Today’s a big day. You can’t put it more plainly than that. Here’s what you need to watch today, why you need to do so, and a game of the week that is singularly dishonorable.
All times Central standard:
Rivalry Week CFB Schedule
|#1 Ohio State at #13 Michigan||11:00 AM||FOX||FoxSportsGo.com|
|#3 Clemson at South Carolina||11:00 AM||ESPN||WatchESPN.com|
|#4 Georgia at Georgia Tech||11:00 AM||ABC||WatchESPN.com|
|Texas State at Coastal Carolina||11:00 AM||ESPN+||ESPN+|
|Tulsa at East Carolina||11:00 AM||ESPNU||WatchESPN.com|
|Florida International at Marshall||11:00 AM||CBSSN||CBSSports.com|
|Louisville at Kentucky||11:00 AM||SEC Network||WatchESPN.com|
|Northwestern at Illinois||11:00 AM||FS1||FoxSportsGo.com|
|Indiana at Purdue||11:00 AM||ESPN2||WatchESPN.com|
|Wake Forest at Syracuse||11:30 AM||ACCNX||WatchESPN.com|
|Middle Tennessee at Western Kentucky||1:00 PM||ESPN+||ESPN+|
|Charlotte at Old Dominion||1:00 PM||ESPN+||ESPN+|
|Wyoming at Air Force||1:00 PM||None|
|New Mexico State at Liberty||1:00 PM||ESPN+||ESPN+|
|Rice at UTEP||2:00 PM||ESPN3||WatchESPN.com|
|UNLV at Nevada||2:00 PM||AT&T SportsNet||ATT.com|
|#5 Alabama at #15 Auburn||2:30 PM||CBS||CBSSports.com|
|#12 Wisconsin at #8 Minnesota||2:30 PM||ABC||WatchESPN.com|
|#9 Baylor at Kansas||2:30 PM||ESPN||WatchESPN.com|
|Rutgers at #10 Penn State||2:30 PM||BTN||FoxSportsGo.com|
|UConn at Temple||2:30 PM||CBSSN||CBSSports.com|
|Southern Mississippi at Florida Atlantic||2:30 PM||NFL||NFLNetwork.com|
|UTSA at Louisiana Tech||2:30 PM||ESPN+||ESPN+|
|Boston College at Pittsburgh||2:30 PM||ACC Network||WatchESPN.com|
|Miami at Duke||2:30 PM||ESPN2||WatchESPN.com|
|Maryland at Michigan State||2:30 PM||FS1||FoxSportsGo.com|
|Oregon State at #14 Oregon||3:00 PM||Pac-12 Networks||Pac-12.com|
|#16 Notre Dame at Stanford||3:00 PM||FOX||FoxSportsGo.com|
|Vanderbilt at Tennessee||3:00 PM||SEC Network||WatchESPN.com|
|UAB at North Texas||3:00 PM||Stadium||WatchStadium.com|
|Utah State at New Mexico||3:00 PM||Stadium|
|Tulane at SMU||3:00 PM||ESPNU||WatchESPN.com|
|Georgia State at Georgia Southern||5:00 PM||ESPN+||ESPN+|
|Texas A&M at #2 LSU||6:00 PM||ESPN||WatchESPN.com|
|#23 Iowa State at Kansas State||6:00 PM||FS1||FoxSportsGo.com|
|Navy at Houston||6:00 PM||ESPN2||WatchESPN.com|
|North Carolina at NC State||6:00 PM||ACC Network||WatchESPN.com|
|Colorado at #6 Utah||6:30 PM||ABC||WatchESPN.com|
|Florida State at #11 Florida||6:30 PM||SEC Network||WatchESPN.com|
|UL Monroe at Louisiana||6:30 PM||ESPNU||WatchESPN.com|
|#7 Oklahoma at #21 Oklahoma State||7:00 PM||FOX||FoxSportsGo.com|
|BYU at San Diego State||8:00 PM||CBSSN||CBSSports.com|
|Arizona at Arizona State||9:00 PM||ESPN||WatchESPN.com|
|California at UCLA||9:30 PM||FS1||FoxSportsGo.com|
|Fresno State at San Jose State||9:30 PM||ESPN2||WatchESPN.com|
|Army at Hawai'i||10:59 PM||CBSSN||CBSSports.com|
Playoff Implications: Must Watch
The Game — No. 13 Michigan vs. No. 1 Ohio State (-9): Unlike the Iron Bowl, this one is usually a close game. For all that, the Buckeyes have been dominant in the series, winning 16 of the last 18. The CFB Committee regards the Buckeyes highly enough that a road loss here won’t kill them. However, if they do have a loss, it best be in this game. A 1-loss No. 8 Minnesota team that beats No. 12 Wisconsin and No. 1 Ohio State the next two weeks would absolutely play their way into the fourth spot.
