Penn State-Iowa and the Red River rivalry are the best college football games to watch
The time has yet come for us to help you plan your Saturday college football viewing. To reiterate, we try to choose the best games based on the importance of the showdowns, the likely entertainment value, and the potential for surprise. We make these selections as neutral observers, so of course if you have a deep interest in a particular team your priorities will be different.
With all that out of the way, we submit for your approval this promising handful of Week 6 matches. The roster includes the second top-five of the season, three more ranked opponents clashes and a looking squad. of a surprise in prime time. No, not Texas A&M vs. Alabama – even though one of our so-called experts nominated him as the Game of the Year contender.
Ahem – but we digress.
No.4 Penn State to No.3 Iowa
4 p.m. ET, Fox
Why watch: It’s the clear headliner, although it could be repeated later in the Big Ten Championship game. The Nittany Lions seem to have the most perilous route to get there through the East Division, but while the West may seem more manageable to the Hawkeyes even with a loss here, they won’t want to test this theory. The Hawkeyes’ straightforward formula of forcing takeout and running the ball worked almost perfectly on their last outing to Maryland. Veteran Nittany Lions’ QB Sean Clifford might be less inclined to give the ball away, so Iowa will need to mount more intensive workouts to score points. QB Spencer Petras can be inaccurate at times, but he knows how to send the ball to RB Tyler Goodson in space. Penn State LBs Brandon Smith and Ellis Brooks will lead efforts to limit that space. Nittany Lions’ WR Jahan Dotson could make the difference. CB Riley Moss and his fellow Hawkeyes’ defensive backs are well aware of his breakaway ability, of course, but he’ll be hard to contain for a full 60 minutes.
Why this might disappoint: Chances are the game will quickly turn into a punting contest. The Nittany Lions allow just 12 points per game, while the Hawkeyes are even more stingy at 11.6. It should also mean that it will be close throughout, but a high intensity with little fireworks display might not be your cup of tea. If a team were able to build a multi-score lead, a comeback could prove difficult.
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No.5 Oklahoma vs. No.23 Texas in Dallas
Noon ET, ABC
Why watch: Not that this annual rivalry game needed the extra spice, but it’s always best if both teams involved have a number before their name as well. The Sooners came out of the Red River Week unscathed, though it wasn’t always easy, as the Longhorns rebounded from their earlier loss to Arkansas with a three-game winning streak that brought them back in. the top 25. QB Spencer Rattler had Oklahoma offensive more like what fans expect in last week’s win at Kansas State, though he would still love to get a home run ball against WR Marvin Mims. The Longhorns offense has also found new life since Casey Thompson took over at QB, but the key for Texas should be RB Bijan Robinson. He’s averaging 6.21 yards per rushing attempt, but the Sooners’ improved rushing defense, with LB Brian Asamoah, allows just 2.73 per carry.
Why this might disappoint: This is rarely the case, but it’s conceivable that the Sooners will set up a quick charge and come home. The Longhorns Pass Rush only produces two sacks per game. That won’t be enough against Rattler, who knows how to get the ball out quickly.
No.16 Arkansas to No.17 Mississippi
Noon ET, ESPN
Why watch: You could call this SEC West contest the Bounce-back Bowl, as both teams are hoping to return to the winning column after what could only be described as reality checks against the league’s powers. The Razorbacks were overwhelmed from start to finish at Georgia last week, while the Rebels did a little better a few hours later in Tuscaloosa against the Crimson Tide. Ole Miss QB Matt Corral will likely take a few deep punches quickly in an attempt to restore his confidence and keep the Razorbacks front seven at bay. Arkansas will want to reestablish their power play behind RB Trelon Smith to give QB KJ Jefferson some leeway.
Why this might disappoint: It’s unlikely, but one or both teams could come out flat after last week’s sub-optimal performance. One could also imagine scenarios in which either team advances early and returns home. The Rebels would theoretically be better equipped to make a comeback with their quick hitting ability, but the Razorbacks have the potential to dictate the pace of play in the trenches.
N ° 13 Notre-Dame at Virginia Tech
7:30 p.m. ET, ACC Network
Why watch: The Fighting Irish have little time to mourn their first loss of the campaign. They hit the road where, for the third time in as many weeks, they face a rested opponent who comes out of an open meeting. The Hokies started the season with an upset at home against then-ranked North Carolina and would like to snag another top 25 win to get back in the poll. Notre Dame freshman quarterback Drew Pyne led a failed second-half rally against Cincinnati. Irish combat coach Brian Kelly could still stick with opening day starter Jack Coan if he is in perfect health, although Kelly will not make the decision public. Whoever takes the bulk of the shots will need much better protection; DE Amare Barno and LB Dax Hollifield of the Hokies will definitely be in attack mode from the start. The Tech offense hasn’t been super-efficient either, but QB Braxton Burmeister can be slippery. He must know, however, where Notre Dame S Kyle Hamilton is.
Why this might disappoint: Last season was freakish for everyone, sure, but Virginia Tech hasn’t performed well after open dates in recent years. If the Hokies are slow to get out of the gate and Notre Dame can take advantage, the local crowd could be neutralized.
No. 2 Georgia to No. 19 Auburn
3:30 p.m. ET, CBS
Why watch: The Tigers are coming home after accomplishing a feat they haven’t achieved since 1999, beating LSU in Baton Rouge. Their reward is this date with an even more historic rival, and the Bulldogs are not at all interested in Auburn’s happy comeback. As mentioned earlier, the Georgian defense, which has allowed just 23 points all season and recorded back-to-back shutouts, play at the championship level. Tigers’ QB Bo Nix showed his improvisational skills by leading last week’s rally against the Bayou Bengals. He probably won’t have as much freedom to shake things up this time around; Georgia has 10 players who have registered at least one sack, led by LB Adam Anderson’s four. LB Zakoby McClain and Auburn’s defense have been strong against LSU, and they’ll need to be even better to keep the Bulldogs’ RB Zamir White in check.
Why this might disappoint: Strange things can always happen in rivalry games, but Auburn, quite simply, can’t fall behind in this one. It doesn’t matter whether JT Daniels or Stetson Bennett were in QB for Georgia given the dominance of the defense. If any of the Bulldogs’ couriers get hot, the rout could be triggered.
Follow varsity journalist Eddie Timanus on Twitter @EddieTimanus