This could be letdown Saturday, given the heavyweight card of Baylor-Oklahoma and Oregon-Stanford that graced the Thursday-night schedule. You know, you can only get up for so many games.
Saturday’s best-looking matchup is 10th-ranked LSU at No. 1-rated Alabama, and the Tide will be dragging along the subplot of the intentions of its uber-coach, Nick Saban, after his agent dropped the notion that the only school for which he’d consider jilting ‘Bama would be Texas.
To which we ask: Why? Yeah, Texas has more money than the Defense Department, and the state is a mother lode of football talent.
But does Saban have it so gloomy at tradition-steeped ‘Bama? He’s in the middle of the rich Southeastern prospect base, and any pressure he might feel in Tuscaloosa, he’d feel in Austin. Unless there’s some disaffection with Alabama administration, or he has an uncontrollable urge to win national titles at a third school, it doesn’t make sense.
On to Saturday’s best games, chronologically:
Penn State at Minnesota, ESPN2, 9 a.m.: It’s an astonishing story playing out in Minneapolis, where the Gophers’ Jerry Kill will again view a game from the press box, in deference to his treatment for epilepsy. Meanwhile, his 7-2 team has treated it as anything but a distraction; playing under defensive coordinator Tracy Claeys, it has a chance against the 5-3 Nittany Lions to earn its first four-game Big Ten winning streak since 1973. Not that Minnesota has been mostly a football wasteland since then.
USC at California, Fox, noon: After Fox relegated some earlier games (Oregon-Washington, for one) to Fox Sports 1, it chooses this one for the big network? Cal has lost nine straight in the series, and more remarkably, has scored only 10 points a game.
Brigham Young at Wisconsin (AP No. 21): This is how it would work if college football did on-the-fly, made-for-TV games like college basketball. Gary Andersen leaves Utah State for Wisconsin, and — what’s this? — he finds BYU on the schedule in his first season. “It’s amazing; they follow me all the way here,” said Andersen, who was helped to an assistant’s job at Northern Arizona back in 1994 by BYU coach Bronco Mendenhall, when Mendenhall departed that post.
Unless BYU pulls a miracle run to the BCS, it’s pledged to the Fight Hunger Bowl against a Pac-12 team.
Nebraska at Michigan, ABC, 12:30 p.m.: What are the odds that the Nos. 1 and 4 leaders in all-time wins (Wolverines on top) would enter this game both unranked? They’re each 6-2 and chasing Big Ten Legends Division front-runner Michigan State.
The Wolverines have won 19 straight at home under Brady Hoke, first coach at the school to go unbeaten at home his first two years since Fielding Yost in 1901-02. Except not a lot of Maize and Blue faithful are comparing Hoke to Yost. On the other side, Bo Pelini skates on thin ice.
Arizona State (23) at Utah, Pac-12 Networks, 1 p.m.: Three numbers jump off the page: Over 36 years and nine games, Utah is 0-9 against Arizona State. The Utes (4-4, 1-4) have a minus-10 turnover margin in their Pac-12 games. And ASU (6-2, 4-1) has forced a nation-leading 55 three-and-outs.
Virginia Tech at Miami (14), ESPN, 4 p.m.: First place in the ACC Coastal Division is on the line, if you care, as Miami, freshly chastened by Florida State, is 7-1 and 3-1, Tech 6-3 and 3-2. Hurricanes must go it without standout sophomore back Duke Johnson, who has a broken ankle. Oddly, venerable Tech coach Frank Beamer is only 11-23 all-time in NFL stadiums.
LSU (10) at Alabama (1), CBS, 5 p.m.: “I like this kind of football,” says Saban, talking the ground-pound variety. “This is more the kind of football that we grew up with.”
’Bama’s recent defensive numbers — granted, they’re not against juggernauts — are impressive. It hasn’t allowed a sack for 17 straight quarters, and since giving up 42 points to Johnny Football’s team in September, the Tide has surrendered a mere 26 in the past six games. That’s not good news for Tigers quarterback Zach Mettenberger, who has thrown four interceptions in his last two games.
Colorado at Washington, Pac-12 Networks, 5 p.m.: Maybe it’s just me, but with the prevalence of Seahawk interest in our area, Husky football seems almost completely off the radar. Washington can began to sneak back into the public consciousness with a win here, in advance of two big road games at UCLA and Oregon State.
UCLA (16) at Arizona, ESPN, 7 p.m.: Two teams that have taken turns beating the snot out of each other — Arizona by 48-12 in 2011, helping seal Rick Neuheisel’s fate as Bruins coach, and UCLA, 66-10 last year in early November. That was also the last time anybody has held Arizona runner Ka’Deem Carey to less than 100 yards.
Bud Withers: 206-464-8281 or firstname.lastname@example.org
About Bud Withers
Bud Withers gives his take on college sports, with the latest from the Huskies, Cougs, and the rest of the Pac-12.
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