Clemson enters their bye week having already finished the toughest stretch of the schedule. While the national focus is on the win over UNC being far closer than expected, Clemson fans should focus on enjoying a 5-0 start with the toughest games behind us.
A home tilt against Texas A&M and road trips to Syracuse and Chapel Hill were likely the biggest threats on the schedule. Wake Forest looks very solid, but there’s not much chance they upset Clemson in Death Valley. ESPN only gives them a 4.7% chance to do so. U of SC isn’t horrible, but they lost to UNC so you’ve gotta think the test we had in Chapel Hill was stiffer. The Tigers are well on their way to the College Football Playoff so relax and enjoy the bye week. We have the American and National League Division series overlapping with a so-so week of college football. The combination though makes for a fantastic sports weekend.
The South’s baseball team returns to the MLB playoffs for the second consecutive year. They’ll try to advance past the NLDS for the first time since 2001. They have one of the best lineups we’ve seen in Atlanta in a long time with Acuna, Albies, Freeman, and this off-season’s big free agent, Josh Donaldson. Game one is on Thursday.
MLB: Cardinals at Braves (4:37, TBS)
The Braves are back in action on Friday. With the early game time, you’ve gotta get in and out of work early on Friday to get to a TV for the 4:37 start, but with all the pre-game hoopla (and as slow as baseball games are) you’re probably fine to not rush too much. You’ve got a great Friday of sports ahead of you with AAC football immediately following.
#18 UCF (-3.5) at Cincinnati (8:00, ESPN)
Just as the Braves game is ending you have a big game in the AAC East. The division includes UCF, Temple, and Cincinnati. The Golden Knights’ loss to Pittsburgh proves they’re not leaps and bounds ahead of their G5 competition. Memphis, Temple, and Cincinnati all seem to be on par with them this year (plus Utah State and Boise State out west). UCF isn’t simply going to disappear into the abyss if they lose this game, but they will effectively drop off the national radar for the remainder of this season if they do.
#14 Iowa at #19 Michigan (-7) (12:00, FOX)
Michigan holds a 41-15-4 all-time series lead, but Iowa has won two straight (2013, 2016) in the series. They face Michigan just two weeks after their prime Big 10 West competitor, Wisconsin, creamed the Wolverines. Iowa has the better ranking, but their only quality win is a one-point victory over Iowa State. We’ll soon see if Iowa’s 4-0 record is fool’s gold or Michigan is going to crater. One of those will be the story line coming from this game.
#7 Auburn (-2) at #10 Florida (3:30, CBS)
This week’s CBS SEC afternoon game is by far the best sports action of the weekend. Auburn has the best resume in the country and it isn’t particularly close (wins over Oregon, Texas A&M, and Mississippi State). Florida lost QB Feleipe Franks against Kentucky, but Kyle Trask led the Gators to a comeback victory over Kentucky and then looked great in dominating wins against Tennessee and Towson. These two undefeated teams are being viewed very skeptically by fans and the “experts” alike. Skepticism around Auburn is because of their poor 2018 season and inexperience at QB. For Florida a lot of it can be traced to their “Week Zero” performance against Miami. Although the Gators won, they looked awful. If Auburn wins, I don’t know how you keep them out of the top 5.
Virginia Tech at Miami (-11.5) (3:30, ESPN)
We’re on full implosion watch with both of these teams. Virginia Tech looks terrible. They were just blown out by Duke at home last Friday. Meanwhile, despite being a double-digit favorite, Miami has only been marginally better. They lost close games to Florida and UNC before pounding Bethune-Cookman and then squeaking out a 17-12 win over Central Michigan. Manny Diaz was an obvious hire, but I still have doubts if it was a good one. He’s turned up the volume on the sideline jewelry. Let’s see if his squad is a notch above the dumpster fire that VT is right now or if they’re two peas in a pod.
You’ve got a smooth transition to baseball as you get some double-screening going. The night games aren’t very good, but this Twins vs. Yankees series has some intrigue. The Yankees won 10 straight games against the Twins and eliminated them from the playoffs five times since 2003. The Twins president said “organizationally, I just say it’s time to slay the dragon, right?” Maybe the time is now. This is almost Clemson basketball at Chapel Hill levels of domination. Ok, it’s not even close, but it’s bad. The Yankees finished #1 and #2 in total runs scored and their rotations are suspect. We could get some slugfests, which would set up perfectly for flipping over after the 3:30 and still having plenty of baseball left.
#25 Michigan State at #4 Ohio State (-19.5) - (7:30, ABC)
The night games are pretty bland. Maybe wait until the baseball game is over to flip over. By then Ohio State may have put the Spartans away. On the other hand, the Spartans defense is good enough to keep it close for a while, so this could be a good chance to see how Justin Fields looks against a good defense. It’ll be the first one he’s seen as a starting QB.
California at #13 Oregon (-16.5) - (8pm, FOX)
These one loss teams will battle for Pac-12 North supremacy. The loser will have two-losses and effectively be eliminated from the College Football Playoff race. If Oregon wins, they’ll remain unbeaten in conference play with their only loss being a very close neutral field one to an Auburn team that has blown by expectations. If Cal is to win, they’ll have victories over both Washington and Oregon and yield control of the Pac-12 North Division race.