Transfer QB's: Out for revenge Against Former Teams With Playoff Ambitions?
By Joe Kerrigan
With many of the big upcoming college football games unfortunately being cancelled, there is still hope for great football this weekend. And potential upsets too, with Boston College hosting #2 ranked Notre Dame who recently came off one of their biggest wins in recent history, beating the then #1 ranked Clemson Tigers 47-40 in double OT, tarnishing a 39-game regular season winning streak.
Arkansas are travelling to #6 ranked Florida, who beat their arch-rivals, Georgia, and with the Razorbacks playing better than anyone expected, this game should be very exciting.
But one of the most interesting storylines in both of these games is the tale of the transfer quarterback, with both unranked teams starting a QB who once donned the colours of their Saturday opponents:
Boston College @ #2 Notre Dame: 15:30 ET / 20:30 GMT
The last time the Fighting Irish beat a no. 1 ranked team, which was in 1993 against Florida State, they were beaten a week later by none other than Boston College to ruin any championship playoff dreams. With Notre Dame (7-0) competing in the ACC for the 2020 season and being the only remaining undefeated team in that conference, the Boston College Eagles (5-3), after coming off a sneaky Syracuse victory, could prove to dash the Golden Domer’s chances at a playoff spot once again.
This will be a big game for Eagles QB, Phil Jurkovec, who transferred from Notre Dame in 2019 and will be looking to upset his former team. Jurkovec will be the key to an Eagles victory at the Notre Dame stadium and the Irish will stop at nothing to slow him down.
Now it should be said that the Eagles roster does not lack talent; Jurkovec has quality weapons in the passing game and running back David Bailey has started to show promise. The reality, however, is that BC has focused their roster around Jurkovec and if he isn’t playing at the top of his game, then BC’s chances will look slim and the Irish will dominate.
Jurkovec’s stats speak for themselves as he leads the ACC with 2,083 passing yards. He’s fourth with 15 passing touchdowns, and has an additional three more on the ground. He also leads the ACC in pass attempts (277) and pass completions (172).
Through eight games with the Eagles, Jurkovec has produced 74% of Boston College’s total offensive yards, and a huge 72% of it’s touchdowns. The only Power 5 quarterback above him is Florida’s Kyle Trask, and he is arguably the top contender for the Heisman Trophy at this point in the season.
Boston College haven’t beaten Notre Dame in their last six meetings since 2008, where BC handed the Irish a cold 17-0 thumping. Will Saturday prove to be Notre Dame’s downfall? Again?
Arkansas @ #6 Florida: 19:00 ET / 00:00 GMT
The Florida Gators (4-1) have just come off an exhausting, hard fought victory to beat rivals Georgia, but could be caught ‘sleeping’ against the Arkansas Razorbacks (3-3), who are playing better than anyone could have predicted.
Shortened seasons means games are now so much more important, with losses being even more impactful than wins. A loss here could potentially spell disaster for Florida’s SEC dreams and playoff chances.
Kyle Trask continues to prove his Heisman credentials, with a stellar 474 yard and 4 touchdown game last week against Georgia. And whilst the Gators will be basking in the glow of their incredible victory, they will need to give Arkansas the attention they deserve, with the Razorbacks laser focused on Saturdays game at the Ben Hill Griffin Stadium.
The huge victory, however, came at a severe cost. The Gator’s 4-star tight end Kyle Pitts, who has caught a third of Trask’s 22 touchdown passes this season, was knocked out of the game in the second quarter after taking a vicious hit to the head. His status is currently questionable with a concussion and his participation in Saturday’s game is looking unlikely.
However, Arkansas aren’t without their own issues, with recent news revealing a major implication for the Razorbacks: they could be without their head coach, Sam Pittman, as he tested positive for COVID-19 after a round of Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) testing within the Arkansas athletic department.
Defensive Coordinator Barry Odom, a former coach at Missouri, will serve as the interim coach during Pittman’s isolation.
Another storyline to watch for in Saturday’s matchup is quarterback Feleipe Franks, who returns to Gainesville this week for the first time since transferring from Florida during the offseason. The senior, who lost his starting job to Kyle Trask after a horrific, season ending ankle injury last year, will be looking to prove himself and show the Gators what could have been.
He is already mirroring his previous performances for the Gators in 2018 where he threw 24 touchdowns and just six interceptions. Last week, Franks completed 18 of 25 passes for 215 yards and three touchdowns in a 24-13 win over the Tennessee Volunteers.
Whilst the Swamp hasn’t been kind to Arkansas in recent history with the Razorbacks losing nine of their last ten games against Florida, Franks will be hoping to put an end to this streak and shock Florida this weekend.