Fortunately for ‘Bama fans, most of today’s competitive games are early or late — that should free up our afternoon to watch the Tide roll unimpeded.
Here’s what we’re watching today and why (all times Eastern.)
Why to Watch
No. 2 Georgia at Missouri (+15) 12:00 ESPN — How good is Missouri? Really? The offense has been fantastic (under Derek Dooley, no less.) The defense had shown signs of life until getting gashed for literally a third of a mile last week against Purdue. Then again, how improved is that Bulldogs’ secondary? Really? It’s looked good beating down scrubs and has an All-American corner. But it’s not faced a challenged quite like it will today either. Third-and-Kirby is a real thing, y’all. And against a Missouri team that always takes this one very seriously, in a sleepy noon road game, could the unthinkable happen? Or will Kirby’s Big Lots ‘Bama keep rolling?
No. 23 Boston College at Purdue (+6.5) ESPN 2 — BC rolls into West Lafayette undefeated, though a shaky 3-0. The Eagles defense just hasn’t been where it needs to be, especially against the pass. The Boilermakers may test that secondary that was lit up in Winston Salem. But, can Purdue stop Dillon and the Eagles’ ground game? This may be the best winless team in America. This could also be a fun game.
NIU (+10) at Florida State 3:30 ESPNU — Surely not, right? I mean, the ‘Noles aren’t that bad? Are they? It will be interesting to see how FSU responds after Willie Taggart boiled down his entire team’s struggles to bad offensive line play...ignoring the secondary that has been lit up all season. How inclined are they to play for a man who threw them under the bus? This is either a regroup game or the wheels-fall-slap-off-2018 game for the ‘Noles. And, admit it, you’re pulling for the Huskies.
South Carolina (-2.5) at Vanderbilt 4:00 SECN — I’m not sure that South Carolina is even the better team here. The Commodores defense has played really well and the offense has abandoned any pretense of balance and decided to stick to doing what they do best: ball control passing. At the beginning of the season, when people were fluffing the Gamecocks, who would have ever imagined Vandy was a circle-the-wagons must-win for Will Muschamp?
Navy (-6.5) at SMU 12:00 ESPN NEWS — 2018 is looking a whole lot like 2017 in the AAC, with UCF at the top and three teams chasing them: Memphis, South Florida, and these Midshipmen. Besides being an important conference opener, whenever you can watch the triple option vs. the air raid, you should do so.
TCU (-4) at Texas 4:30 FOX — Was last week a blip on the radar for the Longhorns? Texas looked good on offense for a change, especially in the vertical passing game. And the defense made the most of TJ Daniels’ inexperience, shutting down the Trojans. The running game hasn’t gone anywhere and may be the difference in this one for Tom Herman. Meanwhile, TCU lost a very competitive home game against OSU last week and their mission is to not let the Buckeyes beat them twice. It seems they’ve finally settled on an offensive formulation that takes advantage of a mobile quarterback. But, even if TCU plays up to snuff, will that be enough for the Horned Frogs? This one is a very, very pivotal matchup in the Big 12. Hey we also get to bag on #IsTexasBack, a meme that will never grow old.
Watch Your Butts
Notre Dame (-8) at Wake Forest 12:00 NBC — Wake Forest has suddenly decided to start throwing the ball, and are doing it well in the Clawfense. If you saw Kyle Shurmur and the Vanderbilt offense, you know why that may be a problem for Notre Dame. The excellent Irish lines may be mitigated somewhat here if this one gets a bit shootout-ish. I’ve not liked the way Brian Kelly’s bunch have responded since beating Michigan, and now they finally leave South Bend. Full-blown upset alert if the Demon Deacs can get off to a hot start and play solid coverage against Wimbush’s pedestrian wide outs.
