Florida's back in the CBS afternoon spotlight against top-10 Georgia. Kansas State welcomes Texas Tech to Manhattan for a last Big 12 test. Alabama gets its first SEC test of 2012 against unbeaten Mississippi State. Oklahoma welcomes Notre Dame to Norman in one of the biggest games of the year. And there's even a great Friday game on the slate! As always, Control Your Remote is here to help you figure out the week's college football TV schedule and determine what to watch and when.
Your guide to the guide: First Choice means this is a must-see game in that block; Last Button Option means you should have that "last" or "return" button on your remote ready to flick back during commercials; Know The (Channel) Numbers runs down games you'll want to find when Twitter tells you something nutty happened; Cover The Spread is a suggestion for how to feed yourself. All times listed are Eastern.
First Choice: Louisville vs. Cincinnati (8 p.m., ESPN). It's rare that a Big East game makes Control Your Remote, but Louisville is 7-0 and Cincinnati is 5-1. The Cardinals haven't been 8-0 since 2006, when they made it all the way to the Orange Bowl, and haven't beaten the Bearcats since 2007, so this game is about revenge as much as it is about the top spot in the Big East. Louisville quarterback Teddy Bridgewater may be the best player on the field, but Cincinnati's quarterback is named Munchie Legaux. Again: Cincinnati's quarterback's first name is Munchie. Believe it or not, he's from Louisiana.
Cover The Spread: Eat a nice, light salad in preparation for Saturday. Don't be dumb.
Early Block (noon to 3 p.m. Eastern)
First Choice: South Carolina vs. Tennessee (noon, ESPN). In the best game of the worst window of the day, South Carolina will look to right its ship after two straight losses to SEC powers LSU and Florida. Barring injury, Connor Shaw has the reins of the Gamecocks for a full game, thanks to a promise from Steve Spurrier, but even a healthy Shaw is capable of some spectacularly puzzling quarterbacking. And so is Tennessee's Tyler Bray.
Last Button Option: North Carolina vs. N.C. State (noon, ESPN3). This isn't a particularly great option, but it's the best of a bunch of bad games in the early window, and it's a rivalry game ... which has allowed the bands to make most of the noise in the run-up.
Know The (Channel) Numbers: Kansas vs. Texas (noon, FSN) is the best other game during this window, but it's likely to not even be on TV nationally. And it's a game featuring Charlie Weis scheming against Texas' toothless defense.
Cover The Spread: This is a rare opportunity to get all of your vittles secured in your stomach or at your tailgate on Saturday during the day instead of racing around in the morning or trying to squeeze something in between later games. Take advantage of it.
Late Afternoon Block (3 to 7 p.m. Eastern)
First Choice: Georgia vs. Florida (3:30 p.m., CBS). Georgia's only won four of its last 22 games against the Gators, but the Dawgs won in 2011 and are a "better" 2-3 in their last five against the Gators. 2012's Bulldogs looked great early, but have faded of late, getting blasted by South Carolina three weeks ago and struggling to put away Kentucky until the final moments last week. Florida, meanwhile, seems to be getting better with each week, adding game-changing special teams play to stout defense and efficient offense in its blowout win over South Carolina, but there are still worries about what the Gators will do if they need to rely on Jeff Driskel to win a game with his arm. That could be especially treacherous if the Gators face a deficit on Saturday: Hurricane Sandy should be off the North Florida coast and bringing strong winds to Jacksonville for the game.
Last Button Options: Kansas State vs. Texas Tech (3:30 p.m., FOX). The Red Raiders have one of the best pass defenses in the country, and will be a much more difficult test for Heisman front-runner Collin Klein and the Wildcats on Saturday than West Virginia was last week. But Klein's skills as a runner will be tested, too, because Tech allows just under 3.3 yards per carry. The unit that's likely to swing this game is K-State's defense: it hasn't given up more than 21 points in 2012.
