Today’s tasty Jefferson Pilot cupcake aside, where the only question is “how bad,” there are actual really good games on. Well, on paper they should be good. This is the first Big Weekend of the 2018 season. How big? Try meetings between five Top 25 teams, with several directly affecting the playoffs.
Here’s what we’ve got in store early (all times Eastern):
|Louisiana at #1 Alabama||12:00 PM||SEC Network||WatchESPN.com|
|Syracuse at #3 Clemson||12:00 PM||ABC||WatchESPN.com|
|#12 West Virginia at #25 Texas Tech||12:00 PM||ESPN2||WatchESPN.com|
|Central Michigan at #21 Michigan State||12:00 PM||FS1||FoxSportsGo.com|
|Arkansas at Texas A&M||12:00 PM||ESPN||WatchESPN.com|
|Indiana at Rutgers||12:00 PM||BTN||FoxSportsGo.com|
|Army at Buffalo||12:00 PM||CBSSN||CBSSports.com|
|Oklahoma State at Kansas||12:00 PM||FSN||FoxSportsGo.com|
|Temple at Boston College||12:00 PM||ESPNU||WatchESPN.com|
|Bowling Green at Georgia Tech||12:00 PM||ACC Network||WatchESPN.com|
|Virginia at NC State||12:20 PM||ACC Network||WatchESPN.com|
|UMass at Ohio||2:00 PM||None||WatchESPN.com|
|UL Monroe at Georgia State||2:00 PM||ESPN+||ESPN+|
|Kent State at Ball State||3:00 PM||ESPN+||ESPN+|
|Tennessee at #2 Georgia||3:30 PM||CBS||CBSSports.com|
|Baylor at #6 Oklahoma||3:30 PM||ABC||WatchESPN.com|
|Pittsburgh at #13 UCF||3:30 PM||ESPNU||WatchESPN.com|
|#18 Texas at Kansas State||3:30 PM||FS1||FoxSportsGo.com|
|Cincinnati at UConn||3:30 PM||CBSSN||CBSSports.com|
|Old Dominion at East Carolina||3:30 PM||None||WatchESPN.com|
|Coastal Carolina at Troy||3:30 PM||None||WatchESPN.com|
|Western Michigan at Miami (OH)||3:30 PM||ESPN+||ESPN+|
|South Alabama at Appalachian State||3:30 PM||ESPN+||ESPN+|
|Rice at Wake Forest||3:30 PM||ACC Network||WatchESPN.com|
|Purdue at Nebraska||3:30 PM||BTN||FoxSportsGo.com|
|Florida State at Louisville||3:30 PM||ESPN2||WatchESPN.com|
Why to Watch:
No. 1 Alabama -49 vs. ULL SEC Network — Forget Tua’s stats, and Jeudy’s smoking start, and how punishing Najee and Damien will be. How many yards will Mac Jones, Jalen Hurts, Brian Robinson and Ronnie Clark combine for? The only other question is how long the starters play and if the Tide can get out of this one with nary an injury.
Syracuse +24 at No. 3 Clemson 12:00 ABC — Who’da’ though this would be a battle of unbeatens? It’s Trevor Lawrence’s team now. Let’s see if he’s ready to be the man for a full 60 minutes. More importantly, let’s see if that Tigers secondary is ready to play against the nation’s fastest, most pass-friendly offense. Clemson has tended to start sluggish in early games, and you can’t blame them. If the Tigers think wearing the right helmets alone will carry the day, they can be ripe for an upset. It likely won’t happen — CU may win comfortably. But, with all the distractions at Clemson this week, that’s why we’ll tune in.
No. 12 West Virginia -3.5 at No. 25 Texas Tech 12:00 ESPN2 — No one could have watched that Ole Miss-Tech game and claimed with a straight face that the Red Raiders are among the best 25 teams in college football. The ‘Eers t have the clear athletic advantage by nearly every metric, but have been flaky on the road under Holgo. So nothing’s guaranteed. These games have tended to be wild shootouts, and it still might be. But they’re also the two best defenses in the Big 12 this year (allegedly), so good ole’ fashioned RTDB may carry the day. Should be a good one.
