Let’s get to our three games, with varying reasons to watch them.
No. 23 USF -7 at Tulsa (61 1⁄2 ) 6:00 ESPN — We begin with the undefeated, and surprisingly defense-first USF Bulls. Like Cincinnati they’re just sitting back and racking up the wins. This game won’t be as good as the other two on the menu, but former Alabama journeyman QB Blake Barnett has settled in at USF and is thriving in Tampa. He’s completed 66% of his passes, with 9 touchdowns and has added over 200 yards and 4 more scores on the ground. Good on him. And keep an eye on this team down the road in general. After last year’s high-flying bunch, one that got lit up by Memphis and UCF, Charlie Strong has rebuilt South Florida, and his physical imprimatur is being stamped all over the Bulls.
Besides, you have two hours to kill until the next one begins — three, if you’re holding out for P5 action.
Air Force at San Diego State -11 1⁄2 (43.5) 8:00 CBSSN — The Falcons are always such a tough team to figure out. A lot of the service academies are. But, this version is especially enigmatic: They’ll lose at home to Nevada and then blow out Navy the next week. They lose the mile-high home field advantage this week as they travel to face the second-nastiest team in the Mountain: The big bad Aztecs of San Diego State. SDSU will play it close to the vest, neither being blown out nor blowing anyone else out. That’s just who they are. And the defensive front seven is just filthy. But, coming off a huge emotional win in Boise, and on a short week too, the triple option could be a tough out. This one may be a lot of fun if you like defense and RTBD.
Arizona + 13 1⁄2 at Utah (50 1⁄2 ) 9:00 ESPN — If you think Air Force is tough to figure out, try to determine what the Wildcats are doing down in Tuscson. After a few weeks of terrible offense and defense, both seem to be on the upswing. Arizona is now 2-1 in the Pac 12, with the sole loss being a 4-point home nail-biter to USC, and picking up a very nice home win over Cal last week (we don’t count Oregon State as a P12 win). The Utes are just as enigmatic. They looked like lifeless cadavers going 0-for-the-state-of-Washington, then they hit the road and blast Stanford. The Utes need this one a bunch, sitting at 1-2 in the P12. If last week’s Utah shows up, they win handily. If the version that barely beat Northern Illinois does, then Arizona could spring the upset. Kyle Whittingham is as supremely and frustratingly inconsistent as Kevin Sumlin is.