Good news! Alabama can’t lose today.
Bad news! Alabama doesn’t play today.
But, with two bye weeks, and the Tide fighting a bevy of injuries already, this first open date couldn’t have happened at a better time.
So, let’s kick back and see how the other half lives, shall we?
Here’s your schedule on this very light Week 6, and all times are Eastern.
|Utah State at #5 LSU||9:00 AM||SEC Network||WatchESPN.com|
|#6 Oklahoma at Kansas||9:00 AM||ABC||WatchESPN.com|
|Kent State at #8 Wisconsin||9:00 AM||ESPNU||WatchESPN.com|
|Purdue at #12 Penn State||9:00 AM||ESPN||WatchESPN.com|
|#14 Iowa at #19 Michigan||9:00 AM||FOX||FoxSportsGo.com|
|#21 Oklahoma State at Texas Tech||9:00 AM||FS1||FoxSportsGo.com|
|South Florida at UConn||9:00 AM||None||CBSSports.com|
|TCU at Iowa State||9:00 AM||ESPN2||WatchESPN.com|
|Maryland at Rutgers||9:00 AM||BTN||FoxSportsGo.com|
|Tulane at Army||9:00 AM||CBSSN||GoArmyWestPoint.com|
|Boston College at Louisville||9:30 AM||ACCNX||WatchESPN.com|
|Eastern Michigan at Central Michigan||12:00 PM||ESPN+||ESPN+|
|#7 Auburn at #10 Florida||12:30 PM||CBS||CBSSports.com|
|Bowling Green at #9 Notre Dame||12:30 PM||NBC||NBCSports.com|
|#11 Texas at West Virginia||12:30 PM||ABC||WatchESPN.com|
|Ohio at Buffalo||12:30 PM||ESPN+||ESPN+|
|Western Michigan at Toledo||12:30 PM||ESPN+||ESPN+|
|Ball State at Northern Illinois||12:30 PM||ESPN3||WatchESPN.com|
|Arkansas State at Georgia State||12:30 PM||ESPN+||ESPN+|
|Baylor at Kansas State||12:30 PM||ESPN2||WatchESPN.com|
|Illinois at Minnesota||12:30 PM||BTN||FoxSportsGo.com|
|Air Force at Navy||12:30 PM||CBSSN||CBSSports.com|
|Virginia Tech at Miami||12:30 PM||ESPN||WatchESPN.com|
|Marshall at Middle Tennessee||12:30 PM||None|
|Memphis at UL Monroe||12:45 PM||ESPNU||WatchESPN.com|
|Northwestern at Nebraska||1:00 PM||FOX||FoxSportsGo.com|
|North Carolina at Georgia Tech||1:00 PM||ACC Network||WatchESPN.com|
|Troy at Missouri||1:00 PM||SEC Network||WatchESPN.com|
|Arizona at Colorado||1:30 PM||Pac-12 Networks||Pac-12.com|
|Western Kentucky at Old Dominion||3:00 PM||ESPN+||ESPN+|
|#3 Georgia at Tennessee||4:00 PM||ESPN||WatchESPN.com|
|Rice at UAB||4:00 PM||ESPN+||ESPN+|
|UMass at Florida International||4:00 PM||ESPN3||WatchESPN.com|
|#25 Michigan State at #4 Ohio State||4:30 PM||ABC||WatchESPN.com|
|Tulsa at #24 SMU||4:30 PM||ESPNU||WatchESPN.com|
|Vanderbilt at Ole Miss||4:30 PM||SEC Network||WatchESPN.com|
|California at #13 Oregon||5:00 PM||FOX||FoxSportsGo.com|
|Pittsburgh at Duke||5:00 PM||ACC Network||WatchESPN.com|
|Liberty at New Mexico State||5:00 PM||None||FloFootball.com|
|UTSA at UTEP||5:00 PM||ESPN+||ESPN+|
|Oregon State at UCLA||6:00 PM||Pac-12 Networks||Pac-12.com|
|San Diego State at Colorado State||7:00 PM||ESPN2||WatchESPN.com|
|#15 Washington at Stanford||7:30 PM||ESPN||WatchESPN.com|
|#16 Boise State at UNLV||7:30 PM||CBSSN||CBSSports.com|
No. 19 Iowa (+4) at No. 14 Michigan:
This won’t be an aesthetically charming game or anything. Anytime Shea Patterson and Kirk Ferentz share a field, you’re guaranteed some awfulness. But, what it will do is eliminate one of these teams from the Big 10 (and playoff) picture, and be a hard-hitting, old school affair. Sometimes you want to watch giant white dudes with German surnames smash each other for three hours to try and eke out 3 yards per snap on the ground. Football as metaphor for war; the game as attrition; rugby roots as living history; defense as more than mere afterthought. This is that game. And, you know what, I miss it a lot sometimes.