Arizona vs. USC (3:30 p.m., ABC/ESPN2). In recent weeks, Matt Barkley and the Trojans' offense have been at the level most expected them to be at all year; Barkley completed 19 of 20 passes while breaking the Pac-12 record for touchdown passes last week against Colorado. Arizona's 4-3 record is deceptive: all three losses came to ranked teams (Oregon, Oregon State, Stanford) and the Wildcats were in the game well into the second half in each contest.
Penn State vs. Ohio State (5:30 p.m., ESPN): The weirdest time slot of the year features two teams that can't play in bowl games with two totally different profiles: Ohio State's explosive on offense, at least when Braxton Miller is around and healthy, and Penn State's got a tough defense and an offense that has been improving by beating up on bad Big Ten teams. (504 yards against Iowa doesn't count because it's Iowa.) Miller's going to play, but it's reasonable to wonder if he'll be limited after being briefly hospitalized for an injury sustained against Purdue last Saturday.
Know The Number: Florida State vs. Duke (3:30 p.m., ESPNU): the 'Noles don't lose to Duke, but this Duke team has legitimate ACC title dreams; Miami (Ohio) vs. Ohio (3:30 p.m., ESPN3): Bobcats aim for 8-0; Oregon vs. Colorado (3 p.m., Pac-12 Network): for those who want to see 50-point wins.
Evening Block (7 to 11 p.m. Eastern)
First Choice: Oklahoma vs. Notre Dame (8 p.m., ABC). This is the day's big one (or big'un, if you're Southern), and there's no reason to miss a moment of it. Oklahoma's offense has been red-hot after a brownout against Kansas State, but Notre Dame's Manti Te'o-led pack of wolves has the talent to keep any offense in check. The game might come down to what, if anything, the quarterback combo of Everett Golson and Tommy Rees can produce against OU's defense, which has been stellar all year. With apologies to games featuring Georgia and Texas Tech, this is the only game this week in which either team could win and end up in the national title race; if Notre Dame wins on the road in Norman at night, equalizing Kansas State's feat from earlier in the season in a more prominent spot, count on the Irish being the talk of college football for a week.
Last Button Options: Alabama vs. Mississippi State (8:30 p.m., ESPN). It'd be easy to dismiss Mississippi State's chances in this game as zilch, given how good Alabama is week in and week out. But the Bulldogs have some things that could make this harder than expected: Johnathan Banks is one of the nation's best cornerbacks, and could keep freshman phenom Amari Cooper quiet; Dan Mullen's seen Alabama's defense a few times by this point, and surely has some gadgetry ready if necessary; Tyler Russell's steadied himself after an erratic first two years in Starkville, and has thrown 15 touchdowns and just one pick this season. That all said: Mississippi State's best win is over Tennessee at home, and even that game was sort of close. Alabama is a couple of standard deviations away from Tennessee, and in a direction that foretells pain for the CLANGA CLANGA CLANGA crew. (N.B.: Mississippi State fans love cowbells.)
Know The (Channel) Numbers: Nebraska vs. Michigan (8 p.m., ESPN2): this is the last time we'll be able to see the "quarterback" matchup of Denard Robinson and Taylor Martinez; Texas A&M vs. Auburn (7 p.m., ESPNU): recommended if you hate Auburn and want to see the Tigers take a 35-point beating; Stanford vs. Washington State (6:15 p.m. Eastern, Pac-12 Network): Mike Leach's Air Raid against David Shaw's Jim Harbaugh-style steadiness is a neat contrast.
Cover The Spread: Usually, I caution against making Another Spilly Creation in this space, but that pizza with Slim Jims, Tangballs, and Chrissy Teigen-requested Pocky sticks is really just sublime. Go for it.
Late Night Block (10 p.m. Eastern onward)
First Choice: Washington vs. Oregon State (10:30 p.m., Pac-12 Network). Oregon State keeps winning and keeps making the Civil War look like the year's best game, but Washington's already ruined one Pac-12 interloper's season with a win over Stanford in Seattle, and the Huskies bark a lot louder at home (3-1) than on the road (0-3).
Cover The Spread: Ice cream, naturally. I used my Groupon to my local Häagen-Dazs to pick up some Brownies a la Mode this week, and it's been great as a dessert.
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