NOTE: CollegeFootballPoll.com's Dave Congrove is a nominating member for the Outland Trophy, presented by the National Foundation for Infectious Diseases. The Outland Trophy is considered to be the Heisman equivalant for those who strive to be the nation’s best interior lineman on offense or defense. Semifinalists for the 2019 Outland Trophy will be announced on Wed., Nov. 20 and the three finalists will be revealed on Tues., Nov. 26.
Our weekly Outland Trophy sojourn takes us to Tallahassee for an intense rivalry game that grabs attention because of its history more than the teams’ records. And we head to Seattle where Utah visits Washington in a rematch of last year's PAC-12 Championship Game pairing.
Miami (4-4) at Florida State (4-4), 3:30 p.m. ET Saturday on ABC: This intense rivalry game grabs attention because of its history more than the teams’ records - at least for this year. Miami is coming off a last-minute win at Pitt and wants to get above .500 for the first time this season. FSU needs to win to keep streaking into the lightest part of its schedule following a 35-17 win over Syracuse last week.
This is a potential highlight game for Florida State defensive tackle Marvin Wilson (#21, Jr., Houston, Texas), who is having an All-America-caliber season. FSU’s defensive captain will face Miami’s very young offensive front where junior left guard and fellow Watch List member Navaughn Donaldson (#55, Jr., Miami, Fla.) is leading a group with two sophomores and two freshmen.
FSU’s defensive front is playing at its best right now, but catches Miami’s offensive line coming off its best game as well.
Wilson has 41 tackles to lead the ACC among defensive linemen to go with 7.5 tackles for loss and 5.0 sacks. He is one of three defensive tackles in the nation and the only ACC member with multiple 3.0 TFL games this season. Against Louisville on Sept. 21, Wilson led FSU with a career-high 10 tackles, including a career-high 3.5 TFL’s and 2.0 sacks. His 3.5 TFL were the most in a game for an FSU player since 2017. School research revealed Wilson was the only Power 5 player since at least 2000 to have at least 10 tackles, 3.5 tackles for loss, 2.0 sacks and a fumble recovery in the same game.
FSU’s sack leader (5.0), the Wilson is rated as the No. 3 defensive tackle for the 2020 NFL Draft by ESPN’s Mel Kiper Jr. He is one of 14 Seminoles who have had at least one sack. Against Syracuse, Wilson (2.0 sacks) led the defense to a season-high 7.0 sacks and 12 tackles for loss, the most sacks for FSU since they had eight at Syracuse in 2016. The 12 TFL’s were a season high.
Miami’s offensive line is coming off an outstanding game at Pitt where Donaldson led one of the country’s youngest lines to contain the Panthers’ fierce pass rush. Pitt entered the game averaging an FBS-best 5.14 sacks per game but managed only a season-low two against the Hurricanes. Donaldson, a junior, is the senior member of the line that has true freshmen (Zion Nelson and Jakai Clark) at left tackle and right guard, respectively, and sophomores at center (Corey Gaynor) and right tackle (DJ Scaife).
The young line’s improvement is shown by the rushing attack the past two weeks. When starting running back DeeJay Dallas left with an injury against Georgia Tech on Oct. 19, Cam’Ron Harris stepped in and had a career day with 136 yards on 18 carries and a receiving touchdown. Harris’ 136 yards (7.56 ypc) were the most by a Miami back since Travis Homer rushed for 168 against Pitt in 2017.
Odds are this game will be close – Miami has played seven one-possession games this season, tied for most in all of FBS, and three of those have come down to the final play. The Hurricanes’ win at Pitt was Manny Diaz’s first road win as the head coach. K.J. Osborn caught the game-winning touchdown from QB Jarren Williams with less than a minute remaining and Miami’s defense held Pitt to just four field goals. In its last trip to Doak Campbell Stadium in 2017, a last-minute touchdown pass from QB Malik Rosier to WR Darrell Langham snapped Miami’s seven-game losing streak to Florida State in a thrilling 24-20 victory.
Utah (7-1) at Washington (5-3), 4:00 p.m. ET Saturday on FOX: This is our first mention of Utah in this space this season as the Utes visit the Huskies for a rematch of last year’s PAC-12 Championship Game pairing. Washington won that game 10-3 after also defeating Utah 21-7 in the regular season.
Our two Watch List members from the Utes – senior defensive tackles Leki Fotu (#99, Sr., West Valley City, Utah) and John Penisini (#52, Sr., West Jordan, Utah) form the interior of the Utes’ strongest position group on the defensive line. Utah currently leads the nation in rushing defense (56.4 yards per game) and has held seven of its eight opponents under 100 yards rushing this season.
Fotu, a first-team All-Pac-12 selection least season, is heading that direction again with 7.0 tackles for loss that are tied for eighth in the Pac-12 and second on the team. He has 18 tackles and had a season-high four against BYU and Arizona State. Penisini has played in 34 career games with 16 starts. He has 21 tackles on the season with 4.0 TFL and 1.0 sacks. He had a season-high six tackles and a pass breakup against Arizona State.
Washington has an experienced offensive line led by center Nick Harris (#56, Sr., Inglewood, Calif.) and left tackle Trey Adams (#72, Sr., Wenatchee, Wash.) Harris leads the blocking for an offense averaging 422.0 yards per game and has started at center in 15 of the last 17, missing only the Arizona game this season. The Huskies have been especially strong on the short field with a .910 success rate in red-zone offense (scoring in 32 of 35 trips) that is fourth in the Pac-12 and 23rd nationally. A fast start is essential for Washington; through seven games, UW has outscored its opponents 97-13 in the first quarter.
Adams, a second-team FWAA All-American in 2016, has returned to form after missing the final four games of 2018.