Clemson has had Virginia Tech's number, and everyone else's too


7 p.m. (Ch. 5)

Virginia Tech can make a strong case that it is an Atlantic Coast Conference title contender when the Hokies play host to Clemson on Saturday night.

The game is a rematch of last year's ACC title game, won by the Tigers 42-35, and while Clemson went on to win the national championship, the Hokies were left to stew over coming up just short. Virginia Tech had the ball at the Tigers 23-yard line late in the game before a fourth-down interception ended their hopes of a tying, or winning, touchdown.

The Hokies, unbeaten in nonconference play for the first time since 2011, are eager to see how they measure up this year.

"They have a new team. We have a new team," Hokies wide receiver Cam Phillips said. "It's a different year, but I'm really excited for Saturday for those guys to come in here and for them to get the chance to play us."

Clemson has won its past four meetings with the Hokies and has already notched a pair of impressive victories this season, beating No. 13 Auburn 14-6 and No. 17 Louisville 47-21.

The Hokies opened the season with a 31-24 victory against No. 23 West Virginia, and have outscored their next three opponents 129-17.

"Auburn and Louisville were really, really good teams," Tigers receiver Hunter Renfrow said. "We feel like we're battle tested and we have some confidence. This is like our third prime-time game in five weeks.

"For us, it's just another game."

The victory at Louisville, coach Dabo Swinney said, was a good primer for playing at Lane Stadium.

"Anytime you can draw from experience, it can kind of give you an understanding of what to expect," Swinney said. "When you take a team to Louisville early in the season, bunch of new guys that haven't played on the road, that's really good experience."


11 a.m. (Ch. 5)

The Badgers, who breezed through nonconference play, should get their first real test against a team that always seems to give them trouble. Northwestern has won six of the past 11 meetings, including a 13-7 victory in the Wildcats' most recent visit to Madison in 2015, when Wisconsin receiver Jazz Peavy's 1-yard touchdown catch with 1:47 left was negated on review. Northwestern could make a statement that its lackluster start to the season was an aberration.


3 p.m. (Ch. 9)

These schools play for the first time since the 2015 Big Ten title game, when Michigan State won on a last-minute touchdown and earned a spot in the national semifinals. The Spartans followed that by going 3-9 last year and are trying to re-establish themselves as a contender, but they lost 38-18 to Notre Dame last week. Iowa lost 21-19 at home to Penn State on a touchdown as time expired. Despite the close score, the Hawkeyes were outgained 579-273.

No. 24 MISSISSIPPI ST. (3-1) AT NO. 15 AUBURN (3-1)

5 p.m. (ESPN)

The winner of this game controls its own fate in the SEC West and emerges as the biggest division challenger to No. 1 Alabama. Auburn ranks fourth nationally in total defense and seventh in scoring defense, and on offense the Tigers have RBs Kamryn Pettway and Kerryon Johnson both available for the first time this season. Led by dual-threat QB Nick Fitzgerald, Mississippi State has the SEC's No. 2 run offense and No. 3 scoring offense.


2:30 p.m. (Ch. 4)

Undefeated Georgia is seeking to end a two-game skid in this annual series. Nick Chubb, the leader of the Bulldogs' deep contingent of running backs, has 3,795 career yards to rank fifth among active FBS players and is averaging 6.3 yards per carry this year. If Tennessee opens its SEC schedule with losses to division rivals Florida and Georgia, it's hard to imagine the Volunteers working their way back into East title contention.