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Don’t Watch This; Watch That

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A guide to how to avoid the worst and find the best in college football during Week 3.

Texas v USC Photo by Harry How/Getty Images

College football gives us a bit of a mixed bag. For every game—like an Ohio State-TCU—that you really want to pop a bowl of popcorn, sit down, and enjoy, there’s another—like an Iowa-Northern Iowa—that is padding the gate and wasting your time.

I’m well on record as loving bad football and bad basketball alike. Last year I—for some reason—thought it a good idea to preview each Big Ten basketball non-conference tournament and ended up learning way more about the Great Alaska Shootout than I ever wanted to know.

No Big Ten team was playing in the last-ever Great Alaska Shootout [/pours some out].

Anyways, there are lots of interesting, stupid, and just plain fun football games out there, and for some of them you don’t need more to watch than an internet connection. Instead of watching your team’s shitty game this weekend or being glued to whatever the Big Ten game at the time (looking at you, South Florida-Illinoi) is, might I suggest these instead?

Thursday

Don’t Watch This:

Baltimore Ravens at Cincinnati Bengals

Look, the NFL is trash. We watch it anyways, for reasons Drew Magary has spelled out more eloquently than I am. But why not put aside moral qualms about burning tube socks or putting tape over your Jordans and watch underpaid amateur athletes instead?

...fuck, this whole conceit was a horrible idea.

Anyways, the Ravens only look good because the Bills will probably go 0-16, and the Bengals are now and will forever be the Bengals, coached by Marvin Lewis. Avoid.

Watch That:

Old Dominion Monarchs (0-2, 0-1 C-USA) at Charlotte 49ers (1-1, 0-0)

3pm CT | ESPN3 | ODU -1.5

Boston College Eagles (2-0) at Wake Forest Demon Deacons (2-0)

4:30pm | ESPN | BC -4.5

Tennessee Tech Golden Eagles (0-2) at Utah State Aggies (1-1)

7pm | Facebook/StadiumTV

Was most of this just a conceit to hype 3PM THURSDAY AFTERNOON FOOTBALL? You bet your sweet, beautiful ass it was. Those of you in the Fanshots yesterday can recount the glee I took at watching Bojangles ads and Big South commercials as, due to Hurricane Florence-related fuckery, FBS Coastal Carolina traveled to Campbell to take on the Fightin’ Camels. It ended 58-21 or something like that, but man was it fun when Campbell led 21-10 and Coastal just started running all over the place.

That’s what you’ll get if you’re able to slap some headphones on and mute the mic on your conference call this afternoon, because Old Dominion and Charlotte...man there’s not much defense ‘bout to be played. ODU has given up 52 to Liberty, and Charlotte yielded 45 to Appalachian State. Contrary to what you might hear, good defenses still do not yield more than 30 to Sun Belt teams.

Look, in the grand scheme, it’s Thursday night, and you’ve got two college football games up and rolling before the NFL even kicks off. Is Boston College-Wake Forest going to be pretty? FUCK NO! But it’s dudes being dudes at 4:30 on a Thursday afternoon (it was moved up because of Florence). You will watch this because it is on ESPN, even if you just flip over for a second. I’m not going to tell you anything about TTU-USU, but I’ve realized that if you just advertise it as TTU-USU, you could get more eyeballs, if at least for a second. My resume is in my profile, StadiumTV.

Poll

Of course, I’m watching ODU/Charlotte and BC/Wake. But come 7:30, I’m watching...

This poll is closed

  • 3%
    TTU-USU on the TV, NFL on my device
    (5 votes)
  • 2%
    NFL on the TV, TTU-USU on my device
    (4 votes)
  • 24%
    TTU-USU only
    (34 votes)
  • 34%
    NFL only
    (47 votes)
  • 34%
    I am lame and boycotting football and hope there aren’t a lot of polls in this article
    (48 votes)
138 votes total Vote Now

Friday

Don’t Watch This

n/a

Watch That

East Tennessee State Buccaneers (1-1) at VMI Keydets (0-2, 0-1 Southern)

1:30pm | ESPN+ | ETSU -10.5

Western Carolina Catamounts (1-0) at Gardner-Webb Runnin’ Bulldogs (1-1)

5pm | ESPN+ | WCU -9

Georgia State Panthers (1-1) at Memphis Tigers (1-1)

6pm | ESPN

Georgia State coach Shawn Elliott, you may have heard, tore his bicep celebrating a touchdown in a 41-7 loss to NC State. That’s enough to watch this one, no? You can turn it off when Memphis hits 50 (that’ll be around halftime).

