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Cincinnati faces SMU in 2020’s finest Group of 5 battle, and the Big Ten is again in faculty soccer’s Week 8

The greatest faculty soccer sport on Saturday? It’s occurring in Dallas between No. 9 Cincinnati and No. 16 SMU — two of the 9 unbeaten groups left within the FBS.

If you are anticipating the Big Ten’s return, the Bearcats vs. the Mustangs will not be the sport you are most excited for. But these two ranked Group of 5 groups face a chance so as to add a résumé-building win in an try to perform the seemingly unimaginable: make the College Football Playoff.

We’re not getting forward of ourselves right here — even in a season when most conferences have began on their very own time and are enjoying their very own conference-specific schedules, a G5 group’s finest effort won’t make the committee bat an eye fixed, nevertheless it’s enjoyable to root for chaos.

SMU will likely be Cincinnati’s greatest take a look at since its 24-10 win over Army on Sept. 26. And whereas the Bearcats have not performed since Oct. 3 (their Oct. 17 sport at Tulsa was postponed resulting from COVID-19 circumstances inside the Cincinnati program), they’ve been constant of their three video games thus far.

Of notice: their protection that’s ranked fifth in SP+. That nonetheless “wins championships,” proper?

With SMU, we weren’t fully positive what to anticipate. Sonny Dykes took over in 2018 (going 5-7 that season) and rapidly turned issues round with a 10-Three season in 2019.

Through 5 video games this yr, they’ve proved 2019 was no flash within the pan and have offered themselves as an actual challenger on the high of the convention. QB Shane Buechele is an enormous purpose why, finishing just below 67% of his passes for 1,710 yards, 12 touchdowns and simply two interceptions.

This sport is a later begin (9 p.m. ET, ESPN2), so you need to find time for it. Even when you’re simply casually flipping over for a drive or two. Keep that soccer palate various. You’ll thank us later.

SMU’s superfan retains streak alive

For some time final Saturday, Paul Layne remained in his seat, watching his beloved SMU tackle Tulane, the 525th straight Mustangs sport he has attended. Then it dawned on him: Why not stand up and transfer round? After all, he would not be blocking anybody’s view.

For 44 years, Layne has been a fixture within the stands — residence and away — however final week’s sport was distinctive. Tulane wasn’t permitting followers for the visiting group due to COVID-19 protocols, however Layne was in a position to pull a couple of strings and nab a ticket. That left him on their own, save 100 or so cardboard cutouts. TV cameras skilled on him, an ideal visible expression of school soccer in 2020, and instantly Layne was a star.

“My phone went dead from so many people texting,” Layne stated.

It would not damage that there are much more eyes on SMU nowadays, too. The No. 16 Mustangs face off in opposition to No. 9 Cincinnati on Saturday, arguably the most important sport in three many years for this system. A top-25 rating and marquee matchups have been a welcome return to glory after so a few years of dangerous groups.

“For a long time, I didn’t know if I’d live long enough to do that again,” Layne stated. “It’s a very exciting time now.”

Layne’s streak began when he was a freshman at SMU, serving as a cheerleader. He’s 66 now. Somewhere round Year 17, it lastly dawned on him that maybe the streak was one thing he ought to work to maintain alive, and final week’s sport wasn’t his first near-miss. In 1995, Layne got here down with chickenpox. Fortunately for him, the sport was on Halloween weekend. SMU was enjoying Rice, and the Owls weren’t bringing many followers, so Layne dressed as a scarecrow and took a seat in an empty part of the outdated Cotton Bowl sometimes reserved for visiting followers.

Keeping the streak alive through the COVID-19 pandemic has been a trickier proposition. SMU is permitting 25% capability for its residence video games, together with Saturday’s showdown in opposition to Cincinnati, however the highway journeys have been a harder ticket. Layne stated he booked his journey in May, although he was uncertain any video games would even be performed.

The subsequent powerful name comes Nov. 5 at Temple, the place followers nonetheless aren’t allowed within the stadium. He’s planning to fly to Philadelphia anyway, and if he has to look at the sport from outdoors the stadium, he is assured he’ll discover a view that may make the journey price it.

“I couldn’t imagine being somewhere else on a Saturday afternoon or evening other than an SMU game,” Layne stated. “I guess I’m kind of loyal. Or crazy.”

What else to look at

How many factors does Clemson rating in opposition to Syracuse?