|#2 Georgia at Missouri||12:00 PM||ESPN||WatchESPN.com|
|#8 Notre Dame at Wake Forest||12:00 PM||ABC||WatchESPN.com|
|Nebraska at #19 Michigan||12:00 PM||FS1||FoxSportsGo.com|
|#23 Boston College at Purdue||12:00 PM||ESPN2||WatchESPN.com|
|Kent State at Ole Miss||12:00 PM||SEC Network||WatchESPN.com|
|Buffalo at Rutgers||12:00 PM||BTN||FoxSportsGo.com|
|Minnesota at Maryland||12:00 PM||BTN||FoxSportsGo.com|
|Akron at Iowa State||12:00 PM||Fox Sports Net||FoxSportsGo.com|
|Ohio at Cincinnati||12:00 PM||ESPNU||WatchESPN.com|
|Nevada at Toledo||12:00 PM||CBSSN||CBSSports.com|
|Navy at SMU||12:00 PM||ESPNews||WatchESPN.com|
|Pittsburgh at North Carolina||12:20 PM||ACC Network||WatchESPN.com|
|Louisville at Virginia||12:30 PM||ACC Network||WatchESPN.com|
|Western Michigan at Georgia State||2:00 PM||ESPN+||ESPN+|
|Miami (OH) at Bowling Green||3:00 PM||ESPN+||ESPN+|
|Western Kentucky at Ball State||3:00 PM||None||WatchESPN.com|
|Illinois State at Colorado State||3:00 PM||AT&T SportsNet||WatchStadium.com|
|Maine at Central Michigan||3:00 PM||ESPN+||ESPN+|
|#22 Texas A&M at #1 Alabama||3:30 PM||CBS||CBSSports.com|
|#3 Clemson at Georgia Tech||3:30 PM||ABC||WatchESPN.com|
|Tulane at #4 Ohio State||3:30 PM||BTN||FoxSportsGo.com|
|Kansas State at #12 West Virginia||3:30 PM||ESPN||WatchESPN.com|
|#13 Virginia Tech at Old Dominion||3:30 PM||CBSSN||CBSSports.com|
|Florida Intl at #21 Miami||3:30 PM||ESPNU||WatchESPN.com|
|Gardner-Webb at Appalachian State||3:30 PM||ESPN+||ESPN+|
|Charlotte at UMass||3:30 PM||Eleven Sports/NESN+||UMassAthletics.com|
|North Carolina Central at Duke||3:30 PM||ACC Network||WatchESPN.com|
|Northern Illinois at Florida State||3:30 PM||ESPNU||WatchESPN.com|
|Kansas at Baylor||3:30 PM||FS1||FoxSportsGo.com|
|Arizona at Oregon State||4:00 PM||Pac-12 Networks||Pac-12.com|
|South Carolina at Vanderbilt||4:00 PM||SEC Network||WatchESPN.com|
|UConn at Syracuse||4:00 PM||ESPNews||WatchESPN.com|
|#17 TCU at Texas||4:30 PM||FOX||FoxSportsGo.com|
Keeping an Eye On
Nebraska at Michigan (-19) FS1 — A competitive game may not be expected, but one thing that Nubber has done very well is get after the quarterback. They have generated 10 sacks in just two games. That is bad news for a Michigan team that struggles all across the offensive line. Shea Patterson is completing 70% of his passes, but that was in two paycheck beatings; this is the first P5 team Wolvie has played since Labor Day. Only Nebraska’s offense has been as bad though. This will be a real chore to watch though.
ACC Hot Seats — Luhvl at UVA, Pitt at UNC — It’s conceivable 100% of the coaches in these two games could be gone by Christmas. Bobby Petrino’s Cards’ offense has been so woeful it turns to a RS Freshman QB (Malik Cunningham), and UNC is just plain woeful in nearly every phase. Pitt has gotten off to a slow start in a rebuilding year, so you’d hope/think this staff is safe. But UVA is still just plain bad, though showing some signs of life in Year Three under Bronco Mendenhall. Still, it did lose to Indiana. These won’t be enjoyable games, but for hot seat and/or meltdown purposes, keep an eye open.
Big 10 Scandal Bowls — Buffalo at Rutgers, Minnesota at Maryland — How low will the Scarlet Knights sink, after getting blown out by Kansas? Lose to a MAC team at home-bad? Very possible. But, hey, at least half a dozen players are being indicted. Two days before kickoff, investigators in College Park determined Maryland did absolutely everything wrong you could do wrong and was responsible for the preseason heat stroke death of Jordan McNair. You think the ACC games are hot seats? I’m pretty sure every Big 10 staff in these two games outside of Minneapolis is getting fired in a few weeks.
Top 10s vs. the Option — Clemson at Georgia Tech, Ohio State vs. Tulane — It will be interesting to see how the banged up Bucks respond to the triple option, an offense that has repeatedly gashed Urban Meyer over the years. And, opening the ACC season on the road in Atlanta, how willing is Clemson’s NFL-ready defensive line, the heart of its team, to face Yellow Jackets hurry-up cut blocks all game? If the Tigers are going to sort out the passing game, a dreadful ‘Tech secondary could be the cure for what ails Dabo.
Kansas State at West Virginia — Holgo’s teams have usually fared well at home in conference play. I say usually because the Mountaineers are maddeningly inconsistent. If they’re sloppy with the ball and half a sleep on defense, this one could be more uncomfortable than he’d like to see. It seems at this point that Bill Snyder is going through the motions for reasons known only him. This is a must-win for West Virginia: with the seasons’ goals all ahead of them, it’s time to finally put away bad conference teams like its supposed to. Holgo has only had 8 years to figure this out.
Today’s Unwatchable Filth
Arizona at Oregon State — Moveable force versus immobile object. The Beavers are about as bad defensively as you’ll find in a major power conference. But they can move the ball and put up some points. Arizona, meanwhile, has clipped the wings of Khalil Tate, with Mazzone trying to turn him into a pocket passer. The result has been an offense that went from being among the nation’s best to among its very worst. But, the Wildcats can occasionally play defense.
Something has to give today, but I don’t advise sticking around to find out what it is.
We’ll be back today around 3:00 Eastern with your game threads, and then this evening we’ll have the overnight schedule and (hopefully) victory thread for you.