Now, at last, we get down to the nitty-gritty. For the rest of the college football season, there are so many impactful games spread out over so much of the week. It’s a football feast – appropriate this week, because Thanksgiving is here!
But with so much on the line, what games should you watch? Which ones are worth your time and which will be duds? Don’t worry, I’m here to help, with recommendations for what should be on your Big Screen, your Second Screen (whatever it is), and your scoreboard app.
This column normally makes its appearance on Friday evenings, but with college football starting so early this week, I figured I needed to make an exception.
There’s so much wonderment to behold that I’ll get right to it, with the two caveats that if your team is playing they should go on the Big Screen, and that all times are in God’s Time (CST).
Big Screen: After you watch some pro ball between the Cowboys and Redskins (as is tradition), heap some Thanksgiving leftovers on your plate and feast your eyes on the Egg Bowl – Ole Miss vs. Mississippi State (6:30p, ESPN)! It’s only exciting this year because if Ole Miss wins, it inexplicably qualifies for a bowl.
Big Screen: Get that shopping done quick, because early in the day comes Houston vs. Memphis (11a, ABC), a showdown between two dangerous and electric Group of 5 offenses. Then give your TV a rest until Oklahoma vs. West Virginia (7p, ESPN) in the evening. This Sooner/Mountaineer clash determines the makeup of next week’s Big 12 Championship Game, and features two likewise zoomy offenses. Neither team is favored. This one could get crazy.
Second Screen: The Apple Cup, Washington vs. Washington State (7:30p, FOX), is fun if only to see whether Washington can spoil Mike Leach’s chance at the Playoff – and by extension, the entire PAC-12’s.
Big Screen: Michigan vs. Ohio State (11a, FOX). Of course. This is a play-in game for the Big 10 Championship between two College Football Playoff hopefuls. Michigan, um, usually doesn’t win this game. But this year Michigan is good! At least we think so!
Second Screen: There are very few ways that Florida vs. Florida State (11a, ABC) could be an objectively good game. Why is it here, then? If the Noles can beat a faltering Gator squad, they go to a bowl – and when you think about how FSU has played this year, that’s hilarious.
Watch the Score: Indiana vs. Purdue (12p, ESPN2); Syracuse vs. Boston College (11a, ESPN), Baylor vs. Texas Tech (11a, FS1)
Big Screen: Auburn vs. Alabama (2:30p, CBS) takes our top spot because the Iron Bowl almost always gets crazy. Alabama should crush the Tigers like, well, a herd of elephants, but Auburn should at least make it fun. Maybe. If all else fails, the Tide’s defensive line should have a career game.
Second Screen: No, Maryland vs. Penn State (2:30p, ABC) doesn’t exactly have bowl eligibility or championship stakes per se, but both teams have middling-to-great skill players on offense and defense. I also don’t quite know why they’re playing. Do the Nittany Lions and the Terps have a rivalry I don’t know about? Regardless, in a weak afternoon slate this is probably the second best game of the bunch.
Watch the Score: Arizona State vs. Arizona (2:30p, FS1); Tennessee vs. Vanderbilt (3p, SECN)
Big Screen: Notre Dame vs. USC (7p, ABC) ought to be an Irish victory. Still, wouldn’t it be funny if after a season’s worth of chatter about a Playoff-breaking run by Notre Dame, they fall flat on their faces against a not-very-good Trojans team? Weirder things have happened!
Second Screen: Oklahoma State vs. TCU (7p, FOX) will be good. Hear me out. OSU is probably the best six-win team in college football, with a high-flying offense and next to no defense. TCU has to win to become bowl eligible. They’re on their fourth-string QB and their defense is not spectacular, but they will be desperate.
Watch the Score: LSU vs. Texas A&M (6:30p, SECN); South Carolina vs. Clemson (6p, ESPN)
Big Screen: Hallelujah, some excellent fare in this timeslot at last. Utah State vs. Boise State (9:15p, ESPN) features two ranked Group of 5 teams who will be spoiling for upsets in their bowl games facing off against each other in a rivalry game that apparently means a great deal in Utah/Idaho. Should be fun! If it isn’t, go to bed!
This Saturday follow me on Twitter here, where I'll tweet about all these games using #WatchingCFB. Feel free to chime in with your hottest football takes. And watch out this holiday weekend for an article about how the College Football Playoff selection process could produce its highest level of drama yet.