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 the upcoming menu of games.
No. 10 Oklahoma (4-0) vs. Texas (1-4), at Dallas
9 a.m., Channel 7
This marks the 99th anniversary of Georgia Tech’s 220-0 win against Cumberland, the most lopsided game in college football history. Despite Texas’ woeful play of late, that record should not be challenged in the annual State Fair game at the Cotton Bowl. Nobody beats anybody, 222-0, anymore. A bad season keeps getting worse for Texas, which announced this week that Bevo XIV, the team’s famous mascot, will not attend the game because of a “life threatening condition.” Texas has a record of 106-41 with Bevo XIV in the pen, 7-3 in bowl games.
Maryland (2-3) at No.1 Ohio State (5-0)
9 a.m., Big Ten Network (BTN)
Multiple Internet reports strongly suggest one of the head coaches is going to be fired after the game. Understanding Ohio State has not lived up to its preseason billing, and was not at its best last week against Indiana, we remain convinced Urban Meyer’s job is safe unless he loses to Illinois.
9 a.m.: Indiana at Penn State, ESPN; Illinois at Iowa, ESPN2; Middle Tennessee at Western Kentucky, FS West; Tulane at Temple, ESPNU; Baylor at Kansas, FS1; Duke at Army, CBS Sports Network (CBSSN); New Mexico State at Mississippi, SEC Network (SEC).
9:30 a.m.: Virginia at Pittsburgh, KDOC.
Noon: Wake Forest at Boston College, Prime.
Wisconsin (3-2) at Nebraska (2-3)
12:30 p.m., Channel 7
Nebraska didn’t hire Mike Riley with Leo Durocher’s old line in mind: “Nice guys finish last.” Yet, the Cornhuskers are currently tied for last in the Big Ten West Division. Riley desperately needs to provide something positive for fans in Lincoln. Riley’s first three defeats were more like cruel jokes. Nebraska lost its opener to Brigham Young on a Hail Mary. The second loss was to Miami, in overtime, after rallying from a 23-point deficit to tie the game. Last week, Illinois prevailed, 14-13, scoring the game-winning touchdown with 10 seconds left.
South Carolina (2-3) at No. 7 Louisiana State (4-0)
12:30 p.m., ESPN
There might be peace in the Middle East if all parties came together the way the SEC did this week. This game site had to be flipped, in the aftermath of massive flooding in South Carolina. Everyone pitched in. Vanderbilt even sent a truck load of supplies. LSU agreed to host the game but treat it like a South Carolina home game. All proceeds, minus operating expenses, will go back to the Gamecocks. LSU has been on the other end of disaster relief. In 2005, after Hurricane Katrina, the Tigers’ scheduled home game against Arizona State had to be moved from Baton Rouge, La., to Tempe, Ariz.
No. 13 Northwestern (5-0) at No. 18 Michigan (4-1)
12:30 p.m., Big Ten Network
You’d be hard-pressed to find teams more thrilled to be 5-0 and 4-1. Northwestern and Michigan were a combined 10-14 last season. The schools meet as ranked opponents for only the 10th time. The series is 4-4-1 in those games. History favors Michigan, which has won 31 of 36 meetings since 1966. Northwestern leads the nation in scoring defense, giving up only seven points per game.
Miami (3-1) at No. 12 Florida State (4-0)
5 p.m., Channel 7
Former Florida State coach Bobby Bowden once said his headstone should read: “But he played Miami.” Dad gum, would he like to play Miami now. This isn’t the powerhouse Hurricanes program that tormented Bowden in the 1980s and 90s. Miami still leads the all-time series, but Florida State has won five straight to close the gap to the margin of a field goal, 31-28. When Bowden was coaching, his kicker would have missed it.
12:30 p.m.: Georgia at Tennessee, Channel 2; Navy at Notre Dame, Channel 4; Minnesota at Purdue, ESPNU; Georgia Tech at Clemson, Channel 7; Syracuse at South Florida, CBSSN.
12:45 p.m.: Connecticut at Central Florida, ESPNews.
1 p.m.: Oregon State at Arizona, FS1; Troy at Mississippi State, SEC.
3 p.m.: Washington State at Oregon, Pac-12 Networks (Pac-12).
4 p.m.: Arkansas at Alabama, ESPN; Oklahoma State at West Virginia, ESPN2; Boise State at Colorado State, CBSSN.
4:30 p.m.: East Carolina at BYU, ESPNU; Florida at Missouri, SEC; Texas Christian at Kansas State, Channel 11.
5 p.m.: Michigan State at Rutgers, BTN.
No. 23 California (5-0) at No. 5 Utah (4-0)
7 p.m., ESPN
Welcome to the new western order? In its pre-Pac-12 Conference days, Utah would have to defeat Alabama in the Sugar Bowl, at the end of a perfect season, to get this kind of ranking attention. Cal hasn’t been to a Rose Bowl since 1959, but is 5-0 for the first time since 2007. These programs have already combined to defeat Texas, Oregon and Michigan.
7 p.m.: Colorado at Arizona State, Pac-12.
7:15 p.m.: Wyoming at Air Force, ESPN2.
7:30 p.m.: Utah State at Fresno State, CBSSN.
9 p.m.: San Diego State at Hawaii, Time Warner Cable Sports Network.