Week 0 was a fascinatingly sloppy two-game appetizer last weekend, with Florida and Miami trying to play an entire game without tackling and Arizona and Hawaii not settling a high-scoring affair until the final play. And while the first full Saturday of college football doesn’t present much in the way of high-profile games, there’s still something for everyone: the usual early-season neutral-site affairs (Auburn-Oregon, Duke-Alabama, North Carolina-South Carolina), a few out-of-place conference games (Georgia-Vanderbilt, Virginia-Pittsburgh, Virginia Tech-Boston College) and payday contests for Football Championship Subdivision and low-level Football Bowl Subdivision teams (nearly everything else). Dig in.
All times Eastern.
|Noon||Mississippi at Memphis||ABC|
|Noon||Florida Atlantic at No. 5 Ohio State||Fox|
|Noon||South Alabama at No. 24 Nebraska||ESPN|
|Noon||Mississippi State vs. Louisiana in New Orleans||ESPNU|
|Noon||Boise State at Florida State||ESPNews|
|Noon||Toledo at Kentucky||SEC Network|
|Noon||East Carolina at North Carolina State||ACC Network|
|Noon||Northern Iowa at No. 21 Iowa State||Fox Sports 1|
|Noon||Akron at Illinois||Big Ten Network|
|Noon||Howard at Maryland||Big Ten Network|
|Noon||Indiana vs. Ball State in Indianapolis||CBS Sports Network|
|Noon||Indiana State at Kansas||MASN2 (in D.C. area)|
|3||Eastern Washington at No. 13 Washington||Pac-12 Network|
|3:30||No. 2 Alabama vs. Duke in Atlanta||ABC|
|3:30||South Carolina vs. North Carolina in Charlotte||ESPN|
|3:30||Georgia State at Tennessee||ESPNU|
|3:30||Idaho at No. 15 Penn State||Big Ten Network|
|3:30||Holy Cross at Navy||CBS Sports Network|
|4||Northwestern at No. 25 Stanford||Fox|
|4||Portland State at Arkansas||SEC Network|
|4||Virginia Tech at Boston College||ACC Network|
|6:30||UC Davis at California||Pac-12 Network|
|7:30||No. 11 Oregon vs. No. 16 Auburn in Arlington, Tex.||ABC|
|7:30||Georgia Southern at No. 6 LSU||SEC Network|
|7:30||No. 3 Georgia at Vanderbilt||ESPN|
|7:30||Virginia at Pittsburgh||ACC Network|
|7:30||Middle Tennessee at No. 7 Michigan||Big Ten Network|
|7:30||Miami (Ohio) at No. 20 Iowa||Fox Sports 1|
|7:30||Missouri at Wyoming||CBS Sports Network|
|8||Louisiana Tech at No. 10 Texas||Longhorn Network|
|10||New Mexico State at No. 23 Washington State||Pac-12 Network|
|10:30||Fresno State at Southern Cal||ESPN|
Ryan Day has an almost impossibly high bar to meet in his first season as Ohio State’s coach. The Buckeyes last finished the season outside the Associated Press top 10 in 2013 and last won fewer than 11 games in 2011 (the interregnum between the Jim Tressel and Urban Meyer eras). Ohio State’s defense should be improved — it returns nearly everyone from a young unit that showed some growing pains last season — but the offense is loaded with new players. Quarterback Justin Fields, an ultra-heralded recruit out of high school, jumped ship from Georgia after failing to dislodge Jake Fromm from the starting role. (Fields’s backups also are transfers but are much less renowned.) The returning receiving corps wasn’t much of a factor last season, and four of five starters on the offensive line are gone, too. The Buckeyes host Florida Atlantic and allegedly-in-it-for-the-long-haul Lane Kiffin, who brought in a strong recruiting class after relying heavily upon transfers his first two seasons in Boca. Those youngsters may not be much help in this one.
Alabama will be without two running backs (Brian Robinson and Najee Harris), a wide receiver (DeVonta Smith) and a linebacker (Terrell Lewis) for at least two quarters during its opener against Duke in Atlanta, with all four serving a punishment for missing a team function. That’s literally just the half of it after this week’s news that standout linebacker Dylan Moses probably will miss the season with a knee injury suffered in practice. (His partner on the inside, senior Joshua McMillon, already was out for the year with his own injury.) The Crimson Tide almost certainly won’t have too much trouble against a Blue Devils team that saw quarterback Daniel Jones and his top four receiving targets depart, but Coach David Cutcliffe’s teams are usually strong as underdogs. …
Will Muschamp once was Mack Brown’s defensive coordinator at Texas and was even designated as the program’s coach-in-waiting. He left for Florida before that ascendancy could take place and now has the top job at South Carolina, which opens with North Carolina in Charlotte. Little did Muschamp think he’d ever coach against his former boss, but that weird confluence will take place Saturday now that Brown has come out of retirement to coach the Tar Heels at 68.
The late show
Pac-12 and SEC teams have met 14 times since 2010, and it’s probably no surprise — considering the relative trajectories of those conferences this decade — that the SEC team has won 10 of those meetings. The Pac-12 team has been the underdog in 10 of those games and won only one of those, an 11-point victory by California over Mississippi two years ago. So those are the trends Oregon will try to buck against Auburn, as the Ducks try to score a victory that at the very least could alter the perception of the Pac-12 as a flagging football conference. Even with potential No. 1 NFL draft pick Justin Herbert at quarterback, it won’t be easy: The Tigers are loaded, as usual, on defense (especially along the line and in the secondary) and have a bevy of experience at running back and on the offensive line. That should help Bo Nix in his first college game; he’s the first true freshman quarterback to start a season opener for Auburn since 1946.