Week Zero was a fantastic football appetizer, one of those family-style platters with plenty of tasty entertainment for everyone. But now we’ve reached the main course: a real, bona-fide, full-bore week of college football glory. We made it!
And now you (yes you, Random College Football Fan) have a much different problem. Before, in the offseason, you were starving, a hungry dog begging for scraps. You needed your football fix. Perhaps you even went so far as to *gasp* WATCH THE AAF.
(I’m kidding. The AAF was actually tons of fun and I’m sorry it died.)
Where was I? Oh yes, your new dilemma. Ever since January (February for NFL fans), you’ve wanted, nay, NEEDED some sweet football goodness. And now, like manna from heaven, it’s everywhere. A veritable bounty of games.
Wayyyyyyyyyyy too many to watch at once. Which games should go on your big screen TV? How about your second screen, if you’ve got one? And which should you just occasionally glance at in your scoreboard app of choice?
That’s where Watching College Football comes in! I analyze the week’s games, finding the games that are worth your attention throughout the day. Then I lay them out in a helpful, easy-on-the-eyes format, complete with start times and TV channels. I’ll even give you game previews, if you’re into that!
What does this fantastic service cost? Nothing! But please follow me @WatchingCFB on Twitter anyway. That’s where I live tweet games, publish interactive threads so y’all can join in the festivities, and generally deliver hot takes throughout the week.
And speaking of weeks, this opening salvo of football frivolity almost runs for one! It starts tomorrow, and lumbers alllllllllll the way until Monday. But never fear! I’ve got you covered.
Two caveats before the fun starts. First, if your team is playing and I don’t say that you should watch them, you should watch them anyway. Heck, I’m taking this literally: on Saturday night I’ll be at my team’s opening game. Second, all gametimes are in God’s Time Zone (CST). Adjust accordingly, you heathens.
Open your college football viewing experience with UCLA vs. Cincinnati (6p, ESPN) on your Big Screen. This matchup will likely be closer than you’d think. Cincy was surprisingly feisty last season, and they return a potent running attack. And Chip Kelly’s Bruins should – should – have improved since last year’s struggle session. Both teams should have stout defenses, too. Great way to start things off.
Then break out the Second Screen for Georgia Tech vs. Clemson (7p, ACCN). Unless you don’t have the ACC Network. (This will become a running gag.) Look, this won’t be remotely close after the first half. Or it shouldn’t. Trevor Lawrence, bemulleted Heisman front-runner, leads a dominant Tiger team into Death Valley against a Georgia Tech team with a new coach and without their unique triple option. It’s a rebuilding year for the Jackets. It will look like it.
And if you think you can stumble into work a tad later than usual tomorrow, wait up for Utah vs. BYU (9:15p, ESPN), the Holy War. BYU is a question mark this year. And after Lee Corso did something spectacularly unadvised and picked Utah to BEAT ALABAMA IN THE COLLEGE FOOTBALL PLAYOFF (seriously, is he OK?), the Cougars would like nothing better than to start the year with a trademark rivalry win, heading into a tough independent schedule.
Only two games even remotely, possibly worth watching today. There’s Wisconsin vs. South Florida (6p, ESPN), a classic Week 1 game where the winner sets their narrative and the loser gets their narrative set. Nobody’s talking about Sconnie this year. That might not sit right with the Badgers. And we’re still looking for a spark from Charlie Strong’s Bulls.
Right after that, it’s Oklahoma State vs. Oregon State (9:30p, FS1), almost guaranteed to produce drama. It’s a middling Big 12 team against a a usually-bad-but-now-they’re-fine PAC-12 squad? And they’re both predicated on offensive zoominess with little defensive emphasis? This could be a beautiful disaster.
Big Screen: Sports media speculation is rampant around Ole Miss vs. Memphis (11a, ABC). We have whole articles online dedicated to why the Rebs are underdogs. Did you click the link? Ha! If you did, you have just failed the test. You are either a massive SEC homer or an Ole Miss fan. All kidding aside, the truth is that Memphis has a pretty capable offense returning from last year with a tad more experience, and the Rebels are changing defensive schemes with a new coordinator. At best they’re a giant enigma. Still, it’s the only good nooner on, I kid you not, so you should probably watch it.
Big Screen: This game just has fun nonsense written all over it: South Carolina vs. North Carolina (2:30p, ESPN). Muschamp and his squad aren’t getting much attention and might be looking to attract some with a one-sided pasting of a likely lackluster Tar Heels team. But on the other hand, this is wily ol’ Mack Brown, and he’ll probably have some crazy tricks up his sleeve. Or he might just decide he has a flight to catch.
Second Screen: Northwestern vs. Stanford (3p, FOX) should be a matter of who can sack the opposing QB the most. The Wildcats had trouble protecting QB last year. But if they give him time, Stanford’s secondary had holes last season. Stanford’s KJ Costello will need time too, but they play relatively mistake-free football. Now’s the time for the Fighting Trees to justify their #25 ranking.
Watch The Score: Virginia Tech vs. Boston College (3p, ACCN), Alabama vs. Duke (2:30p, ABC)
Big Screen: This is it. The absolute unquestioned biggest game of the week. Oregon vs. Auburn (6:30p, ABC) showcases a coach on the hot seat in Gus Malzahn. He’s desperate, taking over playcalling, starting exciting freshman Bo Nix at QB. But is that a great idea against a highly motivated Ducks team who probably believes this is their year to take the PAC-12 by storm again? Freshman QBs can be miracle workers, but they’re often mistake prone too. I have no idea how this game will turn out, but whichever team loses will have a very mad fanbase to deal with early in the season.
Second Screen: It’s Boise State vs. Florida State (6p, ESPN). Hear me out. Willie Taggart is somehow already being eyed sideways by the FSU faithful after last year, and dealing with their sky-high expectations. And Boise State is no slouch. They’re a legitimately terrifying squad of speedsters in Smurf blue that could give the Noles fits and may even swipe a win. I mean, I won’t be terribly surprised if that happens given FSU’s prior season and my personal lack of faith in Taggart, but some pundits might.
Watch The Score: Virginia vs. Pitt (6:30p, ACCN), Georgia vs. Vanderbilt (6:30p, SECN)
Big Screen: Speaking of possible early season disaster setups against Group of 5 giant-killers, here’s Fresno State vs. USC (9:30p, ESPN). The common wisdom is Clay Helton’s playing for his job. USC’s got a tough schedule. But we don’t know what the Trojans will look like yet. Then again, can you imagine the howling in LA if they lose to the Bulldogs at home?
Some people might think Oregon/Auburn will be the most engaging tilt this week. Nah. College football saves the best for (almost) last: Houston vs. Oklahoma (6:30p, ABC). This game will probably have ALL THE POINTS. SO MANY POINTS. Jalen Hurts is a talented QB, transferring in from Alabama, but he’s no Kyler Murray. How will the Sooners adjust? And can Dana Holgerson, newly transplanted from West Virginia, have Houston ready to go after a mediocre few years with Major Applewhite? This’ll be a fantastic early test for both teams, and should be the definition of a shootout. Bet the over.
I am going to give Notre Dame vs. Louisville (7p, ESPN) exactly the amount of hype it deserves: it’ll probably be fine background noise while you eat dinner, but I wouldn’t seriously focus on it unless you have an undying love for the Irish. Louisville is somewhere south of not good.
And there you have it! Week 1, all ready for your viewing pleasure. Don’t forget to follow me at @WatchingCFB, and I’ll be back next week!