The college football season is starting to heat up as teams get deeper into their conference schedules, but figuring out which of the dozens of games to watch on Saturday is still tedious.
We’ve got you covered.
We are still three weeks away from the first meaningful ranking of the season, when the College Football Playoff committee will release their first top-25 of the season. But now is the time when teams can really start to put on a show and impress the committee members.
Here are the most important games to watch and where they can be found, starting with the earlier games.
No. 17 Iowa @ No. 20 Northwestern, noon, ABC or ESPN2 (regional coverage) — Iowa has quietly put together a strong 6-0 start and this is one of the only tough games remaining on a schedule that could see the Hawkeyes go 12-0 in the regular season. A spot in the Big Ten Championship game could also be on the line in this game as the winner will have a leg up on the Big Ten West.
West Virginia @ No. 2 Baylor, noon, FOX — Ohio State is still the top-ranked team in the AP Top 25, but that position is precarious at best. Ohio State has been tied or trailing in the second half of four of their six wins. The result is that six different teams received first-place votes this week, including Baylor. Two years ago, these two teams combined to score 115 points in a 73-42 Baylor win. Last year, West Virginia exacted revenge, accounting for Baylor’s only regular season loss.
No. 13 Ole Miss @ Memphis, noon, ABC or ESPN2 (regional coverage) — As recently as three weeks ago, many thought Ole Miss was the best team in the country. But then they got blown out by a Florida team that turns out to be pretty good. Ole Miss can still get in the playoff with one loss, but they can’t afford to slip up on the road against a Memphis bunch that is 5-0.
No. 10 Alabama @ No. 9 Texas A&M, 3:30, CBS — This could be a College Football Playoff elimination game. Alabama already has one loss and cannot afford another and nobody outside of College Station is a big believer in A&M yet. On the other hand, A&M, who was embarrassed by Alabama 59-0 last year, could impress the committee with a win here.
No. 7 Michigan State @ No. 12 Michigan, 3:30, ESPN —This game also has the feel of a Playoff elimination game, although more so for the Wolverines, and that is just the undercard for one of the bigger rivalries in college football. After stumbling to an underrated (at the time) Utah team in their season-opener, Michigan has rattled off five straight wins including shutouts in their last three. Meanwhile, Michigan State’s signature 3-point win over Oregon at home looks less impressive now that the Ducks are 3-3.
Vanderbilt @ South Carolina, 4:00, SEC Network —Two unranked teams going nowhere, but this is also South Carolina’s first game since the surprising resignation of Steve Spurrier. There are better games in this time slot, but it will be worth keeping an eye on this one to see how the team responds.
No. 7 Florida @ No. 6 Louisiana State, 7:00, ESPN — It has been a rough week for the Gators. They lost their starting quarterback after he tested positive for a performance-enhancing drug and another player was suspended indefinitely after allegedly firing a gun in the direction of his pregnant girlfriend. But the Gators are still 6-0 and the winner of this game will be a near-lock to be in the top-4 of the first Playoff ranking.
No. 3 Texas Christian @ Iowa State, 7:00, ESPN2 — TCU has averaged 56.6 points per game in their last five games. Iowa State gave up 66 points last weekend to Texas Tech. This game is interesting just to see how many point TCU can score. Is 70 out of the question?
Southern Cal @ No. 14 Notre Dame, 7:30, NBC —Notre Dame got some playoff buzz early on with what appeared to be an impressive win over Georgia Tech before we realised Tech wasn’t that good. The Irish then lost to Clemson. Beating USC isn’t going to do much to impress the committee, but it is still a good rivalry and a game Notre Dame can’t afford to lose.
Penn State @ No. 1 Ohio State, 8:00, ABC — This is a game Ohio State can very easily lose, but probably won’t, just like most of their games this season. However, it is still feels like a loss is coming and this could be the one.
Arizona State @ No. 4 Utah, 10:00, ESPN — After Ohio State, no team received more first-place votes this week than Utah, suggesting that some look at Utah as the real thing while others are still not even convinced they are a top-5 team. Utah is one team that that will probably be eliminated from the playoff with a single loss. But until that happens, they are very much in.
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