College football viewers' guide: Game times, channel info and analysis

Break out the chips and cold drinks but let Chris Dufresne handle the remote. Each Friday, The Times' national college football writer handicaps what's worth watching, and skipping, on the upcoming menu of games.

SATURDAY MORNING

No. 13 Mississippi (5-1) at Memphis (5-0)

9 a.m., Channel 7

USC ought to consider one of the coaches in this game. Mississippi Coach Hugh Freeze? Actually, we were thinking Memphis Coach Justin Fuentes. He was chosen by Athlon Sports as one of the top coaches under age 40. Fuentes turned 39 in July and is 22-20 in his fourth year after taking over a program that was 5-31 in three previous seasons.

No. 17 Iowa (6-0) at No. 20 Northwestern (5-1)

9 a.m., ESPN2

The teams are meeting as ranked opponents for the first time since 1996. Northwestern was led that year by linebacker Pat Fitzgerald, now the head coach. Iowa, with a 2-0 record in Big Ten Conference play, leads the West Division; Northwestern is among three teams tied at 1-1.

West Virginia (3-2) at No. 2 Baylor (5-0)

9 a.m., Channel 11

Baylor's offense has piled up gaudy statistics against inferior defenses, averaging 367 yards passing and 357 yards rushing per game. West Virginia held Baylor to 27 points last year in an upset win at Morgantown. The Mountaineers are coming off a tough overtime home loss to Oklahoma State.

Other games:

9 a.m.: Louisville at Florida State, ESPN; South Florida at Connecticut, ESPNU; Louisiana Tech at Mississippi State, SEC Network (SEC); Tulsa at East Carolina, ESPNews; Texas Tech at Kansas, FS1; Purdue at Wisconsin, Big Ten Network (BTN); Bucknell at Army, CBS Sports (CBSSN); Florida International at Middle Tennessee State, FS West.

9:30 a.m.: Pittsburgh at Georgia Tech, KDOC.

AFTERNOON

No. 10 Alabama (5-1) at No. 9 Texas A&M (5-0)

12:30 p.m., Channel 2

This could be a huge game for the future of USC football. Trojans fans wanting the school to hire Kevin Sumlin should be watching closely. A win over Alabama would avenge a 59-0 loss last year in Tuscaloosa and make Sumlin a hot commodity. A repeat of last year's performance could lower the temperature and move USC in a different direction.

No. 7 Michigan State (6-0) at No. 12 Michigan (5-1)

12:30 p.m., ESPN

Ah, rivalry week. A few Michigan brain surgeons spray-painted a statue of Magic Johnson, the legendary former Michigan State basketball star. The Spartans hope to empty the can against a Michigan team that is ahead of schedule under first-year Coach Jim Harbaugh. The Wolverines are the first team to shut out three consecutive opponents since Kansas State did it in 1995.

No. 8 Florida (6-0) at No. 6 Louisiana State (5-0)

4 p.m., ESPN

Florida's rise from unranked to top 10 took a hit this week when quarterback Will Grier was suspended for the season for using a banned substance. LSU had one game canceled because of weather and, last week, got an extra Southeastern Conference home game when flood damage forced the South Carolina game to Baton Rouge. LSU tailback Leonard Fournette will be tested by one of the nation's better defenses. Florida is giving up 99 rushing yards per game. Fournette has rushed for 1,022 yards.

USC (3-2) at No. 14 Notre Dame (5-1)

4:30 p.m., Channel 4

USC returns to South Bend on the 10-year anniversary of the "Bush Push" game to face a Notre Dame team bristling from last year's 49-14 loss at the Coliseum. USC's immediate future hangs in the balance as interim Coach Clay Helton takes over for Steve Sarkisian, who was fired Monday. With Utah coming to town Oct. 24, this two-game pivot will define the rest of USC's season.

12:30 p.m.: Oklahoma at Kansas State, Channel 7; Nebraska at Minnesota, ESPN2; Virginia Tech at Miami, ESPNU; Rutgers at Indiana, BTN; Air Force at Colorado State, CBSSN; Syracuse at Virginia, FS West.

1 p.m.: Vanderbilt at South Carolina, SEC; Oregon State at Washington State, Pac-12 Networks (Pac-12).

4 p.m.: Wake Forest at North Carolina, FS West; Texas Christian at Iowa State, ESPN2; Boston College at Clemson, ESPNU.

4:30 p.m.: Missouri at Georgia, SEC; Central Florida at Temple, CBSSN.

5 p.m.: Penn State at Ohio State, Channel 7.

NIGHT

Arizona State (4-2) at No. 4 Utah (5-0)

7 p.m., ESPN

Arizona State has already defeated one top-10 team on the road, UCLA, and is finally playing to its preseason billing. Arizona State has also won 11 straight against Utah dating to 1977. A win in Salt Lake City would scramble the Pac-12 South Division and leave the league, for the moment, without a national playoff contender.

Oregon (3-3) at Washington (3-2)

7:30 p.m., ESPN2

Last summer, this looked like a minor speed bump for Oregon on its way to the Pac-12 North title. Instead, the Ducks have been reduced to spoiler after the worst start in the school's modern uniform era. Oregon is hoping for the return of quarterback Vernon Adams, whose broken index finger changed the season's calculus. Washington, coming off its upset win over USC, has a good shot of snapping its 11-game losing streak to Oregon.

6 p.m.: Arizona at Colorado, FS1

7:30 p.m.: San Diego State at San Jose State, ESPNU.

chris.dufresne@latimes.com

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