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College Football Watch Guide - Week 1

A weekend chock full of college football and little time to breathe. What could be better?

PlayStation Fiesta Bowl - Oklahoma State v Notre Dame Photo by Norm Hall/Getty Images

Man, oh man, did it feel good to have college football back. If Week 0 was an appetizer, Week 1 is an all you can eat buffet. With the NFL on pause until the beginning of the regular season, college football can take over the entire holiday weekend, stretching from Thursday night into Monday. It’s one of my favorite weekends of the season. There are quite a few intriguing matchups this week, whether it’s a conference showdown on a weekday night, a long dormant rivalry resurrected, or a clash of top five titans in prime time, Week 1 delivers. Without further ado, let’s see what this smörgåsbord of football has in store.

Thursday, September 1

Matchup Time (CT) TV Streaming
Matchup Time (CT) TV Streaming
St. Francis @ Akron 5:00 PM ESPN 3 WatchESPN
Central Michigan @ #12 Oklahoma State 6:00 PM FS1
West Virginia @ #17 Pittsburgh 6:00 PM ESPN WatchESPN
Ball State @ Tennessee 6:00 PM SEC Network WatchESPN
South Carolina State @ UCF 6:00 PM ESPN+ WatchESPN
Bryant @ Florida International 6:00 PM ESPN 3 WatchESPN
Long Island University @ Toledo 6:00 PM ESPN 3 WatchESPN
VMI @ #22 Wake Forest 6:30 PM ACC Network WatchESPN
Penn State @ Purdue 7:00 PM FOX
Eastern Illinois @ Northern Illinois 7:00 PM ESPN+ WatchESPN
Alabama A&M @ UAB 7:00 PM CBSSN
Louisiana Tech @ Missouri 7:00 PM ESPN U WatchESPN
New Mexico State @ Minnesota 8:00 PM BTN
Northern Arizona @ Arizona State 9:00 PM PAC-12 Network
Cal Poly @ Fresno State 9:30 PM FS1
Portland State @ San Jose State 9:30 PM N/A N/A

You’ll have plenty to choose from on Thursday night, but most of your choices aren’t very enticing. Sixteen games will be played but none feature any top 25 teams playing each other. To be fair, that’s not out of the ordinary for a Thursday night slate, especially so early in the season. A couple of games stand out, however.

Penn State at Purdue (7:00 PM, FOX) - The Boilermakers and Nittany Lions is the only major conference game on Thursday night and it will give us a good look at trendy dark horse West division pick Purdue. Aidan O’Connell is pegged as one of the best QB’s in the conference and the Lions should be eager to have a rebound year after finishing last year at 7-6 after a 5-0 start. Getting a conference win is tough, and getting one in Week 1 is even more so, and the stakes are high for both teams in this one.

West Virginia at #17 Pittsburgh (6:00 PM, ESPN) - This will be the first “Backyard Brawl” game since both schools were members of the old Big East Conference back in 2011. The series has seen its fair share of classics, including a 13-9 Pitt upset of the then #2-ranked Mountaineers, spoiling a possible BCS championship campaign. It’s not likely either team will reach such heights this year, but all the same it’ll be fun to see the rivalry renewed.

Friday, September 3

Matchup Time (CT) TV Streaming
Matchup Time (CT) TV Streaming
Western Michigan @ #15 Michigan State 6:00 PM ESPN WatchESPN
Eastern Kentucky @ Eastern Michigan 6:00 PM ESPN 3 WatchESPN
Virginia Tech @ Old Dominion 6:00 PM ESPN U WatchESPN
William & Mary @ Charlotte 6:00 PM ESPN 3 WatchESPN
Temple @ Duke 6:30 PM ACC Network WatchESPN
Tennessee Tech @ Kansas 7:00 PM ESPN+ WatchESPN
Illinois @ Indiana 7:00 PM FS1
TCU @ Colorado 9:00 PM ESPN WatchESPN

If Thursday was a bit thin on big games, Friday is nearly one-dimensional. Not one of the games here really moves the needle, aside from maybe Illinois at Indiana (7:00 PM, FS1) for conference action, which is always worth something, and Western Michigan at #15 Michigan State (6:00 PM, ESPN) will show us what Mel Tucker’s working with in East Lansing.

