It took us seven weeks, but we finally have a meaningful week of games throughout the country. No preamble necessary, let’s dive in.
Here’s your schedule, and all times are Eastern — unless I pasted the Pacific grid, then you just convert it, because I’m frankly too lazy to change it:
Week 7 CFB Schedule (Eastern time)
|South Carolina at #3 Georgia||12:00 PM||ESPN||WatchESPN.com|
|#6 Oklahoma at #11 Texas||12:00 PM||FOX||FoxSportsGo.com|
|#16 Michigan at Illinois||12:00 PM||ABC||WatchESPN.com|
|#23 Memphis at Temple||12:00 PM||ESPN2||WatchESPN.com|
|Maryland at Purdue||12:00 PM||BTN||FoxSportsGo.com|
|Mississippi State at Tennessee||12:00 PM||SEC Network||WatchESPN.com|
|Rutgers at Indiana||12:00 PM||BTN||FoxSportsGo.com|
|Miami (OH) at Western Michigan||12:00 PM||ESPNU||WatchESPN.com|
|Toledo at Bowling Green||12:00 PM||CBS Sports Network||CBSSports.com|
|Georgia Tech at Duke||12:30 PM||ACCNX||WatchESPN.com|
|Ball State at Eastern Michigan||2:00 PM||ESPN+||ESPN+|
|Old Dominion at Marshall||2:30 PM||Stadium||WatchStadium.com|
|New Mexico State at Central Michigan||3:00 PM||ESPN3||WatchESPN.com|
|#1 Alabama at #24 Texas A&M||3:30 PM||CBS||CBSSports.com|
|Florida State at #2 Clemson||3:30 PM||ABC||WatchESPN.com|
|Michigan State at #8 Wisconsin||3:30 PM||BTN||FoxSportsGo.com|
|Washington State at #18 Arizona State||3:30 PM||Pac-12 Networks||Pac-12.com|
|#25 Cincinnati at Houston||3:30 PM||ESPN2||WatchESPN.com|
|BYU at South Florida||3:30 PM||CBSSN||CBSSports.com|
|Kent State at Akron||3:30 PM||ESPN3||WatchESPN.com|
|Northern Illinois at Ohio||3:30 PM||ESPN+||ESPN+|
|UConn at Tulane||3:45 PM||ESPNU||WatchESPN.com|
|Texas Tech at #22 Baylor||4:00 PM||FS1||FoxSportsGo.com|
|San Jose State at Nevada||4:00 PM||AT&T SportsNet||None|
|UNLV at Vanderbilt||4:00 PM||SEC Network||WatchESPN.com|
|Iowa State at West Virginia||4:00 PM||ESPN||WatchESPN.com|
|Rhode Island at Virginia Tech||4:00 PM||ACC Network||WatchESPN.com|
|Middle Tennessee at Florida Atlantic||4:00 PM||ESPN+||ESPN+|
|Georgia State at Coastal Carolina||5:00 PM||ESPN+||ESPN+|
|UAB at UTSA||6:00 PM||ESPN+||ESPN+|
|Army at Western Kentucky||7:00 PM||None||WatchStadium.com|
|UMass at Louisiana Tech||7:00 PM||ESPN3||WatchESPN.com|
|North Texas at Southern Mississippi||7:00 PM||None|
|Fresno State at Air Force||7:00 PM||CBSSN||CBSSports.com|
|Ole Miss at Missouri||7:00 PM||ESPN2||WatchESPN.com|
|Charlotte at Florida International||7:00 PM||ESPN+||ESPN+|
|USC at #9Notre Dame||7:30 PM||NBC||NBCSports.com|
|#10 Penn State at #17 Iowa||7:30 PM||ABC||WatchESPN.com|
|Louisville at #19 Wake Forest||7:30 PM||ACC Network||WatchESPN.com|
|Nebraska at Minnesota||7:30 PM||FS1||FoxSportsGo.com|
|Arkansas at Kentucky||7:30 PM||SEC Network||WatchESPN.com|
|Navy at Tulsa||7:30 PM||ESPNU||WatchESPN.com|
|#7 Florida at #5 LSU||8:00 PM||ESPN||WatchESPN.com|
|#15 Utah at Oregon State||8:00 PM||Pac-12 Networks||Pac-12.com|
|Hawai'i at #14 Boise State||10:15 PM||ESPN||WatchESPN.com|
|Wyoming at San Diego State||10:30 PM||CBSSN||CBSSports.com|
|Washington at Arizona||11:00 PM||FS1||FoxSportsGo.com|
Florida (+14) at LSU — This is the first decent defense that LSU has played, but what offenses has Florida rang up those stats on? This is the first competent offense that Florida has faced, but what offenses have the Tigers racked up those gaudy numbers on? Something’s gotta’ give. Battle-testing favors UF; coaching is a draw; talent and home advantage to the Tigers. This will be a good one that I firmly expect this one to devolve into its typically close, conservative, physical affair.
