My current job lets me travel a bunch. In fact, I’m on a plane right now as I write this.
While I’m not supremely fond of flying or sleeping on hotel beds, I do enjoy the sights and sounds of unfamiliar places. But I especially enjoy seeing each new place’s take on the humblest of food items: the sandwich.
(“Why is this guy talking about sandwiches in a college football article?” Hang in there for the punchline.)
A sandwich is simply “two thin pieces of bread, usually buttered, with a thin layer of meat, cheese, or savory mixture spread between them.” There are thus an almost infinite number of sandwich variations. Heck, some people think quesadillas and hot dogs are actually sandwiches! These people (including the California legislature, who termed hot dogs “sandwiches” under their tax law) are insane. But my larger point is this: a lot of things are sandwiches! Including this college football weekend. Kind of.
Let the Morning and Evening slates function as bread: less going on, but still essential to the whole dish. And in between? Well, if you had one adjective to describe this Afternoon spread, you couldn’t do much better than “savory.”
Below, I’ll play the role of sandwich artist, whipping up the best possible Saturday concoction I can. Here’s the best games of the day, laid out buffet-style.
If you want to sample more of my delicious football content, feel free to follow me on Twitter. It’s the only place to find the data-driven, super-accurate College Football Playoff Eliminator and the highly-subjective, super-fun Tier Rankings (every Sunday and Tuesday, respectively).
We only have two rules in this metaphorical restaurant. One: If your team is playing, they go on the Big Screen. And two: All game times are in CST, which is (say it with me now) God’s Time Zone.
Big Screen: Penn State vs. Minnesota (11a, ABC) is a lie detector masquerading as 60 minutes of football. Are the Nittany Lions for real? Do they have a shot to knock off Ohio State, recently christened #1 in the nation by a silly poll that doesn’t mean anything? PJ Fleck’s Gophers have been rowing the boat along all year, churning out supremely efficient victories over teams they should beat. What happens when they meet someone who’s (record-wise) on their level?
Second Screen: Baylor vs. TCU (11a, FS1) will be chippy (because rivalry) and potentially intriguing. The Bears are really hard to rank right now. They’re undefeated, but a few of those wins have been close, and their offense has struggled. But the hapless Horned Frogs have been unable to bottle up even mildly competent offensive attacks, and their QB Max Duggan will be playing lame.
Big Screen: Already christened the Game Of The Century, LSU vs. Alabama (2:30p, CBS) will almost inevitably turn out a classic. Bama’s weakness has always been mobile QBs who run an efficient spread paired with a competent D. The Tigers bring that and more to bear. But if there’s a team in college football that should never be counted out, it’s the Tide. Nick Saban does not suffer disrespect lightly. And he may feel his team’s being underrated in light of star QB Tua Tagovailoa’s game-time-decision status.
Second Screen: Kansas State vs. Texas (2:30p, ESPN) has an astonishing line, with the unranked Longhorns favored by a *touchdown* against the Wildcats. That’s just disrespectful on its face to Kansas State’s fantastic season so far. But it may be accurate if KSU can’t take advantage of a lackluster Texas defense. (This gets the Second Screen spot over the Hawkeye/Badger tilt on FOX because, come on, that game will be gross.)
Watch the Score: Iowa vs. Wisconsin (3p, FOX), Wake Forest vs. Virginia Tech (2:30p, ACCN), USC vs. Arizona State (2:30p, ABC)
Big Screen: Oklahoma vs. Iowa State (7p, FOX) gets this slot. I’ve never been a big believer in Brock Purdy. I’m not sure this is the Cyclones’ year for top-of-the-mountain glory. But ISU has a history of knocking out about one team they really shouldn’t every year. Sure, it’s likelier to happen when Texas stumbles into Ames next week. But if OU plays sloppy and lets their emotions run away with them after their recent unpleasantness with Kansas State, we could see an upset.
Second Screen: Appalachian State vs. South Carolina (6p, ESPN2) is another matchup with a simply disrespectful line. App State still might snag the Group of 5 New Year’s Six bowl berth, and they’ve dunked on lower-tier competition. Vegas sees an SEC team opposing them and immediately favors Muschamp’s boys, though. So the line alone warrants scrutiny. It’ll almost certainly feature more points than Georgia/Mizzou, and we know how that game’s gonna go already. So I’d recommend this one instead.
Watch the Score: Georgia vs. Mizzou (6p, ESPN), Washington State vs. Cal (6p, PAC12N)
There’s your savory Saturday! Don’t forget to follow me @WatchingCFB on Twitter, and happy watching!