If you’ve sworn off college football this year just because the greatest team Nick Saban has ever assembled is barreling through the sport like a moose through deep snow, don’t worry. I don’t think you’re a bad sports fan. I just know that you’re not looking in the right place.
Every Saturday, you have your pick of 50 games to watch, dozens of stories to follow, multiple division races that have yet to wrap up and every single style of the sport imaginable. If you can’t enjoy the sport just because the upper echelon is chalk this year, you’ve got to open your eyes.
Here are the results you need to know from last weekend to keep track of the most important storylines and division races.
UCF 52, Temple 40
The undefeated Knights started the gauntlet that is the back third of their schedule on Thursday with a solid defeat of a Temple team that will probably never get the recognition it deserves on a national level.
It’s easy to forget that, with all the narrative surrounding this team (just go back and listen to the ESPN commentators pontificate about their playoff chances in the fourth quarter), UCF is still a really darn fun team to watch, with a metric ton of offensive weapons.
McKenzie Milton “only” completed 52 percent of his passes for 312 yards? Star running back Adrian Killins had a tough day on the ground? Oh well, guess they’ll be forced to hand it off to sophomore Greg McCrae, who had 16 rushes for 88 yards on the ground.
The race for the American East division will only heat up in the coming weeks, as UCF is set to face Cincinnati and USF in their final two games of the season.
Pittsburgh 23, Virginia 13
Set down or close whatever medium you’re reading this on, and say it with me: Pittsburgh has the inside track to the ACC title game.
This time the past two years, the Panthers have been hovering on the brink of bowl eligibility, and have worked better when dashing conference opponents’ playoff hopes down the stretch.
This year, Pitt just needs one more win to go bowling and play in two toss-up games against Virginia Tech and Wake Forest to get that sixth victory before traveling to Miami and making ‘Canes fans relive the night last year where their season started to go downhill.
Oklahoma 51, Texas Tech 46
The entire Big 12 title race has been massively entertaining so far, and this game showcased the best of it. Kyler Murray and Oklahoma are playing some of the prettiest football imaginable, and Kliff Kingsbury’s rotating quarterback strategy has somehow paid off for him down the stretch.
Alan Bowman got the start for Texas Tech, and probably would have led the team to victory if he hadn’t suffered a nasty re-injury of the punctured lung he incurred earlier in the season. Before he left the game, he was tearing up the Oklahoma defense, completing 81 percent of his passes on 8.7 yards per attempt.
Oh yeah, and Kyler Murray completed 20 of 35 attempts for 360 yards and three touchdowns, just in case you forgot about him.
You can throw West Virginia beating Texas in a 42-41 thriller on a last-second two-point conversion attempt in here too. Although it looks like West Virginia and Oklahoma are staring down the barrel of back-to-back matchups in the last week of the season and the title game, it’s far from decided.
Texas still could make a run, and Iowa State, who holds a victory over West Virginia but has one more conference loss, is still very much alive in the race.
And here are the three games to watch, if you choose to ignore that Alabama exists.
Fresno State vs. Boise State, Friday, 10:15 p.m. on ESPN2
Fresno State is a great football team this year. They’ve played practically equal to UCF this year against similar opponents, and their only loss has come against Minnesota, a game that they should have won on the road (per Bill Connelly’s S&P+)
Their game against Boise State is easily their biggest challenge since then, and the way quarterback Marcus McMaryion has been playing, they’ll have a great chance to win. He’s completed 70 percent of his passes this year for 2416 yards, and he just doesn’t make mistakes. He’s tossed 20 touchdowns to just three interceptions this year, and gotten sacked just five times.
Right now, the potential Fresno State vs. Utah State Mountain West title game is shaping up to be this year’s version of the 2017 American Championship game: two high-caliber Group of Five teams with dynamic offenses competing in a game that’ll likely outshine any Power Five matchup going on at the same time.
Washington State vs. Colorado, Saturday, 3:30 p.m. on ESPN
This might not be the weirdest concept in college football, but it definitely holds a place on the trophy shelf: It’s still possible for all six teams in the Pac-12 South — Colorado, Arizona State, USC, UCLA, Utah and Arizona — to tie for the division lead at the end of the season at 4-5. Let’s be honest, who wouldn’t root for that?
To fulfill their part of this, Colorado needs to win two out of their last three games, and that starts this weekend against Washington State.
Georgia vs. Auburn, Saturday, 8 p.m. on ABC
Even in a conference dominated by one of the best teams in its history, there’s still room for good, clean, old-fashioned hate, which is what you get with Auburn and Georgia in the self-proclaimed Deep South’s Oldest Rivalry.
Auburn’s having a really weird season, and since they’re forced to perpetually swing between “national contenders” and “calling for their head coach’s head,” it’s just about time for them to win a game that they maybe shouldn’t.
Luke Swanson is a staff writer for The Daily Campus. He can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.