I don’t want to alarm you, but I’m a biiiiiiiiiiit out on a limb this week.
There are no matchups that I can solidly point to as must-see TV. Sure, there’s a bunch – and I mean a bunch – of games that could turn into incredible, entertaining, close contests. But because they’re all neck-and-neck in terms of quality, it was very hard to pick the best game for each timeslot.
Basically, you should take my recommendations this week with a larger grain of salt than usual.
But I’m getting ahead of myself (especially if you’re new around here)! Below, I’ll help you sort through the weekend’s college football offering as best I can by recommending which games should be on your Big Screen, your trusty but smaller Second Screen, and your scoreboard app of choice.
Three caveats. First, especially this week, my recommendations will likely change and shift throughout your gameday, based mostly on how these games are going. To keep up to date, follow me on Twitter at @WatchingCFB, and keep a weather eye on your trusty aforementioned score-watching widget. Second, if your team is on, they go on the Big Screen. And lastly, all times are in God’s Time Zone (CST).
Let’s get started a tad earlier than usual, with…
The evening’s got a solid doubleheader, with North Carolina vs. Wake Forest (5:30p, ESPN) followed by Washington State vs. Houston (8:15p, ESPN). The first tilt’s a chance to see whether Mack Brown can continue his improbable winning streak. The second is the Cougs’ game to lose, but will probably have an obscene amount of points, so that’s fun.
Big Screen: Ohio State vs. Indiana (11a, FOX) gets the nod, because Ryan Day’s Buckeyes have handled their out-of-conference matchups very well. Indiana’s 2-0 as well, but the Hoosiers had a tough time with lowly Ball State in Week 1. This is a likely The Ohio State University win, but Indiana seems to cause havoc in at least one game they shouldn’t every year. This could be it.
Second Screen: Think I’ll go with another upset-minded military academy running the triple option! Air Force vs. Colorado (12p, PAC12N) is an absolute nightmare for the Buffs, who just survived an emotional scare against the Huskers. When will Power 5 teams learn not to schedule the academies?!?
Watch the Score: Pitt vs. Penn State (11a, ABC), Kansas State vs. Mississippi State (11a, ESPN), Maryland vs. Temple (11a, CBSSN)
Big Screen: Gimme USC vs. BYU (2:30p, ABC), a pick ’em on paper if there ever was one. BYU has looked capable and dangerous so far, a tough combination for a freshman QB and mistake-prone Trojan squad. But hey, Kedon Slovis looked fine last week against Stanford! Let’s see if his luck (and Clay Helton’s) holds out.
Second Screen: Alabama vs. South Carolina (2:30p, CBS) should be your first chance to see the Tide take on a semi-respectable opponent, but they should still obliterate Muschamp’s reeling Gamecocks. If you wanted to switch over to FS1 after Bama’s inevitably up by three touchdowns and take in the so-bad-it’s-good corn-fed glory that is always Iowa-Iowa State, be my guest. Or hey, Sparty vs. Herm Edwards’ boys should be fun. Or the East Coast-West Coast tilt on ESPN. What I’m saying is that all the games I just listed are kind of OK and you should just pick one. The rest are below.
Watch the Score: Iowa vs. Iowa State (3p, FS1), Arizona State vs. Michigan State (3p, FOX), Stanford vs. UCF (2:30p, ESPN)
Big Screen: I can hear the knives sharpening in Death Valley as I pick Florida vs. Kentucky (6p, ESPN). So why have I dishonored Clemson so? REVENGE. Many of the Gators remember last year, as the Wildcats catapulted themselves onto the national stage by gutting them in the Swamp, fueled by the frenetic Benny Snell. But Florida probably senses blood in the water this year: Snell’s gone, and Kentucky’s playing with their backup QB. It may be payback time.
Second Screen: Fine, Clemson vs. Syracuse (6:30p, ABC), I’ll put you here. But my confidence in Dino Babers’ Orange has taken a serious hit over the past two weeks. I pinpointed this game in my ACC Preview as a pivotal early season matchup. How wrong I was. That’s not to say this shouldn’t be an entertaining game. With two high-powered offenses, it may well be! But Clemson’s defense is in a different galaxy than Syracuse’s. The Orange will crumple. It’s just a matter of how fast.
Watch the Score: Florida State vs. Virginia (6:30p, ACCN), Hawaii vs. Washington (6:30p, PAC12N), TCU vs. Purdue (6:30p, BTN)
Big Screen: Those who’ve followed this series for a while will know that I love a good pointsplosion. Texas Tech vs. Arizona (9:30p, ESPN) promises one. I mean, the Wildcats gave up 41 to Northern Arizona last week. I didn’t even know there was a Northern Arizona. And remind me, when was the last time Texas Tech could play defense? You see what I’m getting at. Embrace the hilarity and drift off to the sweet sounds of #Pac12AfterDark.
That’s it! Remember, you can follow me at @WatchingCFB to stay up to date and participate in some fun Twitter threads, like #OverreactionSunday. And next week, I’ll be introducing a college football rankings system to beat all others! More details to come very soon.