3 to watch
1. No. 2 Clemson at Auburn, 9 p.m. (ESPN): Clemson starts its march back to the national title game on the road in SEC country. Clemson’s Deshaun Watson should look familiar to Auburn coach Gus Malzahn, who mentored Cam Newton to the Heisman Trophy.
2. No. 22 UNC vs. No. 18 Georgia, 5:30 p.m. (ESPN): Bad for UNC: Georgia will have a healthy Nick Chubb at running back. Good for UNC: Greyson Lambert, a Virginia graduate transfer, will start at quarterback over freshman Jacob Eason. UNC’s 1-0 vs. Lambert.
3. Georgia Tech vs. Boston College, 7:30 a.m. (ESPN2): Or “Georgia vs. Boston” according to the T-shirts being sold by one entrepreneur in Ireland, where the game is being played. Will the Eagles finally end an ACC losing streak that covered both the football and basketball seasons a year ago?
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▪ Much is made of UNC’s problems on run defense and for good reason. The Heels gave up 645 rushing yards in their last game and ranked No. 122 against the run last year. But is Georgia, with a coach from Alabama, going to run the same scheme as Baylor? Unlikely.
Jim Chaney, the former Pitt offensive coordinator, will call Georgia’s plays. Two years ago, the Panthers got 220 yards and four touchdowns from running back James Conner and couldn’t beat the Tar Heels (40-35). Point is, Chubb might go crazy but it’s likely going to take more to win the game.
▪ The most interested viewer in Appalachian State’s 20-13 overtime loss at No. 9 Tennessee on Thursday night was likely new Miami coach Mark Richt. The Hurricanes open with Florida A&M this week, and host Florida Atlantic next week, before a trip to the Rock on Sept. 17.
Defense won’t be Miami’s strength this season. It will be interesting to see how Richt can help junior quarterback Brad Kaaya early in the season. The Canes will have to hit mid-stride to beat the Mountaineers on the road.
▪ This is a real “all or nothing” week for the ACC. There are big games – UNC vs. Georgia, Florida State vs. Ole Miss, Clemson at Auburn – and there’s one conference game (Georgia Tech vs. Boston College).
The other games are less appealing. Seven teams, including N.C. State on Thursday night, opened with Division I-AA opponents. Those games serve a purpose but we would all be better off if the NCAA would adopt a preseason and get those games out of the way in mid-August.
Number to know
3 Georgia running back Nick Chubb will be the third Chubb family member UNC has faced since last October. The Tar Heels had wins over Brandon Chubb (Wake Forest linebacker) and Bradley Chubb (N.C. State defensive end) last season. The Georgia running back is a cousin to the ACC’s Chubb brothers.
No. 8 Stanford vs. Kansas State, late
No. 12 Michigan State vs. Furman, late
No. 23 Baylor vs. Northwestern State, late
No. 1 Alabama vs. No. 20 Southern Cal at Arlington, Texas, 8 p.m.
No. 2 Clemson at Auburn, 9 p.m.
No. 3 Oklahoma at No. 15 Houston, Noon
No. 5 LSU vs. Wisconsin at Green Bay, Wis., 3:30 p.m.
No. 6 Ohio State vs. Bowling Green, Noon
No. 7 Michigan vs. Hawaii, Noon
No. 13 TCU vs. South Dakota State, 8 p.m.
No. 14 Washington vs. Rutgers, 2 p.m.
No. 16 UCLA at Texas A&M, 3:30 p.m.
No. 17 Iowa vs. Miami (Ohio), 3:30 p.m.
No. 18 Georgia vs. No. 22 North Carolina at Atlanta, 5:30 p.m.
No. 21 Oklahoma State vs. SE Louisiana, 3:30 p.m.
No. 24 Oregon vs. UC Davis, 5 p.m.
No. 25 Florida vs. UMass, 7:30 p.m.
No. 10 Notre Dame at Texas, 7:30 p.m.
No. 4 Florida State vs. No. 11 Mississippi at Orlando, Fla., 8 p.m.