Welcome back to the College Football Watch Guide here at the Pants. Before we begin, I’d like to go around the room and everybody say what they did during their off season.
I feel like we’ve aged twenty years since the lights went out at SoFi Stadium on January 9. As the winter, spring, and summer months ticked by we were treated to countless stories of NIL legislation, transfer portal comings and goings, gambling investigations, and the ever spinning coaching carousel. We had the Northwestern hazing scandal and the fallout of Pat Fitzgerald’s firing dominating the conversation in the early summer, with the ever-present media buzz surrounding Deon Sanders and the Colorado Buffaloes before that. Meanwhile, changes to the clock rules announced in April will present a slightly different pace of play than what we’re used to. Argue amongst yourselves in the comments about whether or not those changes will be good.
Personally I was enthralled with the game of musical chairs that is conference realignment. The dam finally broke in late July and early August when the aforementioned Buffaloes announced their return to the Big 12. They were followed swiftly by Arizona, Arizona State, and Utah while Oregon and Washington fled the sinking RMS Pac-12 for the Big Ten. Exciting new frontier of the sport or death knell of all that was once good and right? Again, the comments are your soapbox. The subject certainly was a gold mine for podcasters and sportswriters. Content is king after all.
That’s a lot of words to say I’m exhausted with the speculation and navel gazing of the off season and I’m ready for some football. We’ve made it to the beginning of the 2023 college football season. There are actual games this weekend for us to enjoy so let’s take a look at what week 0 has to offer. And...
Saturday, August 26
|Navy @ #13 Notre Dame||1:30 PM||NBC||Peacock|
|UTEP @ Jacksonville State||4:30 PM||CBSSN||CBSSports.com|
|UMass @ New Mexico State||6:00 PM||ESPN||WatchESPN|
|Ohio @ San Diego State||6:00 PM||FS1||FOXSports.com|
|Hawai'i @ Vanderbilt||6:30 PM||SEC Network||WatchESPN|
|San Jose State @ #6 USC||7:00 PM||Pac-12 Network||PAC-12.com|
|Florida International @ Louisiana Tech||8:00 PM||CBSSN||CBSSports.com|
|Minnesota @ Nebraska||11:00 AM||ESPN 2||WatchESPN|
Well, it may not be pretty to look at but at least it’s something. Only two ranked teams play this Saturday but they’re not exactly marquee matchups. To be fair, Navy @ #13 Notre Dame is an historic rivalry, the third-longest uninterrupted rivalry in college football until 2020 (damn you, Covid-19). The game will be the debut of new Midshipmen head coach Brian Newberry, Navy’s first new coach in 15 years. After a rough start to 2022, the Fighting Irish finished with an 8-4 record, headlined by an upset victory over then #5 Clemson. Notre Dame is heavily favored in this game, but this being a storied rivalry automatically makes it game of the week.
And I haven’t even mentioned yet that it’s being played in Dublin, Ireland.
Okay, what else have we got. There’s Hawai’i @ Vanderbilt at 6:30 which is...a game you could watch, as is Ohio @ San Diego State at 6:00. Most of us will probably keep our eyes on San Jose State @ #6 USC. It’s the only other game with a ranked team, though it’ll no doubt be over by the end of the opening kickoff. It’s the Trojans’ last season in the Pac-12 and after being excoriated last year for their defense, Lincoln Riley will need to prove his team is more than just a killer offense. But let’s just wait to see how they perform against stiffer competition.
Look, I won’t lie to you, this isn’t the most enticing slate of games. I’m trying to put lipstick on a pig here. But, I’ve been waiting eight months for this pig to return and you can bet I’ll be watching as much as I can, lipstick or no. Week 0 may not have the flashiest games, brightest stars, or biggest stadiums, but that doesn’t matter. It’s time to kick off.
College football is back.