Let us dispense with something at the outset.
This is not the best slate of games.
We scoured both the FBS slate, peeked at the FCS slate, and we even dug into D3 games. Did you know that Trinity University (CT), the defending NESCAC champions, begin their title defense at home against Tufts University?
We do, and now you do too.
However, we pulled together what we think are the five must-watch games of the college football weekend. Fear not, there are much better weeks coming up, where it will probably be hard to cut the list to five.
5. South Carolina at (1) Georgia
Saturday, 3:30 p.m. (ET) – CBS
We told you we had to scrape the barrel to find five games.
The elevator pitch for this one? It is the No. 1 team in the country playing at home, and you will get to watch Brock Bowers. The Georgia tight end has drawn comparisons to George Kittle and recently Michael Jordan, and the phrase “greatest tight end in NFL history” has already been attached to his scouting report.
We will certainly pump the brakes on that, but could very well be a top five pick in the 2024 NFL Draft. On a week like that, that makes South Carolina vs. Georgia a game to watch.
4. SDSU at (16) Oregon State
Saturday, 3:30 pm (ET) – Fox Sports
This is a battle between two hard-nosed, physical defenses with offenses that are catching up to speed. Oregon State is led by Clemson transfer QB DJ Uiagalelei and RB Damien Martinez, and most eyes are on the signal caller. Uiagalelei has looked impressive in his first few games with the Beavers, but this will be the best defense he’s faced since donning the orange and black.
San Diego State is all about their defense, while the offense tries to stay afloat. On a week where there’s no true must-see game, Oregon State-SDSU could be the most even game of the week.
3. Alabama (10) at South Florida
Saturday, 3:30 p.m. (ET) – ABC
What happens after a Nick Saban Alabama team loses a game?
Their next opponent usually pays a steep price.
Under Saban, Alabama has not lost two games in a row since the 2013 season, when they lost to Auburn in the Iron Bowl and followed that up with a loss to Oklahoma in the Sugar Bowl. Usually what happens after an Alabama loss is what we saw during the 2019 season, when Alabama lost to LSU in a matchup between No. 1 vs. No. 2. The next week Alabama went to Starksville and beat Mississippi State by 31.
Or take 2021, when Alabama lost to Texas A&M on a last-minute field goal. The next week? Another trip to Starksville, and a 40-point victory for the Crimson Tide.
There might be a lesson in here for Mississippi State.
Now, coming off their loss to Texas at home, Alabama makes the trip to South Florida to take on the Bulls. South Florida is 1-1 this season, having lost by 17 to Western Kentucky in Week 1, and having beaten Florida A&M last week.
Expect Alabama to roll, and an angry Nick Saban is fun to watch.
2. Tennessee (11) at Florida
Saturday, 7:00 pm (ET) – ESPN
Oh boy, this game is sure to send one of these fanbases into a downward spiral regardless of the result. Tennessee is still in the top 15, but offensively it hasn’t looked pretty. Joe Milton can throw the ball over them mountains, but inaccuracy issues remain, stacked on top of the receivers dealing with drops. On the bright side, the defense has looked very fun so far, albeit against an overmatched offensive line.
Where do we start with Florida? Well, let’s start here: it can’t get much worse than the season opener. The offensive line looked out of sync, but with more playing time together it should gel easier. Graham Mertz is still Graham Mertz, but the Gators have to get more out of their offense if they want to keep up in this game.
By the time the clock hits zero, someone is going to be on the message boards lamenting the downfall of their program, which makes this game must see.
1. Colorado State at Colorado (18)
Saturday, 10:00 p. (ET) – ESPN
Let’s face it, you’re here for one reason: Coach Prime and the Colorado offense. Shedeur Sanders looks like one of the best QBs in the country, and an offense led by former Kent State head coach Sean Lewis is explosive and versatile. Speaking of versatility, Travis Hunter only had 126 snaps on both sides of the ball, but was a gamechanger every time he touched the ball.
They’re going up against a Colorado State team that gave up 50 points the last time they played, so uhh…take the over on Colorado points.
And now there is even some beef to throw into the mix:
That’s right. Beef.
“It was just gonna be a good game, but they done messed around and made it PERSONAL”
“Why would you talk about us, when we don’t talk about nobody”
Deion Sanders responds to comments made from Coach Norvell and things are getting heated pic.twitter.com/U9Em4bPiJ5
— College Transfer Portal (@CollegeFBPortal) September 14, 2023
Yep, this is the game to watch this week.