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College football on TV: Michigan-Penn State is the game to watch

The over-under total for Saturday’s Rutgers-Iowa game is 28.5 as of this writing, which would be the lowest Football Bowl Subdivision total since 2000. The five lowest totals over that span all have featured the Hawkeyes, and all five took place either this season or last.

Offensive coordinator Brian Ferentz, son of Hawkeyes Coach Kirk Ferentz, already has been informed he won’t be back next season, but Iowa must be doing something right. It’s No. 22 in the latest College Football Playoff rankings and sits atop the Big Ten West.

Here is Saturday’s schedule of college football games on television.

Michigan visits Penn State, giving Nittany Lions Coach James Franklin yet another chance to prove that his teams don’t wilt against top competition. Penn State is just 3-16 against top-10 teams with Franklin as its coach, and two of those wins took place seven years ago. He is also only 3-6 against Michigan and has never beaten the Wolverines when his team was ranked lower at the time of the matchup. Penn State’s offense fell flat in its first game against a top-10 team this season, a 20-12 loss to then-No. 3 Ohio State in which the Nittany Lions punted nine times, averaged only 3.5 yards per play and scored its only one touchdown with 29 seconds left and the game out of reach. Michigan’s defense is at least on par with the Buckeyes’ and probably better: The Wolverines are No. 1 nationally in yards allowed per game and are the only team in the country giving up fewer than 10 points per game. But Penn State’s defense is right up there in those categories as well, and we could be in store for a rock fight. …

The Tennessee-Missouri loser can forget about representing the SEC East in the conference championship game. The winner’s hopes might be over as well (see below). The Tigers’ offense would take a big hit if Luther Burden III — one of the nation’s receiving leaders — can’t go because of an injury suffered in the second quarter of last weekend’s loss to Georgia. Coach Eli Drinkwitz said this week he’s “concerned” about Burden’s status for the game against the Volunteers, whose pass defense struggled in recent games against Alabama and Kentucky. … Utah, which plays Washington on Saturday, averaged only 16.3 points per game over its first four contests against Football Bowl Subdivision opponents this season but has since found some life, scoring 34, 34 and 55 points in recent wins over California, USC and Arizona State. The Utes have rushed for at least 247 yards in three of their past four, and that could be the key to beating Washington. The Huskies gave up a season-worst 7.5 yards per carry in last weekend’s win over USC and rank 124th in defensive rushing success rate this season. …

As hinted at above, if Georgia beats Mississippi, it will lock up the SEC East crown and book yet another conference championship game trip to Atlanta — its sixth in seven years. The Bulldogs have yet to string together consecutive strong performances this season. In Georgia’s latest bout of inconsistency, it waltzed past Florida on Oct. 28 but then trailed Missouri midway through the third quarter last weekend before pulling away. Mississippi is in kind of a weird position. The Rebels could win out, fail to make the SEC championship game (it would lose the tiebreaker to Alabama) and yet still have a strong case for a College Football Playoff berth at 11-1, obviously depending on how things shake out elsewhere. But Mississippi first would have to pull off the upset of Georgia on Saturday, a tall task even with the Bulldogs’ uneven play. Georgia hasn’t lost at home since a stunning double-overtime loss to South Carolina in 2019. It hasn’t lost at home in regulation since 2016, Coach Kirby Smart’s first season between the hedges.


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