Each week I try to divide the Saturday into four bite size pieces and give you the top game in each quadrant. This week there are several great candidates in each of the first three time slots so I’m going to double that and give you the top 6 games so you can pick from the top 2 or you can scroll down and find your favorite team or another game of regional interest to you. As for the late games, none are worth highlighting so those are buried at the end of the world’s longest Facebook post.
And just remember, just because your team has a bye week or as many losses as there are musketeers it doesn’t mean that you have to lose interest in the season. Lots of great plays and moments still await those of us that love college football and soon enough the season will be behind us so enjoy it while you can before we have to resort to basketball or worse yet figure skating . . . .
TODAY’S TOP SIX GAMES OF INTEREST
FIRST QUARTER (Noon-3:30 PM)
Louisville at Florida State – ESPN (DTV-206) (SPEC-1127) – Noles and Cardinals both need this win bad enough and the keys to the game will be whether FSU’s defense can slow down Lamar Jackson (because no one has stopped him this year and he has 300 plus passing yards in every game) and can FSU’s banged up offensive line run the ball and impose its will on Louisville’s defense. I think the answers are no and maybe. FSU will need to score more touchdowns not just points than it has this season if they want to squeeze out a victory. Line in this game is FSU by about 6 1/2. Not sure what team in Vegas they have been watching but we are far from a lock in any game, much less by 7 points. I think Louisville looks like the easy pick given our challenges on offense but I’m sticking with the Noles in another nail biter, 35-31. So if nothing else I’ve given Heather Pinder Rodriguez, Ana Tangel-Rodriguez, Jose Rodriguez, Judi Garabo Hayes, Melissa Miles and Gigi Bee hope this morning.
(10) Oklahoma State at Texas – ABC (DTV-9) (SPEC-1090) – This has one of two possibilities an upset victory of monumental proportions for a Texas program thirsty for something to salvage their season or another Texas-sized whoopin’. I know hand me the Captain Obvious award but I do give Texas a chance. As much as I love Rudolph and company at Oklahoma State, they got manhandled in the TCU loss. Meanwhile, Texas has played tough even in their losses. I can’t put my finger on whether i just want Texas to be back so badly or whether subconsciously I see something in that Texas’ QB that makes me believe but I’m taking Texas to prevail in Austin on a late score. Giving out more hope to Longhorn faithful Vivien Monaco
SECOND QUARTER (3:30 PM-6:00 PM)
(20) UCF at Navy – CBS Sports Network (DTV-221) (SPEC-1137) – Even football pundits outside of Central Florida are excited to see this American Athletic Conference match-up and many are calling for Navy to beat out UCF. Not me. I’m sold on the Knights. I think they take the opening kickoff and never look back. This is as dominant a season as I recall from this group and I think this is just beginning. Knights on the road by double digits making UCF BMG Marcos Marchena happy.
Syracuse at (8) Miami, FL – ESPN (DTV-206) (SPEC-1127) – Both teams wear orange so right off the bat, I can’t say I’m watching this game for too long in between UCF commercials. And both are coming off of spectacular and amazing wins last weekend. Syracuse though needs to go on the road and beat a solid Miami team which I still think is overrated and won’t finish in the top 12. But hey, for today, they should be given a top 10 ranking. Hurricanes also will realize that losing starting RB Walton will be okay on some occasions but that on other occasions he will be missed and the running game will come to a halt. Low scoring affair in which Miami escapes with another win. Gary Barker, Bill Segal, Toby Murray, David Miller and Penelope Perez-Kelly you can thank me later.
THIRD QUARTER (6:00-9:00 PM)
(11) USC at (13) Notre Dame – NBC (Local NBC Channel) (DTV-2) (SPEC-1020) – One of these two is going home out of the national title picture so this is an elimination game for all intents and purposes. USC has looked sluggish all season and Notre Dame hasn’t only really played two opponents of substance, Georgia who beat them close and Michigan State who they beat handily. Notre Dame will be up for this game but I see Sam Darnold finally having that Heisman moment this year and rising to the occasion to win a tough one on the road. Should be a back and forth affair though and if one team comes out and wins this convincingly they may catapult themselves into the Top 4 discussion because everyone but Alabama will have a loss by the end of the season. Jamie Billotte Moses will be happy I picked the Trojans because she knows I’m not always right.
