College football is back with perhaps the greatest opening-weekend slate ever, now that schools realize ESPN will shell out obscene amounts of money for good neutral-site matchups. I, the viewer, salute this money-grubbing, though perhaps more should go to the players. Just a thought.

You can pretty much watch football from 7:30 a.m. Saturday — Boston College and Georgia Tech open the season in Ireland — straight through to around 2 a.m. Sunday, if you so choose. This seems excessive but it really isn’t. Just go with it.

All times Eastern. Home teams listed first unless otherwise noted.


Time Game TV
7 No. 19 Louisville vs. Charlotte Comcast SportsNet Plus (in D.C. area)
7:30 Florida International vs. Indiana ESPNU
7:30 No. 9 Tennessee vs. Appalachian State SEC Network
8 Vanderbilt vs. South Carolina ESPN
8 Utah vs. Southern Utah Pac-12 Network
8 Western Kentucky vs. Rice CBS Sports Network
9 Minnesota vs. Oregon State Big Ten Network

According to the Associated Press, Louisville Coach Bobby Petrino let his sports information director fill out the Cardinals’ depth chart ahead of their opener against Charlotte, which seems unorthodox but what do I know. Anyway, sophomore quarterback Lamar Jackson will certainly be on that depth chart unless Louisville’s SID isn’t paying attention. Jackson had 227 passing yards and 226 rushing yards and accounted for four touchdowns in last season’s Music City Bowl win over Texas A&M. The Cardinals have the unfortunate distinction of being in the same ACC division as Florida State and Clemson and will have played both by the season’s fifth week. They’ll take the cream puffs when they can. … Tennessee, which opens with Appalachian State, has its highest preseason poll ranking since 2005. The Mountaineers are 0-5 against Power Five teams since their infamous upset of Michigan in 2007, but they went 11-2 in their first full year of FBS play and won their bowl game in 2015. Seventeen starters are back from that team, too.



Time Game TV
7 Temple vs. Army CBS Sports Network
7 No. 12 Michigan State vs. Furman Big Ten Network
8 Colorado vs. Colorado State in Denver ESPN
9 No. 8 Stanford vs. Kansas State Fox Sports 1
9 Arkansas State vs. Toledo ESPNU

Colorado opens with its annual hate-fest against Colorado State, and it’s getting to be the time where the Buffaloes start to show some progress under Coach Mike MacIntyre, who has led the team to 10 wins in three seasons. Sefo Liufau has been his starting quarterback for most of those three seasons. He suffered a season-ending foot injury in November 2015 and missed spring practice, but he’s apparently healthy enough to go Friday. … Stanford hosts Kansas State, which means it’s Christian McCaffrey time. The NCAA’s single-season all-purpose yards leader likely won’t be on TV too much before 9 p.m. Eastern this season, so this is a good chance to catch the guy who should have won last season’s Heisman Trophy.


Time Game TV
7:30 a.m. Boston College vs. Georgia Tech in Dublin ESPN2
Noon Louisiana-Lafayette vs. Boise State Comcast SportsNet (in D.C. area)
Noon No. 15 Houston vs. No. 3 Oklahoma ABC
Noon No. 7 Michigan vs. Hawaii ESPN
Noon Northwestern vs. Western Michigan ESPNU
Noon Purdue vs. Eastern Kentucky ESPNews
Noon No. 6 Ohio State vs. Bowling Green Big Ten Network
Noon Mississippi State vs. South Alabama SEC Network
Noon Navy vs. Fordham CBS Sports Network
Noon West Virginia vs. Missouri Fox Sports 1
Noon Maryland vs. Howard Big Ten Network
12:30 Virginia Tech vs. Liberty ACC Network/WDCA-20 in D.C. area
2 No. 14 Washington vs. Rutgers Pac-12 Network
3:30 Texas A&M vs. No. 16 UCLA CBS
3:30 Wisconsin vs. No. 5 LSU in Green Bay, Wis. ABC
3:30 Penn State vs. Kent State Big Ten Network
3:30 Illinois vs. Murray State Big Ten Network
3:30 No. 17 Iowa vs. Miami (Ohio) ESPNU
3:30 Ohio vs. Texas State CBS Sports Network
4 Arkansas vs. Louisiana Tech SEC Network
5 No. 24 Oregon vs. UC Davis Pac-12 Network
5:30 No. 18 Georgia vs. No. 22 North Carolina in Atlanta ESPN
7 Tulsa vs. San Jose State CBS Sports Network
7 South Florida vs. Towson Comcast SportsNet (in D.C. area)
7:30 Kentucky vs. Southern Miss ESPNU
7:30 No. 25 Florida vs. U-Mass. SEC Network
8 No. 1 Alabama vs. No. 20 Southern Cal in Arlington, Tex. ABC
8 Nebraska vs. Fresno State Big Ten Network
8 Washington State vs. Eastern Washington Pac-12 Network
9 Auburn vs. No. 2 Clemson ESPN
10:30 Arizona vs. BYU in Glendale, Ariz. Fox Sports 1
10:30 Wyoming vs. Northern Illinois CBS Sports Network
10:45 Arizona State vs. Northern Arizona Pac-12 Network