Alabama (-16.5) at Texas A&M — If there was an undefeated team more in need of a bye, you’d be hard-pressed to find a better candidate than the Tide. It’s already been a long season of injuries, inconsistencies, shuffling lineups and the like. Though improving each week, or perhaps because of it, we forget how young this squad is — and that extra week of teaching helps. Aggie will have to play a perfect game, as well as get an assist from the Tide to win this one at home. This is the first team that Alabama has faced with an abundance of talent, if not performance, across the two-deep. Except at one critical spot. Kellen Mond has a $5 arm and ten-cent head. Worse, he’s not demonstrably better in October 2019 than he was in October 2018. So, let’s see if the fast-peaking Crimson Tide can do what it has uncharacteristically not done recently: start slow and improve with each game throughout the season.
Oklahoma (-11) vs. Texas (Dallas) — If you want a rivalry game where anything can happen, it’s this one. In the past 15 years the favored or higher-ranked team has won less than 50% of the time; Texas has 7 wins in the series, OU has 8. and the last seven meetings have all been decided by a touchdown or less. Given the awful state of the secondaries here, expect nothing less than a shootout and another one-score game. So, too, should you keep an eye on how the ‘Horns play Hurts: If I’m Tom Herman, I’m dusting off 2017 Iron Bowl film. The blueprint is out there and Jalen is in a far more limited offense.
Would you believe that Arizona is one wild-ass Honolulu ending away from being undefeated? (And even that sole loss was a game they dominated, forcing six turnovers.) Would you believe that Washington can dominate on the road, smack around USC, and still pick up lifeless losses to the likes of Stanford? Yet, here we are, the 4-2 Washington Huskies at the 4-1 Arizona Wildcats. The PAC 12’s two most baffling coaches meet in our night cap. Why to watch this one? First, Road U-Dub is a very mortal, often average team. But, Kevin Sumlin’s Cardiac Cats have this habit of giving us surreal endings, bizzare games, and weirdly compelling television. This will be a weird one and probably worth your viewing pleasure. If it’s not? Shrug it off, and find that San Diego State-Wyoming game.
Be Ready To Grab The Remote:
Memphis -5 at Temple — The Owls have proven that they are capable of losing to anyone in the AAC, just as they can beat anyone. The Tigers meanwhile are undefeated, under the radar, and have perhaps Mike Norvell’s best team yet. If Memphis wants to vie for a NY6 bowl, this kind of tough roadie is a must-win. This will probably be decided on the last possession. Be ready to reach for the remote, indeed. The AAC usually gives us good football games, if not necessarily good football. And I think this one turns out to fit that #brand.
Fraud Bowl I: Michigan State (-10.5) at Wisconsin — Alrighty, Sconnie, you blew the doors off the Wolverines, so is this your encore? Or, rather, is this just another data point in the same-ole’-Wisconsin disappointment we’ve come to expect over the last two decades? Dantonio is temperamentally better-suited to this kind of game than is UM’s Don Brown, so I wouldn’t look for a one-sided win by either team. If you want your candidate for this week’s rock fight, tune in to this old school Big 10 exemplar. It will probably be competitive; it will certainly be meaningful; but it won’t be pretty.
Fraud Bowl II: Iowa (+4.5) vs. Penn State — Franklin is winless on the road at Penn State vs. ranked teams. Lookie, lookie: Weighing in at No. 21 are the Iowa Hawkeyes...being played in Iowa City. Kinnick is already the place where Rust Belt dreams go to die, one three-yard pass to the tight end at a time. Like OU, Alabama, and to some extent Clemson, we don’t know how good this undefeated Nittany Lions team is. This is the first P5 opponent they’ve faced with signs of life. Someone is getting exposed this week though, that’s for sure.
