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
|St. Francis @ Akron||5:00 PM||ESPN 3||WatchESPN|
|Central Michigan @ #12 Oklahoma State||6:00 PM||FS1||FOXSports.com|
|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||FOXSports.com|
|Eastern Illinois @ Northern Illinois||7:00 PM||ESPN+||WatchESPN|
|Alabama A&M @ UAB||7:00 PM||CBSSN||CBSSports.com|
|Louisiana Tech @ Missouri||7:00 PM||ESPN U||WatchESPN|
|New Mexico State @ Minnesota||8:00 PM||BTN||FOXSports.com|
|Northern Arizona @ Arizona State||9:00 PM||PAC-12 Network||PAC-12.com|
|Cal Poly @ Fresno State||9:30 PM||FS1||FOXSports.com|
|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
|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||FOXSports.com|
|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
|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||FOXSports.com|
|Buffalo @ Maryland||11:00 AM||BTN||FOXSports.com|
|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||CBSSports.com|
|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||PAC-12.com|
|#11 Oregon @ #3 Georgia||2:30 PM||ABC||WatchESPN|
|UTEP @ #9 Oklahoma||2:30 PM||FOX||FOXSports.com|
|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||CBSSports.com|
|Arizona @ San Diego State||2:30 PM||CBS||CBSSports.com|
|North Dakota @ Nebraska||2:30 PM||BTN||FOXSports.com|
|Norfolk State @ Marshall||2:30 PM||ESPN 3||WatchESPN|
|Tulsa @ Wyoming||2:30 PM||FS1||FOXSports.com|
|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||PAC-12.com|
|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||FOXSports.com|
|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||CBSSports.com|
|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||PAC-12.com|
|Boise State @ Oregon State||9:30 PM||ESPN||WatchESPN|
|Kent State @ Washington||9:30 PM||FS1||FOXSports.com|
|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
|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
|#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.