There’s football on my teevee. It shouldn’t come as a surprise that I caught feelings when I watched Georgia State kick off against Abilene Christian on Wednesday night, but for some reason I was still taken aback. We’ve had months and months to get ready for football’s glorious return, and yet there’s no real adequate substitute for the rush that comes when it’s actually, really back.
Even the coaches -- whose job it is to be prepared -- still get caught up in it. After Tulsa’s double overtime win over Tulane on Thursday night, coach Bill Blankenship said, “Honestly it’s like crack. You get those kind of celebrations and you’ll coach for a long time.”
With Week 1 upon us, there’s so much football you might be at risk of pigskin-induced paralysis, but fear not: You’ll get through this. To help I’ve compiled some of the must-watch games of the week. This is my Perfect College Football Saturday.
Breakfast of Champions
8:30 a.m. -- Penn State vs. UCF (in Ireland!!!), ESPN2
Sure, a volcano might just be the most interesting thing about this game, but that’s not a knock on Penn State or UCF; it’s just that volcanoes are awesome. Games in exotic locations are fun, especially early in the season. Eventually the novelty will wear off like The Simpsons’ travel episodes (The O’Leary’s are going to Istanbul!), but for now seeing last year’s Fiesta Bowl champ in the first game of the post-Bortles era take on the Nittany Lions in James Franklin’s debut is intriguing all the same.
The Early Slate
12:00 p.m. -- No. 5 Ohio State at Navy, CBS Sports Network
A few years ago, former SI.com writer Holly Anderson predicted Ohio to go undefeated -- and after the Bobcats beat Penn State and rattled off a few more wins, it almost came true. (In the end injuries and a lack of depth doomed Ohio, but it was a fun ride while it lasted.) This year she has quadrupled down and made Navy her undefeated darling of the year. If it’s going to happen, we’ll know right away. Ohio State is without senior quarterback Braxton Miller for the season and new signal-caller J.T. Barrett will have his first test against the Midshipmen donning some of the coolest uniforms I’ve ever seen.
There’s nothing like watching a good blowout to set you on the path to a happy and healthy day. UCLA is earning a lot of preseason hype, and with players like Brett Hundley and Myles Jack, it’s easy to see why. Virginia has a steep hill to climb in this one and would like to avoid the same fate that befell the Cavaliers against another Pac-12 opponent in Oregon (a 59-10 thrashing) early last season.
*Second Screen Special*
(These are games that are tailor-made for your tablet, extra laptop, giant phone or any other device you use to stream things.)
12:00 p.m. -- Appalachian State at Michigan, ESPN2/WatchESPN
We all know what App State was able to do to the Wolverines in 2007. Pulling it off this time around won’t be as easy, even though Michigan is reeling a bit. New offensive coordinator Doug Nussmeier brings something different from Alabama, and this is our first chance to see what super recruit cornerback Jabrill Peppers can do. But who knows, maybe there’s some magic left in the Mountaineers. Keep this one on in the background just in case.
Dog Day Afternoon
(This is your first real chance to work out your remote muscles, as you might need some crafty flipping skills.)
3:30 p.m. -- West Virginia vs. No. 2 Alabama (in Atlanta), ABC/ESPN2
Dana Holgorsen is on a bunch of hot seats, as last year’s disappointing season was a lot more bad than good. He thinks he has his quarterback in Clint Trickett, who apparently has a death wish because he let it be made known this week that his first kiss was Nick Saban’s daughter. As for the Crimson Tide, they don’t really need any extra motivation. The two losses to end the season last year should have them seeing crimson red (I’m sorry, I’m sorry, I’m sorry). We’re due for a good game in Atlanta, and after Thursday night’s turnover fest between Boise State and Ole Miss, maybe we’ll get our wish.
Gus Malzahn’s offense is a must-watch every week, so this is an easy one. How will the Tigers follow up last year’s magical season that led to a BCS championship loss to Florida State? Has Arkansas made enough improvement to do some damage in the SEC?
Last year’s matchup was one of the best nonconference games of the year, and this one has the potential to be just as good. Clemson and Georgia are both rolling with new starting quarterbacks after Tajh Boyd and Aaron Murray moved on from college, and this one has statement game written all over it. Plus Georgia’s running game vs. Clemson’s stout defensive line should be incredibly fun to watch.
*Second Screen Special*
3:30 p.m. -- Florida Atlantic at No. 22 Nebraska, Big Ten Network
Because FAU should be much improved under Charlie Partridge (who is recruiting his tail off down there) and, honestly you want to be keeping one eye on Bo Pelini at all times.
8:00 p.m. -- No. 1 Florida State vs. Oklahoma State (in Dallas), ABC
Oklahoma State coach Mike Gundy has tried to temper expectations, as the Cowboys are replacing a saloon full of talent from last year’s Cotton Bowl team. And it’s just as likely Oklahoma State would prefer to play Florida A&M instead of the defending national champs to try and ease its way into this season. That being said, watching the Seminoles put up a bunch of points in the Jerry Dome in primetime should be worth your attention.
If Clemson-Georgia isn’t the best game of the day, then this very well could be. Melvin Gordon’s Heisman campaign starts in earnest against a young but fierce LSU team that is loaded at just about every position. And who could turn down Les Miles under the Reliant Stadium lights?
*Second Screen Special*
8:00 p.m. -- North Texas at Texas, Longhorn Network/WatchESPN
If you get this game, go ahead and flip it on to get a look at the beginning of the Charlie Strong era. North Texas did win nine games last year, so it won’t be a cakewalk for the Longhorns.
Late Night Theater
10:30 p.m. -- South Dakota at No. 3 Oregon, Pac-12 Network
If the Ducks score 80 or more points, everybody gets a free Doritos Locos Taco® (this offer is not legally binding in an way shape or form).
*Second Screen Special*
10: 30 p.m. -- No. 25 Washington at Hawaii, CBS Sports Network
No Week 1 Saturday would be complete without Hawaii on our screen, soothing us with the calm motions of a not-so-good football team that plays its heart out.
(PSA: We’re blessed with extra football this weekend, rolling into Labor Day, so buy more delicious snacks in advance.)
Sunday 7:00 p.m. -- Utah State at Tennessee, SEC Network
Chuckie Keeton Chuckie Keeton Chuckie Keeton Chuckie Keeton Chuckie Keeton. Oh and to see if Utah State’s tough defense can make things hard on a super inexperienced Tennessee offensive line.
The Lord’s Day was meant for points (and we get our first look at Baylor’s snazzy new digs).
Monday 8:00 p.m. -- Miami at Louisville, ESPN
Louisville, you’re in the ACC now. I hope you’re ready for what that really means.