Week 7: Georgia-Alabama in spotlight; virus impacts 6 games
|Toronto Star 16 Oct 2020 at 11:13|
Alabama coach Nick Saban won’t be on the sideline when the No. 2 Crimson Tide hosts No. 3 Georgia on Saturday in perhaps the biggest game of the season. LSU’s game at No. 10 Florida and Vanderbilt’s visit to Missouri also have been postponed.
Two other games involving Top 10 teams also are off: No. 7 Oklahoma State at Baylor and No. 8 Cincinnati at Tulsa.
FIU-Charlotte was postponed, as was the matchup between Appalachian State and Georgia Southern, which hurriedly scheduled a replacement home game against independent Massachusetts.
No. 1 Clemson, No. 4 Notre Dame and No. 5 North Carolina all are double-digit favourites as they look to stay unbeaten in the ACC. The Tigers head to Georgia Tech, the Irish host Louisville and the Tar Heels visit Florida State.
No. 3 Georgia at No. 2 Alabama
It’s the only matchup of Top 25 teams and was supposed to be the second straight game Saban faced off against a former assistant, Bulldogs head coach Kirby Smart. Steve Sarkisian will be in charge of the Tide with Saban quarantining at home.
Alabama got into a scoring contest in last week’s 63-48 win against Lane Kiffin and Mississippi. Georgia was challenged for a while against Tennessee, trailing at half before winning 44-21.
The Crimson Tide have won five straight against Georgia and will be meeting the Bulldogs in the regular season for the first time since 2015.
Georgia presents a much bigger physical challenge than the Tide faced last week. The Bulldogs’ run defence is best in the nation. Opponents are averaging 1.49 yards per carry and have scored no rushing touchdowns. The Bulldogs, however, haven’t seen a running back like Najee Harris, who went for a career-high 206 yards and five touchdowns against Ole Miss.
The last two Georgia-Alabama games were classics.
In 2018, Jalen Hurts took over for an injured Tua Tagovailoa in the fourth quarter and led the Tide to a 35-28 win in the SEC championship game in Atlanta. Eleven months earlier on the same field, Tagovailoa had replaced an ineffective Hurts and brought back the Tide from a 13-0 deficit to beat the Bulldogs 26-23 in overtime in the national championship game.
Ian Book became Notre Dame’s first quarterback to pile up 2,500 yards passing, 500 yards rushing and 30 touchdown passes in a season, and he’s been steady through three games against overmatched competition.
The third-year starter’s status as a second-tier Heisman candidate could change quickly if the Irish keep winning and he has a big outing against Clemson on Nov. 7.
NUMBERS TO KNOW
1 — Career fumbles by Alabama’s Harris, whose streak of 466 touches without losing the ball ended in the first quarter against Mississippi last week.