Can I confess something? I really don’t like flying.

Sure, I used to love it. But then one flight, my plane hit an air pocket in clear air that caused severe turbulence. For 30 seconds, it shook so hard I thought for sure it was out of control. Then just like that, the turbulence ceased and we were back in smooth air. The pilot came on the intercom and jokingly said, “Just a reminder, not that you needed one after that, but keep your seatbelt securely fastened at all times when you’re in your seat.”

I gripped the armrests like a vice the rest of the flight.

Ever since, the slightest bit of bumpiness makes my heart race and my anxiety spike. I’m getting better at handling my fear, but I know it will take time.

You might say, “You know, no airplane’s ever crashed due to turbulence, right?” But as anyone who’s ever experienced an irrational fear will know, that doesn’t necessarily help.

Take the current state of college football. Week 2 shook our expectations around. And now we’re in the period of calm air right after that wild ride, wondering if it’ll happen again. If you were a fan of a team that lost in unexpected or close fashion last week, even if you hope that turbulence was a fluke, it doesn’t really comfort you when everything feels unsettled and out of control.

The funny thing about turbulence is that you’re not actually changing altitude that much. Everything’s really staying the same. It’s just some jitters caused by windiness. And let’s be honest, that might be the case here. If your team lost, it could just be the early season getting to it. College football has a way of sorting things out by the end. The plane will eventually land, and you’ll be able to look back on Week 2 as a fluke.

But still, in this present moment, is the fear.

The one thing I’ve found helps me when the bumpiness comes is to embrace the fear, to realize that there’s nothing I can do to stop the jerkiness from happening. If I can accept the fact that sometimes flights are bumpy and that I’m not in danger, then at least I won’t feel like I’m in danger.

And a similar piece of advice might apply this week.

Could we see another batch of top teams fall, or season hopes shatter? Maybe. But if it happens, that’s always the way it was meant to be. All we can do is ride it out, and maybe even have a little fun with the ups and downs.

On that glib note, here’s the games you should pay attention to this college football Saturday!

Window of Opportunity

Early

There’s just not much going on anywhere in the country in the early timeslot. My advice? Grab your fam (or friends) and find some local restaurant with a freaking awesome brunch. French toast, pancakes, mimosas, bacon, the works. Go crazy. Then you might have some time afterwards for a hike to work off those calories before plopping down on the couch.

Early Games

Big Screen

Georgia at South Carolina

12:00pm/11:00am (ESPN)

It’s slim pickings in this slate. You’re probably thinking the Gamecocks don’t have a chance. And they haven’t looked great on the ground, but quarterback Spencer Rattler’s been pretty alright through the air, and they’ve done well defending the pass. And so far, that’s where Georgia’s made its money, slinging it with quarterback Stetson Bennett. If that matchup pans out in South Carolina’s favor, this one might get frisky.

Small Screen

Purdue at Syracuse

12:00pm/11:00am (ESPN2)

This tilt’s at the Carrier Dome (I refuse to call it by its new name). And as we all know, it’s where teams go . . . TO DIE. Will the Boilermakers be the Orange’s next victim? They lost to Penn State in a close one and then pasted Indiana State. Quarterback Aiden O’Connell leads a balanced offense, but the defense showed some weakness against the pass. And Syracuse commander Garrett Shrader, distributing it to a diverse receiver room, seems prepared to unleash. Vegas has it as a pick ’em, which usually means a close, gutsy game.

Watch The Score

Oklahoma at Nebraska (12pm/11am, FOX)

Afternoon Games

Big Screen

BYU at Oregon

3:30pm/2:30pm (FOX)

This top-25 matchup’s probably the flagship game of the day. BYU showed up last week against Baylor, scoring a tough win in double overtime. The Cougars’ offensive line has shown up and the pass attack is strong. They should be a tough out for Oregon, who came up lame against Georgia to start the year then took out all its frustration on Eastern Washington. Oregon’s favored, but it’s hard to get a bead on how good the Ducks actually are given the wide range of their opponents. This should be a tough test for both squads.

Small Screen

Penn State at Auburn

3:30pm/2:30pm (CBS)

After squeaking by Purdue (well, I mean, Sean Clifford did toss four touchdowns), Penn State steamrolled Ohio (not State) and now rounds into a higher-tier opponent. Meanwhile, Auburn has underwhelmed tossing the pigskin. The Tigers have played well up front on defense, and they run the ball decently well, but above all else, they need a defining win. They’ll be up for this game, and it’s in their home stadium. Auburn should bring out a number of tricks and moves to stymie Penn State. Will it be enough? Dunno, but it should entertain.

Watch the Score

Cal at Notre Dame (2:30p/1:30p, NBC)

Kansas at Houston (4p/3p, ESPNU)

Tulane at Kansas State (3p/2p, ESPN+)

Night Games

Big Screen

Miami at Texas A&M

9:00pm/8:00pm (ESPN)

If I know Jimbo Fisher, he’s spent this week in a deep, abiding, salty rage. App State just embarrassed the Aggies on a national stage. They had national championship aspirations, and they can still get there, but they can’t afford any mistakes going forward and they’ll need a lot more chaos around college football. Jimbo’s contemplating a quarterback change, and it might be worth it. A&M has disappointed on offense, and Miami’s vulnerable to the pass. I say that knowing full well that the Canes have played two cupcakes thus far. Do they show up on the road in a really hostile environment?

Small Screen

Michigan State at Washington

7:30pm/6:30pm (ABC)

Last year was an unexepected banner year for Sparty. It kept up the good vibes against Western Michigan and Akron, turning in two dominant performances on both sides of the ball, though the secondary could be better and quarterback Payton Thorne needs to turn up his pass game. They face a Washington squad bolstered by incoming transfer quarterback Michael Penix Jr., who’s looked great against two weak teams. And the Husky defense has handled itself well. What we have here is the first test for both squads. Which one is for real, and which is fool’s gold? We’ll soon find out.

Watch the Score

Texas Tech at NC State (7p/6p, ESPN2)

SMU at Maryland (7:30p/6:30p, FS1)

Mississippi State at LSU (6p/5p, ESPN)

Late Night Games

Big Screen

Fresno State at USC

10:30pm/9:30pm (FOX)

If you’re hankering for some after-dark action, this might get fun. My weather eye is trained squarely on Fresno State quarterback Jake Haener. USC’s secondary held up alright against Stanford and Rice, but how will it do against a loaded Bulldog pass attack? Also, neither team’s great at defending the run. That could be key. Essentially, it’s a matchup with a ton of variables that should show us new dimensions of what USC head coach Lincoln Riley can do in a distinct, tough situation.

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