Second week of the season is where some programs start playing games of actual consequence, though many of them are head-scratching intra-conference matchups that kind of look like those SyFy movies about horrible mutant monsters cobbled together out of parts of other animals. LSU VS. WASHINGTON! PLATYPUS REX VS. SQUIDOPOTAMUS!, etc. etc. Here's our best guess at separating the wheat from the chaff, or the Mega Sharks from the Giant Octopi, as it were.
What you'll be watching: Pittsburgh at Cincinnati (ESPN, 8 p.m.)
This matchup had to have looked a lot more enticing before Pittsburgh yarked up a two-score loss to Youngstown State this weekend. Wait, no it didn’t. Purchasing the TV rights to this game was surely the last action of a producer who was just about to get laid off. "Look, Bill, this is one of the hardest things I’ve ever had to do, but — " "Yeah, yeah, can you hang on a minute? I’m on the phone with Mike Aresco." "Um, OK — say, you don’t know where the company credit card is, do you?"
What you should be watching instead: Something cheerier, like the "Top Gear" marathon on BBC America. Hell, the "Tragedy of the Munich Games" documentary on ESPN Classic is probably going to be more uplifting.
What you'll be watching: Utah at Utah State (ESPN2, 8 p.m.)
Don't see a lot of potential for excitement here, either, though there's always the chance one or both of these teams will have switched conferences by halftime.
What you should be watching instead: "First Blood" on AMC. YOU KNOW YOU WANT TO.
What you'll be watching: Penn State at Virginia (ABC, noon)
Look, I know how it is: When you get that email with the subject line "OMG YOUTUBE OF A GUY TOTALLY GETTING DECAPITATED IN A BULLDOZER ACCIDENT!!111!!!1!," you can't not watch. But the unfolding disaster of the Nittany Lions' 2012 season is already getting a little uncomfortable. If this program was a film director, it'd be M. Night Shyamalan, having just come off "The Village" and heading straight for "The Lady in the Water" — and we're not even into the Big 10 part of the season yet, so we've still got "The Happening" and "The Last Airbender" left to go.
What you should be watching instead: Auburn at Mississippi State (ESPN, noon)
The pickin’s are relatively slim in this Saturday’s first round of games, but against all odds, this rivalry has morphed into a pretty decent early-season SEC matchup (four out of the last five games decided by a TD or less). Don’t go into this expecting another 3-2 barn-burner on the order of the 2008 game, though. My prediction: Auburn QB Kiehl Frazier will be responsible for at least 20 points, perhaps as many as 10 of those for his own team.
"What's up here? Mysteries. And a friendly ol' moray eel named Ben who'll come out if you're holding bait."
What you'll be watching: Florida at Texas A&M (ESPN, 3:30 p.m.)
[/ESPN "30 for 30" voice] What if I told you this was actually an SEC game for both teams? What if I told you one of these teams was going to launch the ball all over the field, while the other one tripped over its own shoelaces for the better part of four quarters? What if I told you those two teams weren't who you thought they were? What if I told you Will Muschamp was going to show up on the sideline in a rainbow Afro wig and an "It's Not a Belly, It's a Gas Tank for a Sex Machine" T-shirt?!? Watch "College Station: Where Dreams Go to Die," this Saturday on ESPN.
What you should be watching instead: Wisconsin at Oregon State (FX, 4 p.m.)
Yeah, someone's going to have to watch Gators-Aggies, if only to explain to Fearless Leader and Run Home Jack what happened as they come out of their respective medically induced comas a couple weeks from now. (Think Burgess Meredith's death scene in "Rocky III.") The rest of you, though, are free to take in a matchup in which a should-be-much-improved Oregon State team attempts to pull the upset against a bunch of Rose Bowl hopefuls — and stands a puncher's chance of doing so, given how Wisconsin dicked around against Northern Iowa last week.
What you'll be watching: Georgia at Missouri (ESPN2, 7:45 p.m.)
There are a few good games on Saturday evening, including Nebraska at UCLA and a potential Upset Special in UTEP-Ole Miss, but I have no qualms about recommending the Bulldogs' first visit to Columbia to face their new SEC East rivals. I say this knowing full well there's a chance Georgia's defense, considering the yardage it gave up to Buffalo in the first half last week, is going to get carved up like a Virginia ham by James Franklin and the rest of the Mizzou offense. But let's face it, it just wouldn't be a Georgia season without at least one inexplicable defensive collapse that has polo-shirted bros muttering "Just can't do that. Just can't give up yards like that and call yourselves an SEC team. Mmm-mmm. No sir" on golf courses across the state.
What you'll be watching: Illinois at Arizona State (ESPN, 10:30 p.m.)
Yes, I know we're all impressed that Todd Graham has coached one entire actual game in Tempe and still hasn't jumped ship to some other program, but let's keep some perspective here.
What you should be watching instead: Oklahoma State at Arizona (Pac-12 Network, 10:30 p.m.)
No idea if any of y'all can even get the Pac-12 Network — I can't, honestly, though it's surely only a matter of time before Larry Scott finds a way to beam Pac-12 games from a satellite directly into my cerebral cortex — but if you're one of the lucky few who can, this might be worth watching. Last week Oklahoma State won by 84 against a Savannah State team that can barely afford equipment at this point, while Arizona rang up yardage by the truckload and still managed to get taken to overtime by Toledo, so pretty much anything's possible. Otherwise, there's always "Super Shark" on SyFy, starring John Schneider and Jimmie Walker. Yeah, you know what? "Super Shark" it is.