No. 10 Florida vs. No. 7 Auburn (-3.5):
Everything I said about the Iowa-Michigan game is true here...but it will take place at a much faster pace and with far more demographic diversity. And, though both are undefeated, the margin of error for both teams is approximately zero for the loser. The Gators still face UGA; Auburn still has LSU, UA. Aggie. Two very good defenses, but you get a sense that the Tigers’ desperation and marginally better overall product gets in done in the hostile Swamp. Just don’t go looking for too many points in what will be a violent, chippy contest. Mullen still ain’t over Cam and Auburn; Auburn still ain’t over Mittens snitching.
Vandy at Ole Miss (-7):
Always one of the weirder, wilder cross-divisional rivalries in the SEC, Vanderbilt-Ole Miss made shootouts a thing before they were cool. Today should be no different, even for the struggling offenses of the Rebs and ‘Dores. Both of these coaches have scorch marks on their chinos and really need a win. Vaught Hemingway isn’t much of a home field, but the Rebels’ young talent is. Still, you get the sense that, as usual, this will be decided by a late score and be a back-and-forth game. Ignore the records; should be entertaining.
Oregon State at UCLA (-5): See what I wrote about Ole Miss-Vanderbilt? It doubly applies here in this #PAC12AfterDark meeting between the two worst teams in the league. Both are really young, but at least the Beavers have some dynamic pieces in place on offense and a little optimism. The Bruins, meanwhile, have shown that when given the chance against marginal teams, they will light up some scoreboards. And, buddy, Oregon State’s defense is beyond marginal; it’s downright gross. You’re going to be awake, so you may as well watch an old fashioned West Coast shootout, no matter how bad the teams are. It will be, dare I say, fun?
Air Force (-3) at Navy:
The first of the season-long triple-option round-robin delight known as the Commander-in-Chief Trophy. Air Force on the road is different than facing Air Force high in the mountains of Colorado. And, though the Falcons still have the talent edge, Navy at home likewise is a different critter to face. Either way, this one will be within a touchdown, likely low-scoring, and will probably come down to the last possession. These are the types of teams and games and stakes that define college sports; enjoy them when you can. #GoNavy
Baylor at Kansas State (-1.5): The Wildcats are the No. 2 team in the nation in passing defense and No. 17 in scoring defense. Klieman came over and is trying to rebuild the Little Apple into the very image of his North Dakota State juggernaut. A hangover from Snyder’s offense is a problem, but it’s not nearly the problem that his 104th ranked rushing defense is. Like Klieman, Matt Rhule at Baylor (and Matt Campbell at ISU) is also trying to regain relevance by leading a defensive renaissance in the B12; one that began in the secondary and is moving towards the lines: 25th against the rush, 35th against the pass, 19th in scoring defense. Overall, the Bears get the slight nod here on talent and a 30th-ranked rushing attack. But Klieman’s track record as a championship coach, and the hometown crowd, could swing this for the ‘Cats...if only they could work out a way to stop the ground attack. This will still be a good game, decided up front, between two of the game’s up-and-comers.
Be Ready To Grab The Remote:
Utah State (+28.5) at No. 5 LSU — This is the first decent team LSU has played without the benefit of 9 months to prepare. The Aggies are outmanned, sure. And, LSU should smash them (though probably not by enough to cover this spread). But we thought the same of Troy two years ago too. This isn’t a crappy team, and especially not given LSU’s defensive issues and USU’s outstanding offense.
No. 11 Texas (-11) at West Virginia — Neal Brown sure got that ship righted in a hurry, huh? After two weeks of looking like one of the worst teams in the P5, the last two weeks in Morgantown have been spent playing competitive football, finding their way, finding what works. And the ‘Eers have gone 2-0 in that span. Texas should win, but this is exactly the kind of game Tom Herman has a penchant for dropping: a lightly-regarded underdog with an insane crowd behind them and nothing, absolutely nothing to lose.
