Pony Express II? SMU quarterback Shane Buechele and running back Xavier Jones. (Michael Wyke/AP)

Those looking for the delightful chaos that has branded college football over the past couple of Saturdays might want to look away this Saturday: The Nos. 1, 2, 3 and 5 teams in the Associated Press poll all have the weekend off (No. 1 LSU and No. 2 Alabama meet next Saturday, so get ready), while No. 2 Clemson gets a pseudo-bye week against FCS-level Wofford. There are only two games featuring two ranked teams, and one of them involves the AAC (which is probably a better thing, these days, than the game involving two teams from the ACC). So rest up for the stretch run.

Time Game TV
Noon No. 14 Michigan at Maryland ABC
Noon Nebraska at Purdue Fox
Noon North Carolina State
at No. 23 Wake Forest
Noon Houston at Central Florida ESPN2
Noon Buffalo at Eastern Michigan ESPNU
Noon Boston College at Syracuse ACC Network
Noon UTSA at Texas A&M SEC Network
Noon Northern Illinois
at Central Michigan
CBS Sports Network
2:30 Virginia Tech
at No. 16 Notre Dame
3 Stony Brook at Richmond NBC Sports Washington (in D.C. area)
3:30 No. 8 Georgia
vs. No. 6 Florida
3:30 Miami at Florida State ABC
3:30 TCU at Oklahoma State ESPN
3:30 Arkansas State
at Louisiana-Monroe
3:30 No. 22 Kansas State
at Kansas
Fox Sports 1
3:30 UTEP at North Texas NFL Network
3:30 Army at Air Force CBS Sports Network
3:30 Rutgers at Illinois Big Ten Network
4 No. 9 Utah at Washington Fox
4 Pittsburgh at Georgia Tech NBC Sports Washington Plus (in D.C. area)
4 Mississippi State
at Arkansas
SEC Network
4 Tulsa at Tulane ESPN2
4 Wofford at No. 4 Clemson ACC Network
4:30 Oregon State at Arizona Pac-12 Network
7 Mississippi
at No. 11 Auburn
7 Northwestern at Indiana Fox Sports 1
7 UAB at Tennessee ESPNU
7 No. 17 Cincinnati
at East Carolina
CBS Sports Network
7:30 No. 15 SMU
at No. 24 Memphis
7:30 Vanderbilt
at South Carolina
SEC Network
7:30 Virginia at North Carolina ACC Network
8 No. 7 Oregon at USC Fox
9 Colorado at UCLA Pac-12 Network
10 BYU at Utah State ESPN2
10:30 No. 21 Boise State
at San Jose State
CBS Sports Network
10:30 New Mexico at Nevada ESPNU


Michigan, at least temporarily, quieted the incessant talk about Jim Harbaugh’s future with a dominant win over Notre Dame last weekend, and now the Wolverines have a bit of a lull before the annual season-ending skirmish with Ohio State. It starts with Saturday’s game at Maryland, a team that just allowed a season-high 321 rushing yards to Minnesota. Michigan, meanwhile, rushed for a season-high 303 yards against the Fighting Irish. Applying some advanced mathematical theory here, it stands to reason the Wolverines could gain many, many yards on Maryland, and Harbaugh hasn’t let his foot off the gas in four previous meetings with the Terrapins, winning by an average score of 41-8. … The last time Wake Forest dipped its toe into the top 25 this season, it promptly allowed 62 points in a track-meet loss to Louisville. But now 6-1 for the first time since 2006, the Demon Deacons are back among the ranked for Saturday’s game against North Carolina State, which will have its third quarterback this season — in this case redshirt freshman Devin Leary — making his first career start.


Two losses spell doom for Notre Dame’s playoff chances, considering its lack of conference affiliation and thus no conference title game. And in the game that follows that second loss, the Fighting Irish usually don’t put up much of a, well, fight. Since 2014, the first year of the College Football Playoff, Notre Dame has gone 1-3 in the game that follows its second loss of the season and is 0-4 against the spread (the Fighting Irish were double-digit favorites in three of those games, too). One game after its second loss of this season, Notre Dame is a 17.5-point favorite against Virginia Tech on Saturday. You know what to do. … Either Georgia or Florida will awaken with two losses on Sunday, their national title and SEC championship game hopes all but shot. Both teams have one conference loss, but the Gators’ path to Atlanta will be clear with a win over the Bulldogs: Florida has only Vanderbilt and Missouri left on the schedule. Georgia still has to play Auburn.


ESPN’s “College Gameday” is at SMU-Memphis on Saturday, which may seem a little peculiar until you realize that the AAC is, in fact, good this season. The AAC West — home to the Mustangs and Tigers along with a vastly improved Navy team — ranks higher than either ACC division in Jeff Sagarin’s conference ratings. Memphis is favored by roughly a touchdown even though it’s been walking a tightrope this season. Witness last weekend’s win over 2-6 Tulsa, one secured only when the Golden Hurricane missed a field goal as time expired. The unbeaten Mustangs have reached eight victories for just the third time since receiving the NCAA death penalty in 1987 and have achieved their highest ranking since 1985, but they also almost lost to Tulsa (winning in overtime) and were outgained by tanking Houston last weekend. A Memphis win would be massive for the Tigers’ New Year’s Six bowl hopes: Memphis already has a win over Navy, and a victory over SMU would give the Tigers the division tiebreaker over both.

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