The Florida Gators have their first of two open dates this Saturday and will not step foot on the gridiron – but that does not mean there are no college football games to watch. In this season’s first edition of the Bye Week Bulletin, OnlyGators.com points out the best and most interesting games to keep a close eye on this Saturday.
WHAT TO WATCH
No. 16 UCLA (1-0) at No. 23 Nebraska (2-0) – 12:00 p.m. (ABC)
Offense will be aplenty as two of the best dual-threat signal callers in the nation go head-to-head on Saturday. Brett Hundley of the Bruins led his team to 58 points in their first game, while the Cornhuskers’ Taylor Martinez has his program averaging 46.5 points through two victories. Nebraska is looking for some big-time revenge after UCLA racked up 653 yards of offense – a near record against the Huskers – and beat the visitors 36-30 at home in Los Angeles, CA.
No. 7 Louisville (2-0) at Kentucky (1-1) – 12:00 p.m. (ESPN)
Strangely, these teams have only played annually since 1994. In that time, also surprisingly despite their recent nationally prominence, the Cardinals hold an 11-8 series record dating back to that year and have won the last two games. As a ranked team, Louisville has only lost once to Kentucky (34-40 in 2007). The Cardinals are hoping to make enough noise to somehow sneak into national title consideration and new Wildcats head coach Mark Stoops is looking for a signature win to start his career.
No. 1 Alabama (1-0) at No. 6 Texas A&M (2-0) – 3:30 p.m. (CBS)
There is no one singular reason to watch this game. It is the most hyped showdown of the regular season, could have major ramifications for the SEC West race and national title picture, features the best coach in the game today and easily the most controversial and headline-making player (who is also the reigning, defending Heisman Trophy winner). Nick Saban wants revenge after Johnny Manziel embarrassed his defense a year ago, putting up 20-straight points to open the game. Alabama came back that day and nearly pulled off a win. This Saturday, the Crimson Tide’s defense should be as primed and prepared as possible to (they hope) shut down Manziel.
No. 2 Oregon (2-0) vs. Tennessee (2-0) – 3:30 p.m. (ABC)
Whether or not you believe the Volunteers have already taken a step forward under new head coach Butch Jones is irrelevant. Tennessee has been down for a while as Oregon has risen to the top of the college football landscape. An upset would be unexpected – especially considering the game is in Eugene, OR – but it would also be exactly what Jones needs to start turning the Vols around. The Ducks lost to the last two SEC teams they faced – No. 1 Auburn (22-19) in the 2010 national championship and No. 4 LSU (27-40) in the 2011 season opener – but crushed the Volunteers 48-13 in Knoxville, TN, to start the 2010 campaign. Unfortunately, this game goes head-to-head with another, much better contest, so tune to CBS and flip to ABC during commercials.
No. 13 So. Carolina (1-1, 0-1 SEC) vs. Vanderbilt (1-1, 0-1 SEC) – 7:00 p.m. (ESPN)
The Gamecocks suffered a tough SEC East loss last week to Georgia and are looking to rebound against a Commodores team that was equally depressed after being taken down by the Rebels in their season opener. South Carolina is looking to get back on track while Vanderbilt – a much-improved program since James Franklin took over – is trying to register its first regular-season win against a ranked opponent since Sept. 4, 2008…a victory over USC. Plus, Jadavenon Clowney.
No. 4 Ohio State (2-0) at California (1-1) – 7:00 p.m. (FOX)
The Buckeyes have blown out their first two opponents at home but will take on the Golden Bears with star quarterback Braxton Miller dinged up. Ohio State is just 9-6 in its last 15 road openers but 1-0 under Urban Meyer, who is a combined 10-1 in his career when going on the road for the first time in a season. Saturday’s game is OSU’s to lose as Cal’s defense has been pitiful to date. Its last opponent, Portland State, racked up 30 points as the Golden Bears only won by a touchdown.
No. 25 Ole Miss (2-0, 1-0 SEC) at Texas (1-1) – 8:00 p.m. (Longhorn Network)
With Texas in a downward spiral and Mack Brown’s job seemingly on a week-to-week rope (despite reports to the contrary), Ole Miss has an opportunity to open a season 3-0 for the first time since 1989. The Longhorns are trying to avoid a 1-2 start for the first time since 1998. After Saturday’s game, the Rebels will take on Alabama, Texas A&M and LSU as three of their next four opponents, so wins may be scarce in the near future.
OTHER SEC GAMES OF NOTE
Arkansas (2-0) vs. Southern Miss (0-2) – 12:21 p.m. (ESPN3.com)
No. 8 LSU (2-0) vs. Kent State (1-1) – 7:00 p.m. (ESPNU)
Auburn (2-0) vs. Mississippi State (1-1) – 7:00 p.m. (ESPN2)