TCU at Colorado (9:00 PM, ESPN) is a somewhat decent nightcap if you’re hard up for two middling-to-bottom-of-their-conference teams to fall asleep to.

Saturday, September 3

Matchup Time (CT) TV Streaming
Matchup Time (CT) TV Streaming
Sam Houston @ #6 Texas A&M 11:00 AM SEC Network WatchESPN
Colorado State @ #8 Michigan 11:00 AM ABC WatchESPN
#13 NC State @ East Carolina 11:00 AM ESPN WatchESPN
Central Connecticut @ UConn 11:00 AM N/A N/A
South Dakota State @ Iowa 11:00 AM FS1
Buffalo @ Maryland 11:00 AM BTN
Rutgers @ Boston College 11:00 AM ACC Network WatchESPN
North Carolina @ Appalachian State 11:00 AM ESPN U WatchESPN
Delaware @ Navy 11:00 AM CBSSN
Richmond @ Virginia 11:30 AM ESPN 3 WatchESPN
Northern Iowa @ Air Force 12:00 PM N/A N/A
Southeast Missouri State @ Iowa State 1:00 PM ESPN+ WatchESPN
Bowling Green @ UCLA 1:30 PM PAC-12 Network
#11 Oregon @ #3 Georgia 2:30 PM ABC WatchESPN
UTEP @ #9 Oklahoma 2:30 PM FOX
Bethune-Cookman @ #16 Miami 2:30 PM ACC Network WatchESPN
#23 Cincinnati @ #19 Arkansas 2:30 PM ESPN WatchESPN
#24 Houston @ UTSA 2:30 PM CBSSN
Arizona @ San Diego State 2:30 PM CBS
North Dakota @ Nebraska 2:30 PM BTN
Norfolk State @ Marshall 2:30 PM ESPN 3 WatchESPN
Tulsa @ Wyoming 2:30 PM FS1
Troy @ #21 Ole Miss 3:00 PM SEC Network WatchESPN
#25 BYU @ South Florida 3:00 PM ESPN U WatchESPN
UC Davis @ California 3:00 PM N/A N/A
Nicholls @ South Alabama 4:00 PM ESPN 3 WatchESPN
Texas State @ Nevada 4:30 PM N/A N/A
Rice @ #14 USC 5:00 PM PAC-12 Network
Morgan State @ Georgia Southern 5:00 PM ESPN 3 WatchESPN
Florida Atlantic @ Ohio 5:00 PM ESPN+ WatchESPN
Middle Tennessee @ James Madison 5:00 PM ESPN+ WatchESPN
#7 Utah @ Florida 6:00 PM ESPN WatchESPN
Albany @ #10 Baylor 6:00 PM ESPN+ WatchESPN
Illinois State @ #18 Wisconsin 6:00 PM FS1
Miami (OH) @ #20 Kentucky 6:00 PM SEC Network/ESPN+ WatchESPN
Mercer @ Auburn 6:00 PM SEC Network/ESPN+ WatchESPN
Elon @ Vanderbilt 6:00 PM SEC Network/ESPN+ WatchESPN
South Dakota @ Kansas State 6:00 PM ESPN+ WatchESPN
Army @ Coastal Carolina 6:00 PM ESPN+ WatchESPN
Liberty @ Southern Mississippi 6:00 PM ESPN+ WatchESPN
UMass @ Tulane 6:00 PM ESPN+ WatchESPN
Southeast Louisiana @ Louisiana 6:00 PM ESPN+ WatchESPN
Grambling @ Arkansas State 6:00 PM ESPN 3 WatchESPN
Utah State @ #1 Alabama 6:30 PM SEC Network WatchESPN
#5 Notre Dame @ #2 Ohio State 6:30 PM ABC WatchESPN
Memphis @ Mississippi State 6:30 PM ESPN U WatchESPN
Georgia State @ South Carolina 6:30 PM SEC Network/ESPN+ WatchESPN
SMU @ North Texas 6:30 PM CBSSN
Colgate @ Stanford 7:00 PM N/A N/A
Murray State @ Texas Tech 7:00 PM ESPN+ WatchESPN
UL Monroe @ Texas 7:00 PM Longhorn Network WatchESPN
Louisville @ Syracuse 7:00 PM ACC Network WatchESPN
Maine @ New Mexico 7:00 PM N/A N/A
Idaho @ Washington State 8:30 PM PAC-12 Network
Boise State @ Oregon State 9:30 PM ESPN WatchESPN
Kent State @ Washington 9:30 PM FS1
Western Kentucky @ Hawai'i 10:59 PM N/A N/A

