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Thursday Night College Football viewing guide and why-to-watch

With some flavor from the Wiregrass

<p zoompage-fontsize="15" style="">Troy v Nebraska

Photo by Steven Branscombe/Getty Images

Games kick off at 6:30. Here’s what we have tonight and why you should watch them.

Troy -16.5 (54.5) vs. Ga. State 6:30 ESPNU — One of the Sun Belt’s finest hosts one of the Directional Georgias who’ve just never quite been able to get off the mat and gain respectability. The Panthers defense struggles at the best of times; it’ll face some really tough sledding in Alabama’s wiregrass. This ain’t a dome either, fellas. It’ll be a 102-degree heat index at kick. Get the Garorade and the Gimp Tent — lots of cramps tonight. Troy has so many other goals ahead of it, and a win at Nebraska in the rearview. You can forgive them for being a bit lethargic in this one. But, as Gene Stallings noted: if you think this game doesn’t matter, just lose one. There is a bit of a dirty secret though if you’re thinking about the -16.5: This Trojans teams is sloppy with the ball and has struggled to move the chains at times. The Panthers defense hasn’t been too awful either. (DISCLOSURE: I took Troy -16)

Tulsa at Houston -17.5 (72.5) ESPN — After Troy puts you to sleep, check out what the latest hire from the Saban Coaching Tree has been up to. Remarkably under the radar, despite the much-hyped Ed Oliver, the Houston Cougars finally have that ole’ timey SWC flavor back — hitting 60 isn’t a problem against bad teams. And, make no mistake, Tulsa isn’t a terrible team. They’re a lot better than their 1-3 record suggests and all of their losses, to good teams no less, have been by two scores or less. The offense has been the issue for the Golden Hurricane, which is weird to say since this has been one of the most explosive G5 teams for a quarter-century. They’ll put up some points tonight in Houston, but will it be anywhere near enough? At the least, they should be competitive — undermanned Tulsa has schemed well against every team they’ve played. Things are looking up in North Oklahoma...but probably not tonight. Major Applewhite, meanwhile, is auditioning for a P5 job on a rare national broadcast. (DISCLOSURE: I took over 70.5).