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14 college football games to watch while Michigan has bye this weekend

Wolverines get extra week to prepare for Wisconsin

Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh argues a call during the second half of the team's NCAA college football game against Middle Tennessee in Ann Arbor, Mich., Saturday, Aug. 31, 2019. (AP Photo/Paul Sancya)
Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh argues a call during the second half of the team's NCAA college football game against Middle Tennessee in Ann Arbor, Mich., Saturday, Aug. 31, 2019. (AP Photo/Paul Sancya)

ANN ARBOR, Mich. – Michigan has a rare September bye this weekend, but that doesn't mean there isn't plenty of meaningful college football to be played.

There are no ranked matchups for the first time since Week 7 of the 2017 season. Four top 10 teams lost that weekend, including No. 2 Clemson, who just happens to be playing the same upset-minded Syracuse team this weekend.

That game didn't make this list because Syracuse just coughed up 63 points to Maryland last weekend, and everyone outside the Clemson fan base has seen enough of the Tigers pounding bad ACC teams over the last few years.

Here are 14 games you should watch this weekend.

North Carolina vs. Wake Forest

Game details: 6 p.m. Friday on ESPN

North Carolina is one of the talks of college football, and it's not just because of Mack Brown's dance moves.

OK, it's mostly about Mack Brown's dance moves. But his Tar Heels are also 2-0 after going 2-10 last season and 3-9 the year before.

It's taken a couple of absolute miracles for UNC to stay undefeated. It overcame a 20-9 fourth quarter deficit against South Carolina and needed a fourth and 17 conversion on the final drive to beat Miami.

Wake Forest is better than both of those teams, and it will be Brown's first test on the road since returning to the sideline. It looks like the undefeated run could end, but if the Heels have any magic left in the tank, you won't want to miss it.

Washington State vs. Houston

Game details: 9:15 p.m. Friday on ESPN

If the anticipation of a Mike Leach halftime interview isn't enough to keep you up for the nightcap of ESPN's Friday doubleheader, at least tune in to see which Cougars will reign supreme.

Washington State is a road favorite in a game that has an over/under of 73.5. There'll be a ton of offense in this matchup. And red. And hopefully as much Leach as possible.

Ohio State vs. Indiana

Game details: Noon Saturday on FOX

Before you throw your hands up in disgust because watching Ohio State win makes you feel physically ill, hear me out: You only watch the first half of this game.

Indiana getting hyped up to host Ohio State and playing well in the first half only to blow it late in the game has become an honored Big Ten tradition. So just watch the Buckeyes struggle for 30 minutes, count it as a game well watched and move on to the rest of the list. Problem solved.

Maryland vs. Temple

Game details: Noon Saturday on CBS Sports Network

Mike Locksley has quickly elevated Maryland from irrelevant to the top 25 in his first two weeks as coach. The Terps have done it with offense, scoring 142 points.

Temple might be good. Or not. It's hard to tell from one beatdown of Bucknell.

If Maryland goes up by, like, 15 touchdowns again, roll your eyes at Temple and move on.

Chattanooga vs. Tennessee

Game details: Noon Saturday on SEC Network

This is on the list in case of an upset. You never know. Anything can happen.

Yes, it seems unlikely Chattanooga would lose to a winless team, but at least the game is in Knoxville. Here's to the plucky Volunteers keeping it close.

Stanford vs. UCF

Game details: 3:30 p.m. Saturday on ESPN

Imagine five years ago hearing that Stanford was going to play UCF as more than a touchdown underdog. It's a true testament to the foundation UCF has built as the new top dog in the Group of Five.

Stanford is coming off a blowout loss to Southern Cal. UCF is getting a rare chance to host a high-profile Power Five team.

It's a huge game for the Knights, and Spectrum Stadium should be rocking.

Southern Cal vs. BYU

Game details: 3:30 p.m. Saturday on ABC

The aforementioned Trojans have to go on the road after their big win, and they'll face the third Cougars on our list.

BYU beat Tennessee last week and is only a 4-point underdog. USC is the last remaining big brand Pac-12 team without a loss, so this is a big matchup for the conference as a whole.

