With September in the books, the first October weekend in college football features one of the fiercest rivalries in the sport and a critical game for a team that suddenly has College Football Playoff aspirations. No. 19 Texas will take on No. 6 Oklahoma in the Red River Showdown at the State Fair of Texas in Dallas, while No. 6 Notre Dame will visit No. 24 Virginia Tech in a game that’s enormous for the Fighting Irish stretch run. We also see two ranked SEC teams go head-to-head in a cross-division rivalry.
Let’s get you ready for the weekend with a quick guide.
All times Eastern
The biggest games
No. 19 Texas vs. No. 6 Oklahoma, Fox, noon: The Longhorns have reeled off four straight wins and look like they’re thinking about possibly starting the trek to being “back.” A win over the Sooners would not only accelerate that process, but give them the leg up in the chase for the Big 12 Championship Game. A win over Texas, however, might look a little better to Oklahoma’s College Football Playoff resume.
No. 5 LSU vs. No. 22 Florida, CBS, 3:30 p.m.: The upstart Tigers will hit the road to take on a Gators team that is feeling great after wins over rival Tennessee and at Mississippi State. With both defenses looking sharp, this one might come down to which quarterback makes the clutch plays in the fourth quarter. Florida has not lost four straight SEC home games since World War II.
No. 6 Notre Dame at No. 24 Virginia Tech, ABC, 8 p.m.: Fresh off an emphatic win over Stanford, the Fighting Irish look to boost their College Football Playoff resume even further with a road win over a ranked team. The question is, though, how tough will Lane Stadium be and how tough will a Hokies defense that has been hit-and-miss this year handle Ian Book and Co.?
Other big games
Northwestern at No. 20 Michigan State, FS1, noon: The Wildcats gave Michigan a scare last weekend and now hit the road to take on a Spartans team that’s loaded defensively. If you’re into old-school, defensive slugfests, this game is for you. Plus, for the Spartans, it’s imperative to take Northwestern seriously considering they always pop up and get somebody.
Florida State at No. 17 Miami, ABC, 3:30 p.m.: The Seminoles have been a letdown this year, but what better way to get right than an upset over rival Miami? The Hurricanes have a newfound offensive spark thanks to quarterback N’Kosi Perry and could make it two in a row over Willie Taggart and Co.
No. 4 Clemson at Wake Forest, ESPN, 3:30 p.m.: The Tigers won’t have an issue dispatching of the Demon Deacons, but their quarterback situation will be worth keeping an eye on. Quarterback Trevor Lawrence is expected to start after leaving last week’s game vs. Syracuse late in the first half, so it should be interesting to see if how he looks leading up to the bye week.
No. 13 Kentucky at Texas AM, ESPN, 7 p.m.: Will the Wildcat train keep rolling? If it does, it will have to do it at a raucous Kyle Field against an Aggies defense that has been stellar against the run all year. They’re fully capable of shutting down star Wildcats running back Benny Snell, which might put this game in the hands of quarterback Terry Wilson.
No. 8 Auburn at Mississippi State, ESPN2, 7:30 p.m.: The Bulldogs are reeling after two straight losses, and the Tigers’ offensive line looks more like a flag football offensive line than a college one. It might come down to quarterbacks Nick Fitzgerald and Jarrett Stidham, and which one makes the clutch throws in the fourth quarter with the game on the line.
No. 10 Washington at UCLA, Fox, 8 p.m.: Chip Kelly is bound to get a win, right? Right?! If he is, there’s no time like the present. The Huskies will hit the Rose Bowl with College Football Playoff hopes intact, and emphatically dispatching of the undermanned Bruins is something they need to do to keep the momentum going into October.
Keep an eye on …
- No. 1 Alabama at Arkansas, ESPN, noon
- Maryland at No. 15 Michigan, ABC, noon
- Missouri at South Carolina, SECN, noon
- Iowa State at No. 25 Oklahoma State, ESPN, 3:30 p.m.
- Indiana at No. 3 Ohio State, Fox, 4 p.m.
- Arizona State at No. 21 Colorado, Pac-12 Net, 4 p.m.
- Vanderbilt at No. 2 Georgia, SECN, 7:30 p.m.
- Nebraska at No. 16 Wisconsin, BTN, 7:30 p.m.
- Utah at No. 14 Stanford, ESPN, 10:30 p.m.