(19) Michigan at (2) Penn State – ABC (DTV-9) (SPEC-1090) – White out in Happy Valley! White out in Happy Valley. That’s about all I’ve heard on this game for a week. Sheesh! Who cares what color your fans wear. What matters are the products on the field and the field generals that direct the plays. Football is much more mastery and emotion than substance. Michigan has plenty of both. But I think Penn State matches and exceeds and will dominate Michigan at home to avenge last year’s embarrassing loss thereby ending Harbaugh’s season. Katie Bartoo don’t celebrate too much after this win because you have another big game next week.
FOURTH QUARTER (After hours 9:00 PM+)
Skip them tonight and get some rest. You’ve earned it . . . .
BEST OF THE REST
REMAINING FIRST QUARTER GAMES
Maryland at (5) Wisconsin – FOX (DTV-35) (SPEC-1035) – Wisconsin is one team that could run the tables because they have a soft schedule until they play in the championship game. They have one ranked opponent remaining, #19 Michigan at home, and by the time they play them they could be out of the top 25. Maryland is not the same team that beat Texas as they are on their third string QB. Wisconsin also pounds the heck out of you during the game and is fun to watch. Robert Tracy will be doing a lot of Jumping Around in the Fifth Quarter today as the Badgers win easily at home.
Pittsburgh at Duke – WRBW (DTV-65) (SPEC-1065) – Dukies are not quite ready for football. They have lost three in a row but played the closest game against FSU in their history last week and now face an improving Pitt team that is underperforming this year. Suzanne Gilbert should be celebrating a very winnable game for the Blue Devils and I think they seal the deal and get their fifth win. Duke by a touchdown.
Iowa at Northwestern – ESPN2 (DTV-209) (SPEC-1128) – Northwestern finally won a Big Ten game last week but that was against a depleted Maryland. Iowa has lost two conference games against Penn State and Michigan State by a combined 9 points. I like Iowa to come into Chicago and act like the own the joint. Hawkeyes and Tim Semelroth win by 10 or more.
Iowa State at Texas Tech – FOX Sports 1 (DTV-219) (SPEC-1153) – This is a hard game to call. Iowa State delivered what I think is the biggest upset of the year, even bigger than the Clemson loss. But they have also beaten a decent Akron team and they lost to Texas and Iowa in close battles. Texas Tech has lost to Oklahoma State and West Virginia which are respectable losses and beat Houston and Arizona State outside the conference which are respectable wins but both have struggled. My early week prediction was Texas Tech but my crystal ball has become hazy this morning and I’m making a Saturday morning call for Iowa State. Oh wait, nope never mind that was just hot air coming from D.C. It’s clear now to me, Red Raiders in a tight one.
Purdue at Rutgers – Big Ten Network (DTV-610) (SPEC-1138) – Boilermakers vs. Scarlet Knights. Again in the world of the absurd mascots, this sounds like the latest Monty Python movie. Rutgers will be explaining that it’s a mere flesh wound even though they will get down by three scores. Meanwhile Purdue fans will be singing I’m a Boilermaker and I’m okay, I sleep all night and I work all day . . . Purdue by a few too many. Sorry for Chris N. Kolos but better luck next time.
Temple at Army – CBS Sports Network (DTV-221) (SPEC-1137) – Temple just lost to UConn so how I can possibly pick the Owls. But Army has won two games without completing a pass!! More amazing they are 5-2 in the year and have completed how many passes this year? 8!!!! For the season! I gotta pick them right? Well I may be rooting for Army in support of guys like Joel Roberts but I think Temple pulls this out. And Temple has Navy next week so this will serve as an option tune-up for when they face the Midshipmen who actually complete a few more passes than that. Temple in a close one.
Tulsa at UConn – ESPNU (DTV-208) (SPEC-1131) – Noon time is where they put the teams with lots of losses on TV. Let’s not get too insulted by this Nole fans but we haven’t earned our way into the prime time hours just yet. But these two teams are special doormats. Both came off unexpected wins last week. For Tulsa it was against a good Houston team but after starting the season 1-5 no one saw that coming. And for UConn it was unexpected because, well, every win is unexpected. But not this week. I’ll take the Huskies at home because I believe in Randy Edsall to begin turning this thing around in East Hartford.