If Michigan State - Wisconsin is this week’s Big Ten Rock Fight, then meet its little brother: 4-1 Wyoming (+4) at 4-1 San Diego State. This is a late kick (9:30 CDT), and will be a nice palate cleanser if defense and running the ball are your thing.
Louisville (+6.5) at Wake — Want a pure shootout? This is it. Wake’s defense is not a prime time player, while the Cards are even worse. But, they both can put up oodles of yards and some points...and turnovers...and derp. Don’t rule Satterfield and his 2-3 Luhvl team getting a big road win against the Demon Deacons. Besides, it’s ACC; everyone must have 5 losses by season’s end in accordance to prophecy.
South Carolina (+23) at UGA — This used to be one of the better, zanier SEC-E rivalry. But, when you downgrade from Steven Orr Spurrier to Will Muschamp, the competitiveness level drops just as the talent disparity grows. Now, this one is a one-sided hate, meaning a lot more to the ‘Cocks than the ‘Dawgs. But it’s just a day at the office for Kirby. Only UGA can beat the Dawgs here.
Your classical contrast between offense vs. defense out in the desert. Wazzu (+1) at Arizona State will be a lifeless affair. Herm Ball just is that way, as Leach’s road teams just are that way. Don’t let a close score fool you into changing the dial.
Southern Cal (+10.5) at Notre Dame — I don’t expect this one to be within 17 points when it’s all said and done, since Helton’s teams have traveled very poorly since he took over at Heritage Hall. There are two confounds here, though. 1. USC’s future QB, Slovis, is back and that gives the Men of Troy some life, even if not more success, and 2. There is always the possibility that this is the game Kelly screws around for 58 minutes before pulling one out against a team the Irish should be dominating. If both of these factors come to fruition, it may move into “Grab the Remote” territory. But I doubt they will.
Nebraska (+7.5) at Minnesota. Is there a more shamfraud undefeated than Minnesota? If this one were 20 years ago, then pencil in the Huskers for 650 yards of offense and a 7- or 8-score win. That it’s not, that the offensively-challenged Gophers are a touchdown plus favorite tells you all you need or want to know about these two perpetually-unwatchable teams.
Michigan (-22) at Illinois — Just when it looked like Lovie was turning the corner, he pulled a Lovie and churned out the 2019 Illini — one of the ugliest, least-disciplined teams you’ll ever see. It’s a team that will put up 40 one week, 17 the next, and give up 50 every time. Their opponent, Michigan, is just slop on grass: the Hydra of Self-Regard known as Josh Gattis, Don Brown, and Jim Harbaugh get paid too much, produce too little, and talk far far too much. And, for all that, the Wolverines don’t do anything particularly well except punt, pressure the pocket from the defensive line, and fart-sniff. Even in a week stocked with Unwatchable Filth up and down the schedule, this is a Top 5 stinker of the week.
This Week’s Unwatchable Filth:
Mississippi State (-6.5) at Tennessee —
Are there worse games this week? You bet. But, are there more aggressively bad-to-average teams this week, with teams that ought to be better than this? Programs that have access to this kind of money, and access to this kind of talent, with access to all the expensive staff and resources they could want and still can’t buy a meaningful win? Probably not.
This is very moveable force vs. the immobile object.
Maybe next year, after the roster gets some seasoning, this would be a good game. But to preview, here’s what you’re facing this year with a rebuilt MSU defense and its equally-noxious UT counterpart — these teams are 12th and 13th in the SEC in scoring defense, and give up at or above 30 PPG. Don’t expect a shootout for all that bad defense — a still-crappy Bulldogs offense is just 9th in the SEC, and barely hitting 30 PPG. But, they’ve not scored 30 against a P5 team yet. The closest they’ve come was against .500 Kentucky, when they rang up 28. The Vols are far worse off. They’ve begun the SEC slate being outscored 77-17.
And, in stat after stat, it just didn’t get better. Aside from the Vols picking off 6 passes (good for 19th), and the Bulldogs holding opponents to 31.7% on 3rd down (good for 12th), both of these teams are mediocre-to-bad — they fall between 55th and 113th in every other metric.
When mediocrity is the bar, and your chin still bangs into the limbo stick of dreck; when two second-year head coaches appear to be Plan B placeholders promoted way beyond their competence level and it shows; when you get this tailor-made 11:00 JP special, then you have a game that sucks like the Amsterdam red light district.
There’s not enough morning beer in the world for this.
Dishonorable Mention: Arkansas at Kentucky (-7) was soooo close to taking this spot.