The viewer’s guide for Week 2 was difficult to create considering there were so few attractive matchups on the surface. This week, the only difficulty I’m having is limiting the games to direct you to. I don’t want to overload you.
Thankfully, the schedule makers did us all a solid this week as the road map for the college football viewer is rather simple this Saturday. If you break up a typical Saturday into three tiers, you have the early games, the afternoon games and the prime time games. As things stand Saturday, there is at least one major game between ranked teams in each tier, which ensures that we’ll have a full day of high-stakes games at our disposal.
That’s all you can ask for.
All times Eastern
No. 2 Florida State Seminoles at No. 10 Louisville Cardinals — Noon, ABC: It’s not very often we get a top-1o matchup to start the day, but that’s the case this week as Florida State heads north to take on Louisville. There’s a lot to like about this game as it matches stakes with star power. Louisville quarterback Lamar Jackson has been the best player in the country by a wide margin through the first two weeks of the season, but he’ll be facing a Florida State defense that’s better than any other he’s dealt with so far. Not many people considered Louisville a contender in the ACC heading into the season, but the Cardinals have the chance to change a lot of minds this weekend.
No. 1 Alabama Crimson Tide at No. 19 Ole Miss Rebels — 3:30 p.m., CBS: Since the start of the 2014 season, Alabama has lost three football games. One was to Ohio State Buckeyes in a College Football Playoff semifinal. The other two were to Ole Miss. This weekend, the Rebels look to become the first team to defeat a Nick Saban-coached team three consecutive times since Purdue Boilermakers did it (remember when Purdue had Drew Brees and it was good?) from 1997-99 while Saban was at Michigan State Spartans . It certainly won’t be easy, as Alabama already looks like a well-oiled machine, but clearly if there’s anybody that knows how to beat the Tide, it’s Ole Miss.
No. 12 Michigan State at No. 18 Notre Dame Fighting Irish — 7:30 p.m., NBC: These two old rivals have not met since the 2013 season, and the Irish have won the last three meetings and lead the all-time series 48-28-1. This will be a major statement game for both teams. After losing to Texas Longhorns to open the season, the Irish could restore some of the shine to their golden domes with a win over Sparty. On the other side, Michigan State comes into 2016 with plenty of doubters after its loss to Alabama in the CFP last year — and the loss of key players like Connor Cook . A win over Notre Dame would send a message to the rest of the country that the Spartans aren’t ready to go away just yet.
No. 3 Ohio State at No. 14 Oklahoma Sooners — 7:30 p.m., Fox: It’s amazing how quickly perceptions change, isn’t it? Oklahoma was a popular preseason pick to get back to the CFP, but after a loss to a very good Houston Cougars team, the Sooners are suddenly home underdogs to an Ohio State team that lost more talent from last year’s squad than just about any other team in college football history. I don’t know who is right, and who is overreacting, but I do know that this game should be a hell of a lot of fun. I wouldn’t be shocked at all if this turns into a shootout.
Southern California Trojans at No. 7 Stanford Cardinal — 8 p.m., ABC: I believe this game will be a good measuring stick game for both teams. We’ve only seen Stanford once so far this season, and it looked good in a win over Kansas State Wildcats , but I just don’t know how good Kansas State really is yet, so it’s hard to get a great read on the Cardinal from the one game. Then there’s USC. The Trojans killed Utah State Aggies last week, but we shouldn’t take too much from that. The week before they were crushed by Alabama, but hey, that happens to everybody once in a while. I believe this game will tell us a lot more about both teams and their chances in the Pac-12.
No. 11 Texas at California Golden Bears — 10:30 p.m., ESPN: Texas has looked good its first two games, but it leaves the confines of Austin for the first time when it heads west to take on Cal. This is a California team that came to Austin last season and managed to outscore the Longhorns in the process. Will it be able to do it again? I don’t know, but while the win over Notre Dame was a huge statement for Texas, this is the kind of game it needs to win if people are really going to buy in.
Best of the rest
No. 25 Miami at Appalachian State Mountaineers — Noon, ESPN
No. 22 Oregon Ducks at Nebraska Cornhuskers — 3:30 p.m., ABC
Mississippi State Bulldogs at No. 20 LSU Tigers — 7 p.m., ESPN2
No. 17 Texas A&M at Auburn Tigers — 7 p.m., ESPN
Other top 25 games
No. 6 Houston 40 | Cincinnati Bearcats 16
No. 21 Baylor Bears at Rice Owls — 8 p.m., ESPN
South Carolina State at No. 5 Clemson Tigers — Noon, ESPN3.com
Georgia State Panthers at No. 9 Wisconsin Badgers — Noon, Big Ten Network
North Dakota State at No. 13 Iowa Hawkeyes — Noon, ESPN2
Ohio Bobcats at No. 15 Tennessee Volunteers — Noon, SEC Network
Colorado Buffaloes at No. 4 Michigan Wolverines — 3:30 p.m., Big Ten Network
No. 16 Georgia Bulldogs at Missouri Tigers — 7:30 p.m., SEC Network
North Texas Mean Green at No. 23 Florida Gators — 7:30 p.m., ESPNU
Texas State Bobcats at No. 24 Arkansas Razorbacks — 7:30 p.m., SEC Network
Portland State at No. 8 Washington Huskies — 8 p.m., Pac-12 Network
Source: CBS Sports Headlines / College football schedule, Week 3: What to watch, TV times, channels