Last weekend was the best of times. This weekend is the worst. It’s “Fast Between Means Saturday.” No ranked teams play each other. Only five ranked teams play a Power 5 opponent. UCF, Tulsa, Kentucky, and Nevada will be playing games on national broadcast networks.
This is the sort of weekend where you’ll be stumbling around at last call and talk yourself into Penn State vs. Pitt sitting over there in a dank corner. Some teams are playing at a NASCAR track, if you’re into that sort of thing.
Penn State at Pittsburgh: James Franklin signed on with Penn State, pledging to “dominate the state.” Three years in, the Nittany Lions travel to Pitt, with an even newer coach, as six-point underdogs. This is the first of a crucial two-game, in-state stretch for Penn State stretch. The second game is Temple, who beat the Nittany Lions down last year. Things won’t be looking swell for JF if they are 1-2 heading into their Big Ten opener, at Michigan. [Noon ET ESPN]
Arkansas at TCU: First meeting for the former conference opponents since 1991. Arkansas underwhelmed in week one, needing a late touchdown to fend off Louisiana Tech. TCU did so as well, being forced to come from behind against South Dakota State. The disappointments meet, with the Horned Frogs being healthy favorites. The last time Kenny Hill played Arkansas he threw for two long touchdowns in the fourth quarter to tie the game and a third in overtime for the win, appearing to cement his place in Texas A&M history. [7:00pm ESPN]
BYU at Utah: The Holy War returns to the regular season. The fans don’t like each other. The teams tend to play close, weird games. In last year’s Las Vegas Bowl, Utah ran up a 35-0 lead in the first quarter, then nearly blew it, hanging on for a 35-28 win. Can BYU do it on the road a second-straight week? [7:30pm ET FOX]
Tennessee vs. Virginia Tech: Football at a NASCAR venue. An attendance record that few outside Ann Arbor will care about. This is the first true look at Justin Fuente’s Virginia Tech and new QB Jerod Evans. This game will be a bellwether for where Tennessee is heading after escaping Appalachian State in week one. Stinking up the place as a double-digit favorite again could see Butch Jones move up this list. [8:00pm ET ABC]
Texas Tech at Arizona State: High Octane vs. High Swag. The coach once linked with Britney Spears vs. the coach who once used a similar headset to Britney Spears. We know what we’re getting with Texas Tech. They play offense. They don’t play defense. We have no idea what we’re getting with Arizona State. They do some things well. They do others terribly. Maybe they get it together for a night game at home. These teams combined for 8 games last season in which both teams scored 40 points. Solid chance of some P12/B12 After Dark. [10:00pm ET FS1]
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Kentucky at Florida: This is the lead SEC game of the weekend. Can Mark Stoops get his team to play all four quarters? Can the Wildcats withstand the Luke Del Rio aerial assault (44 throws against UMass?). Not sure whether it’s more surprising Florida is a 16.5 point favorite or that Florida is expected to score at least 16.5 points. [3:30pm ET CBS]
Iowa State at Iowa: For all the corn and political caucuses. Kirk Ferentz got a jaw dropping contract extension. Losing to Iowa State – the Hawkeyes have dropped three of the last five and the last two at Kinnick – would be incredibly “Kirk Ferentz.” [7:30pm ET BTN]
Washington State at Boise State: The Cougars are coached by Mike Leach. The Broncos run an up tempo offense and tend to give up big pass plays. This could be the palate cleanser America needs after an atrocious day of football. Set the end time over/under at 2:00am ET. [10:15pm ET ESPN2]