Call me crazy, but it’s finally starting to feel like football season.
Last Saturday we got a handful of games, a college football appetizer if you will, that included the likes of Army, Navy, BYU and SMU. This week we got Texans-Chiefs on Thursday, we’ll get some ACC and SEC teams taking the field this afternoon, with a full slate of NFL tomorrow and Monday.
Goodness does it feel good to have football back.
Still, even with that said, I know that it won’t really feel like a college football Saturday until the SEC kicks off, and if we’re being totally honest, even today’s “big” games don’t feel so big. Sorry, Duke-Notre Dame and Clemson-Wake Forest, it’s true.
Thankfully, I’m here to help. If you woke up this morning feeling a little sluggish, trying to figure out how or potentially why you should watch college football this afternoon, you’ve come to the right place. Last week I gave you one reason to watch every game on college football Saturday, and today I will do much the same.
Because there are more games this week than last, I won’t get to every game (sorry, but you’ll have to fire yourself up to watch UTSA-Texas State).
But still, here is at least one reason to watch all the big games Saturday.
Syracuse at No. 18 North Carolina: Saturday, 12:00 p.m. ET, ESPN
Put simply, this is a matchup between one of the hot, trendy “you’ve got to watch out for these guys!” teams in college football, against, well, one that is the exact opposite.
In terms of the “exact opposite” I am of course talking about Syracuse, a program that has really put the “fun” in dysfunction the last few years. Admittedly, you might remember that they won 10 games a few years ago, a feat that might just have been a totally random blip on the radar. Last year Syracuse’s win total was cut in half, thanks to one of the worst defenses in college football (they gave up 50+ points three different times). And this year, just when it felt like “Ok, this team might not be awful” – the two best running backs on the Orange roster both opted out of the season to prepare for the NFL Draft. Which wouldn’t be so bad if, you know, either one had rushed for more than 400 yards last year. Which neither did.
Basically, I guess what I’m trying to say is this: When players without NFL futures pulling out of this season to prepare for the NFL Draft it’s probably not a good sign for your program.
Then on the total opposite perspective is North Carolina, which became everyone’s trendy “this team could be really good in 2020” squad all off-season long.
And while those narratives are sometimes overblown, at least in this case, I think it’s justified.
At the very least, the Tar Heels should be entertaining, as they bring back a pair of running backs who combined to rush for 2,000 yards last year, as well as two receivers who each had over 1,000 yards receiving. Their quarterback Sam Howell is a Heisman dark horse as well.
And finally, even if “fun, high scoring football” isn’t your thing (and shame on you if it isn’t) well, just know this: If UNC wins, it’s almost certain a video will emerge of Mack Brown dancing in the postgame locker room. And in a wild, 2020, isn’t that something we can all be thankful for?
Mack Brown dancing with the boys after a UNC opening weekend win is an all-time college football moment pic.twitter.com/UhdhfYBYb3
— At Home from the Middle Urinal (@MiddleUrinalPod) September 1, 2019
Charlotte at Appalachian State: Saturday, 12:00 p.m. ET, ESPN2
Tune into this one because, well, these are actually two pretty good football teams. Charlotte won its final five regular season games last year to claim the school’s first ever bowl berth, while App State went 13-1 and won the Sun Belt with one of college football’s most explosive offenses. That offense, which averaged 39 points per game last season, returns nine starters. So yeah, points could be coming in bunches in this one.
Oh, and if you’re looking for one more reason to tune in, do it because there’s a chance this game will be a showcase for the next small-school coach who will get some big-time job next off-season. Two years Scott Satterfield used a big run at App State to end up at Louisville, and last year it was Eli Drinkwitz who parlayed one season at the school into the Missouri job.
One, I can’t believe we really have an SEC head coach named “Eli Drinkwitz.”
And two, can new App State coach Shawn Clark make it 3 for 3 next off-season?
Tune in to find out.
Louisiana at No. 23 Iowa State: Saturday, 12:00 p.m. ET, ESPN
At this point you’re probably starting to sense a trend. Buuuuut: Tune into this one if you’re looking for some fun, explosive offenses!
Now I know what you’re thinking: “Torres, enough with the explosive offenses. Every team in America can’t have a fun explosive offense!” – which is totally fair. Except in this case, where these two teams… do have fun explosive offenses. Just like Sun Belt rival Appalachian State, Louisiana averaged just under 38 points per game last season. And then there is Iowa State, whose starting quarterback Brock Purdy led the Big 12 in passing a year ago.
Yes, you read that correctly. It wasn’t Sam Ehlinger or Jalen Hurts who led the Big 12 in passing last year. It was the quarterback from Iowa Freakin’ State.
Of all the weird things you’ve read in 2020, that’s got to be on the short list of the weirdest, right?
Arkansas State at Kansas State: Saturday, 12:00 p.m. ET, FOX
Finally, if you’re tired of me talking about “fun and explosive offenses” I present you Kansas State. These guys play at much more of your grandfather’s pace, after they averaged 178 yards per game on the ground last season and were in the Top 10 nationally in time of possession.
If you’re looking to keep your heart rate down, and watch some good old-fashioned football that features a lot of fullback traps and no downfield passing, this is the game for you.