Virginia +6 at NCSU 12:20 ACC Network — Did you know there’s an ACC Network? Huh. Neither did I. That’s unfortunate too, because these two figure to put on one of the ACC’s best games of the week. Bronco Mendenhall is putting in work, making the Cavs a more physical and chippy team. The Wolfpack are easing into life with a rebuilding defense, and a high octane passing attack. Both are coming off of very impressive outings last week. /looks for ACC Network on Xfinity box/
Temple at Boston College -12.5 12:00 ESPNU — Two metro schools that want to win with gritty defense and 24 tasteful points a game. For a month, BC was the toast of a down ACC...until last week when the shaky secondary imploded against Purdue. Temple is not at all a bad team. Geoff Collins’ club can decidedly still play some defense, but he’s moderned-up the Owls’ offense from Rhule’s days too. This is going to be a good game between two good 3-1 teams. You’re on upset alert here, Eagles.
Keep An Eye On:
Purdue -3.5 at Nebraska 3:30 BTN — The nation’s best 1-3 team faces one of the nation’s worst (and a deservedly 0-3). The Huskers are off to their worst start in 60 years...and a loss could make it the worst UNL start since all of the farm boys were off in Germany kicking Nazi ass. There’s some bonus beef too: Scott Frost called this a winnable game for the Cornhuskers. Purdue’s Jeff Brohm said the right things after the fact, but you know that quote was plastered in every Boilermaker locker this week.
Arkansas +21 at Texas A&M 12:00 ESPN — DYK Chad Morris is a Texas A&M alum? So like last week in the ‘Barn, against his good friend Gus Malzahn, the Piggies figure to be putting in some extra prep and impetus into making a game of this one. Jimbo’s team is licking their wounds after last week’s butt-whipping. And, watching tape of this disgusting Arkansas team, they’re likely licking their chops too. Let’s see if the well-documented Bama Effect plays out again and if the Aggies are ready to lace ‘em up for an SEC must-win. A loss to this awful team would effectively end the Jimbo Honeymoon and Moral Victory Goodwill tour.
Pitt at No. 13 UCF 3:30 ESPNU — The UCF Knights play one Power 5 team, and this is it...the 1-3 Pitt Panthers who just got smoked by a godawful UNC team last week. The secondary looked helpless. Bad news for Pitt, McKenzie Milton can deal. This figures to be a blowout, since it’s a one-game schedule for UCF, but they also have to play against a semi-functional ACC team for 60 minutes too. Worth keeping an eye on.
No. 18 Texas -10 at Kansas State 3:30 FSN1 — DYK: Kansas State once beat texas in a game where the DBs had more INTS than the offense had completed passes? That they once beat the Longhorns with a third-string WR playing QB? That this is Texas’ first road game of 2018? What I’m saying is that it doesn’t matter if the ‘Horns are the superior team, weird things have happened in the Little Apple in this series...and Herman doesn’t have the best track record of consistency. He lost to Kansas last year. Freaking Kansas.
How Bad Will It Get?
Tennessee at No. 2 Georgia -31 3:30 CBS — Why on god’s earth did CBS pick this one? Two Saban DCs square off in the Process Bowl. The Vols are a hot mess; the Dawgs chugging along blasting a mediocre schedule. This will be a show-no-mercy affair. Hope Gary brought plenty of anecdotes to wile away the afternoon.
I’m putting Jeremy Pruitt on Barry Alvarez alert if this team looks as bad as it did last week.
Early Shift Unwatchable Filth
You think I’m going to go with a mid-major slap fight, like 0-4 Kent State at 1-3 Ball State? Not on your life, Jack. There’s some Power 5 #butt to serve up.
Florida State -7 at Louisville: 3:30 ESPN — If you want the definition of ineptitude, underperformance, fan bases teetering on the edge of rebellion, inexplicably stupid play, gaping secondaries, and offensive lines that couldn’t open a hole in wet toilet paper, buddy, you came to the right place. One team will notch an ACC win, and that will silence the jackals for a week. But make no mistake, this will be one helluva’ terrible viewing experience. The loser may not survive 2018 #goacc