This college football Saturday is unusually bereft of big games for a weekend in November. The SEC is, by and large, playing guarantee games against FCS foes. The ACC's still a week away from having its insane Coastal Division race decided. The big game in the Big Ten involves an unbeaten team and an unranked likely Rose Bowl participant. The Big 12's king-to-be will be playing one of the nation's most porous defenses.
Thank goodness, then, for the Pac-12: USC and UCLA will clash in the afternoon's must-see game, and Stanford will look to solve Oregon in the finest game primetime has to offer on Saturday. It's slim pickings on this Saturday, but Control Your Remote will see you through to what's worth watching.
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.
Early Block (noon to 3 p.m. Eastern)
First Choice: Florida State vs. Maryland (noon, ESPNU). Really, and even though the only thing this game has to recommend it is the possibility that FSU's ferocious defensive front forces Maryland to play a lineman at quarterback by the second half.
Last Button Option: Iowa vs. Michigan (noon, ESPN). All Iowa needs to do to get to six wins and bowl eligibility is beat Michigan in Ann Arbor and then topple Nebraska. Denard Robinson leading the NFL in completion percentage is more likely.
Know The (Channel) Numbers: Jacksonville State vs. Florida (1 p.m., PPV/ESPN3): Wanna see an SEC team win 6-0?; Rutgers vs. Cincinnati (noon, ESPN3): A battle for second in the Big East; Western Carolina vs. Alabama (12:21 p.m., SEC Network): A snuff film.
Late Afternoon Block (3 to 7 p.m. Eastern)
First Choice: USC vs. UCLA (3:05 p.m., FOX). This week's shenanigans between two rivals whose back-and-forth would just make everyone else jealous of the weather: USC's band planted a sword in the middle of the UCLA logo at the Rose Bowl, and ... people are upset about this? Seriously, y'all, look at the weather. Bask in it. The rest of us have to watch two offensively potent teams duel and dream of the temps you're enjoying.
Last Button Options: N.C. State vs. Clemson (3:30 p.m., ABC/ESPN2). The Wolfpack's already knocked off one ACC heavyweight in 2012, so what's another? Clemson's recent defensive resurgence is nice (four straight games allowing 20 or fewer points), except it's come against Virginia Tech, Wake Forest, Duke, and Maryland. I smell a shootout, and maybe the sort of game in which Sammy Watkins, quiet in 2012 after a phenomenal freshman campaign in 2011, reminds the nation he's a special player.
Duke vs. Georgia Tech (3:30 p.m., ESPNU). Neither team can win the ACC Coastal this week, but both need a win to remain in the race. If Georgia Tech falls, there's a chance all but one team in the division could be under .500 in the conference at season's end ... and that the only team that would be over .500, Miami, would recuse itself from postseason play as an olive branch to the NCAA. #goacc, as the kids say.
Texas Tech vs. Oklahoma State (3:30 p.m., ESPNU). Two explosive passing offenses (Tech is first in yards per game, Okie State fourth) clash in Stillwater with little on the line besides a trip to a mid-tier bowl. The difference should be defense: Texas Tech's pass defense is 10th nationally in yards per game allowed, Oklahoma State's 98th.
Know The Number: Minnesota vs. Nebraska (3:30 p.m., Big Ten Network): because this is a Big Ten game; Ole Miss vs. LSU (3:30 p.m., CBS): because this is the best the SEC has to offer; Wake Forest vs. Notre Dame (NBC): because your life has gone horribly awry.
Evening Block (7 to 11 p.m. Eastern)
First Choice: Stanford vs. Oregon (8 p.m., ESPN). The Cardinal's chances in this game rely primarily on their front seven's ability to disrupt Oregon's potent rushing attack, but Marcus Mariota's dissection of Cal last Saturday served notice that stoppering the holes that Kenjon Barner and De'Anthony Thomas like to whiz through might not be enough to stop the Ducks. Stanford's Stepfan Taylor could have a big day if the young Cardinal offensive line can take advantage of the depleted Oregon defensive line.
Last Button Options: Oklahoma vs. West Virginia (7 p.m., FOX). There was a time a little over a month ago when this looked like a de facto Big 12 title game in the making. That's not true at all now: Oklahoma can't win the conference unless Kansas State slips twice, and West Virginia still hasn't gotten to bowl eligibility after scoring like it was re-running the game tape from its Orange Bowl bombing of Clemson for a solid month. But both teams have the personnel for a shootout, and if Geno Smith can find his accuracy again, this could be fun.
Kansas State vs. Baylor (8 p.m., ESPN). Bill Snyder is not the sort of coach to let Collin Klein compile a sheaf of Heisman-helper stats against Baylor's moribund defense, which has given up more than 400 yards to every offense it has faced except for Kansas' Charlie Weis-coordinated attack. But the Bears have topped 400 yards in every game this year on offense, and have a coulda-been Heisman candidate of their own in Nick Florence (3,191 passing yards, 25 TDs; 362 rushing yards, six TDs), and if a point party breaks out, then Klein has good reason to put up a crooked number of touchdowns or something.
Know The (Channel) Numbers: Tennessee vs. Vanderbilt (8 p.m., ESPN2): Vanderbilt hasn't beaten Tennessee since 2005, hasn't won five SEC games since 1935, and hasn't won nine games since before World War I, when, in 1915, the 'Dores won their first seven games by a 469-0 count, so this could be a historic year for James Franklin and Company with a win.
Late Night Block (10 p.m. Eastern onward)
First Choice: Oregon State vs. California (10:30 p.m., Pac-12 Network). Because the Beavers are at least ranked.
Last Button Option: Arizona vs. Utah (10:30 p.m., ESPNU). The Wildcats' offense is a work in progress, but it's going up against one of the most unsung great players in college football in Star Loutulelei, who has just three tackles in his last three games. That could, and probably should get rectified against the 'Cats.
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