All times Central
For the foreseeable future my Saturdays in the fall are consumed by college football. I often include a second, and sometimes third screen in my day, and this year will be no exception. Be that as it may, I figured a good way to preview the college football weekends would be to go through the day and say what I plan to watch on each screen.
Thursday, August 29th
North Carolina at South Carolina (5 pm/ESPN) – The first game of the season is no slouch at all. South Carolina is a legit National Championship contender, and it seems like North Carolina is getting a respectable amount of respect for an ACC school. Columbia is a tough place to play, but on opening night almost anything is possible. Pretty awesome game to literally kickoff the season.
Ole Miss at Vanderbilt (8:15/ESPN) – It’s rare that a Thursday night offers two games worth watching, but the sheer volume on opening night means something else is worth watching. Plus the first game is so early, there is plenty of time to catch a second game. The SEC is the best conference on the planet, and even though these teams are low on the pecking order you can’t beat an SEC game opening night. Ole Miss has a highly touted recruiting class and there will be a lot of eyes on this one.
Friday, August 30th
Texas Tech at SMU (7 pm/ESPN) – This one is a bit of a stretch, but if you must watch a game on Friday night this is probably the one. Texas Tech has former QB Kliff Kingsbury making his coaching debut, and SMU is playing their first game in the brand new American Athletic Conference.
Saturday, August 31st
Buffalo at Ohio St. (11 am/ESPN2) – The pickings are slim early Saturday, but Ohio St. is still the #2 team in the country. They should win this one easily, but it’s a good chance for Braxton Miller to start his Heisman campaign. These are the games guys need to use to pad their stats, and I would expect him to have a big one.
Purdue at Cincinnati (11 am/ESPNU) – Definitely a more competitive game than the first one, but there is nothing glamorous here. Neither of these teams can afford to start 0-1, but one of them has to. Purdue has a new coach, but they are not deep. I don’t know much about Cincinnati besides Tommy Tuberville is their new coach.
Alabama vs. Virginia Tech (4:30 pm/ESPN) – The closest thing to a top 25 matchup in the afternoon timeslot. This is a neutral site game, so there isn’t home field advantage. Alabama will have a chance to show how really good they are by how well they play out of the gate. They dismantled Michigan in week one last year, and the same thing might happen again here.
Mississippi St. vs Oklahoma St. (2:30 pm/ABC or ESPN2) – OSU is a top 15 team, one of the favorites (maybe the favorite) in the Big 12, and has a good coach. They can’t afford to lose in week 1. Mississippi St. is coming off a disappointing season and could use an upset to launch their season. The quality of non-conference match ups is so low these days, that this is a pretty solid option.
Penn St. vs. Syracuse (2:30 pm/ABC or ESPN2) – Another neutral site game, this one at MetLife Stadium in New York City. Penn St. starts year 2 of the Bill O’Brien era, and we won’t know who is starting at QB until game day. Syracuse has a new coach, and seems perpetually stuck in a rut. Penn St. could make a good impression by pulling this one out.
Georgia at Clemson (7 pm/ABC) – Unquestionably the game of the week. Two top 10 teams, both with Heisman contender QBs and National Title hopes. Sometimes it’s hard for games like this to live up to the hype this early. It’s possible both teams will be sloppy, or one team will play bad, but everyone is hoping that this one can deliver on the hype. It’s much more important for Clemson to win this game, since a 1-loss ACC champ might not be able make the championship, while a 1-loss SEC champ is a lock.
LSU vs. TCU (7 pm/ESPN) – Definitely overlooked because of the aforementioned matchup, but both of these teams are in the top 20. LSU is always a contender for the National Championship, and TCU still has a great coach and a chance at the Big 12 championship. Of course it’s entirely possible that one of these teams is overrated and this one could get ugly.
Northwestern at Cal (9:30 pm/ESPN2) – Definitely a late one that will move to the main screen when the other games are over. Northwestern is ranked 22nd and is getting a lot of hype as a possible Big Ten noisemaker. Cal struggled last year before firing long time head coach Jeff Tedford. It’s hard to believe they will be hitting on all cylinders this early, and this is a big statement game for Northwestern.
Did I miss any games you will be watching?