Most of the college football world is entering the magical phase of the season known as conference play either now, on September's penultimate weekend, or next week. But with most of the traditional rivalries between teams saved for October or November, there are only a few major clashes on the docket for Saturday, like Clemson's visit to Florida State, and so Control Your Remote is here to help you figure out what to flick to before the day's best option kicks off in Tallahassee.
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.
Morning Block (9 a.m. to noon Eastern)
First Choice: College GameDay (9 a.m. to 10 a.m., ESPNU; 10 a.m. to noon, ESPN). You will hear a lot about how Florida State is back, and probably see a fair bit of the Seminoles' ferocious defense. Do not be alarmed: Clemson can still beat FSU and you will be able to laugh about the 'Noles again if the Tigers do. Alas, the really great story of the week in college football, Jimbo Fisher's decision to honor the scholarship of Florida State commit Richy Klepal despite concussion-related health issues that will force him to abandon his football career, is not likely to get a lot of play on GameDay.
Cover The Spread: Go out for breakfast or something, and make a good use of the hour that you would otherwise be using on being mad at ESPN for telling you the simplest stories possible.
Midday Block (noon to 3 p.m. Eastern)
First Choice: West Virginia vs. Maryland (noon, FX). West Virginia is averaging two touchdowns per quarter and looks to have the nation's most lethal passing attack. Maryland's 2-1 record is the result of a one-point win over William and Mary and a win over Temple, followed by a 24-21 loss to UConn. But, in fairness, the Terrapins have the sixth-ranked pass defense in the country, and could thus maybe give Geno Smith and company a game for like half a quarter before the pyrotechnics begin.
Last Button Options: TCU vs. Virginia (noon, ESPN). This is a profoundly strange game, with Virginia heading to Texas and Virginia owning a winning record, but the best thing about it is that TCU might just shut out a Virginia team that struggled to score against Penn State and Georgia Tech. The Horned Frogs have given up six points this year, all to Kansas on the road, and so it's not looking good for the Wahoos.
Florida vs. Kentucky (12:21 p.m., SEC Network). If you get the SEC Network, you can watch Florida
try to continue a winning streak over the Wildcats that has spanned the last 25 years. Safe to assume there are no Kentucky players who have ever seen UK beat Florida on the field in their lifetime? Even safer to assume the road-tested Gators won't have much of a problem with the 'Cats in their return to The Swamp.
Know The (Channel) Numbers: Ohio State vs. UAB (noon, Big Ten Network). Urban Meyer's team against a bunch of Blazers? [Marijuana use joke]!
Cover The Spread: This window is just terrible, so if you want to spend most of it finding provisions, cooking provisions, or eating the late lunch you need to compensate for staying out on Friday night and sleeping in until 11 or something, you will almost assuredly not miss anything major.
Mike Nixon previews Clemson-FSU || Michigan-Notre Dame the BCS game of the week?
Late Afternoon Block (3 to 7 p.m. Eastern)
First Choice: South Carolina vs. Missouri (3:30 p.m., CBS). The Tigers' introduction to an SEC road game comes in Columbia, sure to be rocking for this week's SEC showcase on CBS. Steve Spurrier's Gamecocks have no idea what they're going to get at quarterback, but they have enough talent on the defensive line to shut down a Missouri offense that can be dangerous if it gets rolling. There is always the potential for Jadeveon Clowney eating a human in a South Carolina game, too, so this gets the nod over a field consisting of one other good game and a bunch of snoozers.
Last Button Options: UCLA vs. Oregon State (3:30 p.m., ABC or ESPN2). The Bruins appear to be on the way back, but Oregon State's only game of the year thus far was an upset Wisconsin that revolved around the Beavers shutting down the vaunted Badgers running game. UCLA runs it well with Brett Hundley and Johnathan Franklin, but if the Beavers can stay stout, this could be a close contest.
Know The (Credit Card) Number: Alabama vs. Florida Atlantic (5 p.m., pay-per-view). Really just for Alabama fans.
Cover The Spread: You have had about 10 hours to figure out your food, friend. If you haven't eaten something with protein in it by now, I cannot help you, and you should just keep drinking.
Evening Block (7 to 11 p.m. Eastern)
First Choice: Florida State vs. Clemson (8 p.m., ABC). Finally, we get the day's best game. Clemson's offense is explosive, and was made more so last week by the return of speedy sophomore Sammy Watkins. The Tigers have the talent to score with the Seminoles, and push them in their first game against a team with excellent talent in 2012. But the 'Noles have been more dominant in their first three weeks, completely wrecking each offense they have faced and developing a big-play running game that has compensated for continued struggles to air it out. Against a Clemson defense with some quickness, the 'Noles may have to grind a bit more to claim control of the ACC, and if the Tigers can light it up against the star-studded FSU defense, the "FSU IS BACK" meme could take another big blow.
Last Button Options: Notre Dame vs. Michigan (7:30 p.m., NBC). This game has been possibly the nation's most entertaining rivalry for the last three years: in those games, all four-point Michigan wins, there have been 77 fourth-quarter points, five fourth-quarter lead changes, and three game-winning Michigan touchdowns in the final 30 seconds of play. Michigan still has the quarterback who engineered the last two wins in Denard Robinson, but the Notre Dame defenses that blew late leads in those three games have turned into the Notre Dame defense that looks significantly less flaccid in 2012 after giving up just 30 points to three foes.
Oklahoma vs. Kansas State (7:50 p.m., FOX). The Sooners looked awful in escaping UTEP and fantastic in blasting Florida A&M, but Kansas State comes to town with a more convincing win over Miami under its belt and revenge on its mind for the 58-17 shellacking in Manhattan that ended the Wildcats' unbeaten start to the 2011 season. Two of the nation's best running quarterbacks will be on display, but only K-State's Collin Klein starts; Blake Bell sits in reserve for the Sooners for the moments when Landry Jones' passing attack isn't what OU wants to deploy.
Know The (Channel) Numbers: Georgia vs. Vanderbilt (8 p.m., ESPN2). Vanderbilt's early season schedule has been brutal, but the Commodores still think they can beat anyone. Probably not Georgia, though.
Cover The Spread: Chips and a dip of some kinda, probably a good salsa, would make a lot of sense.
Late Night Block (10 p.m. Eastern onward)
First Choice: Oregon vs. Arizona (10:30 p.m., ESPN2). Oh, hey, it's this year's first Oregon game against a legitimate opponent! It's time for Will Chip Kelly's Spread Offense Be Able To Do Damage Against The ______ Defense, Part XXVII! (Spoiler alert: It will.) The real question here is whether Oregon's defense, which has been good despite betrayals by the second string in mop-up duty, will be good or merely mediocre against a Wildcats offense that is averaging 46.3 points per contest.
Last Button Option: Arizona State vs. Utah (10 p.m., Pac-12 Network). Watch for Utah's terrific defensive line, not so much for Arizona State.
Know The (Channel) Numbers: Yeah, no.
Cover The Spread: Ice cream, as usual.
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