Update: Hurricane Flo-related nonsense has given us the gift that keeps on giving: MORE FOOTBALL! So if you’re bored at work, looking to shirk personal relationships, or have a not-severe-enough-for-me-to-feel-bad gambling habit (call this number if you do), we’ve got some red-hot Southern Conference action on ESPN+!

ETSU (227th in Sagarin) and VMI (237th!) are the dregs of the Southern, and despite playing on the road the Bucs are favored by 10.5. So there’s that! I likely won’t watch Western Carolina and the Runnin’ Dogs of Gardner-Webb in some hot Southern-Big South nonsense, but there’s that, too, if you’re a West Coaster running out the clock at work.

Also Brown plays Cal Poly at 9:05pm CT, which isn’t noteworthy save for the fact that Brown has somehow yet to play a game in 2018. The Mustangs are 0-2 (and favored by 18!), but the Bears are 0-0 (as is the rest of the Ivy, so I guess it makes sense, but still).

NOW. This is already way too much information for Big Sky-Ivy League action that none of us will watch, but this game is, somehow, free on something called PlutoTV (this is not an illegal link, I got it through the Cal Poly football site!). Will I try to watch it, just for a minute? You bet your sweet ass I will.

Saturday Morning

Don’t Watch This

[11] Penn State Nittany Lions (-35) vs Kent State Golden Flashes (FS1)
[2] Clemson Tigers (-33) vs Georgia Southern Eagles (ESPN2)
[3] Georgia Bulldogs (-34) vs Middle Tennessee Blue Raiders (ESPN2)
[5] Oklahoma Sooners (-17.5) at Iowa State Cyclones (ABC)
Florida State (-3) at Syracuse Orange (ESPN)
Indiana Hoosiers (-14.5) vs. Ball State Cardinals (BTN)
Maryland Terrapins (-15.5) vs. Temple Owls (BTN)

Watch That

[21] Miami-Florida Hurricanes (-10.5) at Toledo Rockets

11am | ESPN2 | MIA -10.5 | O/U 57

Nebraska Cornhuskers (0-1) vs Troy Trojans (1-1)

11am | BTN | UNL -11.5 | O/U 57.5

Rutgers Scarlet Knights (1-1) at Kansas Jayhawks (1-1)

11am | Fox Sports Regional | KU -2.5 | O/U 44.5

Hawaii Rainbow Warriors (3-0) at Army Black Knights (1-1)

11am | CBSSN | Army -6.5 | O/U 62

If you are flipping furiously among the various Big Ten games, the morning is the time to do it—flip around and settle, eventually, on the games that are showing the potential for fuckery.

Why would I put Indiana and Maryland in the “don’t watch” column and Nebraska and Rutgers in the do-watch? Because we know less about the latter two. Indiana is...well, they’re the most boring form of chaos I think we’ve ever seen, and Maryland is halfway decent until everyone gets hurt. Meanwhile, do we know that Nebraska is even going to cover against Troy? WE DON’T! THAT’S EXCITING! Do we know that Rutgers-Kansas is not going to be stopped after the first quarter for an apple juice break? WE DON’T! THAT’S EXCITING!

Really, though, you’re watching Army-Hawaii. You’ll tune in, briefly, to Miami AT Toledo (not because of weather! Miami agreed to play a game at Toledo!), until you realize that Miami is still going to boatrace Toledo. That’ll happen around the start of the second quarter—but you should probably tune in a little to the first quarter...for the laughs.

No, it’s Army-Hawaii, where the poor ‘Bows are being slotted into a game that is played at 6am Hawaii time! 6AM. But if you have somehow avoided Hawaii football to this point...I mean, what the hell? Cole McDonald is reminding us of Colt Brennan and Timmy Chang more and more each week, and John Ursua is a legitimately fun downfield threat. Can the ‘Bows play defense? FUCK NO! This game’s O/U, at 62, is only beaten by PSU/Kent State in the 11am games, and who gives a shit about that one? It is going to be Army leaning on the Warrior defense for 14-play, 75-yard drives that last 7 minutes, then the ‘Bows coming out and scoring in 4 plays and 35 seconds! Is this sustainable for Hawaii to go 4-0? WHO KNOWS?! Tune in!

Poll

It’s Saturday, and I’ve just woken up. Which game should I watch?

This poll is closed

  • 5%
    Miami Fluoride-Toledo
    (12 votes)
  • 20%
    Oklahoma-Iowa State
    (45 votes)
  • 4%
    Florida State-Syracuse
    (11 votes)
  • 26%
    Hawaii-Army
    (59 votes)
  • 43%
    My Big Ten team is playing at this time.
    (98 votes)
225 votes total Vote Now

Poll

OK, but which game are you ACTUALLY watching?

