College football certainly didn’t disappoint on its opening weekend. There were upsets galore, including multiple FCS over FBS teams, Texas’ Tom Herman era getting off to a rocky start, and a 35-point comeback for the Bruins over the Aggies. Needless to say, the marquee match-ups (outside of FSU-Bama) largely lived up to expectations.
This week, we’ve got another slate of really good games to offer you. The problem is, four of them will start within an hour of each other on Saturday night so you need to find a spot that’s got multiple TVs in order to keep up with all of the action. Without further ado, here are the five highlight games to watch this upcoming weekend (and a few bonus picks at the end too).
#23 TCU @ Arkansas- Saturday 3:30 p.m. ET CBS (Or streamed online here)
This game was a boatload of fun last year in Fort Worth. The Razorbacks took home a 41-38 win in double overtime and 66 of those 79 points came in the second half/overtime. The two teams scored in the opposite way of what you’d expect based on the team profiles. TCU did their damage on the ground with four rushing touchdowns, while the Razorbacks Austin Allen threw for three scores.
This season, neither team was really tested in Week 1, with TCU downing Jackson State 63-0 and Arkansas whipping Florida A&M 49-7. So, warm-up games out of the way, we don’t really know much about these two teams so far. This game will be the first real test of the season and, like all of the games in this post, it’ll give us a better idea of what to expect for these programs this season.
We do however know the styles. Arkansas is going to try and bully you in the running game with a big offensive line and the combination of Chase Hayden and Devwah Whaley. For TCU, it’s up-tempo, spread offense run by Kenny Hill and a variety of running backs/wide receivers. This should be a tight one, evidenced by TCU being a 3 point favorite.
#13 Auburn @ #3 Clemson- Saturday 7 p.m. ET ESPN
Now, I hope you’ve got either multiple TVs or an Apple TV and laptop or picture-in-picture capability on your TV for Saturday night. With the kick-off of this game, we’ve got four games featuring ranked opponents all starting in the next hour and a half.
Auburn opened their season with an easy 41-7 pasting of Georgia Southern while Clemson rolled Kent State 56-3. Again, your normal, hey, come to our place, we’ll pay you to beat you games to open the year. Now, we did get our first look at Auburn with Jarrett Stidham under center (14/25 185 yards 2 TD 1 INT). Ditto for Clemson with Kelly Bryant (16/22 236 yards 1 TD 1 INT, 7 carries 77 yards 1 TD). There were some things to like, and some things to question heading into this match-up.
Last year, Clemson won 19-13 on the plains to start the year and this season Auburn has to travel to Death Valley. The biggest story line coming in to this one is that it’s a potential playoff “play-in” game. I don’t know about that as we’re still so early in the season, but either team’s case would certainly be strengthened with this win. Clemson enters as a (-5) favorite at home.
#15 Georgia @ #24 Notre Dame- Saturday 7:30 p.m. NBC
Unlike the previous two match-ups, these two teams did not meet last year. The Irish looked like they had forgotten all about last year’s 4-8 record in beating down Temple 49-16 last week but, that’s not the same Owls team of the past few years.
Meanwhile, Georgia handled Sun Belt contender Appalachian State with relative ease 31-10, but they lost their starting QB Jacob Eason for this week with a sprained ligament in his knee. That leaves a true freshman in Jake Fromm to take over at QB this week against the Irish. Fromm was a four-star recruit and the #44 overall recruit in the country according to 24/7Sports’ Composite rankings. The freshman shouldn’t have to shoulder too large of a load considering the potent running back duo of Nick Chubb and Sony Michel is the focal point of the offense.
For the Irish, Wimbush did look good in Week 1 against the Owls, but this will be a much larger step up in competition. Wide receiver Equanimeous St. Brown picked up right where he left off last week and he’s the guy to watch when the Irish are on offense. The Irish enter as (-4) point favorites at home.
#5 Oklahoma @ #2 Ohio State- Saturday 7:30 p.m. ABC
Back to the rematch games. These two met early last season and Ohio State’s performance in that game is really what likely propelled them into the College Football Playoff despite not winning the Big Ten. This season, the two sides feature some of the same faces, in particular the two veteran QBs in Baker Mayfield and J.T. Barrett.
For Barrett, Week 1 didn’t show much of the improvement that fans and analysts were hoping to see under new coordinator Kevin Wilson. In beating Indiana 49-21, Barrett and the offense struggled to start the game, looking sluggish and incapable of breaking big plays until the second half when the threat of running back J.K. Dobbins started to suck the Hoosiers defense more towards the line of scrimmage. The defense for the Buckeyes had some issues early handling the size of the Hoosiers receivers with their corners matched up one-one-one. Oklahoma doesn’t have the same size advantage but, Mayfield is certainly capable of burning them with accurate throws if Ohio State decides to challenge with man coverage again.
For the Sooners, we didn’t learn much from their Week 1 game because they played UTEP. Mayfield missed just one pass in the game and was removed once the game was in hand. The Sooners offensive line going up against the deep Buckeyes defensive line will be key. If they can keep Mayfield clean, he’ll have time to work against that depleted secondary. Ohio State, with the homefield advantage, is listed as a (-7.5) favorite in this one.
#14 Stanford @ #6 USC- Saturday 8:30 p.m. FOX
The final ranked vs. ranked match-up of the night is a key early season Pac-12 conference game. The Cardinal and Trojans are pegged as two contenders in the race for the Pac-12 crown and this game will give us an early leader in that respect.
When these two met last season, Sam Darnold hadn’t yet taken over the QB duties from Max Browne and Stanford took home a fairly easy 27-10 win. Things obviously are a bit different this year with Darnold under center for the Trojans. While he struggled in his first outing of the year against Western Michigan, he showed last year what he’s capable of.
Stanford has played just one game so far, against Rice in Australia, and they buried the Owls 62-7. Bryce Love, stepping into Christian McCaffrey’s shoes at running back, showed how explosive he can be with 13 carries for 180 yards and a touchdown. Love will now face a USC defense that did struggle to stop Western Michigan’s running game last week allowing 263 yards on 48 carries. That said, the Broncos offense and the Cardinal offense are vastly different, so it’s hard to make too much of that either way for the Trojans. USC is the favorite by nearly a touchdown at (-6).
Others to keep an eye on: Nebraska @ Oregon- Saturday 4:30 p.m. ET FOX, Utah @ BYU- Saturday 10:15 p.m. ESPN2