Sports, College Football, Sports Television Industry, Texas A&M, Stanford
Break out the chips and cold drinks but let Chris Dufresne handle the remote. Each Friday, The Times' national college football writer handicaps what's worth watching, and skipping, on Saturday's menu of games:
No. 6 Texas A&M (5-0) at No. 12 Mississippi State (4-0)
9 a.m., ESPN
All these highly-ranked SEC West schools can't stay undefeated forever. The time of wrecking-ball reckoning has come. This is one of many huge showdowns that will impact this year's national title race. This game features prolific offenses and quarterbacks. Texas A&M averages 51 points a game and Mississippi State averages 41. Kenny Hill and Dak Prescott have combined for 28 touchdowns with only four interceptions.
Texas A&M seeks its first 6-0 start since 1994.
9 a.m.: Purdue at Illinois, ESPN2; Marshall at Old Dominion, FS West; Ball State at Army, CBS Sports; Iowa State at Oklahoma State, FS1; Southern Methodist at East Carolina, ESPNU; Florida at Tennessee, SEC; Ohio State at Maryland, Ch. 7.
9:30 a.m.: Virginia Tech at North Carolina, KDOC.
11:30 a.m.: North Texas at Indiana, Big Ten.
No. 3 Alabama (4-0) at No. 11 Mississippi (4-0)
12:30 p.m., Channel 2
First-year offensive coordinator Lane Kiffin, fired a year ago this week by USC, has added punch to an already potent Alabama offense. The Crimson Tide averages 42 points and 335 passing yards per game.
Ole Miss has lost 10 straight games to Alabama and will have to play great defense if it wants to avoid 11 straight defeats. The Rebels have allowed 8.5 points per game but the last two wins have come against Louisiana Lafayette and Memphis.
No. 14 Stanford (3-1) at No. 9 Notre Dame (4-0)
12:30 p.m., Channel 4
Welcome to football in a phone booth as these cloud-of-dust programs meet in a rivalry that has grown exponentially since Stanford started getting competitive again under Jim Harbaugh. Stanford has countered seven consecutive losses to Notre Dame by winning three of the last four. Two years ago, in South Bend, Notre Dame stuffed Stanford on the goal line to preserver a 20-13 overtime victory.
Stanford leads the nation in total defense and scoring defense, but is No. 118 in red-zone offense, scoring on only 12 of 19 tries.
No. 4 Oklahoma (4-0) at No. 25 Texas Christian (3-0)
12:30, Channel 11
Let's not sugarcoat this: TCU has given Oklahoma fits, starting with a shocking win at Norman in 2005. Gary Patterson teams pride themselves on defense and this TCU unit ranks second nationally in total, and scoring, defense.
This promises to be one of Oklahoma's stiffest tests on an otherwise straight path to the college football playoff. The Sooners get to play host to Baylor and Oklahoma State this year.
12:30 p.m.: Baylor at Texas, Ch. 7; Wisconsin at Northwestern, ESPN2; Navy at Air Force, CBS Sports; North Carolina at Clemson, ESPNU.
1 p.m.: Kansas at West Virginia, FS West; Oregon State at Colorado, Pac-12 Networks; Vanderbilt at Georgia, SEC.
No. 15 Louisiana State (4-1) at No. 5 Auburn (4-0)
4 p.m., ESPN
The Auburn Tigers tiptoed through a SEC minefield last year en route to the league title and a trip to the final BCS title game. OK, let's see them do it again. Saturday's home game against LSU begins a six-game gantlet that continues against Mississippi State, South Carolina, Mississippi, Texas A&M and Georgia.
Michigan (2-3) at Rutgers (4-1)
4 p.m., BTN
This should be an interesting pre-game chat between embattled athletic directors. Michigan's Dave Brandon is on the public relations defensive in the wake of the school's bungling of quarterback Shane Morris' concussion. Rutgers AD Julie Hermann has had her own string of missteps. The school recently had to apologize to Penn State for Hermann's off-the-cuff joke about Jerry Sandusky.
No. 19 Nebraska (5-0) at No. 10 Michigan State (3-1)
5 p.m., Channel 7
Nebraska isn't getting much poll credit for a weak schedule and nearly losing at home to McNeese State, but the Cornhuskers can make a huge statement with a road win against the Big Ten's best program. Michigan State tries to hold ground at home to remain the conference's best hope for the four-team playoff.
4 p.m.: Memphis at Cincinnati, CBS Sports; Texas Tech at Kansas State, ESPNU.
4:30 p.m.: South Carolina at Kentucky, SEC; Miami at Georgia Tech, ESPN2; Arizona State at USC, Ch. 11.
5 p.m.: University of Nevada Las Vegas at San Jose State, ESPNews.
California (3-1) at Washington State (2-3)
7:30 p.m., Pac-12 Networks
This should be an aerial show between two top pass offenses. Washington State averages a nation-leading 481 passing yards per game while Cal is No. 8 at 364.
Quarterbacks Connor Halliday (Washington State) and Jared Goff (Cal) already have combined to throw 27 touchdowns this season. Goff had seven scoring passes in last week's double-overtime win over Colorado.