose Bowl after having to cancel its opener because of a COVID-19 outbreak.
Follow Ralph D. Russo at https://twitter.com/ralphDrussoAP and listen at https://westwoodonepodcasts.com/pods/ap-top-25-college-football-podcast/
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