Arn Bow — No. 5 Alabama at No. 15 Auburn: This the toughest defense Alabama has faced all season. And, unless three SEC teams make the playoffs with UGA backing their way in, then it will be the stoutest one Mac Jones and company face the rest of the way. Unfortunately, the short-handed Tide also have to travel to Auburn, where they have traditionally played some really dumb football and where Auburn Jesus conjures up the miraculous. Alabama is 2-2 in Jerdun-Hair its last four meetings and have lost with better teams than the one they bring to Auburn in 2019. So, winning is going to be a dicey proposition, even though it should not be. But, winning may not be enough for ‘Bama. The Tide could help their playoff case by also winning comfortably. No pressure, guys. It’s just your season on the line.
The Overtimes that Never End — Texas A&M at No. 2 LSU (-17): Aggie simply doesn’t have the horses to keep up here. And, that’s probably a good thing for Alabama. Yes, A&M is one of Alabama’s quality wins, but Tide partisans probably should just root for the Tigers to win out. At the very least, if they lose, make it this one and not next week’s contest.
Battle for Paul Bunyan’s Axe — No. 12 Wisconsin at No. 8 Minnesota (-3): DYK that this is the most-played D1 rivalry? 128 meetings and counting. And they play for an axe, which is sufficiently metal. Last season the Gophers broke an ungodly 14-game Badgers winning streak in a big way, taking Wisconsin behind the woodshed in Camp Randall. That was as an upstart. This year, it is the Gophers who are the darlings, sitting at No. 8 and favored over the athletically-challenged Badgers. The winner takes home the Western crown and the right to get smoked by Ohio State next week. Alabama fans probably need to be in the tank for the Badgers. If Minnesota beats No. 12 Wisconsin and then upsets No. 1 Ohio State, there’s no way they don’t make the playoffs. And, like LSU, the Buckeyes can afford a loss — so that would place two Big 10 teams in the playoffs. Yuck.
Bedlam — No 6. Oklahoma at No. 21 Oklahoma State (+13): For over a decade, we’ve seen the same thing out of the Pokes: Win 9 or 10 games, recruit some good talent — esp. at the skills positions, build a team that looks the part up front, develop a secondary that feasts on mistakes. Then Oklahoma State falls flat in big game after big game...and they are usually beatdowns to boot. But this just might be the season to get it done: OSU is at home, OU is the frailest they’ve been in years, the Cowboys are the more physical team, they have an unstoppable thresh maw in RB Chuba Hubbard, the Sooners are thin at some key positions. And, perhaps more importantly, all the pressure in the world is on Jalen Hurts and the visiting Sooners. For all that, Okie Lite’s secondary is simply putrescent — 116th in the country, so that will likely help Road Jalen overcome his normal struggles. On the other side of the ledger, ignore the yardage, OU’s defense is 101st in efficiency and they are far worse against the run than are the Pokes. If Bedlam truly wants to live up to its name, then OSU needs to RTDB, force some turnovers, capitalize on them, and shorten the game. In other words, high percentage, good ole’ fashioned football. Needless to say, the eyes of ‘Bama fans will be on Stillwater this evening. Pew Pew. Go Mullet.
Keep An Eye On:
No. 4 Georgia at Georgia Tech (+28): The one thing Geoff Collins has brought to the Beeees this year is a focus on playing a modern defense. A UGA team that can’t score to save their lives, and is understandably looking ahead to No. 2 LSU and the SECCG, better be sharp. This Yellow Jackets team got a lot better as the season wore on, though it’s by no means an upset threat. The Dawgs going Full-Kirby seems unlikely, but you never know.
No. 9 Baylor at Kansas (+14): Remember how much fun we had last week when Arizona State improbably beat the Oregon Ducks? Alabama could use a Baylor loss this week. It’s likely that a one-loss Big 12 winner would not pass the Tide, but why take chances. Here’s hoping the Hat can pull one out of...well, you know. At least the Jayhawks are at home. Rock, Chalk.
No. 3 Clemson at South Carolina (+27.5): Clemson has won five in a row in this series, but only one has been a true blowout. Along the way, the Gamecocks have been able to score on the Tigers at times. But, it’s a tall task — even as well as the Gamecocks play at home — to ask them to match the Tigers score for score in 2019. Then again, Aggie should have beaten Clemson, as should have UNC. This is the only other team with athletes Clemson plays in 2019, so they may struggle again. A loss here would almost certainly put Alabama in the playoffs. Stranger things have happened for this 4-7 Gamecocks team...ask Georgia. Essss Eeeee Ceee.
Vandy -22 at Tennessee: Vandy has a three-game winning streak over the Vols. No, really, that’s the punchline. Alabama probably needs UT to win handily and at least appear to be a quality 7-5 bowl team. Then again, it would be really funny to watch Tennessee get owned in Neyland by the ‘Dores...again.