Idaho at Missouri – SEC Network (DTV-611) (SPEC-1150) – Speaking of bad teams . . . the SEC Channel ought to replace their initials with S-U-C. This is a pitiful game with two teams with 3 combined wins in October. Sure the Noles only have 2 wins but they had one wiped out by a hurricane and lost another to a hurricane in the final 6 seconds. Missouri has lost 5 straight by an average of 23.6 points. Ouch! I have to think an SEC team can beat a team named the Vandals. Heck isn’t that the name of a Motown group from the 60’s? I don’t know I’m not that old but I’ll bite and take Mizzou but I won’t be surprised if they lose either. Tigers claw their way to a victory by a few giving Linda Vance a rare happy Saturday.
Boston College at Virginia – Fox Sports Florida (DTV-654) (SPEC-1149) – This is a much better game than some of the others and starts at 12:30 so keep this one late dial as the 3:30 games get started. BC just picked up an impressive road win against Louisville. Meanwhile, Virginia’s a win from becoming bowl eligible and a few wins away from locking up the Coach of the Year honors for Bronco Mendenhall. This will be a tough fight for both but I like the Cavaliers at home by a field goal.
REMAINING SECOND QUARTER GAMES
Tennessee at (1) Alabama – CBS (DTV-6) (SPEC-1060) – Wow! The Tennessee Express has really derailed after another crippling loss for Butch Jones and now they get to go to Tuscaloosa. Can a season be more out of control than this? Hey but look at the bright side Vol fans and you know who you are Sandy Amy Franks and Tricia Broyles Atchison, you still have a game against Missouri and Vanderbilt doesn’t look that formidable any more. Woo hoo!! And with another win against Southern Miss you will lock up a 6-6 season and a bowl bid. Yeah? I know not much solace but today is going to be ugly so don’t even watch. Bama fans, Ashley Carroll Dykes and Larry J. Ruffin all I ask is that you keep winning pounding the snot out of your opponents to make our early season loss look even better.
Arizona State at Utah – FOX Sports 1 (DTV-219) (SPEC-1153) – This is a tough game now that Arizona State came out of nowhere to not only beat Washington but to hold them to 7 points. Wow!!! And I know they beat Oregon two weeks ago but had the Sun Devils defense played that way all year, I’d say I’m all in. But they haven’t. So every now and then a team rises up and overcomes great things to win. This week they have to go to Utah who is stinging from two losses by 4 points to Stanford and USC. I’ll take the Utes in this one to take out some frustrations on ASU.
Indiana at (18) Michigan State – ABC (DTV-9) (SPEC-1090) – So their starting running back got arrested, no big deal. Sure it was the 7th time for driving without a license, but who cares. I mean if they wanted him not to drive they could always toss him in jail right? Michigan State is making the process I thought they would this year with a well coached Dantonio defense but they can’t escape their recent off-the-field troubles and it could impede their confidence going up against a dangerous Indiana team that gave Ohio State and Michigan all they could handle. I know Indiana is thinking upset win on the road but license or no license, Sparty will win this one much to Mike Remensnyder‘s delight.
North Carolina at (14) Virginia Tech – ESPN2 (DTV-209) (SPEC-1128) – Tar Heels have already moved on to basketball haven’t they Ben Howell? Virginia Tech is looking ahead to the Miami game on 11/4. Possible upset alert watch but I think the Hokies take care of business over a listless UNC squad.
Illinois at Minnesota – Big Ten Network (DTV-610) (SPEC-1138) – Illinois losing to Rutgers will bring about the end of the Lovie Smith era. The problem is who do you hire. This team is starting Jeff George’s son. His dad was a royal jerk so I can’t watch them without thinking of that over talented clown who was also a head case in the NFL. Okay truth is I wouldn’t watch Illinois football regardless because it is a bad product. But they have no winnable games left on the schedule. So for all aspiring Non Power 5 Conference coaches out there, this will be a job opening soon in Champagne. Row the Boat and the Gophers by a lot at home giving Karen Persis someone to root for today since her Gators are sleeping-in today.
