Three full weekends in, our great nation’s 2019 college football season has a clear theme, Palmetto madness:
• What a great win for The Citadel, the 27-24 upset at Georgia Tech last week. Even better that the Bulldogs fought back through injuries after the Yellow Jackets tied the game late.
• Which led Clemson head coach Dabo Swinney to needle (intentionally or not) Alabama and South Carolina.
“That’s college football,” Swinney said. “The Citadel was probably Alabama’s toughest game last year until Georgia. I’m just telling the truth. The Citadel beat South Carolina.”
• But the Tua Tagovailoa that shredded the Gamecocks for five touchdown passes last week was different than the Tua that Clemson clobbered, 44-16, in the national championship game. He was healthy. He was making the most of offensive coordinator Steve Sarkisian’s run-pass option attack.
• Not that Tua can beat No. 1 Clemson this year; the Tigers’ multi-level, deep and fast defense looks as ferocious as ever.
• Coastal Carolina’s upset win at Kansas was enhanced by the Jayhawks’ upset win at Boston College.
• Big day at Texas A&M for Auburn freshman quarterback Bo Nix, who has already beaten Oregon. He lived in the Lowcountry from 2010 to 2012 when his father Patrick, a former Auburn quarterback, was a Charleston Southern wide receivers coach and offensive coordinator.
• Speaking of Charleston … Best name in the sport: Oklahoma’s leading wide receiver, Charleston Rambo.
With Clemson playing the 49ers — OK, the Charlotte 49ers — it’s an ideal week for Jim Stuckey to serve as the Pigskin Picks’ VIP picker. Stuckey, who has been at Kiawah Island Real Estate for 25 years, was a star defensive lineman at Clemson and on Bill Walsh’s first two San Francisco 49ers’ Super Bowl teams.
On to Week 4:
South Carolina at Missouri
Incredible stat: The Gamecocks since their last game vs. Missouri, that 37-35 Williams-Brice Stadium win in the rain on Oct. 6, 2018, have zero interceptions against FBS competition. That includes nine games and 310 pass attempts.
Jim Stuckey pick: Missouri
Gene Sapakoff pick: South Carolina
Charlotte at Clemson
Travis Haney, a former Post and Courier beat writer who covered South Carolina during the Steve Spurrier and Ray Tanner glory years, works for Charlotte head coach Will Healy as a football analyst specializing in social media.
Jim Stuckey pick: Clemson
Gene Sapakoff pick: Clemson
CSU at The Citadel
So nice that this rivalry is humming along. Now if the schools would just commit to annual basketball dates.
Jim Stuckey pick: The Citadel
Gene Sapakoff pick: The Citadel
Tennessee at Florida
Just when you thought the Feleipe Franks season-ending ankle injury would change the dynamic of the SEC East race for second place behind Georgia, along comes redshirt junior Kyle Trask to lead Florida to a 29-21 win at Kentucky with 19 points in the fourth quarter.
Jim Stuckey pick: Florida
Gene Sapakoff pick: Florida
Auburn at Texas A&M
The Aggies must contain Auburn running back JaTarvious Whitlow, averaging 113.7 yards per game and 5.3 yards per carry.
Jim Stuckey pick: Texas A&M
Gene Sapakoff pick: Auburn
Oregon at Stanford
The Pac-12 North has jumped both ACC divisions in power ratings. But the “Conference of Champions” champ might come from the Pac-12 South: Utah, which doesn’t play Oregon in the regular season.
Jim Stuckey pick: Oregon
Gene Sapakoff pick: Oregon
Louisville at Florida State
Not so long ago the great Lamar Jackson made the cover of Sports Illustrated for engineering an upset of the once-great Seminoles.
Jim Stuckey pick: Louisville
Gene Sapakoff pick: Florida State
Appalachian State at North Carolina
Late-game clock management has been a problem for the Tar Heels. They got away with it against South Carolina but not Wake Forest.
Jim Stuckey pick: North Carolina
Gene Sapakoff pick: North Carolina
Michigan at Wisconsin
Contrary to popular belief, Jim Harbaugh’s Wolverines can beat ranked opponents. They did so three weeks in a row in 2018 (Wisconsin, Michigan State, Penn State), which makes this a major revenge game for the Badgers.
Jim Stuckey pick: Wisconsin
Gene Sapakoff pick: Michigan
Notre Dame at Georgia
Good luck, Irish, trying to stop Georgia’s D’Andre Swift, averaging 9.4 yards per carry.
Jim Stuckey pick: Georgia
Gene Sapakoff pick: Georgia
VIP picker Stephen Garcia last week: 7-3
Gene Sapakoff last week: 7-3
Gene Sapakoff season record: 19-11
Follow Gene Sapakoff on Twitter @sapakoff