Duke at No. 10 Notre Dame: Saturday, 2:30 p.m. ET, NBC
Watch this game, if only because it will be the latest and quite possibly greatest example of how idiotic the Big Ten’s decision to cancel football was.
Why is that? Well, it’s because Notre Dame is umm… how do I say this nicely… actually playing football! You know, despite being in the same state as two Big Ten teams (Indiana and Purdue) and within three hours driving distance of four others (Michigan, Michigan State, Illinois and Northwestern) the folks in the ACC have no issue sending them out on the field.
Can’t lie, that’s not a great look for the Big Ten.
And oh, to take it a step further, don’t forget: Notre Dame will also play with… ACTUAL FANS IN THE STANDS!!!
So you mean to tell me it’s perfectly safe for the Irish to play in front of fans, but somehow isn’t safe for Indiana and Purdue to play at all? It makes no sense at all.
As for the on the field stuff, well, I’m struggling here. Watching Duke play football is about as exciting about your friend’s fantasy football draft, so yeah, this one could be a struggle.
Missouri State at No. 5 Oklahoma: Saturday, 4:00 p.m. ET, Pay Per View
Watch this one, if only for the sheer audacity that is oozing out of the Oklahoma athletics department right now. That’s because in the middle of a global pandemic, where everyone is struggling to make ends meat… Oklahoma is…
Wait, I need to set the scene…
Make sure you’re sitting down…
Are you sure you’re ready for this…
Oklahoma is going to charge $49.99 to watch this game on Pay Per View.
FIFTY BUCKS! IN A PANDEMIC! TO WATCH THE SOONERS BEAT SOMETHING CALLED MISSOURI STATE BY 100!!!!
What a world, people!!!!
Honestly, this kind of reminds me of the scene in the movie “Anchorman” when Baxter ate the whole wheel of cheese.
I’m not even mad at Oklahoma for pulling off such an absurd move. I’m actually kind of impressed.
No. 1 Clemson at Wake Forest: Saturday, 7:30 p.m. ET, ABC
I mean, you really don’t need me to lay out an all-too-detailed explanation here, do I?
It’s Clemson. And Trevor Lawrence. And College Gameday is in town (even if there will be no fans). And until the actual SEC kicks off two weeks from now, nothing will feel more like college football than what we’re getting Saturday night in Winston-Salem.
Sure, I wish the opponent was a little better. But again, it’s a Saturday night with Dabo and one of the best college quarterbacks of my lifetime. And I can’t lie: It sure beats mid-April when I spent my Saturday night’s playing UNO with the in-laws.
UTEP at No. 15 Texas: Saturday, 8:00 p.m. ET, Longhorn Network
Tune in, because for one night it really will feel like “Texas is back!”
To be clear, they aren’t. But they are playing arguably the worst team in FBS football in UTEP, a club that went 1-11 last year and is a staggering 3-22 since the start of the 2018 season. Furthermore, their one victory last season came against an FCS team, and last week they also beat an FCS team (a struggle against Stephen F. Austin, at that). Meaning, the Miners are a staggering 1-21 against FBS football competition in the last three seasons, a truly incredible run of ineptitude, that would honestly be hard to replicate even if you tried.
I say all this to say that Texas should win by a million.
Just be ready for the “Texas is back!” headlines come Sunday morning. They’re coming.
Western Kentucky at Louisville: Saturday, 8:00 p.m. ET, ACC Network
I don’t want to generalize or stereotype here. BUT, if you’re the type of person that likes to see Louisville wince and squirm, this might be the game for you.
And to be clear, that is no disrespect to Louisville (no seriously, it isn’t). Western Kentucky is just a legitimately good football team. They’re a team that most everyone agrees is the class of Conference USA and a club that has a loaded defense that finished in the Top 25 nationally and returns nine starters from last season.
I’m not quite sure they have the offensive firepower to keep up with Louisville for 60 minutes. But it could be closer than many think.
Coastal Carolina at Kansas: Saturday, 9:00 p.m. ET, FS1
Finally tune into this one because chances are pretty good you’re going to stumble home late Saturday night, and this will be just about the only thing on. Unless you want to watch infomercials or re-runs of King of Queens (and I can’t blame you on the last one), Kansas football will be the best thing going.
Also, tune into this one, because… It’s Revenge SZN, BABY!!! Kansas style!
That’s right, never forget that last year, coming off an exhilarating win over Indiana State to open the season, Kansas then welcomed Coastal Carolina to town… and fell to the Chanticleers in a 12-7 heartbreaker. It was the kind of victory that all 11 Coastal Carolina football fans will be telling their grandkids about generations from now.
And on the other sideline, I can only imagine that the Jayhawks have been thinking about that game all off-season. And if there’s one thing I’ve learned throughout my time on this planet, it’s that no one just walks into David Booth Memorial Kansas Stadium and wins two games in a row, dammit!
Well, besides everyone in the Big 12. But that’s besides the point.
Still, if you miss having Les Miles in your life on a college football Saturday then make sure and tune into this game, and if you are a fan of Kansas football make sure to tune in too.
With all conference games going forward from here, this might be Kansas’ last chance at a victory all season.
Enjoy your college football Saturday, everyone!