After a weekend of scrub matchups salvaged only by the good graces of the Pac-12, it's nice to have nearly three solid days of exciting, competitive games. Lord, we thank thee.
If you're a true Thanksgiving professional who's game-planned an entire eating strategy for the next three days, Wednesday is your evening of fasting, so you can dive into Thursday's festivities with an empty stomach that's just crying out to be filled to its breaking point with tryptophan and carbs.
College football has approached the end of the regular season the same way: Last weekend it gave us a schedule front-loaded with irrelevancies and bodybag games, all the better to get us good and rested up for the cornucopia of delights that would await on the traditional post-Thanksgiving rivalry weekend.
If you're anything like us, you've already determined that you're going to a) gorge yourself to an embarrassing degree and b) shut yourself off from your family as quickly as possible afterward so that you can enjoy this weekend's big games. How you accomplish the former is between you, your higher power and your own personal sense of shame, but as for the latter, we're here to help. All times Eastern, as usual.
What you'll be watching: TCU at No. 18 Texas (ESPN, 7:30 p.m.)
Man, Texas A&M, y'all picked a real dumb time to go conference-shopping. Had you stayed put, TV audiences across the nation would be able to recover from their post-Thanksgiving-dinner turkey stupors as they watched Johnny Manziel beclown the Texas defense for four full quarters. Instead, you pulled up for greener pastures and left us with this, the Big XII's attempt at cobbling together a "rivalry" out of its most disappointing team of 2012 and a former SWC member that's been spending the last 17 years wandering in the mid-major wilderness.
Then again, this matchup will feature copious sideline shots of both the Texas and TCU pom squads, so . . . you know what, A&M? You go have fun with your male "yell leaders." We're good.
What you should be watching instead: Your only football-related counterprogramming on Thanksgiving night will be the Patriots beating down the Jets on NBC, so we'd stick with this newfangled Texas rivalry, contrived though it may be.
What you'll be watching: No. 8 LSU at Arkansas (CBS, 2:30 p.m.)
Les Miles and John L. Smith finally face each other on the field. Actually, the game won't be all that exciting, but ohhhh lordy the postgame press conferences sure will be.
What you should be watching instead: West Virginia at Iowa State (ABC, 3:30 p.m.)
Or you could be watching this, which features two of college football's most entertainingly amped-up coaches and might actually be a reasonably competitive game to boot. Would you have believed, though, that at this point in the season Iowa State would be the one with a bowl bid locked up and WVU would still be out hunting?
What you'll be watching: Arizona State at Arizona (ESPN, 10 p.m.)
What you should be watching instead: "The Living Daylights" (BBC America, 9:30 p.m.)/"30 for 30: Ghosts of Ole Miss" (ESPN Classic, 10 p.m.)
Because let's be honest, you'd only be watching the Territorial Cup to see if Todd Graham accepted the Arkansas head coaching job at halftime anyway.
What you'll be watching: No. 20 Michigan at No. 4 Ohio State (ABC, noon)
I mean, sure, I guess you could watch one of the nation's most storied and vitriolic rivalries, and it might be interesting to see whether the Buckeyes can pull off a perfect season even if they don't have any postseason to look forward to, but let's be honest — it's kind of hard to take a truly accurate picture of the Big Ten's competitiveness until Maryland and Rutgers show up.
What you should be watching instead: Georgia Tech at No. 3 Georgia (ESPN, noon)
While the squares will be busying themselves with Michigan-Ohio State, in which one of the teams can't even GO to its conference championship game, the people who truly want to see good football will be watching this game, which, I don't know if you knew, is a battle of DIVISION CHAMPIONS. So . . . sorry, I really thought I was going to be able to keep a straight face there.
What you'll be watching: No. 6 Florida at No. 10 Florida State (ABC, 3:30 p.m.)
After years of subpar matchups, the Sunshine State Rivalry once again features a pair of top-10 teams still clinging to national-title hopes — boy, this really takes me back to the '90s! Not the 1990s, mind you, but the 1890s, since it's entirely possible that one of these teams will not attempt a forward pass all game long and the final score will probably be something like 8-6.
What you should be watching instead: No. 5 Oregon at No. 16 Oregon State (Pac-12 Network, 3 p.m.)
Actually, Gators-'Noles could be a pretty good game game, but if it turns into a snoozer — or you're one of those lucky souls who has access to the Pac-12 Network — you're gonna want to check in on what's happening in Corvallis. How did one of the weekend's best games end up on a network that only a tiny fraction of the nation's TV viewers can see? I'm assuming it all has something to do with hipster cred — I mean, Florida-FSU is fine if you want to watch the same bourgeois network-TV spectacle everyone else is watching, but I don't know, out here in the Beaver State, we like to do our own thing, keep it real, you know?
What you'll be watching: No. 1 Notre Dame at USC (ABC, 8 p.m.)
If Notre Dame wins, then Notre Dame will play in the national championship game, which means Lou Holtz will talk about nothing else for at least the next five years. On the other hand, if USC wins, then the Irish will be knocked out of the national-title discussion, but . . . Lane Kiffin will have knocked off the top-ranked team in the country, with a backup quarterback no less, and he'll talk about nothing else for at least the next five years. So really, there are no winners here.
What you should be watching instead: No. 13 South Carolina at No. 12 Clemson (ESPN, 7 p.m.)
Stanford-UCLA would be a good choice but for the fact that if Stanford wins, there's just going to be a rematch in a week's time anyway. Besides, if you want to make this a true rivalry weekend, you want to train your TV-viewing eyes on two fan bases who wouldn't piss on one another if they were on fire, and South Carolina and Clemson definitely fit that bill.
SATURDAY LATE NIGHT
What you'll be watching: Louisiana Tech at San Jose State (ESPN2, 10:30 p.m.)
What you should be watching instead: "30 for 30" marathon (ESPN Classic, pretty much all evening long)
Ehh, LaTech has already coughed up their chance to be WAC Champions for All Time, so who cares. The "30 for 30" specials "Harvard Beats Yale 29-29," "Ghosts of Ole Miss" and "Roll Tide/War Eagle" will be marathonning all throughout the evening on Classic, so take this opportunity to catch whichever of those you may have missed. Or go for a run, you fat tub of goo, since I know you've been sneaking leftovers for the past two days straight.