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Sports >  NCAA football

College football Week 6 preview: Kiffin v. Saban; King v. Lawrence; Heels v. Hokies

UPDATED: Fri., Oct. 9, 2020

Mississippi head coach Lane Kiffin watches on from the sideline during the first half of an NCAA college football game Florida on Saturday, Sept. 26, 2020, in Oxford, Miss.  (Associated Press)
Mississippi head coach Lane Kiffin watches on from the sideline during the first half of an NCAA college football game Florida on Saturday, Sept. 26, 2020, in Oxford, Miss. (Associated Press)
By Ralph D. Russo Associated Press

Lane Kiffin gets the chance to snap one of the more interesting streaks in college football.

The new Mississippi coach faces his old boss, Nick Saban, when the Rebels take on No. 2 Alabama on Saturday in Oxford. Saban last week improved to 20-0 when facing teams led by one of his former assistant coaches. The Crimson Tide hammered Jimbo Fisher’s Texas A&M team.

Kiffin worked as offensive coordinator for Saban from 2014-16, helping the Crimson Tide win a national title. Fittingly for a coach who has had a volatile career, Kiffin’s time with the Tide ended the week before another national championship.

Despite the awkward departure, Kiffin had a little fun with Saban this week, telling the “Dan Patrick Show” he didn’t think the “elderly” 68-year-old coach could cover him one-on-one.

Saban said Kiffin was probably right.

“I guess what I would ask is, ‘When he’s my age, what’s he going to do?’ ” Saban told reporters. “I don’t know, it’s a little bit of a disadvantage to be my age and have had a hip replacement, but I still pride myself on my ability to cover. I just don’t think I can cover him.”

On the field, Alabama-Ole Miss has a chance to be a fun matchup between two high-scoring teams, with an interesting side story. It is hardly the marquee event on a schedule that includes four game matching ranked teams – two in the Southeastern Conference and two in the Atlantic Coast Conference.

Plus, a Red River Showdown heavy on desperation.

Best game

No. 19 Virginia Tech at No. 8 North Carolina.

There are sexier games on the schedule, most notably No. 7 Miami at No. 1 Clemson, but Hokies-Heels is probably the best bet to provide four quarters of competitive football.

The Tar Heels are trying to start 3-0 for the first time since 2011. The Hokies are 2-0, despite playing each of their games with a thin roster because of COVID-19 issues. Virginia Tech has yet to have quarterback Hendon Hooker or defensive coordinator Justin Hamilton participate on game day, and last week beat Duke without its top four cornerbacks.

That would be less than ideal against North Carolina quarterback Sam Howell and talented receivers Dyami Brown and Dazz Newsome.

Virginia Tech running back Khalil Herbert, a transfer from Kansas, is coming off a school-record 357 all-purpose yards against Duke.

The Hokies beat the Tar Heels in six overtimes last season.

Heisman watch

Miami quarterback D’Eriq King is the pick here for the second time in three weeks, but this time it’s serious.

The Hurricanes will try to prove themselves worthy Atlantic Coast Conference contenders against the league’s five-time champion, Clemson.

King has completed 67% of his passes and accounted for seven touchdowns without an interception in an offense that can highlight his arm or his legs.

If the senior King can lead Miami to an upset against the No. 1 team in the country – and against Tigers quarterback Trevor Lawrence, the presumptive Heisman favorite – it could vault him to the top of the leaderboards.

Numbers to know

0-3 – Oklahoma has lost two straight games and goes into its game against Texas trying to avoid starting 0-3 in the Big 12 for the first time since 1998. The Longhorns also lost last week, making this the first Red River Showdown with both teams coming off a loss since 2014.

29.25 – Yards per reception for Kansas State running back Deuce Vaughn. Yes, running back. The 5-foot-5, 168-pound freshman has eight catches for 234 yards. The Wildcats play at TCU.

41-9 – Average score in Georgia’s three-game winning streak against Tennessee. The No. 14 Volunteers, riding an eight-game winning streak, look to make a statement against the third-ranked Bulldogs in Athens.

371.4 – No. 15 BYU’s yardage differential through three games, best in the nation by far. The Cougars haven’t played the best competition, but they led the nation in total offense (585.7) and total defense (214.3). BYU hosts UTSA on Saturday.

Hot seat

Interesting week for Texas A&M coach Jimbo Fisher. No. 4 Florida comes to College Station to face the 21st-ranked Aggies.

A&M didn’t put up much of a fight against No. 2 Alabama last week, but this seems like a more realistic measuring stick for Fisher’s rebuild.

He is in Season 3 of a 10-year contract. Florida’s Dan Mullen is in Season 3 with the Gators, who look like legit contenders in the SEC East. Expecting a signature victory for Fisher against Florida doesn’t seem like too much to ask.

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