Saturday’s Essentials

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Here’s a look at what must be considered before wagering on Saturday's slate in select FBS vs. FBS matchups:

Primetime Matchups

Temple at Cincinnati (-10/45), 7 p.m. ET, ESPN2: The Bearcats look to wind up as the top Group of Five team but still have to get through some challenging games that will ensure they earn that right by playing for the American Athletic Conference title. Holding serve against the Owls before what is expected to be a sold-out crowd on Senior Night would set the stage for a huge rivalry game against West Division-leading Memphis. The Owls beat Tulane last week thanks to DE Quincy Roche racking up six tackles for loss after registering 3.5 sacks the week prior. Keeping QB Desmond Ridder off his back will therefore be priority No. 1, which means that RB Michael Warren should get plenty of carries.

Temple won last season’s meeting 24-17 in OT and has already upset a pair of ranked teams, taking down Maryland and Memphis. SMU won 45-21 in Dallas, and the Owls are 2-2 away from Philly this season under new head coach Rod Carey. With UConn on tap this week and a bowl game guaranteed, the Owls are looking to keep hope alive for a third 10-win season in a five-year span, which would be a big deal for this program and a positive step after losing Geoff Collins to Georgia Tech and seeing Manny Diaz pass on the gig after originally accepting it until the Miami job came open. Temple has beaten Cincinnati in four straight seasons. Rain is in the forecast all day long in Cincy, so count on wet weather playing a role in this contest.

Arkansas at LSU (-43/69.5), 7 p.m. ET, ESPN: Chad Morris’ 45-19 home loss to Western Kentucky spelled the end of the road for his tenure in Fayetteville. He went 4-18, losing all 14 SEC contests, so there are no illusions that interim coach Barry Lunney, Jr. can work miracles. The former Hogs’ quarterback and long-time tight ends coach is keeping the seat warm and playing out the string with games in Baton Rouge and next week in Little Rock against Missouri. The Tigers will undoubtedly look to rest starters prior to next week’s big game against Texas A&M, so keep that in mind before you lay points.

Oregon (-14/53) at Arizona State, 7:30 p.m. ET, ABC: The Ducks still have to get through next week’s Civil War, but that should be a coronation at home provided they survive this dangerous trip to Tempe. Herm Edwards and the Sun Devils defense will try and confuse Justin Herbert in order to stifle the Oregon offense, but they’ve fallen off since an excellent start and have surrendered an average of 36 points per game over their last three losses. ASU’s top safeties Aashari Crosswell and Cam Phillips, each missed practice time and would need to be out there for its upset bid to be taken seriously. The Sun Devils have struggled generating pressure and lost top DE George Lea to a season-ending knee surgery last week .

Oregon’s defense held Arizona to just six points last week, putting together their sixth game allowing single-digits this season. Freshman Jayden Daniels has only been picked off twice this season and is healthy again, so this is a great opportunity for him and top WR Brandon Aiyuk to really make a splash by playing spoiler with a big performance. The speedy senior should get plenty of opportunities to stretch the field and pad his conference-leading all-purpose yardage total. The Ducks have won 11 of 12 over ASU but won just 31-29 at home last season as Edwards quickly served notice that things will be different under his watch. Arizona State is 50-21 at home over the last 11 seasons and played USC tough in its most recent outing, falling 31-26. It hasn’t dropped consecutive home games since ’16.

TCU at Oklahoma (-18/65), 8 p.m. ET, FOX: The Horned Frogs look to hang around in this game by keeping Jalen Hurts from surviving without Cee Dee Lamb, who may miss another contest but would definitely be back for the Big 12 Championship if he is again held out for medical reasons. The Sooners pulled off an epic comeback without him on the road in Waco last week but have looked far more vulnerable than they did earlier this season and might end up on the outside looking in as far as the college football playoff is concerned. After a 42-41 survival against Iowa State followed up the upset loss at K-State to end October, the cloak of invincibility Hurts and the Sooners wore early has disintegrated. Gary Patterson has only beaten OU twice in his tenure in Fort Worth but does have the defensive chops to threaten and a few offensive weapons that can be relied upon to make headway against another disappointing OU defense.

