Lamest time window: Mid-afternoon. The 3:30 slate doesn’t have much sizzle. Just make sure you’re back for an interesting night shift.
Noon: No. 7 Cincinnati is legit but needs to keep racking up big wins to boost its College Football Playoff hopes. Beating Memphis would qualify as a quality victory.
2: UCF-Houston is a nice matchup of the AAC’s upper-middle class.
3:30: Will Auburn’s ridiculous luck continue against defending national champion LSU?
4: No. 6 Oklahoma State will try to keep the Big 12′s playoff hopes alive by topping Texas.
7: A polar-opposite coaching matchup between Mike Leach’s Mississippi State and Nick Saban’s No. 2 Crimson Tide.
7:30: No. 3 Ohio State at No. 18 Penn State is the obvious choice. But No. 8 Texas A&M is on upset watch against Arkansas, and I don’t know how No. 10 Florida will look against Missouri after a two-week shutdown from the coronavirus.
10:15: Enjoy another chance to watch No. 11 BYU’s prolific offense and Heisman Trophy candidate Zach Wilson (16 touchdown passes, one interception).
Tampa’s game of the week: Indiana-Rutgers?
The No. 17 Hoosiers were the talk of the sport this week after upsetting Penn State thanks to coach Tom Allen (whose coaching career started in Tampa), leading tackler Micah McFadden (Plant High), top receiver Whop Philyor (Plant High) and star quarterback Michael Penix (Tampa Bay Tech). They’ll try to improve to 2-0 by beating Rutgers, which welcomed former Bucs coach Greg Schiano back by ending a 21-game conference losing streak.
Bucs' coaching tree
Two former Bucs assistants are going for milestone victories in their first head coaching jobs. Boston College’s Jeff Hafley —a Tampa Bay secondary coach in 2012-13 — looks to be turning around the 4-2 Eagles and will try to upset No. 1 Clemson. UNLV’s Marcus Arroyo — the Bucs' interim offensive coordinator in 2014 — is gunning for his first victory as a head coach, against Nevada.
Make it count against Mizzou
As if the rust from two weeks' off isn’t enough, Florida’s elite offense won’t have an easy test against Missouri. The Tigers allowed Kentucky to run only 36 plays in last week’s 20-10 victory. That’s the fewest plays a Missouri opponent has had since 1998. Missouri held LSU and Kentucky to a combined 2-of-19 on third down in its last two games.
Local of the week
Ohio State offensive tackle Nicholas Petit-Frere (Berkeley Prep)
Penn State — led by potential first-round defensive end Jayson Oweh —will have to have a disruptive defensive front to have a chance of knocking off the Buckeyes. That means Petit-Frere, a 6-foot-5, 310-pound junior, will need a big performance to keep Ohio State perfect.
Between injuries and the transfer portal, No. 18 Penn State has lost a lot of offensive skill talent. That means the top remaining players must star this week against No. 3 Ohio State. Quarterback Sean Clifford will need another big dual-threat game after passing for three touchdowns and rushing for a career-high 119 yards last week, and Pat Freiermuth will have to continue to be the country’s top tight end (outside of Florida’s Kyle Pitts). If those two struggle, the Buckeyes could roll.
QB tale of the tape
UCF-Houston features a matchup of two of the AAC’s top quarterbacks:
UCF’s Dillon Gabriel
Passing efficiency: 170.9 (first in the AAC, 12th nationally)
Completion percentage: 64.9 (third in the AAC)
Yards per attempt: 9.6 (tied for 11th nationally)
Leads the nation with 19 passing touchdowns and 461 yards of offense per game
Houston’s Clayton Tune
Passing efficiency: 166.8 (second in the AAC, 16th nationally)
Completion percentage: 66.3 (second in the AAC)
Yards per attempt: 9.6 (tied for 11th nationally)
First Cougars quarterback with four consecutive 300-yard games since Case Keenum (2011)
Eye on the NFL draft
Texas has only had one offensive lineman chosen in the past 12 drafts. Tackle Samuel Cosmi will likely stop that drought in the spring, maybe even going into the first round. How will he fare against an Oklahoma State defense that’s in the top 10 nationally in sacks per game (3.75) and tackles for loss per game (9.0)?
Silly special teams
If history is any indication, expect some odd special teams moments in Oklahoma State-Texas:
2019: The Longhorns stuffed a fake field goal in the fourth quarter in their 36-30 win.
2018: Texas coach Tom Herman erupted when his Longhorns were flagged for jumping offside as Oklahoma State lined up for a fake punt. The Cowboys upset the No. 6 Longhorns 38-35.
2016: Oklahoma State blocked three extra points in the first half (one of which the Cowboys returned the other way for two points) of a 49-31 win over No. 22 Texas.
2015: Texas dropped a snap on a punt to set up No. 24 Oklahoma State’s game-winning field goal in a 30-27 victory.
Quote of the week
“Everyone got a PhD in Zoom.” — Florida offensive coordinator Brian Johnson on working during the Gators' two-week COVID-19 shutdown
By the numbers
69 — Age of Nick Saban, as of Saturday (his birthday)
277 — Yards of offense needed for Texas A&M’s Kellen Mond to become the first Aggie and 12th player in SEC with 10,000 total yards in his career
8 —Consecutive times the Aggies have beaten Arkansas
3-1 — UF’s record after a loss under Dan Mullen
34 —Wins for Michigan in its last 50 meetings against Michigan State. Given how awful the Spartans looked last week, expect an easy triumph for Jim Harbaugh’s No. 13 Wolverines
40.5 —Florida Atlantic’s scoring average in two previous games against Texas San Antonio. It won’t be easy to make it three in a row; the Roadrunners held high-flying BYU to 27 earlier this month
16 —Consecutive home wins for No. 7 Cincinnati
5 — Consecutive games Cincinnati has lost to Memphis