When the time comes for a change in college football, it happens gradually and then all of the sudden, much like bankruptcy and Hemingway novels. Nobody is ready for the end of a contender, the changing of a guard and the fate of a conference to shift.
We’re facing two such games this Saturday. The return of Florida State has been heralded for some time across the offseason, with a declarative victory over LSU to open the year. Yet now that same return has to pass its greatest test: defeating Clemson on the road. The Tigers have won the last seven straight matches against Florida State, and they’ve largely dominated the ACC to go with it. In an often two horse (sometimes three, if Miami’s boosters aren’t currently engaged in an active felony) race for the conference, it’s a safe thing to say that the fate of this champion comes from this game.
But while Clemson holds the streak, the better team seems to be FSU. The Seminoles boast fantastic weapons in Keon Coleman and Johnny Wilson, while Clemson struggles to make quarterback Cade Klubnick work for them. The great equalizer is Death Valley, but with a noon kickoff we’ll see how well the magic of the place holds firm.
Ohio State has also been a dominant force, but that could take a serious blow on Saturday night. Notre Dame has shown promise and flare with new quarterback Sam Hartman, once thrilling at Wake Forest and now with his talents in South Bend. Hartman’s led a suddenly dynamic offense for the Irish; by contrast, Ohio State has struggled to define their identity this year. That said, Marvin Harrison Jr. provides a real weapon for the Buckeyes and is set to make some big plays all season. The question is whether the Buckeyes will retain power heading into the Big Ten schedule, or if Notre Dame will make a statement that they could contend for the playoffs.
Alabama hosting Ole Miss, complete with Nick Saban’s former disciple and reformed NFL nepo baby bro-dude dude-bro Lane Kiffin, was probably a much more enticing matchup before the Tide took it on the chin from Texas. Nevertheless, Alabama is still hovering around a touchdown favorite, on account that the Rebels ain’t played nobody (Paaawl).
There’s plenty more happening; Colorado faces a true test against Oregon, an early Pac-12 showdown between Utah and UCLA during reasonable hours and so much more.
Enjoy yourselves, chavales.
Rutgers at No. 2 Michigan — Big Ten Network
No. 4 Florida State at Clemson — ABC
No. 16 Oklahoma at Cincinnati — FOX
Auburn at Texas A&M — ESPN
Virginia Tech at Marshall — ESPN2
SMU at TCU — FS1
3:30 p.m. ET
No. 15 Ole Miss at No. 13 Alabama — CBS
No. 19 Colorado at No. 10 Oregon — ABC
No. 22 UCLA at No. 11 Utah — FOX
No. 18 Duke at UConn — CBSSN
No. 20 Miami (Fla.) at Temple — ESPN2
Maryland at Michigan State — NBC
Oklahoma State at Iowa State (4 p.m.) — FS1
7:30 p.m. ET
UAB at No. 1 Georgia — ESPN2
No. 3 Texas at Baylor — ABC
No. 6 Ohio State at No. 9 Notre Dame — NBC
No. 24 Iowa at No. 7 Penn State — CBS
Mississippi State at South Carolina — SEC Network
Minnesota at Northwestern — Big Ten Network
UCF at Kansas State (8 p.m.) — FS1
No. 17 North Carolina at Pitt (8 p.m.) — ACC Network
Pac-12 After Dark
No. 5 USC at Arizona State (10:30 p.m.) — FOX
Cal at No. 8 Washington (10:30 p.m.) — ESPN
Kent State at Fresno State (10:30 p.m.) — CBSSN