Tight end Grant Calcaterra retired this week, the latest blow in what’s been a disappointing last few weeks, but it is Senior Day in Norman and there are plenty of Sooners capable of making life difficult for the visitors. TCU will look to run the football to play keep-away and does have fantastic running backs. The Horned Frogs will be down their top corner, Jeff Gladney, for the entirety of the first half due to a targeting suspension, so the first half is going to play a huge role since TCU will be looking to survive and won’t have a hard time believing it can win outright if still within striking distance at the break.

Late-night Snacks

Utah (-23/57.5) at Arizona, 10 p.m. ET, FS1: Khalil Tate is likely to get the start on Senior Day in Tuscon, which is wild because being benched earlier this season after an awful end to his career puts a damper on things. He should still be honored, but it looked like he’d be one of the school’s all-time greats after a historic 2017. Working behind a depleted offensive line against one of the nation’s top defenses, you would have to be packing quite the imagination to envision him putting on a show for old time’s sake. Keeping the Wildcats in the game is the best anyone can hope for as he matches up with another of the nation’s most talented dual threat QBs, Tyler Huntley. The Utah senior ranks second in the nation in yards per attempt and has been preserved well, sitting through nagging injuries earlier in the season to reach this point healthy. Ditto for excellent RB Zack Moss, who ranks second in the Pac-12 in all-purpose yards and is 45 yards shy of 1,000 rushing yards. Arizona’s J.J. Taylor ranks third.

The Utes need wins over the ‘Cats and Buffs to win the West Division and play in the Pac-12 title game, where a potential date with Oregon could land the winner a spot in the CFB Playoff. Arizona is seeking a monumental upset so that next week’s Territorial Cup isn’t solely for pride, but rather, bowl eligibility. The Utes have lost 12 of 19 in the series but have won three in a row and won their last visit to Tucson 30-24 in ’17.

Boise State (-9/52.5) at Utah State, 10:30 p.m. ET, CBSSN: A perfect run through the Mountain West hinges on the Broncos taking care of business on the road in Logan and next week at Colorado State after finishing up another perfect run on their smurf turf. A loss to BYU nearly a month ago derailed national title aspirations and subsequent performances haven’t exactly been great. Boise gave up much more than expected in a 52-42 win at San Jose State to open this month and was taken to OT by Wyoming on Nov. 9. Last week’s rout of New Mexico doesn’t take much heat off since the Lobos have dropped seven straight. BSU has trailed by at least 14 points in three of its four road games.

The forecast calls for temperatures that may not reach 30 degrees, but wind isn’t expected to be a factor. Utah State lost the 2018 regular-season finale 33-24 in Boise with the division title on the line. It marked only the second time in their last 15 setbacks against the Broncos that they came within 10 points of victory. Top USU QB Jordan Love left the Wyoming game and is considered doubtful to play, so backup Henry Colombi is likely to start. Boise’s top two quarterbacks, freshman Hank Bachmeier and sophomore Chase Cord, sat last week as senior Jaylon Henderson played against the overmatched Lobos. One of them should be at the controls, but top pass rusher Curtis Weaver has been ruled out.

San Diego State at Hawai’i (-2.5/48), 11 p.m. ET, Spectrum Sports (HI): Saturday’s final college football offering will actually carry title implications, which is wild since, yes, it involves the good old Rainbow Warriors. One look at the total will tell you that the expectation is we get a conventional football game in Honolulu, not an arena football-like island shootout. Hawai’I needs to hold serve to win the West Division, which would be their first title of any kind since joining the Mountain West. The Aztecs have won 15 of 18 between these schools and beat Fresno State 17-7 last week to put themselves in the driver’s seat here.

San Diego State is plus-11 in turnover margin while Hawai’I is minus-14, so the key to the game for both teams is to leave Aloha Stadium pleased with where they stood on takeaways. Cole McDonald is likely to reclaim his starting spot from sophomore Chevan Cordeiro, who has opened the past few games. McDonald has thrown for over 3,000 yards. The Aztecs should have QB Ryan Agnew in the lineup despite him missing practice earlier this week due to a calf bruise. SDSU is hoping to get after the quarterback to ease pressure on its secondary. The defensive line has been excellent but there are a number of Aztecs banged up.

Follow Tony Mejia on Twitter at @TonyMejiaNBA