Previewing Saturday's Biggest College Football Games
Although the Big Ten reversed course and decided to commence its football season on the weekend of October 24, there is still a long wait ahead for Ohio State fans counting down the days until the Huskers visit Columbus.
However, BuckeyesNow has you covered with some games this weekend that might help fill the void and also impact Ohio State in some way moving forward this fall.
No. 2 Alabama at Missouri
Even though this will not classify as a competitive affair, on paper, Alabama is one of the teams that could pose problems for Ohio State down the road. Most Buckeye fans will want to peek in and see what the perennial power Crimson Tide looks like when they visit underdog Missouri.
Mac Jones will take over the reigns for Alabama, previously led by top-five NFL pick and former national champion quarterback Tua Tagovailoa. This one could be over by halftime, but you might want to look at Saban’s starters before the scout team dominates playing time in the second stanza.
No. 4 Georgia at Arkansas
Another potentially non-competitive game makes our list because it could also affect the Buckeyes at some point. Kirby Smart and the Bulldogs open the year traveling to Fayetteville, with the big question being at the quarterback position. After expected starter Jamie Newman opted out in early September, the competition has been between USC transfer Jamie Daniels and redshirt freshman D’Wan Mathis.
Whoever takes the reigns will have large shoes to fill after Jake Fromm threw for over 8,000 yards during his three seasons in Athens. The encounter with Arkansas might get ugly early, but Georgia is another SEC foe that Buckeye fans likely want to keep eyes on.
No. 23 Kentucky at No. 8 Auburn
For those hoping to see four quarters of competitive football in a Power 5 encounter, this might be your best bet. Both teams are ranked in the AP Top 25 and Kentucky has been historically successful in season openers by winning 10 of its last 13. With senior Terry Wilson running the show for the Wildcat offense, they look to take down an Auburn team that finished third in the SEC West last season.
The Tigers will rely on 2019 SEC Freshman of the Year in quarterback Bo Nix, who threw for over 2,500 yards and 16 touchdowns in his inaugural season. Riding the momentum of an Iron Bowl win and essentially knocking their rivals out of the College Football Playoff contention, the Tigers look to start the right way.
No. 22 Army at No. 15 Cincinnati
Former Ohio State coach Luke Fickell appears primed to have his best season yet at Cincinnati. The Bearcats currently rank top-15 nationally and are coming off a route vs. Austin Peay in the season opener. They now face their first challenge of the young season when upstart Army comes to town, as the teams lace up for their first meeting since 2004.
The Black Knights, 2-0 with wins over Middle Tennessee and Louisiana Monroe, are led by a stout defense that has allowed just seven points overall. They will certainly be tested more against a Bearcat offense that put up over 500 total yards in its debut.
No. 24 Louisville at No. 21 Pittsburgh
Our first highlighted non-SEC game includes two teams that had different starts to this odd season. Pitt has rolled in their two contests by a combined score 76-10, whereas the Cardinals squeaked by Western Kentucky (35-21) before dropping a 37-24 nationally-televised game to the Miami Hurricanes.
The Cardinals look to even the overall series at 9-9 as the Panthers currently hold a one-game edge. Senior quarterback Kenny Pickett has thrown for three touchdowns and nearly 500 yards in his first two starts of 2020 for Pitt. Last season, he completed over 50 percent of his passes for 3,098 yards and 13 touchdowns, also breaking the Panthers' single-season record for completions.
Bonus Game: West Virginia at No. 15 Oklahoma State
Our added game features a big question mark at quarterback for the Cowboys. Spencer Sanders injured his right foot in Oklahoma State’s lackluster 16-7 win over Tulsa last week in the first quarter. If Sanders is unable to go, Mike Gundy will have to lean on true freshman Shane Illingworth or junior college transfer Ethan Bullock.
Either way, the Cowboys will need much more output offensively to take down a visiting West Virginia team that will see the return of three offensive starters due to suspension in Week 1 (violation of team rules).