If one took a quick look at the college football schedule before the season started, one could not help but notice that the schedule for October 8 looked very attractive. That’s still the case, but some of the games we’ve reviewed fail to make our list of recommended viewing choices.
The annual demonstration in Dallas, where the writer from this article will remain anonymous as a possible game of the year, may still be fun and interesting but currently has no role in the main picture of the championship. Likewise, the highly anticipated Alabama-Texas A&M showdown with the coaches exchanging words in the offseason lost its luster as the Aggies limped into Tuscaloosa with two losses and an ineffective offense.
As always, this doesn’t mean that this competition and others won’t have the potential to surprise and entertain, so keep your distance. But we think these six matchups have a better chance when planning your Saturday.
No. 18 TCU at No. 17 Kansas
Saturday, FS1, noon ET
Follow the whole game: Live NCAA College Football Scores
Why watch: As we all predicted, there is a battle of the teams in the Big 12 on the Week 6 schedule. Oh sure, we thought it might be ‘Red River,’ but here we are. Before the Jayhawks lost, 5-0 for the first time since 2009, they host the red-hot Horned Frogs who are riding high themselves after blowing out Oklahoma. This game will feature two of the league’s strongest QBs. TCU’s Max Duggan excelled against Oklahoma last week, while KU’s Jalon Daniels is averaging 262.4 yards of total offense. Both signal callers also have excellent backfield support in the people of Horned Frogs RB Kendre Miller and Jayhawks’ RB Devin Neal.
Why it can be disappointing: The Jayhawks enjoyed some good luck last week to escape Iowa State with a three-point victory. Their luck may run out as they face a TCU team that has changed all season and has an explosive offense.
No. 11 Utah at No. 19 UCLA
Saturday, Fox, 3:30 pm ET
Why watch: The Bruins’ first four wins didn’t get them much attention from the pollsters, but they looked like part of a Top 25 team last Friday in beating undefeated Washington. They now host the defending Pac-12 champion Utes, who have been impressive since dropping their opener to Florida. While UCLA’s big night on offense with veteran QB Dorian Thompson-Robinson on offense and RB Zach Charbonnet chewing up yards wasn’t much of a surprise, the defensive effort led by LB Laiatu Latu against Washington was eye-opening. That side of the ball faces another big test against Utah QB Cameron Rising and RB Tavion Thomas. The Bruins should also be wary of TE Dalton Kincaid, the Utes’ best red-zone weapon with five TD catches.
Why it can be disappointing: It’s Utah’s defense, backed by DBs Cole Bishop and RJ Hubert, that will test the Bruins’ mettle. Utah doesn’t allow much through the air. If the Bruins can match the Utes’ toughness in the holes, it may be an understatement.
The crystal ball:Tennessee, Utah on an upset alert? Experts choose Sunday 6
No. 8 Tennessee at LSU
Saturday, ESPN, noon ET
Why watch: The Volunteers got a week off to enjoy their long-awaited return to the top 10. They put their top spot on the line in Baton Rouge, where the Tigers return home riding a four-game winning streak. Tennessee’s winning formula this year isn’t hard to explain, with QB Hendon Hooker leading a high-octane air attack that can return the services of WR Cedric Tillman following the screen’s performance. They will be facing a formidable LSU secondary backed by Jay Ward, whose scoop-and-score touchdown led to last week’s meeting at Auburn. How the Tigers are doing is something of a mystery, although QB Jayden Daniels is keeping the ball well, and he can get his bearings against a leaky Tennessee defense.
Why it can be disappointing: Probably not, as LSU has already been in a down-to-the-wire contest this season. But it’s fair to wonder if the Tigers have the firepower to mount a rally if Tennessee holds the high-scoring prize.
No. 25 Arkansas at No. 23 Mississippi State
Saturday, SEC, noon ET
Why watch: The Razorbacks held on to a Top 25 spot by a thread after Alabama handed them their second straight loss. Life in the SEC West is unforgiving, of course, as they face each other’s team. The Bulldogs need to avoid a second meeting setback but are coming off a surprising sweep of Texas A&M. Mississippi State QB Will Rogers has kept the offense buzzing, and he figures to have another big day against the Hogs’ secondary that has struggled to contain SEC-caliber receivers. Arkansas QB KJ Jefferson — assuming he’s available — and RB Raheim Sanders will do their best to control the clock, but they’ll likely see a lot of Bulldogs LB Jett Johnson, who always moves the ball around.
Why it can be disappointing: IF Jefferson can’t go, the Razorbacks will likely have to go with Cade Fortin, who took time off after the loss to Alabama and completed 4-of-10 passes for 35 yards. Playing in Starkville among the bullpen is tough enough, and the challenge would be even greater for Arkansas with a backup QB pushed into action.
Florida State at No. 14 North Carolina State
Saturday, ACC, 8 p.m. ET
Why watch: The two ACC Atlantic hopefuls coming off of handicap losses in the division now meet in the elimination rounds as they try to stay in the hunt. NC State QB Devin Leary had a frustrating second half at Clemson. He and top WR Thayer Thomas can find the FSU secondary a little more forgiving, but some ground support will be needed. Seminoles QB Jordan Travis hit a few touchdowns in the loss to Wake Forest, but RB Traeshaun Ward was caught the most. The defense suffered by allowing 10 of 18 third-down conversions and all three fourth-down attempts by the Demon Deacons.
Why it can be disappointing: It doesn’t have to have both teams in win-win mode, but frustration can cause serious damage.
Number. 16 Brigham Young vs. Notre Dame (Las Vegas)
Saturday, NBC, 7:30 pm ET
Why watch: The Cougars still have an outside shot at a major bowl invitation in their last season without a league affiliation. They go up against fellow independent Notre Dame, which hopes to improve its postseason prospects after digging a 0-2 hole. The Fighting Irish found success on offense in their last outing two weeks ago at North Carolina, though that may have been taking advantage of the Tar Heels’ porous pass defense. QB Drew Pyne and TE Michael Mayer will have a tough time with LB Max Tooley and the Cougars back seven. BYU QB Jaren Hall has 12 touchdowns and one pick this season, but he could get heat from a Notre Dame front that averages more than three sacks per game.
Why it can be disappointing: It could be that the Irish don’t have all the pieces in place yet. If the team that dropped its first two contests and nearly squandered a win against California shows, it could be a long night.