Back when I was in law school at Alabama, I used to watch college football games every week with my buddies. The featured game was of course the Tide against, well, whoever.
I didn’t really care if Bama won, though. I was a bigger fan of my alma mater. So while my friends whooped and hollered or paced and yelled, I just watched and smiled. I might even clap or cheer if Bama’s opponent did something awesome.
Now, this sort of behavior was downright weird to my southern compatriots. They all asked me at one point or another what I was doing.
I responded: “Rooting for chaos.”
College football, in this writer’s humble opinion, is way more fun when you can kick back and take in the shambling, lovable wreck of mistakes and miracles that it is. No heartbreak when your squad gets kicked in the teeth, only elation when craziness occurs. That’s why I love the sport as a whole.
But time flies when you’re having fun. And while this college football season has delivered on the chaos, it’s also delivered on fun.
We’re halfway through the regular season! I hate that I just typed those words, and that they’re true! But never fear, there’s still plenty of games to go. Let me help you identify the best of them this week!
Despite how Dan and Ty felt in the preview episode, I don’t find this as difficult. The other two timeslots are stacked this week, and this one is . . . slightly less so. I’d recommend taking the early afternoon to get absolutely everything done that you need to. Take that task list by the horns and wrestle it to the ground. You can do it! I believe in you! Then treat yourself to a wonderful smorgasbord of games for about seven hours afterward. Maybe pair it with some wings? Dips? Veggie platters? I don’t know, something you can snack on all the way through dinner.
Penn State at Michigan
On paper, this is a big-name Big Ten matchup. And it should live up to the trench warfare that conference usually boasts. The difference might be Michigan’s 11th-ranked pass defense and how it looks against Penn State’s Sean Clifford. My official advice here? Bet the under and settle in for a defensive slog.
Iowa State at Texas
You know, I almost slotted Kansas’s tilt against Oklahoma here, but the Sooners were so woeful last week that I couldn’t justify it. This matchup’s way more interesting. The ‘Clones kind of stink on offense, and they’re on a three-game losing streak. But they’ve lost those games by a total of 11 points. With a remarkably solid defense, they might catch an overconfident Longhorn squad looking ahead to Oklahoma State next week. I’m sure Texas is feeling their oats, and my goodness did they look dominant last week. They’re rounding into a tough portion of their schedule, and this will be our first chance to see whether Texas is actually . . . BACK. (I had to.)
Watch The Score
Minnesota at Illinois (12pm/11am, BTN)
Kansas at Oklahoma (12pm/11am, ESPN2)
Alabama at Tennessee
This is undoubtably the biggest game this week. Tennessee hosts College GameDay, and it’s well deserved. After years of building and waiting, the Vols are for real. Led by trendy Heisman candidate Hendon Hooker, the Vols marry terrifying passing with speedy running. The one unit that absolutely stinks? Their secondary, which ranks 128th in the nation in yards allowed. However, that might not be a problem against a hobbled Tide. It’s unknown whether quarterback Bryce Young will be back, or how healthy he’ll be, or whether we’ll see the aggressive competence of backup Jalen Milroe again. Can the Tide’s defense stop the all-world attack boasted by the Vols? That’s probably the question.
Oklahoma State at TCU
You know that thing your dog does where it zooms around for no reason whenever it’s really excited? This game is that in college football form. Both of these undefeated teams have sights set on conference titles, and the difference may lie in TCU’s ability to run the ball convincingly. Running back Kendre Miller leads a talented backfield, and if the Cowboys can’t bottle him up, that could be it for OSU.
Watch The Score
NC State at Syracuse (3:30pm/2:30pm, ACCN)
Arkansas at BYU (3:30pm/2:30pm, ESPN)
James Madison at Georgia Southern (4pm/3pm, ESPN+)
USC at Utah
Headline Pac-12 action at a reasonable time? Now that’s what I’m talking about! USC has lived up to expectations. Head coach Lincoln Riley plundered the cupboard on the way to SoCal, and now boasts an even-keeled, up-tempo offense and a defense that has been enough to garner victories in the early season. USC only really had trouble with a tough Oregon State squad. The Trojans encounter the Utes this week, who have looked similar with a touch less success. Utah’s 4-2 record is a bit deceiving, as its losses were to a pumped-up Florida and a piledriving UCLA. If quarterback Cam Rising steps it up in the pass game, this might end up a high-flying matchup.
Mississippi State at Kentucky
The headline coming into this top-25 matchup looked to be an unfortunate one given the injury status of Will Levis. But, good news! He’s back! As such, the point spread notably shifted to a nailbitingly close four points. Kentucky will be fired up to take its crack at one of the best teams in the conference on its home turf. Meanwhile, Missisippi State is quiety putting together the kind of campaign that gives Dan Rubenstein the warm tinglies. This should be a war of a game.
Watch The Score
Clemson at Florida State (7:30pm/6:30pm, ABC)
LSU at Florida (7pm/6pm, ESPN)
Washington State at Oregon State (9pm/8pm, P12N)
North Carolina at Duke (8pm/7pm, ACCN)