It’s been a tricky season for the Orange. Syracuse is 1-4, with one of many worst video games in program historical past coming final week in a 38-21 loss to Liberty, which racked up over 300 yards within the first half alone. The Orange’s lone victory got here in opposition to Georgia Tech, which allowed 73 factors to Clemson final week. With the way in which Syracuse has seemed this season, there is a non-zero likelihood that Clemson may do this once more this week. If the Orange can stop Clemson from having its punter play a complete collection at quarterback, they’ll have carried out higher than Georgia Tech.

Auburn‘s dangerous offense vs. Ole Miss‘ dangerous protection

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Ole Miss coach Lane Kiffin would not need final week’s loss to have an effect on this week’s preparation, and Auburn’s Gus Malzahn is targeted on reducing down on penalties.

Auburn’s offense has been cold and warm all season, and it has been the latter extra instances than not. Ole Miss’ protection hasn’t proven any indicators of having the ability to cease any offense, with its finest efficiency (are you able to name it a efficiency?) coming in opposition to Arkansas, when it gave up 33 factors. Auburn QB Bo Nix will most likely be capable to discover WR Seth Williams for an enormous play or two, however as inconsistent as Auburn has been offensively, there is no such thing as a purpose Ole Miss cannot counter with a few massive performs of its personal.

Don’t sleep on Minnesota

In case you have not heard all week, Big Ten soccer is again this weekend. There’s — appropriately — numerous speak about Ohio State and Justin Fields. But one group that is not being mentioned sufficient, significantly in a wide-open Big Ten West, is Minnesota, which opens in opposition to Michigan. Quarterback Tanner Morgan is coming off a stable sophomore marketing campaign through which he threw for 3,253 yards, 30 touchdowns and 7 picks. Lucky for him, wideout and future first-round NFL draft decide Rashod Bateman opted again in and has been cleared to play this season. Going up in opposition to Michigan will likely be a pleasant early take a look at and a barometer for what we would anticipate from the Gophers this season.

LSU‘s rebound try

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LSU’s Ed Orgeron is aware of it will likely be a tricky sport in opposition to the Gamecocks, and South Carolina’s Will Muschamp says it is his job to maintain his group dialed in.

The Tigers want a win in opposition to South Carolina. Their Week 1 loss to Mississippi State did not appear terrible on the time, particularly since K.J. Costello threw for probably the most yards in any SEC sport — ever. Since then, Costello was benched in opposition to Texas A&M, and the LSU protection gave up 45 factors in a loss to Missouri. A sport in opposition to South Carolina would often be a pleasant and simple solution to flip issues round, however on high of their poor defensive play by way of three video games, QB Myles Brennan may miss the sport with a “significant” lower-body damage. LSU head coach Ed Orgeron stated Monday he is assured in each of his freshman quarterbacks (TJ Finley and Max Johnson) to start out, however there’s nonetheless loads of concern in Baton Rouge.

Game-day Q&A with former Coastal Carolina head coach Joe Moglia

As the chairman of TD Ameritrade, Joe Moglia helps shepherd by way of a cope with Charles Schwab that may finish with the corporate having a market cap of round $75 billion — and it additionally means he’ll be stepping down from his position. He’s carried out that earlier than, although. In 2001, Moglia took a break from his job as CEO and bought into teaching — a occupation he’d left 20 years earlier — finally changing into the pinnacle soccer coach at Coastal Carolina from 2011 by way of 2018. He’s written books on finance and soccer and is engaged on a brand new one on management, simply as his Chanticleers have reached the Top 25 for the primary time in group historical past. We caught up with Moglia to speak Coastal Carolina, his former boss Bo Pelini, and the way forward for faculty soccer amid a COVID-19 monetary crunch.

ESPN: What has it been prefer to see Coastal attain this degree of success? Did you ever envision this system may very well be nationally ranked so quickly after shifting as much as the FBS?

Moglia: I could not be prouder. You have a look at the workers, I recruited [head coach] Jamey [Chadwell]. I’ve all the time believed in him and thought he’d be an awesome successor and would do an awesome job of main Coastal’s soccer group. … I actually did envision we may develop into an elite FCS program. That prompted the Sun Belt to ask us. It takes some time to transition the scholarships and the transition with the teaching workers. … But I all the time thought we might wind up being aggressive. To beat a nationally ranked group, to be nationally ranked, to be undefeated at this level of the season — I undoubtedly believed we may very well be aggressive and maintain our personal.

