College football games to watch: Notre Dame-USC, Florida-Florida State highlight Hate Week

Al Messerschmidt

All Notre Dame has to do to secure a national title game berth is beat USC in Los Angeles. And if the Irish can't do that, and Florida beats Florida State, the SEC may have a non-division winner playing for a national championship for the second straight year.

College football doesn't get much better than this Saturday's slate of games; Saturdays are almost never better than this. With a slew of rivalry matchups on the docket, a bunch of highly-rated teams in them, and leftovers in the fridge, Hate Week's final day presents a sheaf of compelling reasons to spend noon to midnight on your couch.


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: Michigan vs. Ohio State (noon, ABC). Michigan cannot play for a Big Ten title. Ohio State can't go to a bowl. But the Buckeyes would love to go undefeated in Urban Meyer's first year in Columbus, and the Wolverines would love nothing more than to make their 2011 breakthrough against "Ohio" part of a winning streak. This will be Denard Robinson's last appearance in this series, and could be a shootout.

Last Button Options: Georgia Tech vs. Georgia (noon, ESPN): They call it "Clean, Old-Fashioned Hate," and if Paul Johnson's triple option beats possible BCS title game participant Georgia in Athens, there might be a little hate on the streets of America's Best College Town According To People Who Remind You R.E.M. Was From Athens.

Connecticut vs. Louisville (noon, Big East Network). Winner gets an ACC invite! Loser might get an ACC invite anyway!

Know The (Channel) Numbers: Rutgers vs. Pittsburgh (noon, ESPN2): Pittsburgh's Big East farewell continues, and will differ from Syracuse's in that a) it will never end, seemingly and b) Syracuse is actually good at football right now; Kentucky vs. Tennessee (12:21 p.m., SEC Network): okay, just kidding..


Late Afternoon Block (3 to 7 p.m. Eastern)


First Choice: Florida vs. Florida State (3:30 p.m., ABC). Florida's offense has been Chernobyl-ish in terms of its bumbling efforts to contain a potentially fatal substance (the substance here being derpage) of late, but the Gators get starting QB Jeff Driskel back for their trip to Tallahassee to face a Seminoles squad that needs to win and win big to have a prayer of winning a national title in 2012. FSU has been awesome at home, putting up 54 points per game, but the best defense the 'Noles have seen at Doak so far was Clemson's. I repeat: Clemson has the best defense of any team Florida State has played at home so far. Florida's might be a bit tougher.

Last Button Options: Oregon vs. Oregon State (3 p.m., Pac-12 Network). Today's entrant in the Will Your Uncle Make A Marijuana Joke About Sports Sweepstakes pits the Ducks against the Beavers in Corvallis with Oregon looking to stay alive in the national title picture. Oregon State can secure its first 10-win season since 2006 with a win.

Auburn vs. Alabama (3:30 p.m., CBS). Would you like to see a team play one half of football and not return after halftime? That'll probably be Auburn.

Oklahoma State vs. Oklahoma (3:30 p.m., ESPN). Oklahoma's faded fast since starting the year in the top 10 (its best win is over a Texas squad that just got tripped up by TCU), and Oklahoma State's come on in recent weeks, beating West Virginia and Texas Tech by multiple touchdowns. This is Landry Jones' last home game, which will be bittersweet for OU fans who have been watching him take snaps for the Sooners since 1982*. (*Joke.)

Know The Number: Grambling vs. Southern (2:30 p.m., NBC): catch the intros and what NBC deigns to show of halftime; Vanderbilt vs. Wake Forest (3:30 p.m., ESPNU): because ACC partisans are rooting for Wake Forest to help prove the ACC is not awful, which is very #goacc of them.

Evening Block (7 to 11 p.m. Eastern)

First Choice: Notre Dame vs. USC (8 p.m., ABC). Mant'i Teo. Marqise Lee. Everett Golson. Max Wittek. Aight, so the quarterbacks aren't really the draw here, but Notre Dame's offense has improved by leaps and bounds late in this season with Golson running the show, and Wittek has a full complement of talented skill position players who are capable of burning the Domers. If USC's line can keep Wittek upright (and that's a huge if), this could be a classic back-and-forth battle.

Last Button Options: Stanford vs. UCLA (8 p.m., FOX). Two of the Pac-12's finest delta-up-trajectoried (it's a word, trust me) programs meet in what could just turn into the Pac-12 Championship Game next week if Stanford wins. Kevin Hogan and Brett Hundley are two of the most promising young quarterbacks in America, and well worth your flicks away from Notre Dame-USC during commercials.

South Carolina vs. Clemson (8 p.m., ESPN). National relevance more or less being lost for the season for both of these teams won't make the Palmetto State's annual clash any less exciting, especially if Chad Morris, whose offense may remind some of the one the guy with the visor on the other sideline ran at Florida in the '90s, can get his passing game going without Jadeveon Clowney scuttling it.

Know The (Channel) Numbers: Missouri vs. Texas A&M (8 p.m., ESPN2): Johnny Manziel's final Heisman audition comes in the debut of this heated SEC rivalry; Mississippi State vs. Ole Miss (8 p.m., ESPNU): a bunch of players compete for an oversized egg for reasons unknown, though blind and uncharitable conjecture would suggest it is rooted in Mississippi's chronic egg shortage.

Late Night Block (10 p.m. Eastern onward)

First Choice: Louisiana Tech vs. San Jose State (10:30 p.m., ESPN). This is genuinely a great game, between a point-loving Tech squad and a SJSU defense that has allowed more than 20 points just twice in 2012.

Check the national college football scoreboard right here, and look through SB Nation's many excellent college football blogs to find your team's community.

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