This poll is closed

  • 43%
    Army-Hawaii
    (79 votes)
  • 56%
    I told you, my Big Ten team is playing right now!
    (101 votes)
180 votes total Vote Now

Poll

Sure [/winks], but you’re REALLY watching...

This poll is closed

  • 38%
    ...yeah, I’m watching Army-Hawaii
    (68 votes)
  • 61%
    SHUT UP, MNW, I DON’T FUCKING GET CBS SPORTS NETWORK
    (108 votes)
176 votes total Vote Now

Saturday Early Afternoon

Don’t Watch This

[6] Wisconsin Badgers (-21.5) vs BYU Cougars (ABC)
[8] Notre Dame Fighting Irish (-13.5) vs Vanderbilt Commodores (NBC)
[19] Michigan Wolverines (-36) vs SMU Mustangs (BTN)
[12] LSU Tigers at [7] Auburn Tigers (CBS)
Illinois Fighting Illini vs South Florida Bulls (-10) at Soldier Field (ABC)
Navy Midshipmen vs Lehigh Mountain Hawks (CBSSN)
Minnesota Golden Gophers (-13.5) vs Miami-Ohio Redhawks (BTN)
Duke Blue Devils at Baylor Bears (-6) (FS1)

Watch That

[17] Boise State Broncos (2-0) at [24] Oklahoma State Cowboys (2-0)

2:30pm | ESPN | OSU -2.5 | O/U 64

Houston Cougars (2-0) vs. Texas Tech Red Raiders (1-1)

3:15pm | FOX | UH -1 | O/U 69

Illinois is playing a neutral-ish site game in an NFL stadium, and you still won’t see it if you’re in the Eastern Time Zone. That’s how shitty we all know that game is going to be.

Anyways, in the afternoon slot you are here for points. I originially had Duke-Baylor as a “watch” game, but the O/U at 49 points? Get the fuck outta here. I want drives that last 5 plays and take just 1:38 off the clock, and if you are not yet familiar with the work of the Houston Cougars under Major Applewhite (year! That guy! Major fucin’ Applewhite!), now is your chance to do that.

And you know Boise State-Okie Lite is going to feature at least 5 trick plays, 80 points, and possibly an overtime or two. This is the game you keep it locked on—we know you don’t actually care, Michigan fan, about the third-stringers battering the SMU defense on the first drive of the third quarter. Watch the rest on your laptop or something.

Poll

What Saturday afternoon game are you primarily watching?

This poll is closed

  • 23%
    Boise State-Oklahoma State
    (65 votes)
  • 35%
    Houston-Texas Tech
    (95 votes)
  • 3%
    Notre Dame-Vandy, because I am the literal worst
    (10 votes)
  • 0%
    Duke-Baylor, because I hate myself
    (1 vote)
  • 21%
    My Big Ten team is playing at this time
    (57 votes)
  • 15%
    ...I’ll take the afternoon off from football
    (43 votes)
271 votes total Vote Now

Saturday Evening

Don’t Watch This

[1] Alabama Crimson Tide (-21.5) at Ole Miss Rebels (ESPN)
Iowa Hawkeyes vs Northern Iowa Panthers (BTN)
Northwestern Wildcats (-21) vs Akron Zips (BTN)
[22] USC Trojans at Texas Longhorns (-3.5) (FOX)

Watch That

Arkansas State Red Wolves (1-1) at Tulsa Golden Hurricane (1-1)

6pm | CBSSN | ArkSt -1 | O/U 72

Massachusetts Minutemen (1-2) at Florida International Panthers (1-1)

6:30pm | beIN | FIU -4 | O/U 60.5

New Mexico Lobos (1-1) at New Mexico State Aggies (0-3)

7pm | TBA, maybe Eleven?

Purdue Boilermakers (0-2, 0-1 B1G) vs Missouri Tigers (2-0)

6:30pm | BTN | Miz -6 | O/U 65.5

You’re Actually Watching

[4] Ohio State Buckeyes vs [15] TCU Horned Frogs

7pm | ABC | OSU -13.5 | O/U 58.5
Played at AT&T Stadium, Arlington, TX

You can give me all the woke “TEXAS MATTERS; THIS COULD BE AN UPSET!” takes all you want. Hell, you can gin it up as a rivalry like FOX is doing. No one on that field gives a flying fuck what Vince Young did 13 years ago. Shit, half the USC kids probably grew up idolizing him. So let’s dispense with that and acknowledge that unless this turns into a 55-40 shootout (it won’t), these are two has-beens slapping at each other on national TV.

