Well don’t I look silly.
In last week’s watch guide I didn’t spend much thought on the Thursday and Friday night games. It’s an easy trap to fall into. We often look at weeknight games as appetizers to hold us over until the feast on Saturdays. Little did we know that two of the most incredible finishes of the season would take place on those sleepy weeknights.
West Virginia and Houston set an incredibly high bar on Thursday night in a back and forth battle that went down to the final play. The Mountaineers looked to lock up the win with a go-ahead touchdown with 12 seconds to play. That proved to be too much time left, however, as Houston completed a Hail Mary touchdown pass as the clock expired to pull off a 41-39 stunner.
A Hail Mary game winner is hard to beat. But what about a monumental comeback? On Friday night, Colorado was having its way with Stanford only to see its 29-0 lead evaporate in the second half. The Cardinal stormed back to force overtime in one of the most improbably comebacks most of us didn’t see live. Like many, I’d gone to bed only to find out about the comeback the next morning. Maybe ESPN was doing Prime a favor starting this game so late.
A lesson for us all: overlook the weeknight games at your peril.
Rice @ Tulsa looks like the closest match on paper Thursday night. Both teams are 3-3 overall with 1-1 conference records. They’re even tied for fifth in the AAC. James Madison @ Marshall might be worth keeping an eye on as well. While JMU is undefeated and atop the Sun Belt, Marshall could surprise them. The Thundering Herd beat Virginia Tech in week 3 and only lost to NC State by a touchdown two weeks ago.
Saturday, October 21 - Morning
|#7 Penn State @ #3 Ohio State||11:00 AM||FOX||FOXSports.com|
|UCF @ #6 Oklahoma||11:00 AM||ABC||WatchESPN|
|#22 Air Force @ Navy||11:00 AM||CBS||CBSSports.com|
|Mississippi State @ Arkansas||11:00 AM||ESPN||WatchESPN|
|Rutgers @ Indiana||11:00 AM||BTN||FOXSports.com|
|Boston College @ Georgia Tech||11:00 AM||ACC Network||WatchESPN|
|Baylor @ Cincinnati||11:00 AM||ESPN+||WatchESPN|
|Memphis @ UAB||11:00 AM||ESPN 2||WatchESPN|
|Western Michigan @ Ohio||11:00 AM||CBSSN||CBSSports.com|
#7 Penn State @ #3 Ohio State - 11:00 AM - FOX
We’ll finally get to see if James Franklin’s Nittany Lions are the real deal in the East and get some clarity in the conference title race. But Ohio State has its own share of detractors this year, so the Buckeyes have just as much to prove. A perfect game to start Saturday. I just wish they could both lose.
Rutgers @ Indiana - 11:00 AM - BTN
It’s a light morning schedule outside of the Big Noon Kickoff game above, but I’m really curious to see if Rutgers can keep up their success. Their only losses have been to Michigan and Wisconsin, and I really should be doing more opposition research anyway.
Mississippi State @ Arkansas - 11:00 AM - ESPN
The battle for who can get their first conference win. Arkansas has had a rough stretch, losing five straight after starting 2-0. Four of those have been by one score, including 24-21 to Alabama and 27-20 to Ole Miss, so sooner or later that ball’s got to bounce their way.