ESPN: When you determined to get again into teaching, you spent two years working with Bo Pelini at Nebraska. He’s off to a tough begin because the defensive coordinator at LSU now. Do you suppose he can get issues mounted?

Moglia: I labored with Bo for 2 years as the manager adviser to the pinnacle soccer coach. Frankly, if I did not have that chance, I would not have gotten the chance at Coastal. He’s buddy, a loyal man, a really brilliant man, and I’ll all the time be indebted to him for that. I actually suppose that Bo is an amazing defensive coordinator. He gained a nationwide championship at LSU earlier than. Our defenses have been all the time actually good at Nebraska, and he was the individual behind that. I’ve little question they’re going to determine it out and get carried out what they should get carried out.

Player to look at

Lyles: Ohio State QB Justin Fields

I’m solely form of sorry I haven’t got a deeper reduce of a solution for you guys right here this week, however I actually, actually wish to see this man play this weekend. Fields is likely one of the finest gamers within the nation, and I wish to see how he comes out within the Buckeyes’ opener. Last season in opposition to Nebraska, he went 15-of-21 passing for 212 yards and three touchdowns, and added 72 yards and a TD on the bottom. Don’t be stunned if he does higher than that on Saturday.

Hale: Notre Dame QB Ian Book

The Irish are ranked No. Three within the nation, however their competitors has accounted for simply three FBS wins thus far, and final week’s lackluster efficiency in opposition to Louisville presents trigger for concern. More regarding are the struggles of the passing sport. Book has simply three completions of 20 yards or extra to huge receivers this season. Meanwhile, Pitt’s protection might be dominant, and the Panthers’ secondary is greater than able to difficult the Irish receivers. Brian Kelly has made some extent of claiming he needs to get the passing sport going, and this will likely be take a look at for Book & Co. to see if they will enhance on the unimpressive numbers up to now.

Under-the-radar sport of the week

Lyles: Georgia Southern vs. Coastal Carolina

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Massimo Biscardi’s 40-yard discipline objective is nice, giving Coastal Carolina the 30-27 win.

It feels just like the Sun Belt produces not less than one sport that you will need to preserve your eye on every week, and for the second straight week, Coastal Carolina (now ranked No. 25 within the AP ballot) is featured. Georgia Southern is 3-1 this season, with the lone loss to a ranked Louisiana group that simply narrowly misplaced to Coastal final week. The intrigue on this sport for me is generally about answering this query: “How good is Coastal Carolina, really?” Because whereas Southern won’t be the group’s hardest sport to this point, it is nonetheless take a look at.

Hale: Arkansas State at Appalachian State

The Sun Belt has arguably been probably the most enjoyable convention in faculty soccer thus far, with final week’s showdown between Arkansas State and Georgia State serving as Exhibit A, a 59-52 Red Wolves win. After the win, Arkansas State fired its defensive coordinator. Its offense, nonetheless, has been unbelievable, with its two-QB system of Logan Bonner and Layne Hatcher combining for greater than 1,800 yards and 21 touchdowns thus far. App State was the preseason favourite within the Sun Belt, however an early loss to Marshall was adopted by two straight postponements resulting from COVID-19. How will Zac Thomas & Co. reply? It may begin with getting the bottom sport going. That was the bread and butter of the Mountaineers’ assault in 2019, however the unit managed simply 96 yards on 33 carries within the loss to Marshall.

Upset of the week

Lyles: TCU over Oklahoma

I do not really feel very assured with this decide, but when Oklahoma continues to be sloppy on protection, it will possibly undoubtedly occur. Both groups have gained and misplaced the identical variety of video games within the Big 12, a spot I by no means thought we might be at this level within the season. Of course, Spencer Rattler may make me look foolish and pop off, which I would not be mad about.

Hale: South Carolina over LSU

The protection is a large number. The quarterback is damage. The depth chart is depleted. LSU is reeling, and there is a actual concern it’s going to be powerful to show issues round within the quick time period. Meanwhile, South Carolina is using excessive after a shocking upset of Auburn, and the Gamecocks’ offense, which has been a catastrophe through the bulk of Will Muschamp’s tenure, has proven some actual explosiveness at instances this season. It is all the time dangerous betting in opposition to a determined LSU group at residence, however there’s numerous floor the Tigers have to make up in a rush in the event that they wish to win this one.

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