Don’t even try to sell me on ‘Bama-Ole Miss.

Look, you’re watching Ohio State-TCU. You know it, I know it, your mother knows it. It could be a good game on semi-neutral turf. Can Gary Patterson’s defense slow Dwayne Haskins, J.K. Dobbins, and Mike Weber? MAYBE! Could this be a 42-38 shootout rather than a buttoned-up, professional 27-24 skirmish? SURE! (But I have my doubts.)

But just in case, at a commercial break or halftime, you find yourself thinking “I don’t watch to watch Northwestern-Akron, I wonder what else is on,” might I suggest some shootouts?

I get that not many of you get beIN sports, but UMass-FIU is a sneaky over pick for you degenerate gamblers out there—Andy Isabella is a fun downfield threat, and Mark Whipple’s Minutemen will air it out. Plus, FIU has...some?...offense? And there’s a hurricane a few hundred miles north. Gonna get weird in Miami.

One of the tragedies of New Mexico State’s new college football independence is that they have lost their guaranteed TV coverage. Beyond that, as well, the Aggies are tanking—they just lost 60-13 to Utah State, and we’re not sure if they have all their jerseys yet. College football is a cruel mistress, but at least we’ve still got the Battle of I-25! Only one problem. Per New Mexico football’s twitter, there is not a guaranteed national TV provider yet (apparently there were hopes that ESPN3 would pick it up). The DirecTV channel that tweet lists is Eleven Sports Network (your home for UMass football!), and having watched the UMass opener against Duquesne on Eleven, I can promise it is everything it’s cracked up to be.

tl;dr I don’t know if you should watch this, but I like NMSU football. Thanks for reading.

Moreover, I am legally to make any game with an O/U over 70 a Watch This game. Arkansas State and Tulsa will make no bones about playing defense. Tune in, even just for five minutes. You will see a touchdown, or I will give you your money back.

Poll

OK, you’re watching OSU-TCU. But what are you ALSO watching?

This poll is closed

  • 3%
    Arkansas State-Tulsa
    (6 votes)
  • 1%
    UMass-FIU
    (3 votes)
  • 8%
    BATTLE OF I-25
    (14 votes)
  • 11%
    ‘Bama-Ole Miss, because I suck
    (19 votes)
  • 36%
    USC-Texas, because I believe overhyped things
    (63 votes)
  • 38%
    My Big Ten team is playing at this time
    (66 votes)
171 votes total Vote Now

I’m Up and Drunk, What Should I Watch? (Saturday Late)

Don’t Watch This

[10] Washington Huskies (-6.5) at Utah Utes (ESPN)
[23] Arizona State Sun Devils (2-0) at San Diego State Aztecs (1-1)
9:30pm | CBSSN | ASU -5.5 | O/U 45.5

Watch That

Fresno State Bulldogs (1-1) at UCLA Bruins (0-2)

9:30pm | FS1 | Fresno -1.5 | O/U 50.5

If I could, first, a moment on what PAC-12 After Dark is supposed to be: Stupid, 90-point shootouts that you watch only because every other play, a defensive back is going to fall down and yield an 85-yard touchdown play.

What PAC-12 is not supposed to be: 16-13. Do better.

Anyways, now that Washington and Arizona State have apparently gone the Stanford route and decided that boring you to death is how they’ll win football games, there’s not a ton happening late. Hawaii’s out east; they’ll probably be back in Honolulu by the time this one kicks off. So we’re kind of in a bind, fellow drunks.

Instead, might I recommend UCLA as home dogs to a Mountain West team? YES YOU WATCH TO WATCH THIS. The Gophers might’ve kept Marcus McMaryion under wraps, but is UCLA gonna do it? I don’t know! Chip Kelly is supposed to have fun offenses, and the Gophers managed 21 points on Fresno! Maybe the Bruins could double that!

Poll

I’m drunk on Saturday night. My college football choice is...

This poll is closed

  • 18%
    Washington-Utah
    (34 votes)
  • 11%
    Arizona State-San Diego State
    (21 votes)
  • 17%
    Fresno State-UCLA
    (31 votes)
  • 19%
    whatever the bar has on
    (35 votes)
  • 33%
    lol i passed out hours ago
    (60 votes)
181 votes total Vote Now

Look, in the grand scheme of things, you’ll watch the football you want to watch. We all know that. But you don’t have to be stuck on hour three of Purdue and Northwestern flailing away at each other! There’s actual, good football on! I hope this helps.

Feel free to talk about the games here (especially the Thursday and Friday night ones—this is your open thread). Happy football, kids.