College football TV viewers guide for this weekend

JuJu Smith-Schuster
USC’s JuJu Smith-Schuster can’t make the catch against Stanford’s Alijah Holder.
(Luis Sinco / Los Angeles Times)

Break out the chips and cold drinks but let Mike Hiserman handle the remote. The Times’ deputy sports editor handicaps what’s worth watching, and skipping, on the weekend’s menu of games.


USC at Utah, 6 p.m., FS1

Will new starting quarterback Sam Darnold fare better than new USC Coach Clayton Helton has? Does receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster need to introduce himself to Darnold or first-year offensive coordinator Tee Martin, or will getting the ball to the team’s star receiver finally be part of the game plan? Can the Trojans manage sustain a drive without stalling because of a false start or some other discipline-related penalty?  So many questions …


Other games

4:30 p.m.: Wyoming at Eastern Michigan, CBS Sports Network (CBSSN).

5 p.m.: Texas Christian at Southern Methodist, ESPN.




No. 12 Georgia at No. 23 Mississippi, 9 a.m., ESPN

Whatever you see in the early going of this one, hang around until the end. In only four games this season has a major-college football team blown a 20-point lead and lost. Mississippi has done it twice. Meantime, Georgia has staged comebacks to win all three of its games.

No. 11 Wisconsin at No. 8 Michigan State, 9 a.m., Big Ten Network (BTN)

These Big Ten Conference teams, because of expansion and realignment, haven’t played since 2012. Michigan State has shown it isn’t ready to stand down to Ohio State or Michigan in the East Division. Wisconsin hasn’t settled on a quarterback and may be without running back Corey Clement, who has an injured ankle. 

Other games

9 a.m.: Kent State at No. 1 Alabama, SEC Network (SEC); Nevada at Purdue, ESPNews; Iowa at Rutgers, ESPN2; No. 13 Florida State at South Florida, Channel 7; Colorado State at Minnesota, ESPNU.

9:30 a.m.: East Carolina at Virginia Tech, KDOC.


10 a.m.: Syracuse at Connecticut, CBSSN.

Pittsburgh running back James Conner picks up yardage against Penn State on Sept. 10.
Pittsburgh running back James Conner picks up yardage against Penn State on Sept. 10.
(Abby Drey / Centre Daily Times )


No. 19 Florida at No. 14 Tennessee, 12:30 p.m., Channel 2

This one comes with a promotional opportunity. Florida has defeated Tennessee in the last 11 meetings and Gators cornerback Quincy Wilson, when asked about the streak being in jeopardy against the favored Volunteers, made a joke inferring some things just don’t happen. “Ever seen a duck pull a truck?” he asked. AFLAC, how fast can you come up with a new commercial?

Pittsburgh at North Carolina, 12:30 p.m., ESPNU

If you haven’t heard James Conner’s story or seen him play, this is a good opportunity. The Pittsburgh running back has returned strong from a 2015 season-ending knee injury and then a bout with Hodgkin’s lymphoma. In three games, he has run for 281 yards and three touchdowns and has nine receptions for two more scores. And he’ll  be going against a Tar Heels run defense that has given up nearly five yards per carry.

Oklahoma State at No. 16 Baylor, 4:30 p.m., Channel 11


Get ready for an old-fashioned Big 12 Conference shootout in Texas. These teams combine to average more than 1,000 yards per game in offense. The difference: Baylor is dual threat, with 826 yards passing and 846 yards rushing in its three games. Oklahoma State has 1,081 yards passing and 294 yards rushing.

Other games

12:30 p.m.: Boise State at Oregon State, FS1; Miami (Ohio) at Cincinnati, ESPNews; Brigham Young at West Virginia, ESPN2; Duke at Notre Dame, Channel 4; Penn State at No. 4 Michigan, Channel 7; Wake Forest at Indiana, BTN.

1 p.m.: Delaware at Missouri, SEC.

1:30 p.m.: Vanderbilt at Western Kentucky, CBSSN.

2:30 p.m.: Colorado at Oregon, Pac-12 Networks (Pac-12).

3 p.m.: No. 18 Louisiana State at Auburn, ESPN.

4 p.m.: No. 6 Houston at Texas State, ESPNU.

4:30 p.m.: No. 20 Nebraska at Northwestern, BTN; South Carolina at Kentucky, SEC. 


No. 7 Stanford vs. UCLA at the Rose Bowl, 5 p.m., Channel 7

We know UCLA defenders can rap, at least on Twitter. But can they wrap, as in make solid tackles? Stanford’s Christian McCaffrey provides a difficult early-season test.

No. 17 Arkansas vs. No. 10 Texas A&M at Texas Stadium, 6 p.m., ESPN

The winner becomes top contender to Alabama in the Southeastern Conference West. Both teams are undefeated. Texas A&M hasn’t lost to Arkansas since both schools joined the SEC, and a close game is expected. However, if it doesn’t turn out that way, flip channels at halftime to see who wins the California vs. Arizona State track meet.

Other games

5 p.m.: No. 3 Louisville at Marshall, CBSSN; Bowling Green at Memphis, ESPNews.

7 p.m.: California at Arizona State, ESPN2.

7:15 p.m.: Air Force at Utah State, ESPNU.

7:30 p.m.: No. 9 Washington at Arizona, Pac-12.

Twitter: @MikeHiserman

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