Kentucky at Mississippi State – SEC Network (DTV-611) (SPEC-1150) – Wow a good game on the S-U-C Network? Surprising! Kentucky was my pick earlier in the week. Then I saw that the Bulldogs were favored by 13 so I switched my pick to Mississippi State. I mean double digit favorites don’t usually lose in a straight pick. But then I thought, hmmm . . . Kentucky’s only loss was by a point. But then again they haven’t beaten anyone of substance this year and Mississippi State clobbered LSU and confused everyone about both teams. Ah but Mississippi State came back to reality and was destroyed by both Georgia and Auburn. Yes but would Kentucky fare any better? Hmmm . . . So I went back to Kentucky because in the end I should always go with my gut irrespective of what the wise guys in Vegas tell you. Even on the road. I think this is the year for Stoops and Kentucky to finally have a winning record in the SEC for the first time since they went to divisional play. If they hope to do that they have to beat Mississippi State today. Kats by a field goal late to win it for Diana Goetz.
Oregon at UCLA – Pac-12 Network (DTV N/A) (SPEC-822) – Ooof! Talk about difficult calls. This was another Florida Citrus Sports game to predict this week. And another tough game to call. UCLA is spiraling after losing to Arizona last week as I feared. This week they are at home against a beatable Oregon team. But beatable for others does not mean winnable for UCLA. They have gone from being the Bruisers to the Bruised. Ducks find a way to beat the Bruins at home and yet another listing on Craigslist will go up for a coaching vacancy this December. And again Jamie Billotte Moses and Stephen Jacobs celebrate my non-UCLA pick.
(9) Oklahoma at Kansas State – FOX (DTV-35) (SPEC-1035) – K-State looks tired like their coach. Their loss to Vandy was a precursor of things to come. I love Bill Snyder and don’t want to say it’s time for him to retire just yet but they are not winning this game or too many more this season. The beat Central Arkansas, Charlotte and Baylor who have combined for ZERO wins in Division 1 this year. No bueno. Sooners rather than Laters by a lot.
SMU at Cincinnati – ESPNU (DTV-208) (SPEC-1131) – Not a good game but only because the Bearcats are just not very good. I guess Tommy Tuberville was effective in coaching them up to 5-6 wins per year. Meanwhile the Mustangs are starting to roll with Chad Morris as their coach. The former Clemson coordinator is getting SMU pointed back in the right direction and if he can land an upset win over UCF in two weeks at home, then look for him to be updating his Linked-in profile and his ZipRecruiter status. Hmmm . . . Chad Morris coaching Josh Rosen? Now that would be intriguing.
REMAINING THIRD QUARTER GAMES
(16) USF at Tulane – ESPN2 (DTV-209) (SPEC-1128) – USF is getting better each week but Tulane is no pushover, especially at home. I really love how the students dress up for the games and then end up spilling hurricane juice all over their nice clothes. Green Wave are improving but USF Bulls should prevail much to the chagrin of birthday girl Jessica K. Hew and Rogers Turner.
BYU at East Carolina – CBS Sports Network (DTV-221) (SPEC-1137) – Ugh, if I could move this game down I would but it’s the last of the 7:00 p.m. games. BY-Who has been terrible and the Pirates, well argh! I’m predicting BYU but not because they have done anything to inspire me to pick them.
(24) LSU at Ole Miss – ESPN (DTV-206) (SPEC-1127) – Someone is making a really long road trip to go see their Tigers play and they asked specifically that I not pick them. I mean after driving for 800 miles the las thing you need is the kiss of death from me. But hey, I resemble that remark and I have successfully picked .817 of all games. I’m just not doing very well in LSU games this year (3-4) although I almost picked Troy to beat them. I do like LSU (sorry) but Ole Miss just doesn’t do it for me. And I know the last time I told LSU fans to relax they went out and lost to Mississippi State but this is different. I think. I hope. And LSU did barely beat both Florida and Auburn but they have to have their mojo back right? Otherwise, someone is going to be stewing all the way home for about 800 miles and in the bizarre world of college football we have a tendency to blame losses on the smallest things like whether Corso picked you to win or whether you wore your lucky shorts. Just hope I’m not added to that list of excuses, Joffa Braymer. Geaux Tigers by a field goal.
