College football schedule Week 1
Fourteen FBS teams began the season in Week 0, but the lid-lifter for most of the country will be in Week 1. There are a ton of interesting matchups, ranging from “paycheck games” for small-conference teams to go absorb a beating for the sake of the athletic department to games that have serious National Championship implications.
We’ve got some more of those Little Brother vs. Big Brother games that I like, a handful of conference clashes, and a lot of new faces in new places. Storylines are not hard to find for Week 1 and that includes a bevy of situational spots to think about.
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(Games sorted by Kickoff Time; odds as of August 29, 3:30 p.m. PT)
Thursday, 8 p.m. ET
Last year’s game sure was fun, as Florida won 29-26 in Gainesville with an end zone interception the victory with 17 seconds left. Utah had gone 69 yards in 10 plays in just 1:08 after Florida scored the go-ahead touchdown with 1:25 left in the game. Defense became optional late in the sweltering heat of the Sunshine State with four straight touchdown drives before the game-ending INT. Utah actually went 11 plays and 71 yards to open the second half, but got stopped at the one-yard-line on 4th-and-Goal.
The rematch will be played at elevation in Salt Lake City. Florida will not have Anthony Richardson and we presume that Utah will not have starting QB Cameron Rising, as he returns from a torn ACL. This is one of the more intriguing Week 1 games and we get it on Thursday night.
Friday, 11 p.m. ET
One of the betting angles to consider this week is how to approach the teams that played in Week 0 when they face a team that did not. On one hand, Hawaii got to iron out some kinks and actually looked pretty good in the cover against Vanderbilt. On the other hand, Stanford now has actual film on Hawaii, so the defense can better prepare for the concepts and schemes that they will see. The travel for Stanford is not necessarily a big deal in Week 1 and I’d be slightly more worried about it for Hawaii, as they went all the way to Nashville and now play on a short week at home, but this line has steadily decreased over the last three months and all in Hawaii’s favor.
Saturday, Noon ET
This game is chock full of things to discuss. The “Coach Prime” era begins for Colorado against a TCU crew that has lost a ton from last year’s National Championship runner-up. Runner-up probably sells the actual result of the title game short, as TCU got there, but got simply obliterated by Georgia. Along with questions about the revamped Horned Frogs roster, there are also questions about Buffaloes QB Shedeur Sanders, who lit up the FCS ranks at Jackson State last season with 40 touchdown passes, but steps up in class in a big way here. Let’s see if Deion Sanders and his transfer-laden roster are ready for what lies ahead.
Saturday, 7:00 p.m. ET
I wouldn’t even call this Little Brother vs. Big Brother anymore, as these teams are probably on pretty equal footing, despite the gap in conference standing. The Big 12 carries more fanfare than the AAC, which Houston just left prior to this season. However, UTSA has spent time in the Top 25 and looks like a force in the AAC once again, while Houston looks like a bottom-feeder in Year 1 as a Power Five program. As far as this game goes, Houston won 37-35 in 3 OT last year, as the Cougars took a late lead with 23 seconds left on the strength of 17 unanswered points before UTSA kicked a game-tying field goal at the end of regulation. Houston ultimately prevailed as a 3.5-point favorite, but now UTSA is the road favorite in a revenge spot.
Saturday, 7:30 p.m. ET
Weird travel spots are always fun in the first few weeks of the season and this one fits. The Red Raiders head from Lubbock to Laramie for the season opener against Wyoming. The Cowboys are at a definite advantage here in terms of the playing conditions, but maybe not as much as you would expect. Laramie is nearly 7,800 feet in elevation, but Lubbock is not at sea level. It is over 3,200 feet up in elevation, so the Red Raiders are more than doubling it, but they aren’t in the Gulf Coast or the central part of the Lone Star State. It will still be a shock to the system and could matter a lot late in the game, but it hasn’t deterred many bettors from taking the visitors.
Saturday, 8 p.m. ET
There weren’t a lot of joyous moments for the Monarchs last season, but they had a memorable one in Week 1 last season. Old Dominion knocked off Virginia Tech in Norfolk by a 20-17 with the game-winning touchdown in the final minute. Students stormed the field and the Monarchs started 1-0. They finished 3-9, but that game certainly meant a lot. Well, it probably meant a lot to the Hokies, and not in a good way. They’re out for blood and revenge in Blacksburg this week and are a massive favorite to get it. This is the most obvious revenge spot of the week and may even be factored into the line going up.
Saturday, 10:30 p.m. ET
Game 1 of the Tim Beck era is a long way from Conway, SC. The Chanticleers and Bruins will face off in what amounts to a very late start for Coastal Carolina. Speaking of the change, the Bruins don’t have Dorian Thompson-Robinson anymore and it appears that Ethan Garbers will start, but Kent State transfer Collin Schlee and five-star freshman Dante Moore will play as well. Grayson McCall is the unquestioned starter for Coastal, so there aren’t any worries about playing time there, but this is an odd game with a lot of moving parts.
Sunday, Noon ET
This will be the first game for Northwestern without Pat Fitzgerald on the sidelines since 2000. He was the defensive backs coach in 2001, linebackers coach in 2002-03, added recruiting coordinator to his title in 2004-05, and then took over as the head coach in 2006. Fitzgerald was suspended on July 7 and then fired on July 10. Defensive coordinator David Braun, who was with North Dakota State last season, was named the interim head coach, so Northwestern goes into the season with a lot of uncertainty to say the least. But, this could be a rallying point for the remaining players. Also, this is the largest favorite role in a conference game for Rutgers since 2014, so that also makes this an interesting situational spot.
Sunday, 7:30 p.m. ET
This is not a true home game for Florida State, as it will be played in Orlando, but this is the main event of Week 1. This is not necessarily an elimination game for the College Football Playoff, but the losing team would likely have to run the table, as we’ve never had a two-loss CFP participant. Last year’s game was an instant classic, as Florida State won 24-23 on a blocked extra point after allowing an 11-yard, 99-yard touchdown drive in just 1:20 of game time. Florida State fumbled at the one-yard-line with a chance to put the game away and Jayden Daniels masterfully took LSU down the field for what was thought to be the game-tying score.
What I left out is that LSU forced a punt with just under two minutes left, only to fumble the ensuing punt return before getting the goal-line stop. It was a chaotic final quarter and now the two teams will run it back in the Sunshine State as opposed to the Big Easy. This is Game of the Year material and a game with massive implications right out of the chute.