Okay, now we’re cooking with gas. After a sparse Week 0 and two light weeknights, it’s time for the main course (I’ve got to stop with the food puns). Our first full Saturday gives us a full plate of tasty entrees to sink our teeth into (damn!). The glut of 11:00 AM kickoffs sprinkles in a few AP top 10 teams with #6 Texas A&M and #8 Michigan hosting FCS and Mountain West sacrificial lambs, and for some local flavor UNI travels to Air Force at noon. But there’s one morning game I’m sure all of you will be watching.

Central Connecticut @ UConn

Whoa... uh, sorry...blacked out for a minute there.

South Dakota State @ Iowa (11:00 AM, FS1) - You’re gonna watch this without me telling you to. You’ve been waiting eight months to see Iowa take a one score lead into the fourth quarter and white-knuckle out a win and damn it you’re going to like it.

The afternoon is where things really start to pick up on the national stage. #11 Oregon at #3 Georgia (2:30 PM, ABC) steals the show here for obvious reasons. Any time the reigning national champion takes on another top-15 team, that should get your attention. Annoyingly, another top-25 matchup with #23 Cincinnati at #19 Arkansas on ESPN takes place at the same time, so get the recall button ready for those commercial breaks.

When we get into the evening I hope you have some ESPN package, because 22 of the night’s 30 games are on some variation or partner of the worldwide leader. #7 Utah at Florida could be a fun one to watch, pitting a Ute program on the rise with a traditional SEC power. But the main event of the entire weekend goes down in Columbus when #5 Notre Dame visits #2 Ohio State (6:30 PM, ABC). Expectations for the Buckeyes are sky high this year, with many experts pegging for the CFP Championship. But the Fighting Irish have plenty going for them in Marcus Freeman’s first full year at the helm. A loss would be a big setback for either team’s playoff hopes, likely necessitating a flawless run through the rest of the year. Those are pretty high stakes for a Week 1 non-conference game, and it should be mighty fine entertainment.

Honorable mention goes to the Hayden Fry Bowl, SMU at North Texas (6:30 PM, CBSSN).

Sunday, September 4

Matchup Time (CT) TV Streaming
Matchup Time (CT) TV Streaming
Florida State @ LSU 6:30 PM ABC WatchESPN

Just one game on Sunday night, but just having extra football this weekend is too sweet to pass up. Florida State at LSU (6:30 PM, ABC) gives us a power 5 matchup between Brian Kelly’s new bayou family and a Seminole program desperate for a return to glory days. Not too bad.

Monday, September 5

Matchup Time (CT) TV Streaming
Matchup Time (CT) TV Streaming
#4 Clemson @ Georgia Tech 7:00 PM ESPN WatchESPN

The end of the holiday weekend gives us one final game with #4 Clemson at Georgia Tech (7:00 PM, ESPN). Time have been tough for the Yellow Jackets of late, so I wouldn’t expect a nail biter, but stranger things have happened.

Whew! That’s A LOT of games. Pace yourselves, football fans, and enjoy every minute. Football is now truly back.