Week 7 college football games to watch:
No. 6 Oklahoma (5-0) vs. No. 11 Texas (4-1), Saturday, Fox, 9 a.m. PDT.
On this midseason showdown Saturday in college football, the most entertaining game of the day should be the one to kick it off, with the Sooners and Longhorns playing the Red River Rivalry at the Cotton Bowl in Dallas with the Texas State Fair as the traditional backdrop. Will Oklahoma establish itself as a true contender? Or will Texas reinsert itself back into the College Football Playoff picture? Thus far, the Sooners look like an improved defensive team from the last few years. Offensively, Jalen Hurts has emerged as the early Heisman Trophy frontrunner. Oklahoma is a double-digit favorite, but does it have the stamina to deal with Texas quarterback Sam Ehlinger for four quarters?
No. 1 Alabama (5-0) at No. 24 Texas A&M (3-2), Saturday, CBS, 12:30 p.m. PDT
This game wouldn’t be worth watching on a neutral field, but it’s one of a handful of road games on Alabama’s schedule that at least deserve attention as a potential roadblock. Kyle Field is one of those special places that can take a game over if a few weird things happen early. Alabama quarterback Tua Tagovailoa has looked unflappable, setting himself up to be the No. 1 overall pick in the NFL draft. His top three receivers could all be first-round picks, too. What does Texas A&M have? A capable coach in Jimbo Fisher, a capable quarterback in Kellen Mond, and a young, talented roster that hasn’t quite put it together. Maybe it will Saturday.
No. 10 Penn State (5-0) at No. 17 Iowa (4-1), Saturday, ABC, 4:30 p.m. PDT
How good is Penn State? We still don’t really know, but this night game at Iowa and next week’s clash with Michigan in Happy Valley will tell us. Win both, and the Nittany Lions should be undefeated going into the Ohio State game in Columbus on Nov. 23. Other than a tight 17-10 win over Pittsburgh, Penn State has bludgeoned its opponents, showing a gift for explosive plays with sophomore Sean Clifford under center. Clifford has developed a great chemistry with receiver KJ Hamler, and Penn State has a stable of young running backs who are making the most of their split work. Iowa is coming off a humiliating offensive performance in a 10-3 loss at Michigan and will have a lot to prove a week later.
USC (3-2) at No. 9 Notre Dame (4-1), Saturday, NBC, 4:30 p.m. PDT
There isn’t much new to learn about the Fighting Irish in this one. Notre Dame is a good team — not good enough to win a national championship, as usual — but good enough to go 11-1 and challenge for a playoff spot. Can USC rise up in Year 4 under Clay Helton and show something new? Odds are, we’ve already got the Trojans figured out, too, especially as a road underdog. Helton’s teams have rarely played above their weight under these circumstances and hung around for a potential upset in the fourth quarter. USC star receiver Michael Pittman Jr. ran his mouth this week, which will only have Notre Dame more fired up to keep its rival down.
No. 7 Florida (6-0) at No. 5 Louisiana State (5-0), Saturday, ESPN, 5 p.m. PDT
At what point do we have to take Florida seriously? For many, that moment came last weekend when the Gators took down No. 7 Auburn, which had impressive wins over Oregon and Texas A&M. But that win came in the Swamp, and Florida’s offense didn’t have to do much. Saturday night in Death Valley will be a whole new ballgame. First of all, Florida’s offense won’t be able to hear itself think, and the Gators may actually have to score 30-plus points to keep up with this LSU offense. Florida’s defense will be the best LSU quarterback Joe Burrow has faced, but, over four quarters, too much will be asked of the Gators defenders.