The nexus of the college-football world Saturday is the Willamette Valley, where Oregon hosts UCLA and the ESPN “College GameDay” crew, and Stanford visits Oregon State.
A fan with a fast car and a head start could do a doubleheader, as long as he or she leaves the Oregon game early in the fourth quarter, before UCLA starts playing catchup and Nick Aliotti, the Oregon defensive coordinator, starts steaming about giving up garbage points.
Best of the day, chronologically:
Tennessee at Alabama (AP No. 1), 12:30 p.m., CBS: It’s ‘Bama’s last test until a Nov. 9 crucial with LSU, and if history holds, the Vols won’t get in the end zone much. They’ve scored 17 or fewer points in the last nine games in the series.
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Tennessee is either battle-tested or battle-weary. The Vols have played four ranked teams and immediately after the Tide come Missouri and Auburn.
North Carolina State at Florida State (3), 12:30 p.m., ESPN2: The Heisman race appears to be boiling down to FSU’s Jameis Winston, Johnny Manziel and Marcus Mariota, and no doubt the ‘Noles will be trumpeting this stat: Winston has completed 10 of 10 attempts on third-and-10 or longer, picking up first downs nine times, and compiling a dizzying 335.68 efficiency rating in that small slice.
Here’s a non-sequitur: Last four times FSU was unranked, it beat NC State. But five of the last seven times the ‘Noles were ranked, the Wolfpack won.
Texas Tech (10) at Oklahoma (17), 12:30 p.m., Fox: The Sooners (6-1) have the nation’s top-ranked pass defense (149.7 ypg), thanks to somehow having held Kansas’ Jake Heaps to a 5-for-13, 16-yard day last week. And the Red Raiders average 416.4 yards passing. They’ve run 201 plays the past two weeks; the school record is 111 under Mike Leach in 2003.
Utah at USC, 1 p.m., Pac-12 Networks: Two programs chastened on the road last week, and limping badly, get together with some key people questionable, including Utes quarterback Travis Wilson (hand) and USC’s Marqise Lee (knee). The Trojans were using nothing but walk-on receivers at times this week in practice.
USC recruits nationally, but doesn’t mess much with Utah. Its backup guard, John Martinez, is only the third Troy letterman in history from the state.
UCLA (12) at Oregon (2), 4 p.m, ESPN: Can UCLA generate more offense against the Ducks than it did last week in a two-touchdown loss at Stanford? It could be a struggle, especially if Scott Quessenberry has to become the third true-freshman starter on the offensive line for the Bruins.
This matches two quarterbacks, Mariota and Brett Hundley, who could be top-five NFL picks next spring if they come out.
South Carolina (20) at Missouri (5), 4 p.m., ESPN2: Suddenly, unbeaten Mizzou has gone from being SEC East outlier to the big favorite, and it can virtually cinch the division if it beats the Gamecocks (5-2, 3-2).
Don James protégé Gary Pinkel has 97 wins, four shy of the Mizzou school record-holder, Don Faurot (1935-42, 1946-56), for whom the field is named. It’s also homecoming in Columbia, the place where they claim they started the custom in 1911.
Stanford (8) at Oregon State, 7:30 p.m., ESPN: People under 50 might not believe this, but Oregon State was once known for handing the ball to the fullback up the middle. Now it’s averaging 442 yards a game passing to lead the nation.
Beavers are a respectable fourth in the Pac-12 in run defense, but they’ll be tested here as they haven’t been.
California at Washington, 8 p.m., Fox Sports 1: Ah, late night with Larry Scott. This should make for a nice postgame drive home for folks from Longview and Bellingham — especially if the Huskies and Bears play to their status as the top two penalized teams in the Pac-12.
Bud Withers: 206-464-8281 or email@example.com