If, before the season began, you had Minnesota and Penn State entering Saturday’s game with nary a loss between them, I salute you. If you had stodgy ol’ LSU entering Saturday’s game against Alabama as a team with one of the most dominant and entertaining offenses in the land, please take me along with you to Vegas on your next trip. If you had Clemson going undefeated but somehow not in the College Football Playoff top four at the moment, I would like to subscribe to your newsletter.
|Noon||Maryland at No. 1 Ohio State||Fox|
|Noon||No. 4 Penn State at No. 17 Minnesota||ABC|
|Noon||Vanderbilt at No. 10 Florida||ESPN|
|Noon||Texas Tech at West Virginia||ESPN2|
|Noon||East Carolina at No. 25 SMU||ESPNU|
|Noon||Florida State at Boston College||ACC Network|
|Noon||Western Kentucky at Arkansas||SEC Network|
|Noon||Purdue at Northwestern||Big Ten Network|
|Noon||Massachusetts at Army||CBS Sports Network|
|Noon||No. 12 Baylor at TCU||Fox Sports 1|
|12:30||Georgia Tech at Virginia||NBC Sports Washington (in D.C. area)|
|2||Fayetteville State at Winston-Salem State||NBC Sports Washington Plus (in D.C. area)|
|3||Stanford at Colorado||Pac-12 Network|
|3:30||New Hampshire at James Madison||MASN (in D.C. area)|
|3:30||No. 2 LSU at No. 3 Alabama||CBS|
|3:30||Southern Cal at Arizona State||ABC|
|3:30||No. 16 Kansas State at Texas||ESPN|
|3:30||Louisville at Miami||ESPN2|
|3:30||Illinois at Michigan State||Fox Sports 1|
|3:30||No. 19 Wake Forest at Virginia Tech||ACC Network|
|3:30||Connecticut at No. 20 Cincinnati||CBS Sports Network|
|3:30||UAB at Southern Mississippi||NFL Network|
|4||No. 18 Iowa at No. 13 Wisconsin||Fox|
|4||New Mexico State at Mississippi||SEC Network|
|7||Missouri at No. 6 Georgia||ESPN|
|7||Appalachian State at South Carolina||ESPN2|
|7||Washington State at California||Pac-12 Network|
|7||Utah State at Fresno State||CBS Sports Network|
|7:30||No. 5 Clemson at N.C. State||ABC|
|7:30||Liberty at BYU||ESPNU|
|7:30||No. 15 Notre Dame at Duke||ACC Network|
|7:30||Tennessee at Kentucky||SEC Network|
|8||Iowa State at No. 9 Oklahoma||Fox|
|10:15||Wyoming at No. 22 Boise State||ESPN|
|10:30||Nevada at San Diego State||ESPN2|
Minnesota is 8-0 for the first time since 1941 and has achieved its highest Associated Press ranking (No. 13) since 2004, but Penn State won’t be handicapped at quarterback like the Gophers’ most recent opponents: Minnesota faced mostly backups in wins over Illinois, Nebraska, Rutgers and Maryland, and Nittany Lions quarterback Sean Clifford has been steady with 20 touchdown passes and only three interceptions this season. Solving Penn State’s rushing defense also will be a tougher task for a Minnesota offense that’s averaging more than 200 yards per game on the ground. The Nittany Lions are allowing a national-best 1.99 yards per carry. And while ESPN’s “College GameDay” shunned the biggest college football game in Minneapolis in decades in favor of LSU-Alabama, this one still looms large: It’s the first Big Ten game featuring two teams that are at least 8-0 since No. 1 Ohio State beat No. 2 Michigan in November 2006. …
TCU stands in the way of Baylor’s second-ever 9-0 start, but the Horned Frogs have major issues at quarterback: Max Duggan and Michael Collins suffered injuries last weekend against Oklahoma State, and two others signal-callers have transferred out of the program in the past two weeks. That leaves preferred walk-on Matthew Downing, a Georgia transfer, as the only healthy quarterback on the roster.
LSU-Alabama is the first regular season matchup between No. 1 and No. 2 teams since 2011 … kind of. The Tigers and Crimson Tide occupy the first two spots of the AP poll but are No. 2 and No. 3 in the College Football Playoff poll. No matter, there’s still a whiff of “Game of the Century” on this one, with the winner getting the inside track to the SEC title game and maintaining its status in the CFP race. The biggest question is the status of Alabama quarterback Tua Tagovailoa, who suffered a high-ankle sprain against Tennessee on Oct. 21 and hasn’t played since. Crimson Tide Coach Nick Saban would only say this week that Tagovailoa has practiced some over the past two weeks (Alabama is coming off its open date), and AL.com reported Wednesday that he will return against the Tigers. However, ESPN ran audio Thursday of Saban telling Tagovailoa in practice this week that he wouldn’t allow him to play until he could beat Saban in a footrace, and “it ain’t close yet.” Whether Saban merely was busting Tagovailoa’s chops is unclear. The Tigers, meanwhile, will be missing a key component of its defense in senior linebacker Michael Divinity Jr., who announced this week he was leaving the team for personal reasons. Divinity leads the Tigers in sacks this season.
There was a minor hue and cry from certain upcountry areas this week about Clemson’s No. 5 position in the initial College Football Playoff rankings, the first time a defending national champion has been left out of the top four in the year’s first CFP top 25. But there’s plenty of season left to play, and there’s plenty of reasons to think the Tigers will be back in the playoff when the dust settles. That’s entirely dependent on Clemson going undefeated, and that continues Saturday night with the Tigers heavy favorites against North Carolina State in Raleigh, where the Wolfpack have outscored four opponents 125-39 this season. Of course, those four opponents were the directional best of North Carolina (both East Carolina and Western Carolina), Ball State and a thoroughly disappointing Syracuse team. Redshirt freshman Devin Leary, the Wolfpack’s third starting quarterback this season, will make his second career start. The first, in last weekend’s blowout loss at Wake Forest, was not good: 17 for 45, two interceptions.
Don’t worry, Clemson. You’re making the College Football Playoff if you go undefeated.
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