Tulane (+3.5) at SMU: What a job Willie Fritz has done in New Orleans. With a win over a dejected SMU, the Green Wave can reach .500 in conference play and win seven games for a second-straight season. You can’t think he’ll be there for long, as he’s being rightly mentioned for various jobs that have already opened. For that matter, Sonny Dykes rapid rebuild for the Mustangs may land him another P5 job too. Despite some bowl seasons by June Jones and Chad Morris, the ‘Stangs never got back on to the national landscape until Dykes arrival. This year, he led SMU to its first AP ranking since the pre-Death Penalty era in 1986. Enjoy this classic offense vs. defense battle — these two staffs are likely to be very different in a month. And, in the case of SMU, it may prove that OC Rhett Lashlee winds up getting a head coaching offer too.
Meaningless But Fun:
Territorial Cup — Arizona at Arizona State (-13.5): Arizona isn’t going bowling, so all they’ve got left is ruining the Sun Devils’ season. Can Herm avoid being Herm’d by Kevin Sumlin, who is stealing money at yet another school? These are two of the trashiest, awful fan bases in football and easily the worst ones in the Pac 12. That also happens to makes this rivalry one of tense, tight games that are plenty chippy and dirty. It’s not even fun. And that animus is one of the reasons you’ll enjoy it.
Farmageddon — No. 23 Iowa State (-4.5) at Kansas State: Amongst the high-flying offenses of the Big 12 is this rivalry of the land grants that play defense. Or, well, you know — at least they try to. Iowa State is inexplicably ranked. Kansas State was inexplicably ranked at one point this year following its win over perpetual fraud, Oklahoma. Not really a bad-blood series, but with ISU sitting at 7-4 and K-State at 6-5, this one is for bowl positioning. It has the benefit of actually probably being a good game too.
Governor’s Cup — Louisville at Kentucky (-4): A truly nasty, hateful series between in-state rivals that began on the hardwood and spilled on to the football field. The series is about as close as you can imagine too: 16-15 Luhvl after 31 meetings. And, it’s been a streaky series of late — four for UK, five for Louisville, and now the teams have alternated wins the last three season. It’s hard to get a read on this game; defense favors the ‘Cats, but the ‘Ville has an offense that can go off in bunches. Satterfield is going to do good things at UL, while Mark Stoops has already built some momentum in Lexington. This is the closest the teams have been in a few years. Probably one of the day’s better games.
Florida State (-18.5) at Florida: One of those rare rivalries that remains heated no matter how low one of the combatants has fallen. Warning: Of the games today, this one could most pan out to be a bit of a snoozer, as the better team usually wins — and wins big — and the Gators are playing for literally nothing outside of a 10 win-season.
Battle of the Bears — Cal at UCLA (+1): Anything with Cal involved is not apt to be fun viewing. Ditto this Bruins team rebuilding at nearly every position on the field. But, this game will be instructive as to whom brings momentum in 2020. From afar, Chip Kelly’s UCLA has gotten more competitive each week, while Cal has probably plateaued as a bottom-tier bowl team...even by the low bar of the P12.
Rice (-6.5) at UTEP: You know that saying “how much worse can it get?” Well, you could be an historically moribund Rice team that lost its QB for the year in the season-opener...just as the Owls were starting to gain some traction. You could also be the UTEP Miners, one of the sport’s annual bottom-feeders that has somehow gotten worse under Dana Dimel.
In this slapfight between the 117th and 128th-ranked teams, someone will earn a conference win. And that’s a bad look for a C-USA that is trying to push Appalachian State for a New Year’s Six appearance. Featuring bad offenses vs. questionable defenses, this one is probably going to be decided late and be won by the Owls superior special teams play — and that boils down to coaching. But, if you can make it that far, you’re a far better person than I am.
UTEP will never be a sleeping giant, not located where it is with minimal access to high school talent. And that really is baffling: El Paso is one of the most diverse, vibrant and safe cities in the country — and is tons of under-the-radar fun. It has access to all the disposable cash of the tens of thousands of troops stationed at Fort Bliss and the million+ souls from Jaurez who cross the border to do their shopping in the States. If you’re going to live in the desert, this cool little city right on the Rio Grande ain’t a bad place to be. And Rice simply cannot be a player in the modern landscape; not with FBS’ second-smallest undergrad enrollment and difficult admission standards. But, it is located in Houston — of the nation’s five biggest cities and one of Texas’ many boom towns — and it’s smackdab in the heart of all that coastal talent. When you can sell warm weather, outstanding academics, immediate playing time, and a very forgivable conference, there is no reason this school couldn’t position itself as a Protestant Notre Dame. It has worked for Wake Forest and Vanderbilt; no reason it can’t work for the Owls.
So, neither one has to be as bad as they are. But, yet they are. And the culmination of the recombinant dreck is on full display today. Don’t watch a minute of this garbage; you’ll only encourage them.