Wake Forest at Georgia Tech – ESPNU (DTV-208) (SPEC-1131) – Tech’s triple option is doing very well this year but Wake is not an easy win or at least that’s what we tell ourselves at FSU to help us sleep at night. They did beat BC and they held Clemson to 28 points but that was before we learned that Clemson’s kicker was the key to them being an unbeatable machine. Demon Deacons give them a fight which is good for Dennis Halligan but the Yellow Jackets ultimately prevail making most in the Scott Millson household happy.
(21) Auburn at Arkansas – SEC Network (DTV-611) (SPEC-1150) – I’d say this is a good match-up but again on the S-U-C Channel this is not an even a close fight. Arkansas is to the SEC what UNC is to the ACC, a punching bag. Auburn wins this easily over a listless Razorback team that will also be posting on monsters-dot-com looking for a coach in a few weeks.
Arizona at California – Pac-12 Network (DTV N/A) (SPEC-822) – See and here is the perfect example of how you go from almost losing your job to keeping it, you just win, baby! Zona did that last week against UCLA and the week before against Colorado. They weren’t pretty wins. They weren’t wrapped up in the first half. They didn’t blow them out and put in their third stringers to get extra garbage time. Nope. But they won and they now have a 4-2 record and all is seemingly good with Rich-Rod in Zona unless he loses this week to a dangerous Cal team that has upended Ole Miss and UNC and last week dismantled Washington State. Thankful this game was not on the FCS list of games this week but I’ll take Cal at home to hold serve and beat Arizona. Although last night I had Zona winning.
Kansas at (4) TCU – FOX (DTV-35) (SPEC-1035) – Kansas should not be playing at night. When you are chasing people down as they are running away from you because they are faster and stronger than you it just looks twice as embarrassing under the bright lights of a night game. TCU by a lot.
(23) West Virginia at Baylor – FOX Sports 2 (DTV-618) (SPEC-806) – Baylor should not be playing at night. When you are chasing people down as they are running away from you . . . . oh sorry, cut and paste error. Oh no wait a minute not an error, West Virginia by a lot so don’t even bother watching Steve Ball.
REMAINING FOURTH QUARTER GAMES
Wyoming at Boise State – ESPN2 (DTV-209) (SPEC-1128) – Blue Turfers surprised me a lot by taking it to a good, ranked San Diego State team last week and on the road no less. I had my doubts about both of these teams at the start of the season but I don’t doubt Boise State anymore. Wyoming still has not beaten anyone decent or held their own in their two out of conference losses. Broncos by a few.
Fresno State at San Diego State – CBS Sports Network (DTV-221) (SPEC-1137) – San Diego State could go from being 6-0 and excited about playing in a big New Year’s Day Bowl to going 6-2 in just 8 days. Fresno State is 4-2 but their losses were to Alabama and Washington. Both excusable despite the games being lopsided. The other FSU is undefeated in conference play but they’ve played some of the bottom feeders. I’ll take San Diego State again this week because I have to respect what they did in beating Arizona State and Stanford. But another loss and I’m off the Aztec bandwagon or chariot or wheel barrow or scooter.
Colorado at (15) Washington State – ESPN (DTV-206) (SPEC-1127) – Final game of the night comes to us from good ole Pullman, Washington. Pullman, according to the city’s website, with its historical roots in agriculture has matured into a community with small-town comforts and cosmopolitan amenities. It is home to world class Washington State University and benefits from a diverse and international student population. So basically it’s a college town with nothing else to do but root for football. And Mike Leach had them in a frenzy before last week’s devastating loss to Cal. They will get their revenge on Colorado this week as the fall turns the leaves to beautiful shades of red and orange. Cougars by a touchdown but the Hawaiian Buff fan Justin Prouty will be too relaxed to be upset.
That’s it for this week folks and tune back in next week with some exciting games on the slate including Florida-Georgia (not just a country band) and I think the White Outs take on the O-H-I-Os.