If your desire for the first real fall-like weekend this year is to watch SEC football, you may be out of luck for the most part. After opening with a fair amount of Power 5 non-conference opponents in Week One, the league mostly takes a step back and signs the checks as they welcome lower-division schools from around the country.
This weekend’s conference slate features such games as:
- #22 Florida vs Northern Colorado (11 am CST)
- Kentucky vs Eastern Kentucky (11 am CST)
- Ole Miss vs UT-Martin (11 am CST)
- #1 Alabama vs Fresno State (2:30 pm CST)
- #25 Tennessee vs Indiana State (3:00 pm CST)
- Vanderbilt vs Alabama A&M (3:00 pm CST)
- Texas A&M vs Nicholls (6:00 pm CST)
- #12 LSU vs Chattanooga (6:30 pm CST)
- Mississippi State vs Louisiana Tech (7:30 pm CST)
As you can see, there’s not a whole lot to watch aside from Auburn-Clemson. However, we do have a couple games on the conference landscape, so let’s touch on those before we hit the biggies around the country.
- Arkansas vs #23 TCU (2:30 pm CST): It’s the first real test this season for Bert and his Piggies as they get to see what Kenny Trill (remember him) can bring to Fayetteville along with Gary Patterson and the Horned Frogs. Last year Arkansas beat an average TCU team 41-38, but it came a week after the Hogs nearly fell to Louisiana Tech. TCU looks better this year, and Arkansas took a little while to get going last week in the win over FAMU. If I was a betting man, I’d take Patterson and company this week on the road. I won’t believe that Bielema’s got it together until I see it.
- Missouri vs South Carolina (6:00 pm CST): It’s the only conference matchup this weekend, and it’s going to tell us a good bit about both of these teams from the East. South Carolina looked pretty good against NC State last weekend, while Missouri played basketball against heated rival Missouri State in a 78-43 victory at home. The Tigers had the conference’s top offense in terms of yardage last year, but it was heavily skewed by fattening up against bad non-con opponents. I imagine Will Muschamp’s defense brings Drew Lock back to earth on Saturday night, but we’ll get a look at what Missouri likes to do before Auburn heads to CoMo in a couple weeks.
SOUP AND SALAD
- #4 Penn State vs Pittsburgh (2:30 pm CST): This is a rematch game from last season’s early September schedule where Pitt beat the Nittany Lions at Heinz Field. At that time, we didn’t think PSU was any good since they got trounced by Michigan a couple weeks later, but they turned it on and won nine straight through the Big Ten title game and went to the Rose Bowl. James Franklin’s bunch looked crisp against Akron, and this is the game that Saquon Barkley can use to fully put himself near the top of the Heisman race. Pitt got taken to overtime by Youngstown State. Bet on the Lions.
This is an incredible Saturday night of college football — along with Auburn/Clemson, you’ll get to see three other huge games at the same time. It’ll be like getting your steak, lobster, ribs, and salmon all at once and having to decide what to eat. Let’s dive in.
- #2 Ohio State vs #5 Oklahoma (6:30 pm CST): A year ago, it seemed like Ohio State might be the best team in the country after they went down to Norman and roasted the Sooners 45-24. This time around, they’ll have another opportunity to try and prove that with a top-five matchup happening at the Horseshoe in Columbus. JT Barrett didn’t look great in the opener, a win over Indiana, while Oklahoma didn’t really give us anything concrete as they whipped UTEP 56-7. Baker Mayfield did complete 19-20 passes in the opener, but again, look at the competition. I have to think that Ohio State wins this, as OU’s lost a little more talent from last year’s team than the Buckeyes did. I’ll pick Ohio State to win a not-very-exciting game as they roll to the game against Penn State undefeated in late October.
- #24 Notre Dame vs #15 Georgia (6:30 pm CST): It’s the first time these two have met since the Sugar Bowl after the 1980 season, where Georgia beat the Irish and won their last national championship. This Saturday, we probably won’t learn a whole lot about the Bulldogs’ offense since Jacob Eason will not play after injuring his knee in the opening win over App State. We may learn a great deal about their defense, since Notre Dame will bring in a rushing attack that produced three 100-yard guys in their win over Temple to begin the year. Brandon Wimbush is a mobile quarterback, and if he gives Kirby Smart’s defense some trouble, it may have future teams in the SEC licking their chops. Or Georgia could overpower the Irish and send Brian Kelly’s job status into further doubt. I’d love to see the former, but I think we’ll see the latter.
- #6 USC vs #14 Stanford (7:30 pm CST): Last year, Stanford hit USC in the mouth in a 27-10 victory, but that was early in the season before Sam Darnold became the guy at quarterback for the Trojans. Now, he’s the hottest quarterback prospect in the country, despite the fact that he threw a couple of picks against Western Michigan in what turned out to be a much more difficult game than most people expected. I really don’t know what to expect here, as USC is full of talent, but David Shaw’s got that classic powerful, big-shoulder-pad-wearing Cardinal dynamic going in Palo Alto. I’ll say that just a short while after Clemson goes down, so do the Trojans, making this our first upset weekend of 2017.
- #20 Washington State vs Boise State (9:30 pm CST): The Cougs have started this year 1-0, which is a bit of a surprise! Under Mike Leach, Wazzu lost the season opener to FCS teams each of the last two years, and then went on to run off pretty good seasons with nine and eight wins respectively. Boise State beat Troy in Week One, but this ain’t your daddy’s Chris Petersen Boise team. WSU has a pretty good quarterback named Luke Falk (you’d hear a lot more about him if he wasn’t in the same conference as Darnold and Josh Rosen), and the Cougs are poised to sit at 4-0 when USC comes to town at the end of September. I like Wazzu this weekend for a weird Saturday night closer and for a fun little run as a sleeper team in the Pac-12.
Great weekend on tap, everyone. Just a pity that the huge games aren’t spread out a bit. Maybe you’ll be able to turn on Ohio State-Oklahoma once Auburn puts the subs in up 35 in the fourth at Clemson. War Eagle!