For AA teams in south Georgia, this week presents something to watch that's bigger than high school football: Hurricane Matthew. Savannah looks to suffer the most of any Peach State school from Matthew, but he won't affect the top-ranked Benedictine Cadets because they - along with all of Region 2 - are on bye this week.
No. 3 Jefferson County had its Region 4 game at Harlem moved up a day to Thursday at 7 p.m. because of Matthew. The Warriors are 6-0 and 3-0 in league play, while Harlem is 2-4 and 1-2.
Weather aside, almost half of AA's ranked teams have the week off, with No. 10 Heard County enjoying a second consecutive week of rest.
For the remainder of AA, football plays on. And for the top 10 teams with a game on Friday, a winning opportunity awaits. Only one ranked team - the No. 5 Callaway Cavaliers - plays an opponent with a winning record. The Cavs (5-0) travel to play the Lamar County Trojans (3-2) in Region 5 opener for both schools. Week 8 Maxwell Projections call for a 21-point Callaway victory, so there's little hope for a competitive game.
Maxwell does project one game involving a ranked team to be close: the Dodge County Indians (2-4, 1-1 Region 3) at the No. 7 Dublin Fighting Irish (6-0, 2-0). Despite the win-loss record disparity, the Fighting Irish are only a seven-point favorite. Remember, Dodge County began the season ranked. The Indians even clung to its spot in the top 10 despite a losing record before mercifully exiting following a loss to a winless Class A school.
The Indians and Fighting Irish last played in 2013, when the Indians won 14-7. In 2012, they beat Dublin 61-7, which ended an eight-game Fighting Irish win streak in the series. Even if the Indians win this week, it's highly unlikely they'll re-enter the rankings. On the flip side, there's a strong probability Dublin exits the rankings with a loss.
Aside from Dodge County-Dublin, Maxwell Projections have all other games involving AA's ranked teams to be blowouts. No. 2 Fitzgerald (4-1) is a 41-point favorite over Albany (0-5) in the Region 1 opener for both teams. Jefferson County is a 37-point favorite over Harlem and No. 5 Rabun County (4-0, 1-0 R8) is projected to beat Putnam County (1-5, 1-1) by the same amount. In Region 1, No. 6 Brooks County (4-1) makes their league debut against Early County (0-5-1, 0-1) and are a 35-point favorite.
So while miserable weather in the south, four teams with a bye and a number of bad matchups make Week 8 the least anticipated week of the season to date, with an upset or two it could make for an epic Saturday morning recap.
AA ranked teams with a bye this week: No. 1 Benedictine; No. 8 Vidalia; No. 9 Screven County; No. 10 Heard County.
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