At first glance, this weekend’s college football schedule isn’t chock full of enticing matchups between ranked teams. However, further inspection reveals several games that will give us a better sense of which teams are legitimate contenders in their respective conferences – and perhaps beyond.
That includes No. 12 Notre Dame against No. 18 Wisconsin (12 p.m. on FOX), Texas Tech at Texas (12 p.m. on ABC), SMU at TCU (12 p.m. on FS1), No. 7 Texas A&M against No. 16 Arkansas (3:30 p.m. on CBS), Rutgers at No. 19 Michigan (3:30 p.m. on ABC) and West Virginia at No. 4 Oklahoma (7:30 p.m. on ABC).
The Fighting Irish are off to a 3-0 start but have looked unimpressive in victories over Florida State, Toledo and Purdue. Now they’ll face the biggest test of the young season when they take on the Badgers at Soldier Field in Chicago.
It will be interesting to see how Wisconsin transfer quarterback Jack Coan performs against his former team, as well as how Notre Dame protects him while playing its third-string left tackle. The team that runs the ball the best should win this game.
The Battle for The Chancellor’s Spurs, meanwhile, could be one of the highest-scoring games of the day, as evidenced by last year’s 63-56 overtime shootout in Lubbock. It’s been a historically one-sided affair, though, with the Longhorns holding a 53-17 lead in the season, which includes winning the last three and 16 of the past 20 meetings.
The Red Raiders are firing on all cylinders offensively, led by quarterback Tyler Shough, who threw for a career-high 399 yards and four touchdowns in last week’s win over Florida International. Texas will counter with a fantastic rushing attack, which ran for 428 yards and six touchdowns in a 58-0 shutout of Rice. Get your popcorn ready.
The Mustangs were left on the outside looking in when it comes to Big XII expansion and will now look to prove their worth against the Horned Frogs, who could be a sleeper in the conference themselves.
SMU quarterback Tanner Mordecai has thrown for 1,023 yards and 16 touchdowns through three games, but the Mustangs also gave up 739 yards through the air to North Texas and Louisiana Tech. That means it could be a big day for TCU’s Max Duggan in yet another Texas shootout for the Iron Skillet.
Arguably, the most important game of the day is the matchup between the Aggies and Razorbacks at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas. The winner will be 4-0 and in position to challenge Alabama for the crown in the loaded SEC West.
You’ll have to ignore the fact that Texas A&M has won the last nine meetings between the two programs, as seven of those matchups have been one score or less. On top of that, Arkansas is vastly improved under Sam Pittman, who is looking for another signature win after knocking off Texas two weeks ago.
What Saturday’s slate lacks in terms of ranked matchups, it makes up for with expected high-scoring affairs. The Scarlet Knights trip to Ann Arbor should be no different, especially if last year’s triple-overtime win for the Wolverines is any indication.
It’s hard to gather how good these two teams truly are given their schedules. But Michigan looks vastly improved on offense, and the same for Rutgers on defense. Turnovers will be the key as Greg Schiano looks for the first big-time win of his second tenure with the Scarlet Knights.
Wrapping up the evening, the Mountaineers will look to carry the momentum from a win over then-No. 15 Virginia Tech into Saturday’s game against the Sooners, who have struggled with consistency and have yet to register a convincing win against Power 5 opponents despite having the preseason Heisman front-runner in quarterback Spencer Rattler.
That said, Oklahoma has won eight straight and 10 of 12 against West Virginia, though most of those matchups have been close. If the Sooners let them hang around, perhaps the Mountaineers can pull an upset that would have massive implications on the College Football Playoff picture.
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