A college football audience that might have slept through most of September came alive last week when the SEC opened its season and two upsets turned the rankings upside down. Oklahoma dropped 15 spots from No. 3 to No. 18 after losing at home to Kansas State, and defending champion Louisiana State’s home loss to Mississippi State dropped the Tigers 14 rungs, to 20th.
So how many upsets will we see Saturday?
No. 13 Texas A&M at No. 2 Alabama, 3:30 p.m., CBS3
The Crimson Tide saw two wide receivers go in the first round of the 2020 NFL draft, and replaced them with two projected first-round picks: DeVonta Smith and Jaylen Waddle. The pair combined to catch 16 passes for 223 yards in last week’s win over Missouri.
That means trouble for an Aggies secondary that gave up 150 yards passing last week to mighty Vanderbilt, and still almost lost the game as A&M quarterback Kellen Mond lost two fumbles.
The Crimson Tide are ranked for the 200th consecutive week, the longest active streak in the nation and light years ahead of Clemson, which is second with 89 in a row.
No. 7 Auburn at No. 4 Georgia, 7:30 p.m., ESPN
Georgia coach Kirby Smart has an interesting decision to make: Which of his three quarterbacks will start? Backup Stetson Bennett threw two touchdown passes last week when Georgia scored the last 32 points to defeat Arkansas, 37-10. D’Wan Mathis was the starter in that game and JT Daniels, a transfer from Southern California, has been cleared to play following an injury.
The Tigers were pushed by Kentucky for three quarters last week before Bo Nix threw two of his three touchdown passes in the final 15 minutes of a 29-13 victory.
While it’s early, the fact the SEC is playing just a 10-game schedule means Saturday’s winner will have a leg up in its division and maybe, just maybe, a chance at the College Football Playoff.
South Carolina at No. 3 Florida, noon, ESPN
Gators tight end Kyle Pitts, who starred at Archbishop Wood High School, had a game for the ages last week against Mississippi, catching eight passes for 170 yards and four touchdowns. The touchdown receptions tied a program record and an SEC mark for a tight end. Pitts is one of three FBS tight ends since the start of the 1996 season to gain more than 150 receiving yards with four TDs in a game.
Oh yeah, quarterback Kyle Trask was pretty good, too — 30 completions in 42 attempts, 416 yards, six touchdowns.
The Gamecocks rallied from a two-touchdown deficit to tie the game but lost ,31-27, last week at home to Tennessee.
No. 12 North Carolina at Boston College, 3:30 p.m., 6ABC
It was a tough September for the Tar Heels, who defeated Syracuse in their opener but then had the next two weeks off — one because of coronavirus concerns that resulted in a cancellation against Charlotte, and an open week in which they tried but couldn’t schedule a game in time. The Eagles rebounded from a 21-7 deficit to gain a narrow win over Texas State.
No. 18 Oklahoma at Iowa State, 7:30 p.m., 6ABC
Oklahoma still might be smarting from blowing a 21-point third-quarter lead and losing, 38-35, last week to Kansas State, a game in which quarterback Spencer Rattler threw three interceptions. The Cyclones have defeated Oklahoma only twice since 1962 but won in 2017 and fell just short of a stirring comeback victory last year, losing 42-41.
Memphis at Southern Methodist, 3:30 p.m., ESPN2
Finally, Memphis is healthy enough to play after a month when it went 10 days without practicing and had two scheduled games postponed because of COVID-19 cases inside the program. Memphis quarterback Brady White, who impressed in last season’s Cotton Bowl loss to Penn State, was the only FBS quarterback to pass for 4,000 yards last year. The Mustangs' Shane Buechele has thrown for 852 yards and seven touchdowns in three games this season.
Expatriate of the Week
Fifth-year senior Andre Mintze, a graduate of Imhotep Charter High School, is a starting outside linebacker and a team captain for Vanderbilt. The 6-foot-3, 246-pound Philadelphia resident was in on two tackles, one for a loss, and forced a fumble in the season opener against Texas A&M. Mintze is known for his charitable work off the field, and recently was named winner of the university’s Godfrey Dillard Courage Award. He is working on his master’s degree in medicine, health, and society.