There are over fifty college football games airing on nationally available networks Saturday. And while trying to watch all of them sounds like a fan’s dream, you only have so many eyeballs to use and so many hours in the day. Understanding those issues, we’ve compiled a list of some of the best games that are worth organizing your weekend schedule around, helpfully broken down into ‘good games’ and ‘great games.’ Enjoy!
(Each section’s games are listed in chronological order.)
No. 20 Kansas State at Iowa State, Noon ET, Fox Sports 1
We’re not going to pull any punches: This isn’t the greatest weekend college football slate known to man. With powerhouse teams across the country feasting on non-conference directional school cupcakes you’ve never heard of in the early weeks of the season, it’s a little more difficult than usual to fill the ‘good games’ section. But when in doubt, go with a conference matchup. Big 12 foes Kansas State and Iowa State square off at noon eastern time, and that should get your football day off to a solid start.
No. 15 Ole Miss at Vanderbilt, 4:30 p.m. ET, ESPN
See above. Conference games > most non-conference games. Vanderbilt was underwhelming in a lopsided home loss to Temple last week, but the start of SEC play could bring out the best in the Commodores. Ranked teams on the road in league play are always worth keeping an eye out on for upset potential, even if Vandy’s start to the season didn’t inspire a ton of confidence that it will happen in Nashville on Saturday.
East Carolina at No. 21 South Carolina, 7 p.m. ET, ESPNU
Quick, which of these programs boasts more wins against the other in nine total meetings since 1991? The answer might surprise you: It’s East Carolina. The Pirates always seem to play tough against Steve Spurrier’s Gamecocks, and South Carolina can’t afford another home defeat after getting blown out by Texas A&M in week one.
BYU at Texas, 7:30 p.m. ET, Fox Sports 1
Neither team is ranked, but at least you’re getting two programs with national followings in what should be an entertaining evening game. Texas enters game two of the Charlie Strong era after a 31-point win over North Texas (see: ‘directional school’), but should get a slightly better test (and measuring stick of where the program sits currently) when the Cougars come to Austin.
No. 14 USC at No. 13 Stanford, 3:30 p.m. ET, ABC
A battle of top-fifteen teams? An early season Pac-12 showdown between two of the league favorites (along with Oregon, which we’ll get to below)? Yes, please. In the new College Football Playoff era, a matchup like this one becomes even more critical for teams hoping to sneak into the four-team bracket when it’s announced in December. Steve Sarkisian’s first conference game as USC coach, coming against a powerhouse that’s made four consecutive BCS bowl trips, is definitely worth your attention.
No. 7 Michigan State at No. 3 Oregon, 6:30 p.m. ET, FOX
Easily the game of the week, so make sure you plan accordingly. The Spartans and Ducks both have legitimate national title aspirations, and no matter the result of this game, it’s sure to come up again and again when the playoff selection committee begins to discuss possible participants…and seeding, as well. The Big Ten missed out on a big chance to gain some national respect when Wisconsin blew a double-digit second-half lead against LSU last Saturday, but Michigan State has a change to build the conference’s reputation with a win over the Pac-12′s highest-ranked team.
Michigan at No. 16 Notre Dame, 7:30 p.m. ET, NBC
Games like Michigan-Notre Dame are what make college football special…which is why it’s a shame that this historic series doesn’t look like it will resume anytime soon after Saturday’s showdown in South Bend. There are always bragging rights on the line when the Wolverines and Irish meet, but even more so if in 2014 if the teams don’t end up playing again for the next who-knows-how-many years.
Virginia Tech at No. 8 Ohio State, 8 p.m. ET, ESPN
Ohio State’s home opener at a newly expanded Ohio Stadium (Because, when you have over 100,000 seats, what’s a few thousand more?) could be more difficult than expected with Frank Beamer’s Hokies as the opponent. If Virginia Tech can keep its composure despite what will be the largest crowd it’s ever played in front of, the team could pose a threat to the Buckeyes (and an OSU freshman quarterback making just his second career start) in this clash of power conference schools.