The start of football season is here, and there’s plenty of excitement, big rivalries, and games with Playoff implications to be had on this opening weekend of college football. There’s nothing like college football. When waking up on a Saturday at 9am to watch College Gameday is something you look forward to and spending your day on the couch watching football feels like a vacation.
College football is back!
From the storied Michigan/Notre Dame rivalry to perhaps the week’s most important game in Auburn/Washington to a Florida State/Virginia Tech reunion, here are five games to watch opening weekend in college football.
No. 14 Michigan vs. No. 12 Notre Dame (Saturday, 7:30pm, NBC)
One of college football’s oldest rivalries returns as Michigan heads to Notre Dame in what’s one of opening weekend’s premier match-ups. Both teams are dealing with losses on the offensive side of the ball. But the big thing for Michigan is that it looks like Jim Harbaugh might have the best quarterback he’s had since his arrival in Ann Arbor. Ole Miss transfer Shea Patterson was named Michigan’s starter more than a week before the opener, which is unprecedented by Harbaugh’s standards. Not to mention the vaunted Wolverines defense is returning, which if the Wolverines find an offense could make Michigan a real threat. But Michigan will have a tough task as they haven’t beaten a ranked opponent on the road since 2006. But like the Wolverines, Notre Dame boasts a strong defense, which could make this a defensive battle to watch. This rivalry is a classic for a reason. Will we get another memorable finish?
No. 9 Auburn vs. No. 6 Washington (Saturday, 3:30pm, ABC)
A battle of Top 10 teams in Week 1 poses perhaps the week’s most important game as Auburn heads to Washington. Coming off a 3,000-yard season, transfer quarterback Jarrett Stidham helms an offense that’s sure to continue to chuck the ball all across the field to weapons like Ryan Davis and Darius Slayton. But Stidham will face a test against a Huskies secondary returning five starters in a unit that proved to be one of the best secondaries in the country. Auburn’s defense will certainly pose an early and difficult test for the Huskies and quarterback Jake Browning. But Browning has perhaps the best offensive line he’s had in his now four years at Washington, and they have many different ways in which they can attack the Tigers’ defense. In the end, it’ll come down to execution. Auburn will put up a fight, but if Washington can execute, they should find a way to win this game that should have Playoff implications down the line.
No. 25 LSU vs. No. 8 Miami (FL) (Sunday, 7:30pm, ABC)
The Tigers will have their work cut out for them when they head into Sunday’s contest against the No. 8-ranked Miami Hurricanes, who with the Turnover Chain are surely looking to continue its defensive dominance in 2018. The Hurricanes were one of only 22 teams last season to allow fewer than 20 points per game. On top of that, Miami was the only FBS team to force more than an average of 2.6 turnovers per game. The Hurricanes defense, which returns seven starters, will no doubt pose one of the biggest challenges to LSU. The Tigers come into this season with plenty of questions on the offensive side of the football — and plenty of new faces at positions. There’s a new offensive coordinator in Steve Ensminger, a new quarterback in transfer Joe Burrow, and LSU’s offensive line has health concerns after battling injuries throughout the offseason.
No. 19 Florida State vs. No. 20 Virginia Tech (Monday, 8:00pm, ESPN)
The Seminoles and Hokies reunite for the first time since 2012 in a highly-anticipated match-up of Top 10 teams with potential playoff implications on the line. FSU is a team that had Playoff hopes last season with a ton of talent, but they squandered it. With new coach Willie Taggart, the expectations are high once again, and the Seminoles can’t waste this talent on another shortcoming. If the Seminoles are to win, they’ll need their defensive line to overcome the Hokies’ offensive line and get to quarterback Josh Jackson. But Virginia Tech also boasts a talented defense, whose task is to pressure FSU quarterback Deondre Francois. When it comes down to it, the winner of this game will be the team that puts on the more dominant defensive showing.
Florida Atlantic vs. No. 7 Oklahoma (Saturday, 12:00pm, FOX)
What Lane Kiffin has accomplished in one season as head coach of the Florida Atlantic Owls is nothing short of remarkable. A once-laughable FAU offense burst onto the college football scene behind running back sensation Devin Singletary, who was named the program’s first ever AP All-American. FAU has come alive under Kiffin, and they don’t appear to be stopping anytime soon — even with the uncertainty at quarterback. If the Owls have a chance, not only do they need to show up and play with the dominance they did last season, but they can also take advantage of Oklahoma having lost a ton of talent after last season. But while the Sooners lost quarterback Baker Mayfield to the NFL Draft, Kyler Murray will look to fill the role with premium receivers like Marquise Brown and CeeDee Lamb, who lit up the college football world last season with a combined 103 catches, 1,902 yards, and 14 touchdowns. Oh, and did I mention they were freshmen?