This college football weekend is like a Monday.
That may seem like a very silly thing to say. My practical, serious readers (who also seem to make up most of the commentariat) will probably retort, “No, only Monday is like Monday! This is a weekend! Get a calendar!”
What I mean is that last week produced some of the best regular season football in some time. Just concentrated glory from pretty much beginning to end. And this weekend’s a lot less exciting – a bunch of clashes that’ll probably be fine but could turn into blowouts. It might be a real slog.
Oh sure, the week has its bright spots, and I’ll be sure to highlight them! That is, after all, the point of this here column: to sort the good (or even mediocre) games from the bad every weekend.
If you want my thoughts in real time, though, head over to the Twitter machine and follow @WatchingCFB. Not only do I live tweet the games all Saturday long, I post my hottest takes (and invite you to post yours) on #OverreactionSunday. And now every Tuesday, exclusively on Twitter, I’ll be posting updated versions of my College Football Tier Rankings, separating the contenders from the pretenders.
Also, before we get started, feel free to ignore my recommendations as to what you should watch if your team’s on. Just put ‘em up on the Big Screen and rearrange your trusty Second Screen and score-watching widget accordingly. And all times below are in God’s Time Zone (CST).
We’re publishing this column on Friday morning because yet again some of the weekend’s best football comes a day early. Penn State vs. Maryland (7p, FS1) is a good start to your evening, with two Big Ten heavyweights banging heads. Maryland has been September’s flavor of the month, but Penn State’s been taking care of business and comes off a bye. Then, a game that gained a ton of significance after the first four weeks: Arizona State vs. Cal (9:30p, ESPN). The Golden Bears, hilariously, may be the PAC-12’s best chance at the Playoff. But Herm Edwards is a wily Sun Devil. He’d probably enjoy ruining Cal’s fifteen minutes of fame.
Big Screen: The pickings are slim, but Oklahoma vs. Texas Tech (11a, FOX) should at least produce points! Even if they only come from the Sooners! Tech’s star QB Alan Bowman’s likely out with a shoulder injury, so that dampens any prospects of a shootout. And there’s not much else here, so if you need to, sleep in this Saturday! The college football deities have deigned to grant you permission with this yucky noon slate.
Big Screen: USC vs. Washington (2:30p, FOX) is a worthwhile competition between two semi-flawed PAC-12 teams. Is USC’s third-stringer as good as he appeared last week? He’ll need to be. Washington has a stout overall D and an offensive unit that can keep up with the Trojans.
Second Screen: Look, you can watch the Irish dunk on a mediocre ACC team (but I repeat myself) on almost any Saturday. Iowa State vs. Baylor (2:30p, ESPN) features two evenly matched Big 12 teams with high aspirations and higher-powered offenses. We go for entertainment here, and this will be entertaining.
Watch the Score: Virginia vs. Notre Dame (2:30p, NBC), Clemson vs. North Carolina (2:30p, ABC), Indiana vs. Michigan State (2:30p, BTN)
Big Screen: Ohio State vs. Nebraska (6:30p, ABC) will be interesting, if only because Nebraska’s D has shown promise stopping the short-gain-based offense the Buckeyes run. Though I’m not optimistic about their overall chances of winning. Ohio State has been an indomitable force all year.
Second Screen: This Mississippi State vs. Auburn (6p, ESPN) clash will probably be OK. Longtime readers will know I don’t really consider Auburn a top-tier SEC team, despite their victories over Oregon and A&M. That’s because I don’t consider either of those teams to be top-tier either. My mind could easily be changed by a solid Tiger win over the Bulldogs. The game’s at Jordan-Hare, far away from Starkville and MSU’s cowbell-clanging home crowd, so you’d assume Auburn has a sizable advantage.
Watch the Score: Florida State vs. NC State (6:30p, ACCN), Kansas State vs. Oklahoma State (6p, ESPN+)
Big Screen:Washington State vs. Utah (9p, FS1) is a textbook example of a letdown spot. The Cougars need to recover from *that game* last week, but they’ve got the Utes in their way. And the Utes are a good team. Historical trends probably favor Utah here.
Second Screen: After last week, this previously blah contest earns a place here. UCLA vs. Arizona (9:30p, ESPN) should tell us whether the Bruins figured something out in last week’s astounding comeback against Wazzu, or whether that late-game performance was the exception that proves the rule.
That’s your weekend! Follow me on Twitter and I’ll keep you up to date. Happy watching!