National pregame: Georgia-Florida tops the list
Another college football Saturday arrives, with a scarcity of prominent games. But the marquee games are really good ones, especially out West. Here’s our national pregame, with a list of the 10 best non-Big 12 games, along with an upset special from the Pac-12 and a coach on the hot seat from old friend Nebraska:
1. Georgia vs. Florida in Jacksonville, 2:30 p.m. Saturday, CBS: An elimination game for the College Football Playoff.
2. Oregon at Southern Cal, 7 p.m. Saturday, Fox: The Ducks appear to be the class of the Pac-12, but USC could knock Oregon out of playoff contention.
3. Utah at Washington, 3 p.m. Saturday, Fox: Huskies 30-23. The Utes are playoff contenders, too, even if you’ve slept on their 7-1 record.
4. SMU at Memphis, 6:30 p.m. Saturday, ABC: Mustangs 41-37. A rare mid-major matchup that is in the national spotlight. The winner has the inside track at a Cotton Bowl berth.
5. Virginia at North Carolina, 6:30 p.m. Saturday, ACC Network: The Tar Heels and Cavaliers are tied, at 3-2, atop the Coastal Division of the ACC.
6. Colorado at UCLA, 8 p.m. Saturday, Pac-12 Network: The Bruins win the Pac-12 South if they win out – and back-to-back victories over Stanford and Arizona State at least give UCLA some confidence.
7. North Carolina State at Wake Forest, 11 a.m. Saturday, ESPN: The Demon Deacons could make a case for an Orange Bowl berth with just a few more wins.
8. Ole Miss at Auburn, 6 p.m. Saturday, ESPN: Can the Tigers build momentum for late-season showdowns against Georgia and Alabama that will have a major impact on the College Football Playoff?
9. Virginia Tech at Notre Dame, 1:30 p.m. Saturday, NBC: Fighting Irish 28-17. Justin Fuente’s Hokies had a rough start but have won three straight to get to 5-2.
10. Northwestern at Indiana, 6 p.m. Saturday, Fox Sports1: The 6-2 Hoosiers have a chance at being a major Cinderella story this season.
Upset special: Washington over Utah
Washington is among the nation’s most disappointing teams. The Huskies were ranked 13th in the preseason AP poll, but UW lost 20-19 at home to California, then 23-13 at Stanford.
The last two games, though, Washington quarterback Jacob Eason, a transfer from Georgia, has been excellent. In a 51-27 win at Arizona and a 35-31 loss to Oregon, Eason completed 73 percent of his passes, for 532 yards, five touchdowns and no interceptions.
Eason will need to be on target against ninth-ranked Utah. The 7-1 Utes lost 30-23 at Southern Cal on September 20, but their seven victories all were by at least 18 points.
Saturday in Seattle, Utah is a three-point favorite. But Washington seems to have found its footing. Let’s go with the Huskies in the upset.
Upset special record: 3-6.
Coach on the hot seat: Nebraska’s Scott Frost
When Nebraska hired Frost in December 2017, an entire state celebrated.
The Cornhuskers had brought back a native Nebraskan and former NU quarterback who had just coached Central Florida to an undefeated regular season. A few months later, the Huskers’ spring game drew 86,818.
Then Nebraska lost its first six games of 2018, and a year later, things have not gotten appreciably better.
The Cornhuskers went 4-8 last season and are 4-4 this season. Frost’s eight victories have included wins over Bethune-Cookman, South Alabama, Northern Illinois and Illinois twice.
Nebraska plays at Purdue on Saturday, and the Cornhuskers are running out of chances to reach six wins. A loss to the Boilermakers would mean Nebraska would have to beat Wisconsin or Iowa to become bowl eligible. The excitement over Frost seems long ago.