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College football Saturday TV schedule, Week 3: Let the watchability grid guide you

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Good morning! This is the Read Option, your daily college football newsletter. Sign up for this in your inbox! Below is your full Saturday schedule guide, with advice on what to watch when.

USA Today

College football has now given us two straight overachieving weekends, with an excellent Week 1 and a Week 2 that was weak on paper but sufficient in memorability.

Week 3 seems certain to continue the run of quality, with several huge Saturday games, an above-average Thursday nighter, and plenty of good games on the undercards.

Below, I've attempted to rank each game according to a subjective understanding of stakes, quality, competitiveness, and what else is on at that time. This is a good weekend both in game quality and in arrangement, with Florida State-Louisville, Alabama-Ole Miss, and Ohio State-Oklahoma each having its own time slot all to itself, with backup options in each, if needed.

The late-night on Saturday is also very good. It always is.

[Removed weeknight games, for your Saturday convenience.]

Saturday

WATCH THIS Maybe watch this This is a football game
Noon ET #2 FSU at #10 Louisville
ABC, WatchESPN
NDSU at #13 Iowa
ESPN2, WatchESPN
SC State at #5 Clemson
ACC Network, WatchESPN
#25 Miami at App State
ESPN, WatchESPN
Georgia State at #9 Wisconsin
BTN, BTN2GO
Temple at Penn State
BTN, BTN2GO
Ohio at #15 Tennessee
SEC Network, WatchESPN
MTSU at Bowling Green
WatchESPN
Akron at Marshall
CBSSN
Kansas at Memphis
ESPNU, WatchESPN
New Mexico at Rutgers
ESPNews, WatchESPN
Iowa State at TCU
FS1, Fox Sports Go
12:30 ET Vanderbilt at Georgia Tech
ACC Network, WatchESPN
1:30 ET Virginia at UConn
WatchESPN
2 ET NC A&T at Tulsa
WatchESPN
Idaho at Washington State
Pac-12 Networks, P12N Live
2:30 ET FAU at Kansas State
FSN, Fox Sports Go
3 ET EKU at Ball State
WatchESPN
UNLV at CMU
WatchESPN
Fresno State at Toledo
WatchESPN
WATCH THIS Maybe watch this This is a football game
3:30 ET #1 Alabama at #19 Ole Miss
CBS, CBSSports.com
Colorado at #4 Michigan
BTN, BTN2GO
WKU at Miami (Ohio)
WatchESPN
#22 Oregon at Nebraska
ABC, WatchESPN
JMU at North Carolina
ACC Network, WatchESPN
SDSU at NIU
CBSSN
FIU at UMass
WatchESPN
Pitt at Oklahoma State
ESPN, WatchESPN
Boston College at Virginia Tech
ESPNU, WatchESPN
USF at Syracuse
ACC Network, WatchESPN
4 ET WMU at Illinois
ESPNews, Watch ESPN
N Colorado at Colorado State
ROOT Sports
ECU at South Carolina
SEC Network, WatchESPN
NMSU at Kentucky
SEC Network, WatchESPN
UC Davis at Wyoming
GoWyo.com
5 ET Idaho State at Oregon State
Pac-12 Networks, P12N Live
6 ET EMU at Charlotte
ConferenceUSA.com
ULM at Georgia Southern
WatchESPN
ODU at NC State
ACC Network, WatchESPN
6:30 ET Delaware at Wake Forest
ACC Network, WatchESPN
WATCH THIS Maybe watch this This is a football game
7 ET #17 Texas A&M at Auburn
ESPN, WatchESPN
Liberty at SMU
WatchESPN
Mississippi State at #20 LSU
ESPN2, WatchESPN
Troy at Southern Miss
beIN Sports
LA Tech at Texas Tech
FSN, Fox Sports Go
Navy at Tulane
WatchESPN
Maryland at UCF
CBSSN
South Alabama at UL Lafayette
WatchESPN
Army at UTEP
ASN
7:30 ET #3 Ohio State at #14 Oklahoma
Fox, Fox Sports Go
#12 Michigan State at #18 Notre Dame
NBC, NBCSports.com
North Texas at #23 Florida
ESPNU, WatchESPN
#16 Georgia at Missouri
SEC Network, WatchESPN
Texas State at #24 Arkansas
SEC Network, WatchESPN
8 ET USC at #7 Stanford
ABC, WatchESPN
Portland State at #8 Washington
Pac-12 Networks, P12N Live
Duke at Northwestern
BTN, BTN2GO
9 ET Buffalo at Nevada
CampusInsiders.com
10:15 ET UCLA at BYU
ESPN2, WatchESPN
10:30 ET #11 Texas at Cal
ESPN, WatchESPN
Utah at San Jose State
CBSSN
10:45 ET Hawaii at Arizona
Pac-12 Networks, P12N Live
WATCH THIS Maybe watch this This is a football game

Notes on the MUST WATCH games:

  • This is a very well-paced Saturday, with one clear standout game in each of the first three slots, a good range of backups in each slot and a late slot in which I'm very confident.
  • Florida State-Louisville, the first true all-top-10 matchup of the season, is rich with both subplots and Papa Johns food-product materials. Lamar Jackson, the human touchdown, against a defense that looked shaky for a half against Ole Miss despite having Derwin James ... and now he's out. Winner miiight be the ACC Atlantic favorite, if Clemson keeps looking suspect?
  • Ole Miss goes for three in a row against Bama, the clear highlight in the middle shift. Bama's so out for revenge, it's denying it's out for revenge. Aaaand ... this might already be the last chance for anybody in the SEC to stop the Tide, to be honest.
  • Ohio State-Oklahoma lost a little shine when Houston beat the Sooners, but it remains the biggest non-conference game of the regular season.
  • In the late shift, all you want is passionate, medium-stakes football. UCLA-BYU delivers that, as both teams tend to play close games and already have harmful losses this year, and all-offense Cal amid #Pac12AfterDark looks like a fascinating test for a Texas that's no longer all-defense.

Elsewhere:

  • Michigan State-Notre Dame is technically a ranked game, though I have a feeling its result will be like 2015's Week 3 Stanford-USC game, when the Trojans lost despite being No. 6 but no needles were really moved. Do you remember USC being No. 6 last year? No one does.
  • A&M-Auburn has long been termed the 2016 Anxiety Bowl by my colleague Steven Godfrey, but the simultaneous LSU-MSU and UGA-Mizzou now seem qualified to split that title.
  • Is Colorado scared of Michigan? Naw.
  • Is North Dakota State scared of Iowa? Naw.
  • Is Temple scared of Penn State? LOL, no.

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