The great thing about Houston is that the Cougars have a legitimate chance of crashing the playoff from outside the Power Five. The terrible thing is that that chance could be over by about 3:30 p.m. Eastern on the season’s first Saturday if Houston loses to Oklahoma. Last year, Tom Herman’s first at Houston after serving under Urban Meyer at Ohio State, the Cougars went 13-1 and won the Peach Bowl, but they also got lucky with turnovers in a few games along the way, so a bit of regression could be in the cards. … Hawaii already has one game under its belt, a loss to California in Australia. Now the Rainbow Warriors get to fly thousands of miles in the other direction for a game at Michigan. The Wolverines also have an edge in that they can watch Hawaii on film, but when asked by Hawaii officials for footage of a Wolverines team scrimmage to even the playing field a bit, Jim Harbaugh and Co. reportedly said no. (Hawaii Coach Nick Rolovich later said he was just joking when he made this claim.) …


Under defensive coordinator Dave Aranda, Wisconsin had the No 1 scoring defense in the country (13.7 points per game) and the No. 2 total defense (268.5 yards per game) last season. So now the Badgers get to open the season against … former defensive coordinator Dave Aranda, who was lured away by LSU Coach Les Miles to be the Tigers’ third defensive coordinator in three seasons. The talent is there but the results haven’t been: LSU’s defense seemed to wear down after halftime last season, allowing twice as many yards per carry in the second half as compared with the first half. Aranda has been called upon to fix that and (maybe) save Miles’s job once again after he almost got the axe last season. … Georgia opens against North Carolina having jettisoned Mark Richt for former Alabama defensive coordinator Kirby Smart. All Richt did was lead the Bulldogs to seven top 10 finishes in 15 years — a nearly unparalleled consistency in college football — so no pressure there, Kirby. Running back Nick Chubb is back after suffering a season-ending knee injury last October. He was averaging 149 rushing yards per game, and had he not been injured we might not be talking about Georgia having a new coach right now. …

Alabama squares off against USC with a defense that somehow might be better than last season, when the Crimson Tide allowed just 15.1 points per game. According to, Alabama has between four and six defensive players who could go in the first round of next year’s NFL draft, which is just silly. That defense will welcome Trojans junior Max Browne to the starting quarterback role. Browne has thrown 19 passes over the past two seasons as a backup. … Clemson is like Alabama, only on offense: The Tigers return quarterback Deshaun Watson, who finished third in the Heisman voting, and running back Wayne Gallman, who had a Clemson-record 1,740 yards from scrimmage last season. Clemson also gets back wide receiver Mike Williams, who’s perhaps a future first-round NFL draft pick but who missed nearly all of the 2015 season with a neck injury. The Tigers visit Auburn, whose defense is led by former Clemson coordinator Kevin Steele. His Tigers tenure ended after West Virginia memorably hung 70 points on Clemson in the 2011 Orange Bowl.



Time Game TV
7:30 Texas vs. No. 10 Notre Dame ABC

Texas has gone 11-14 in two years under Coach Charlie Strong, who almost certainly won’t survive another 5-7 or 6-7 season and could use a home upset of Notre Dame. He brought in the spread-minded Sterlin Gilbert to be his new offensive coordinator after the Longhorns averaged just 26.8 points per game last season (83rd nationally) and may turn to true freshman Shane Buechele at quarterback after two lackluster seasons from incumbent Tyrone Swoopes. Though Strong hasn’t announced his starter, Buechele would be the first true freshman to start for the Longhorns since Bobby Layne in 1944.

Monday, Sept. 5

Time Game TV
8 No. 4 Florida State vs. No. 11 Ole Miss in Orlando ESPN

Florida State plays Ole Miss in a game that’s neutral-site in name only: The Seminoles are 8-0-2 all-time in games played in Orlando since 1952. Last year’s Rebels, meanwhile, were a team that could beat Alabama on the road but then lose at Memphis (the Tigers were good last season, sure, but it’s still weird). As noted by SB Nation’s Bill Connelly, all the suspensions and injuries Ole Miss plodded through last season could serve them well in the present, considering the experienced gained by all the backups. A constant will be Chad Kelly, the self-proclaimed best quarterback in the country and someone who has penned a rap song about himself. He threw 31 touchdown passes last season but also 13 interceptions, which sounds about right for Ole Miss.


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