It is early in the season and the schedule is filled with some real snooze-fest games like Florida Atlantic at #2 Alabama (which you can catch at noon eastern on the SEC Network) and the Citadel at #1 Florida State (7:30 PM on the ACC Network and via ESPN's Gameplan). Still there are some good contests available this weekend and here are three that will find their way onto my DVR's playlist.
# 14 USC @ # 13 Stanford
3:30 Eastern ABC
This PAC-12 showdown could be billed as an early season showdown to determine the conference runner up for 2014 (although it is too early to simply hand the league crown to Oregon). This game will feature some serious trench warfare as the vaunted Cardinal offensive line led by tackle Andrus Peat faces off against a tough Trojan defensive front spearheaded by defensive end Leonard Williams. The battle of these two opposing lines will go a long way toward determining the outcome of the game. Another "game within the game" will be that battle between Stanford WR Ty Montgomery and SC cornerback Kevon Seymour. If he can manage to shut down the Cardinal playmaker then it could turn into a long afternoon for the home team.
# 7 Michigan State @ # 3 Oregon
6:30 Eastern FOX
A showdown more properly fitted for the Rose Bowl looms large on the early season schedule for these two teams. The Ducks are considered to be a contender to hoist the National Championship trophy in January, but the Spartans also see themselves worthy of consideration this season. The Sporting News referred to this game as "Flash vs Smash", and it certainly looks that way to me. Heisman Trophy candidate Marcus Mariota leads an Oregon offense that averaged over 45 points and 565 yards per game last season against a State defense that surrendered just over 13 points and 252 yards per game in 2013. What happens when the irresistible force meets the immovable object? This game will give us the answer.
Michigan @ # 16 Notre Dame
7:30 Eastern NBC
The Wolverines and the Fighting Irish renew one of college football's great rivalries on Saturday night. Unfortunately this one is coming to an end, at least for the foreseeable future. That alone would justify tuning in, but this one has the potential to be interesting for the game itself. Both squads feature big play quarterbacks in Everett Golson (ND) and Devin Gardner (Mich) so look for this game to be a barn-burner. Bob Wojnowski summed this classic series up perfectly for the Detroit News:
Something bizarre usually happens in this series, so why not send it into hiatus with more craziness?
Even though it is early in the college season, there are marquee matchup to be found. In addition there are some good regional games around the country. Personally, I am going to be attending Grambling Sate @ Houston (8 PM Eastern on ESPN3) to watch my daughter perform at halftime. (I swear the opportunity for some early season tailgating has no bearing on my decision at all). Enjoy your Saturday afternoon football, and if you chose to indulge in some tailgating yourself, please be safe. We want to see you in the game threads on Sunday.