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 this weekend’s menu of college football games.
9 a.m.: Houston at Memphis, Channel 7; North Carolina State at North Carolina, ESPN; Northern Illinois at Kent State, CBS Sports Network (CBSSN).
11:30 a.m.: Arkansas at Missouri, Channel 2.
No. 5 Washington (10-1) at No. 23 Washington State (8-3), 12:30 p.m., Channel 11
To the winner go the Apple Cup, the Pac-12 Conference North championship and a spot in the conference title game. This is only the sixth time since 1936 both teams have been ranked at the time they played. The quarterbacks are among the nation’s best. Washington’s Jake Browning leads the Pac-12 with 37 touchdown passes and is fourth in the nation with a 180.7 quarterback rating. Washington State’s Luke Falk leads the nation with an average of 34.6 completions per game and a completion percentage of 71.4%.
Texas Christian (5-5) at Texas (5-6), 12:30 p.m., FS1
12:30 p.m.: Nebraska at Iowa, Channel 7; Boise State at Air Force, CBSSN.
1 p.m.: Louisiana Tech at Southern Mississippi, ESPNews.
2 p.m.: Toledo at Western Michigan, ESPN2.
3 p.m.: Baylor at Texas Tech, ESPN.
Arizona State (5-6) at (2-9) Arizona, ESPN, 6:30 p.m.
Remember when Arizona State’s Todd Graham and Arizona’s Rich Rodriguez were hot coaching stuff? Really, it wasn’t that long ago. You know the old saying that defense wins championships? Well, of 128 major colleges, Arizona ranks 112 and Arizona State is 125. Go out and watch a good high school playoff game.
5:30 p.m.: Cincinnati at Tulsa, ESPN2.
No. 3 Michigan (10-1) at No. 2 Ohio State (10-1), 9 a.m., Channel 7
The Horseshoe will be rocking with a six-digit-sized crowd anticipating a smash-mouth-style Big Ten Conference showdown with plenty of national implications. ESPN has planned a five-hour “College GameDay” production that surely will approach record levels for hype, but let’s remember: Ohio State nearly lost to three-win Michigan State last week, and Michigan trailed into the second half against Indiana.
9 a.m.: Kansas at Kansas State, FS1; Kentucky at Louisville, ESPN; Virginia at Virginia Tech, ESPN2; Purdue at Indiana, ESPNU; Rutgers at Maryland, ESPNews; Georgia Tech at Georgia, SEC Network (SEC); Illinois at Northwestern, Big Ten Network (BTN); Central Florida at South Florida, CBSSN.
9:30 a.m.: Syracuse at Pittsburgh, KDOC.
No. 13 Auburn (8-3) at No. 1 Alabama (11-0), 12:30 p.m., Channel 2
Alabama will try to cap an undefeated regular season. Auburn, even with three losses, could use an upset to vault into Sugar Bowl contention. The Tigers’ option offense has given Alabama trouble in the past, but the Crimson Tide may steal a lesson from Georgia — coached by former Tide defensive coordinator Kirby Smart — which gave a clinic on how to stop it during an upset victory last week.
This used to be a throw-out-the-records rivalry, but the best reason to tune in now is to watch USC quarterback Sam Darnold, who has engineered a seven-game Trojans winning streak. Against UCLA last week, as in most of the games in which the redshirt freshman has played, he looked like he was in a pick-up game at the beach. Completely relaxed, displaying little head, shoulders and hand fakes to find extra time, then zipping passes in to whatever receiver suited his fancy at the moment.
No. 22 Utah (8-3) at No. 9 Colorado (9-2), 4:30 p.m., Channel 11
Last week, USC fans rooted against Utah — and got the upset win by Oregon they needed. Now the Trojans faithful are hoping the Utes can turn the tables on Colorado. A win by Utah puts the Trojans in the Pac-12 title game against either Washington or Washington State. A win by Colorado sends the Buffaloes to Levi Stadium for the title game.
12:30 p.m.: West Virginia at Iowa State, FS1; Michigan State at Penn State, ESPN; Duke at Miami, ESPN2; Navy at Southern Methodist, ESPNU; San Jose State at Fresno State, CBSSN; Minnesota at Wisconsin, BTN; Mississippi State at Mississippi, SEC.
1 p.m.: Tulane at Connecticut, ESPNews; Oregon at Oregon State, Pac-12 Networks (Pac-12).
4:30 p.m.: South Carolina at Clemson, ESPN; East Carolina at Tempe, ESPNews; Tennessee at Vanderbilt, SEC.
No. 15 Florida (8-2) at No. 14 Florida State (8-3), 5 p.m., Channel 7
Florida State will finish behind Clemson and Louisville in the Atlantic Coast Conference standings, but the Seminoles are State of Florida champions until further notice. Florida State’s senior class is 4-0 against Miami and 3-0 against Florida. Going a combined 8-0 against the state’s biggest rivals has never been accomplished before. Florida is coming off a big win at Louisiana State and the Gators already know they’ll be playing in the Southeastern Conference championship game.
5 p.m.: Rice at Stanford, Pac-12.
6 p.m.: Colorado State at San Diego State, CBSSN.
7:15 p.m.: Wyoming at New Mexico, ESPN2; Utah State at Brigham Young, ESPNU.