Honorable Mention: #22 Air Force @ Navy
Saturday, October 21 - Afternoon
|Charlotte @ East Carolina||1:00 PM||ESPN+||WatchESPN|
|UL Monroe @ Georgia Southern||1:00 PM||ESPN+||WatchESPN|
|Akron @ Bowling Green||1:00 PM||ESPN+||WatchESPN|
|Washington State @ #9 Oregon||2:30 PM||ABC||WatchESPN|
|#17 Tennessee @ #11 Alabama||2:30 PM||CBS||CBSSports.com|
|South Carolina @ #20 Missouri||2:30 PM||SEC Network||WatchESPN|
|North Texas @ #23 Tulane||2:30 PM||ESPN 2||WatchESPN|
|Minnesota @ #24 Iowa||2:30 PM||NBC||Peacock|
|Wisconsin @ Illinois||2:30 PM||FS1||FOXSports.com|
|Northwestern @ Nebraska||2:30 PM||BTN||FOXSports.com|
|South Florida @ UConn||2:30 PM||CBSSN||CBSSports.com|
|Pittsburgh @ Wake Forest||2:30 PM||ACC Network||WatchESPN|
|Oklahoma State @ West Virginia||2:30 PM||ESPN||WatchESPN|
|Central Michigan @ Ball State||2:30 PM||ESPN+||WatchESPN|
|Eastern Michigan @ Northern Illinois||2:30 PM||ESPN+||WatchESPN|
|Buffalo @ Kent State||2:30 PM||ESPN+||WatchESPN|
|#8 Texas @ Houston||3:00 PM||FOX||FOXSports.com|
|Toledo @ Miami (OH)||3:00 PM||ESPN U||WatchESPN|
Minnesota @ #24 Iowa - 2:30 PM - NBC
Amazing what one win can do to your outlook. Iowa finds itself in command of the Big Ten West but now must avoid a possible letdown against the Gophers, who haven’t won in Iowa City since 2000. Like the Hawkeyes, Minnesota ranks near the bottom of the FBS in passing yards, 127th to Iowa’s 128th so this could be a running back bonanza of a game.
#17 Tennessee @ #11 Alabama - 2:30 PM - CBS
Some day James Cameron will make a documentary of his dives looking for the goalposts tossed in the Tennessee River after last year’s meeting. It was an epic showdown that came down to a game winning field goal to break Bama’s 15-game winning streak over the Vols. This year’s edition of the Third Saturday in October could be another barn burner with both teams fielding some of the top defenses in the SEC.
Honorable Mention: Washington State @ #9 Oregon
Saturday, October 21 - Evening
|UTSA @ Florida Atlantic||5:00 PM||ESPN+||WatchESPN|
|Hawai'i @ New Mexico||5:00 PM||N/A||N/A|
|Virginia @ #10 North Carolina||5:30 PM||CW||CW|
|#13 Ole Miss @ Auburn||6:00 PM||ESPN||WatchESPN|
|Texas Tech @ BYU||6:00 PM||FS1||FOXSports.com|
|TCU @ Kansas State||6:00 PM||ESPN 2||WatchESPN|
|Appalachian State @ Old Dominion||6:00 PM||NFL Network||NFL Network|
|Coastal Carolina @ Arkansas State||6:00 PM||ESPN+||WatchESPN|
|Colorado State @ UNLV||6:00 PM||N/A||N/A|
|Utah State @ San Jose State||6:00 PM||CBSSN||CBSSports.com|
|#2 Michigan @ Michigan State||6:30 PM||NBC||Peacock|
|#16 Duke @ #4 Florida State||6:30 PM||ABC||WatchESPN|
|Army @ #19 LSU||6:30 PM||SEC Network||WatchESPN|
|#14 Utah @ #18 USC||7:00 PM||FOX||FOXSports.com|
|Clemson @ Miami||7:00 PM||ACC Network||WatchESPN|
|Georgia State @ Louisiana||7:00 PM||ESPN U||WatchESPN|
|Nevada @ San Diego State||8:00 PM||FS2||FOXSports.com|
|Arizona State @ #5 Washington||9:30 PM||FS1||FOXSports.com|
|#25 UCLA @ Stanford||9:30 PM||ESPN||WatchESPN|
#16 Duke @ #4 Florida State - 6:30 PM - ABC
One of the three biggest games of the day and one of Florida State’s few remaining tests in the ACC. The Seminoles are unquestionably one of the best teams in the country but they’ve had a couple of close shaves against Boston College and Clemson earlier this year. The Noles are tough, but they’re not invincible. This could be an opportunity for Duke.
Clemson @ Miami - 7:00 PM - ACC Network
One side whose star seems to be fading and another whose star desperately wants to shine once again. Both programs appear to be in a bit of a wilderness within the ACC right now but can both still be dangerous, especially to one another.
#14 Utah @ #18 USC - 7:00 PM - FOX
USC’s fortunes came crashing down in South Bend last Saturday and now they get to face a team that beat them twice last year. The Trojan defense is porous as a sponge, but their offense is still as potent as ever. Can USC get the Ute-shaped monkey off their back this time around?
Honorable Mention: Arizona State @ #5 Washington, Virginia @ #10 North Carolina