Nebraska at Illinois, Friday 8 p.m., FS1
Kneeling for the pledge has been in the national spotlight long before Trump publicly criticized it a year ago. In fact, last year, 3 Nebraska football players chose to kneel before their game. One player who did so, Michael Rose-Ivey, received messages saying that “since we didn’t want to stand before the anthem, we should be hung before the anthem.” When a university regent criticized the players, implying that they should be removed from the team and have their scholarships revoked, Nebraska head coach Mike Riley responded in kind: “I have complete confidence in what I believe in and how I handled it within this team. It was the right thing to do – because it’s their right.”
Mike Riley, for all of the amazing work he has done off the field, has been unable to find similar success on it. His team has lost to a MAC school for the first time in their history earlier this season. The athletic director who hired him has already been removed. This is probably Mike Riley’s last year as head coach; if he loses at Illinois, he may not even stay on for the rest of the season. Hopefully, whoever replaces him will have the same character.
Miami at Duke, Friday 7 p.m., ESPN
The battle for the Coastal division continues. Miami, the division favorite, faces off against Duke, a team with a solid chance of usurping the title. Last week, Miami looked solid against Toledo, and Duke managed to defeat UNC. Whoever wins here will likely have only Virginia Tech as their last major roadblock on the way to the ACC championship game.
Florida State at Wake Forest, Saturday 3:30 p.m., ABC
FSU came into the season with a top 3 ranking and national title aspirations, but after an opening loss to Alabama, an injury to their starting quarterback, and a paltry performance against NC State last week, the Seminoles have swiftly slid out of the top 25 for the first time since 2011, the same year, coincidentally, they last lost to Wake Forest. The Demon Deacons, for their part, enter the game undefeated, having mopped the floor with milquetoast opponents Presbyterian and Utah State, as well as vanquishing conference rival Boston College and escaping from last week’s showdown against Appalachian State with a one-point victory. Yet despite their 4-0 record, they remain the underdog to 0-2 Florida State in a matchup which may not be compelling enough to watch in its entirety, but is perhaps sufficiently interesting to warrant a glance at the scoreboard tracker during a Saturday-afternoon study break.
– Eric Martinez, 2L
Ole Miss at Alabama, Saturday 9 p.m., ESPN
For years, the Ole Miss game was consistently the most entertaining one on Alabama’s schedule. The mere fact that they won relatively often in recent years sets it a cut above the vast majority of other games (only two other teams in the SEC, LSU and Auburn, have better records). But more than that, Ole Miss’s ability to get a bizarrely high number of turnovers and their uptempo spread offense would consistently punch above their weight against Alabama. Ole Miss, a team which has been near the bottom of the SEC West for about 50 years prior, managed what very few others could.
This year will be different, however. Ole Miss fired their head coach, Hugh Freeze, after he used his work phone to make calls to an escort service. They lost to Cal already. However, if there is a silver lining, it is in their quarterback, Shea Patterson, who was one of the top recruits in his year. They probably won’t win, but at least it is likely to be an entertaining loss.