If you haven’t been paying close attention to the college football season so far, no need for worry — there’s still plenty of time to catch up. That said, this is a good weekend to start watching, as tons of games happening this Saturday have the chance to have major implications for the postseason, with Big Ten rivals battling for supremacy and a whole mess of Group of 5 schools all fighting for a single spot in a New Year’s Six bowl.
Take a look below to get an idea of the can’t-miss games this Saturday, and set your DVR accordingly.
#2 Penn State vs. #19 Michigan
Where to watch: ABC, 7:30 p.m.
What’s at stake: The most important game of the season so far for both teams, this game is the start of a make-or-break stretch for the Nittany Lions if they want to make the playoff this year. Meanwhile, the Wolverines would love to play spoiler on “White Out” night in Happy Valley, where the mood will be electric.
#13 Notre Dame vs. #11 USC
Where to watch: NBC, 7:30 p.m.
What’s at stake: Whoever wins this game has a path to make the college football playoff at the end of the season, while the loser will face an uphill battle as a two-loss team and will likely be left on the outside looking in when the playoff committee meets to make its fateful decision. Outside of the playoff implications, this is just a classic rivalry game that has had some memorable matchups in recent years. It’s a crime that kickoff is on at the same time as Penn State-Michigan, but on the bright side, it’s two great games to toggle between.
Navy vs. #20 UCF
Where to watch: CBS Sports Network, 3:30 p.m.
What’s at stake: The American Athletic Conference has produced some solid teams in recent years and impressed in bowl games against Power 5 schools. This game between two of the conferences two top teams could have big ramifications down the line — not only is it a huge game for conference supremacy, the winner will have a shot at running the table and potentially being the top-ranked Group of 5 team and secure a spot in a New Year’s Six bowl game. Also, if you haven’t seen them yet this season, Navy is one of the most entertaining teams to watch this year. Its option offense is running as smoothly as ever.
Texas vs. #10 Oklahoma State
Where to watch: ABC, 12 p.m.
What’s at stake: The Big 12 is currently a log jam, with five teams crowded together at 2-1 in the conference. While it’s to be expected that the race would be tight this early in the year, games like this will begin to separate the contenders and pretenders. Oklahoma State’s high powered offense took the world by storm early this season before TCU stopped them in their tracks. Meanwhile, Texas sits at 3-3, but has played competitively in losses to Oklahoma and USC, two of the top teams in the nation. The Longhorns are no pushover, especially when defending home turf. This one has all the makings of a Big 12 mid-season classic.
Tulane vs. #16 USF
Where to watch: ESPN2, 7 p.m.
What’s at stake: South Florida is the other force of the American Athletic Conference that could cause problems for a Power 5 school in a bowl game this postseason. The Bulls currently sit at a perfect 6-0 and have a chance to remain undefeated until their season finale against UCF that will likely determine which team advances to the conference championship. Watch a bit of them now so they don’t sneak up on you later in the year.
#18 Michigan State vs. Indiana
Where to watch: ABC, 3:30 p.m.
What’s at stake: Having already taken down Michigan this year, and with games against Penn State and Ohio State still remaining, the Spartans have an opportunity to shake up what was imagined to be a three-horse race in the Big Ten East and even make a run at the conference title should the dominoes fall their way. But in order to do so, they can’t slip up again. And while Indiana is 3-3, those three losses were to the aforementioned Lions, Buckeyes, and Wolverines. If the Spartans can take care of business at home, they’re still a major factor in the ultimate outcome of the Big Ten.
San Diego State vs. Fresno State
Where to watch: CBS Sports Network, 10:30 p.m.
What’s at stake: After a disappointing loss to Boise State last weekend, San Diego State needs to rebound to keep its hopes of reaching a New Year’s Six game alive. It’s a great one to put on in the background after a full day of football viewing.
Now check out our best bets for Saturday’s college football action