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Around college football and why Duck fans should care on a Duckless weekend

With the Ducks idle there is still college football to watch, some of it with major Duck implications.

#3 Florida State hosts #7 Miami Saturday night at 5:00 p.m. Pacific on ABC, both teams 7-0 and undefeated. If FSU wins, they are likely to get a bump that nudges them above Oregon in this week’s BCS poll, although the Ducks can swap paint and pass them with a win over #6 Stanford on Thursday.

Jameis Winston has been sparkling as a first-year, redshirt freshman starter, poised in the pocket, a tremendous leader who throws a beautiful ball and doesn’t carry himself the least bit like a freshman. He passed for 356 yards and 4 touchdowns in his first college game against Pittsburgh, held off a stubborn challenge from Boston College with 330 yards and four more tds, including a 55-yard Hail Mary for a touchdown at the end of the first half, dismantled Clemson on the road in a top ten showdown.  For the season he’s thrown for 2177 yards, 23 tds, 4 ints, completing just under 70% of his passes.

Smart cookie: Famous Jameis Winston, Marcus Mariota’s chief competition for the Heisman, has another opportunity to make a statement when the Noles host the Canes in college football’s prime time matchup this weekend. The 6-4, 228 redshirt freshman baked up a 51-14 victory over Clemson in Death Valley two weeks ago.

The Seminole defense allows just 13 points per game. They rank 29th in rushing defense at 135.7 yards per game, 5th in pass efficency defense, just ahead of the Ducks.

 

Miami is led by running back Duke Johnson, 122 carries for 823 yards, 6.7 yards a carry. At 5-9, 196 he’s comparable to Oregon’s Byron Marshall in running style and productivity. Senior quarterback Stephen Morris has been a disappointment this year: the Canes are winning in spite of him rather than because of him–he’s thrown just 10 td passes so far, intercepted 8 times. Al Golden’s squad have been silver medalists defensively, ranking 39th in rushing defense at 141.7 yards a game.

In the PAC-12, USC is at Oregon State Friday night on ESPN2 at 6:00 p.m. The 6-2 Beavers could climb into the top 25 with a win. They close out their PAC-12 season with a tough road game at Arizona State, host Washington November 23rd, then come to Autzen for the Civil War on Friday November 29th. Should they manage to be 9-2/8-3 coming in it adds some extra strength of schedule for the Ducks. OSU has some notable wins over SC in Corvallis, where they’ve won the last three meetings.

The Beavers are #1 in the country in passing yards, over 420 yards a game. USC has been utterly horrible in third down conversions, making a first down just 27.4% of the time, among the worst in the country.  The Trojans do have a physical defense that’s held 6 opponents under 300 yards; they’ve sacked the quarterback 27 times. For Ed Orgeron’s crew, getting pressure on Mannion is critical:  leading receiver Brandin Cooks is among the most dangerous weapons in the conference, already with 85 catches for 1256 yards and 13 tds. Stanford has been the only team to slow him down, holding him to 9 receptions, 80 yards and just one td catch, a long reception of 14 yards. They did it by sacking Mannion 8 times.

Elsewhere, Alabama and Baylor have byes, and #4 Ohio State travels to 1-6 Purdue. #21 Michigan is at #22 Michigan State, and 4-4 Tennessee faces a road game with #9 Missouri. The most entertaining game might be the Big 12 showdown between #16 Oklahoma State and #17 Texas Tech, each with one loss.

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