Saturday Slate: North Carolina Looks to Live Up to the Hype, Iowa State Could Be on Upset Alert, and Oklahoma Goes Pay-Per-View

By Kevin Harrish on September 12, 2020 at 8:05 am
Sam Howell.
James Guillory-USA TODAY Sports

It's not college football season without the Buckeyes.

We're not disputing that. As long as Ohio State's kept off the field this autumn, things just ain't going to feel right.

We'd support you entirely if you chose to simply opt out of watching college football until the Buckeyes take the field again – hopefully, sooner than later – but if you do decide to partake in the first full college football Saturday of the year, here are some games that might be worth your attention.

Real, or Fraud?

  • No. 18 North Carolina vs. Syracuse, NOON, ACC Network

With Mack Brown at the helm and Sam Howell behind center, North Carolina is trotting into this season as one of the most hyped teams in the country.

Now, it's time for the Heels to either live up to that hype or shrivel back into the mediocrity they've enjoyed for *checks notes* the lives of anybody born after 1980.

The thing is, they've got the tools.

Howell emerged as one of the nation's top quarterbacks as just a freshman, throwing for 3,641 yards and 38 touchdowns with only seven interceptions last year. And he returns his entire receiving corps, including 1,000-yard receivers Dazz Newsome and Dyami Brown, and is joined in the backfield by returning 1,000-yard rusher Michael Carter.

But the veterans aren't solely responsible for all the hype – UNC just signed one of its top recruiting classes of the modern era, which includes four top-150 players, highlighted by five-star cornerback Tony Grimes, who reclassified from the 2021 class.

There's no doubt that North Carolina is a talented team, but if they're going to compete for an ACC title this season against the likes of Notre Dame and Clemson, just "talented" ain't gonna cut it. The Tar Heels are going to have to prove themselves this season, and that starts on Saturday against Syracuse on Saturday.

Upset Alert?

  • No. 23 Iowa State vs. Louisiana, NOON, ESPN

I'm going to be real with you – if you're looking to root against a favored team, this probably ain't your week. But No. 23 Iowa State vs. Louisiana might just be your game.

The Ragin' Cajun rushing attack is legit. Louisiana had the nation's eighth-best rushing attack last season, and with Elijah Mitchell and Trey Regas returning to the backfield this season, they ain't gonna be slowing down. And then there's veteran starter Levi Lewis, who threw for 3,050 yards and 26 touchdowns last season and is coming back for more.

And on the other side of the ball, the Cajuns had the second-best defense in the conference last season, and return seven starters this season.

Iowa State's got a high-powered passing attack, but if Louisiana can limit big plays and control the ball with its ground attack – watch out.

Paywall in Norman

  • No. 5 Oklahoma vs. Missouri State, 7 p.m., Pay-Per-View

In a shocking turn of events, Oklahoma is actually rolling with a quarterback it signed out of high school for the first time since before the Bucks won the Natty.

But unless you feel like shelling out a little north of a Ulysses S. Grant, you won't be seeing Spencer Rattler's Sooner debut.

Prayers up that this goes over as well as the last time Oklahoma tried to pull some pay-per-view bullshit. Except hopefully, Missouri State can finish the job for our beloved troops.

If none of those games quite tickle your fancy, here's the day's full menu: 

Syracuse at #18 North Carolina 12:00pm ACCN UNC -23
Arkansas State at Kansas State 12:00pm FOX KSU -13
Eastern Kentucky at West Virginia 12:00pm FS1 N/A
Louisiana at #23 Iowa State 12:00pm ESPN ISU -11.5
Charlotte at Appalachian State 12:00pm ESPN2 ASU -17
ULM at Army 1:30pm CBSSN ARMY -21.5
Duke at #10 Notre Dame 2:30pm NBC ND -20
UTSA at Texas State 3:30pm ESPN2 TSU -6.5
Georgia Tech at Florida State 3:30pm ABC FSU -12.5
Campbell at Georgia Southern 3:30pm ESPNU N/A
Austin Peay at Pitt 4:00pm ACCN N/A
Missouri State at #5 Oklahoma 7:00pm PPV N/A
The Citadel at USF 7:00pm ESPNU N/A
#1 Clemson at Wake Forest 7:30pm ABC CLEM -33.5
Tulane at South Alabama 7:30pm ESPN2 TULANE -9.5
WKU at Louisville 8:00pm ACCN LOUIS -12
Houston Baptist at Texas Tech 8:00pm ESPN+  
UTEP at #14 Texas 8:00pm LHN TEX -43
Coastal Carolina at Kansas 10:00pm FS1 KU -6.5
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