Your perfect Saturday: The ultimate TV guide to Week 4 in college football
You might not remember exactly where you were or who was playing when you attended your first college football game (I'm pretty sure mine was some random University of Cincinnati game in the early 1990s), but you tend to remember when you first fell in love with the sport. It doesn't have to be a big bowl game or an iconic moment. It could just be someone being super nice to you at a tailgate, a player signing your ball, a coach patting you on the head.
It happens to all of us uniquely, and we can't get away, regardless of whatever pall gets cast over the game at any given time. We're stuck with college football, and college football is stuck with us, for better or worse.
Others much more intelligently than I ever could have written about this subject in recent weeks, usually focusing on the NFL (Matt Ufford's essay and Maggie Gray's monologue both stand out), so I'll spare you all some unnecessary opining. I'm not giving up on football (not yet anyway) even though we all can probably admit changes need to be made -- and soon.
Here's my Perfect Saturday for Week 4, which features a slate that takes a little bit to get going but should turn out quite alright when it's all said and done.
The early slate
Noon: Bowling Green at No. 19 Wisconsin (ESPN2)
In an early batch of games likely to have everyone glazed over and checking their watches, we're going to take what we can get. Bowling Green is coming off a 45-42 win over Indiana and will likely need to keep the pedal down if the Falcons have a shot against a Wisconsin team that is well-rested and wants to work the clock. There's upset potential here, but it could also get away from Bowling Green quickly.
Noon: Georgia Tech at Virginia Tech (ESPN)
With both teams wanting to put last week behind them (hey, at least the Yellow Jackets managed to escape with a victory over Georgia Southern), this one also holds a bit of extra importance as an ACC Coastal matchup. Virginia Tech's defense was bullrushed early by East Carolina and needs to get back to the type of play that helped the Hokies beat Ohio State. That will start with slowing down Georgia Tech quarterback Justin Thomas, who averages a touchdown every 7.83 passing attempts and is averaging 6.5 yards per carry so far this season.
Noon: Iowa at Pittsburgh (ESPNU)
No, it is not the end of December. No, this is not a bowl game in Birmingham. No, you have not traveled through time. No, you are not sad for choosing to watch Iowa play Pittsburgh. Football is football, after all.
Second screen specials
These are games that are tailor-made for your tablet, extra laptop, giant phone or any other device you use to stream things. Go crazy.
12:30 p.m.: Maryland at Syracuse (WatchESPN)
It'll make for a good thing to have going in the background, like an unobtrusive candle or a Stereolab album.
2 p.m.: Marshall at Akron (WatchESPN)
This is your weekly reminder that you should be watching Rakeem Cato because he is good at football and does cool things when he plays football.
Dog day afternoon
3:30 p.m.: Florida at No. 3 Alabama (CBS)
I'm not kidding myself into thinking Florida will upset Alabama because the Crimson Tide are "overlooking" the Gators. That's a weird sentence to type anyway. But I do think this game will be close enough to be watchable and that it would be a smart idea for CBS to offer up a Will Muschamp cam throughout.
3:30 p.m.: Virginia at No. 21 BYU (ESPN)
First off, ups to Virginia for continuing to play a tough nonconference schedule. It hasn't turned into a bunch of wins for the Cavaliers lately, but it's worthy of a golf clap. Mike London scored a huge, much-needed victory when Virginia beat Louisville last week and finding a way to down a surging BYU squad would do wonders for his job security (and the Cavs' bowl prospects this season). That will be easier said than done. Yes, Virginia's defense has looked legit, but Taysom Hill has performed like one of the best players in football thus far.
3:30 p.m.: North Carolina at ECU (ESPNU)
Watch this game. It will be fun. You don't need any other reason.
Second screen specials
3:30 p.m.: Indiana at No. 18 Missouri (SEC Network)
In the preseason when everyone was hyping up Dak Prescott, Jake Coker and Nick Marshall, Maty Mauk was hanging out, throwing footballs and growing his beard. He now has 13 total touchdowns through three games and has Missouri looking like a team everybody slept on again. Mauk should have no trouble adding to that touchdown total against a dismal Hoosiers defense.
3:30 p.m.: Utah at Michigan (ABC/ESPN2)
It's a copout to call this a must-win for Brady Hoke, but it'd still probably be a good idea for the Wolverines to try and come away with a victory here. It won't be easy. A healthy Travis Wilson pretty much makes Utah look like Charlie Kelly from It's Always Sunny In Philadelphia cutting the brakeline of a van and yelling "Wildcard!" before jumping out the back.
7 p.m.: Mississippi State at No. 8 LSU (ESPN)
Death Valley under the lights with the Bulldogs fighting for SEC West relevance? Sign me up.
7:30 p.m.: No. 4 Oklahoma at West Virginia (Fox)
I'm not saying the Mountaineers have a shot in this one, but I am saying it isn't a coincidence that Amazon started selling Surge again the same week Dana Holgorsen's team is playing the Sooners.
8 p.m.: No. 22 Clemson at No. 1 Florida State (ABC)
No Jameis Winston for the first half means Sean Maguire finally gets his chance after outlasting every other Florida State backup quarterback. He draws a Clemson defense that has had ample time to let last year's loss to the Seminoles and this year's loss to Georgia simmer under a low boil to the point when you can taste the secret ingredient (it's a dash of nutmeg).
Second screen special
8 p.m.: Miami at No. 24 Nebraska (ESPN2)
Be ready in case one of the other night games turns into a blowout because this one should be entertaining. It's not the marquee masterpiece it was back in the day, but there are still some solid players involved. That Ameer Abdullah vs. Duke Johnson battle is worthy of at least your brand new giant iPhone 6 Plus screen.
Late night theater
10:30 p.m.: No. 2 Oregon at Washington State (ESPN)
Don't feed Mike Leach after midnight. Plus we have to see if SI's Pete Thamel was onto something with his surprise pick of Wazzu to pull the upset in Pullman.
Second screen special
10 p.m.: California at Arizona (Pac-12 Network)
This gives you a chance to watch Jared Goff and Anu Solomon bob and weave their way to a bunch of passing yards with very little outside distraction. Enjoy it.
10:30 p.m.: San Diego State at Oregon State
The Aztecs might have some weird late-night upset magic in them, and if not, you at least owe it to yourself to see what Beavers quarterback Sean Mannion is up to.