Things to watch: Barrett starts; ACC powers on upset alert
It is weeks such as these that often produce the craziest results in college football.
Only one game matches ranked teams – No. 15 Texas A&M at No. 25 Mississippi – so pretty much all the contenders are on upset alert. For some, such as ACC powers Clemson and Florida State, the threat-level is much higher than others.
What to watch for in Week 8 of the college football season.
SHOWDOWN STUMBLING BLOCK
The countdown is on to what could be the Atlantic Coast Conference game of the year on Nov. 7: No. 9 Florida State at No. 6 Clemson, with both teams undefeated.
But first they both face road tests on Saturday.
No. 6 Clemson (6-0) travels to Miami to face the Hurricanes 4-2, the first of two straight road games for the Tigers. Florida State (6-0) faces disappointing Georgia Tech (2-5) at night in Atlanta.
No. 1 Ohio State is giving J.T. Barrett back the starting quarterback job when it faces Rutgers Saturday, replacing Cardale Jones who started the first seven games for the Buckeyes (7-0).
Barrett was the Big Ten play of the year last season after setting a conference record by accounting for 45 touchdowns. He broke his ankle against Michigan and Jones took over and led the Buckeyes to the national title. Coach Urban Meyer decided to stick with Jones as his starter this season, but the junior has been spotty and the Buckeyes offense inconsistent.
Less-than-daunting opposition and a roster loaded with talent kept the Buckeyes unbeaten. Barrett has run for five touchdowns and thrown two TD passes the last two games in relief of Jones and could be set up for a big day against the Scarlet Knights, who have the second-worst defense in the Big Ten (6.58 yards per play).
Tennessee is the second straight opponent No. 8 Alabama will face that is coming off an open week. Texas A&M also took a week off before facing the Tide. Though it didn’t do much good. Alabama won 41-23 at Kyle Field.
Alabama-Tennessee has been a rivalry in name only recently. The Crimson Tide has won eight straight as the Volunteers have gone through a rough stretch of national irrelevance.
Tennessee beat Georgia two weeks ago to snap a difficult stretch of losses in close games, but beating Alabama would be by far the biggest victory of coach Butch Jones’ three-year tenure in Knoxville.
ZERO TO 60
No. 2 Baylor hosts Iowa State looking for its sixth straight 60-point game. The current streak of five in a row of Art Briles’ team is tied with 2008 Oklahoma for the major college record.
The Bears are averaging 57.8 points in nine games played at their year-old home, McLane Stadium.
Mount Union is looking to extend its regular-season winning streak to 100 games when it visits Wilmington on Saturday.
The Purple Raiders last regular season loss was to Ohio Northern in October 2005. Before that loss, Mount Union had won 110 straight in the regular season from 1994-2005. The Purple Raiders are 209-1 in the regular season since 1994.
Wilmington is 1-5 this season and has lost 17 straight meetings against Mount Union.
Mount Union has won 11 Division III national title since 1993 and appeared in the last 10 championship games, though it has lost six of them to Wisconsin-Whitewater.
Follow Ralph D. Russo at www.Twitter.com/ralphDrussoAP