Arizona State vs. Michigan State

Game details: 4 p.m. Saturday on FOX

If you have an early bedtime, you might not remember Michigan State and Arizona State playing last year in 1,000-degree heat. If you stay up late, you might remember Michigan State and Arizona State played last year in 1,000-degree heat.

The Sun Devils upset the Spartans in that contest but, after struggling against Sacramento State last weekend, they're a heavy underdog in East Lansing.

Was Michigan State's 51-point outburst against Western Michigan a step in the right direction or simply a product of a bad opponent? This week should provide some clarity.

Iowa vs. Iowa State

Game details: 4 p.m. Saturday on FS1

The Iowa-Iowa State game is one of the best early-season rivalries in all of college football, and this year should be no different.

Both teams are undefeated, although Iowa State fell out of the top 25 after needing overtime to beat Northern Iowa.

OK, there are a lot of Iowas in this section -- but it is an Iowa-Iowa State matchup in Ames, Iowa. But the takeaway is that both Iowa teams are very good, even though one almost lost to another Iowa team. May the best Iowans win.

Florida vs. Kentucky

Game details: 7 p.m. Saturday on ESPN

Kentucky finally broke its 31-game losing streak to Florida last year, and now it has a chance to win a second straight game as the Gators travel to Lexington.

Florida is ranked in the top 10 and Kentucky is without starting quarterback Terry Wilson, so the circumstances are leaning heavily toward the Gators.

Not only is this a heated rivalry game, but it could also determine whether Kentucky fans care about football over the next two months before basketball season starts.

Duke vs. Middle Tennessee State

Game details: 7 p.m. Saturday on Stadium College Football's Facebook page

First of all, hats off to Alabama for scheduling such a dangerous, grueling opener against Duke this season. I don't care what anyone says about SEC scheduling, kicking off the year against a Power Five team -- especially one that has had five winning seasons this millennium -- is true bravery that should be rewarded.

Thank goodness it wasn't a dreaded noon kickoff.

Now, Duke gets to take on a Middle Tennessee State team that definitely isn't any good because it lost to Michigan, and we all know the rules.

Time to pad that Alabama strength of schedule.

Hawaii vs. Washington

Game details: 7:30 p.m. Saturday on Pac-12 Networks

How many opportunities do teams get to host the first-place team in their conference? Saturday is a night for Washington, as it hosts a Hawaii team that's 2-0 in Pac-12 play.

OK, so Hawaii isn't really in the Pac-12, but it has knocked off two of the worst teams in the conference already this year. That probably has something to do with forcing teams to fly six hours to a tropical island where the game kicks off at 11:59 p.m., but now we'll get to see the Rainbow Warriors bring their magic to the mainland.

At least Washington doesn't have to play Cal. Washington really doesn't want to play Cal.

Florida State vs. Virginia

Game details: 7:30 p.m. Saturday on ACC Network

Unless you've completed the 12 labors of Hercules, discovered the secret password and also own a television, you probably can't even watch this game. The new ACC Network isn't exactly widely available, and this could end up being the latest college football game most of us have to miss.

But if you have completed your ACC Network initiation, this is an incredibly meaningful game in the conference. Longtime powerhouse Florida State is down again this season and Virginia is looking to capitalize as a 7.5-point favorite.

Virginia is favored by more than a touchdown against Florida State. It just sounds wrong.

Florida State could end up being a borderline bowl team again this season, so every toss-up game is important for embattled coach Willie Taggart.

TCU vs. Purdue

Game details: 7:30 p.m. Saturday on Big Ten Network

Every Purdue game is interesting because you get to watch Rondale Moore, but also because you never know what the Boilermakers will do.

In the first week, they blew a 17-point lead against a Mountain West team. Last week, they blew out an SEC team. It's a continuation of the trend from last year, when TCU destroyed ranked teams in Ohio State and Boston College but lost to Eastern Michigan and got blown out by 31 points at Minnesota.

TCU is a relative unknown in the Big 12 this season, but the Horned Frogs are favored on the road in this game. Big Ten fans will learn more about Purdue in this one.

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