Cal (+18) at No. 13 Oregon — Does anyone think that Oregon is better than the 12 teams below them? Me neither. This one is definitely a game of diametric opposites: The offensive-minded Ducks in Autzen vs. the defensive-led Bears. One team with the possible first pick in the NFL draft under center, and the other who couldn’t throw a rock in the ocean riding in a boat in the middle of the Atlantic. One of the most mentally-tough teams in the country, built for patience and to exploit mistakes, versus one of the softest, impatient, and error-prone teams — and one that can’t hold on to leads. Tune in for the now-customary Mario Cristobal fourth quarter implosion as Cal makes this game a lot more competitive than it has any right being.
Oklahoma State (-10) at Texas Tech — Weird things happen in Lubbock. And, against a secondary like leaks like a colander, even a very 6-6ish Red Raiders team can light it up enough to pick up a few conference Ws. Mike Gundy’s teams have tended to not travel well, and the Pokes aren’t good enough to overlook anyone on their schedule. That’s a recipe for a tight game and a vintage B12 track meet. Keep an eye on the scores and be ready to find FS1 accordingly.
No. 25 Michigan State (-21.5) at No. 4 Ohio State: Ewww, don’t actually watch this. Though, it will be interesting to see how Ohio State fares against its first decent competition of the season.
Purdue (+28.5) at No. 12 Penn State — Like Oregon, the Nittany Lions are another squad that people are overranking because....reasons. Franklin is primed to drop the few games against quality opponents on his schedule, but this isn’t one of them. They’ll beat Purdue like the Boilermakers beat that Big Ass Drum. Brohm has shown zero inclination to field a team that can play defense. Ill tidings in Happy Valley against a clown that runs it up when possible.
Kansas vs. No. 6 Oklahoma (-32.5) — The Hat lives for big games against improbable odds. And, aside from Alabama, his track record is pretty danged good in them too. That said, the Jayhawks don’t have nearly enough in the tank to make it across the finish line here. Their secondary has gotten much better under Les Miles, and the offense may put up a little bit of a resistance. So don’t be too surprised if KU makes this one look a bit harder for Hurts’ in the passing game and makes the Sooners lean on the ground attack (including Jalen’s legs.) The Jayhawks are downright awful up front.
No. 3 Georgia (-27.5) at Tennessee:
Remember when this was one of the most important games in the East...like 3-4 years ago? Now, it’s just another opportunity for Jeremy Pruitt to lose his job midseason to HCIW Phil Fulmer.
And Kirby Smart is more than willing to oblige the Mayberry Machiavelli’s wishes, especially after Pruitt accused Kirby of being born on third and hitting a triple when he inherited Mark Richt’s talent. That’s gonna’ piss off Smart to no end, he of the giant ego who demands to be treated as the most clever man in the room. There were many safe areas for Pruitt to criticizem but calling into account Smart’s core competency as a program-builder probably wasn’t the smartest one. All of Pruitt’s praise of Smart and the Georgia program aside, that’s what is going to rankle Kirby.
On paper, it’s as disparate as can be: The 76th rushing defense vs. the 12th best rushing team; Kirby’s all-world staff vs. Pruitt’s overpaid, underperforming motley crew; an administration that gives one program all the resources and freedom in the world vs. an administrator that covets the job of his subordinate; Jarett Guarantano vs. the Dawgs pass rush: oh, hey, it’s not Jarrett after all...it will be a true freshman against Kirby Smart’s defense. Even better! A program in disarray, versus one that is a few snaps shy of winning a national title or two. In short, a guy who was ready to run a program and that is serious about winning vs. one who was not ready and an administration that substitutes pettiness and throwing money at a problem rather than building for long-term competence.
And you doubt that any of that will change in the foreseeable future: not with Fulmer leading the way, not with Pruitt holding the whistle, and absolutely not when compared to the teams in the country who are serious about winning...including one the Vols face today. Bumbling, ineffectual, corrupt, officious, incompetent — and those are the good things in Knoxville.
Really don’t watch this. The Alabama Sloppy Seconds Bowl could easily get Pruitt fired by tomorrow if the final score winds up being as grotesque as it should. And you suspect it will be.
Then again, if you’re a sadist like me, you tune in for every opportunity to watch the Vols get shamed. In that case, this four-hour snuff film will float your boat. There are many ways for the Dawgs to screw up a winnable game, but not even Kirby can prevent the humiliation UGA is visiting upon Knoxville today. If Tennessee keeps this within five scores, give Pruitt an extension. SPOILER: He won’t. It will be a terrible game.
Come home to mama, Jeremy, and fUT.
Here is your open thread for the day. Enjoy your bye week.