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College Football Thursday Shift
The official first week of the college football season kicks off with UCLA at Cincinnati on ESPN at 6:00. Unlike recent years, there isn’t a G5 or FCS game that sneaks through the cracks and beats the marquee game to a (nationally televised) kick.
The Bearcats are coming off an 11-2 year and don’t project to get any worse. In fact, before it fell off the face of the Earth completely, a specific ratings and projections system said they are favored by 6 against the Bruins. So if it happens, don’t pop on to Twitter and call it an upset.
What WOULD be an upset is if Georgia Tech walks into Memorial Stadium and rings in the football debut of the ACC Network (call your provider) with a win over the reigning national champions.
Speaking of upsets, Minnesota plays South Dakota State. Don’t do that! Especially in week one! Why!
MEANWHILE: YOUR Southeastern Louisiana Lions out of Hammond, America take on FCS titans Jacksonville State on ESPN+. Watch this game with your absolute undivided attention.
Beehive Boot Shift
The late Thursday game is the first leg of the three-way Beehive Boot Derby, featuring PAC-12 South favorite Utah and Still Independent For Some Reason BYU. Come because you’re drinking from the hose, stay because you forgot how much hate and aggression Mormons can harbor when football is involved.
The Friday evening shift is highlighted by Wisconsin at USF. You may think USF may have a puncher’s chance, but that probably isn’t very likely to actually happen. But on the other hand, Tulsa probably won’t put forth a decent bid against Michigan State.
BUT! An hour later Utah State and Wake Forest get into it, and that has high heater potential between the #CLAWFENSE and electric Aggie quarterback Jordan Love.
ALSO: Rice-Army. This has 24-7 Army written all over it! You probably won’t miss much here but hey, drinking from the hose.
Mile High Shift
Colorado State had three years of a plateau at 7-6 under Mike Bobo before falling hard last year when he missed time due to medical issues. That’s fine and understandable, but you have to feel like 7-6 sits a little better in Fort Collins if Colorado is one of those seven. But the Buffaloes have won the past four meetings in Denver. Unfortunately, the aforementioned metric system has the black and gold by two possessions.
Thirty minutes later, Oklahoma State travels to Oregon State on FS1, so if you compare the two games two possessions won’t seem so bad!
BUT! Rondale Moore and Jeff Brohm’s Purdue play Nevada in Reno on CBSSN. Watch that! Not because it will be a close or good game (well, maybe...but probably not) but because Rondale Moore is good and heads up an NCAA 14-ass offense. Fun for the whole family.
Welcome To College Football Saturday Shift
In case you forgot, the best football each Saturday tends to be held away from the noon shift, as is supported by Ole Miss at Memphis being the best game of the first full nooner of the year. Not to demean that game too much, the Tigers are favored by a touchdown against the Rebels in the Liberty Bowl and would be a pretty hard loss for Matt Luke to recover from.
On FS1, Iowa State and Matt Campbell draw UNI! UNI is a really good FCS team, so this one may be closer than the experts think (but probably not).
Uhm. ELSEWHERE: ULL and Mississippi State (in the Superdome), ECU-NC State, and South Alabama at Nebraska. Happy Scott Frost Day!
40 Acres Reunion Shift
Mack Brown’s first game back at North Carolina will be against his old defensive coordinator Will Muschamp in Charlotte. Won’t that be fun and definitely not a referendum on either coach at their respective school!
I’m not exactly sure why Alabama is playing Duke in a neutral site and it’s on ABC, but it’s definitely happening regardless.
Thirty minutest later, the ACC Network airs their second football game, and this one might be a little closer than the first one. Justin Fuente’s tenure at VT has been rather unsuccessful, but so has Steve Addazio at Boston College. Both are offensive coaches who haven’t really brought the offense to their new gigs, so this can very well be the closest thing we get to a Week One Anxiety Bowl.
In the much-anticipated return leg of the infamous Body Clock game in 2015, Northwestern makes the long trip west to The Farm to play Stanford on FOX major. As evidenced in 15, these two teams meeting early in the season can become wildly unpredictable, especially considering that neither team is known for overall offensive prowess.
Noted FBS killers Eastern Washington leave the BLOOD FIELD to play big Washington, a team that might be a little bit outside of their upset range.
Outside of LSU’s season opener against Georgia Southern, there are two big time big boy games on Saturday evening that are unfortunately in NFL stadia: Auburn-Oregon in Jerruh Worl and Boise State at Florida State in Jacksonville (EDIT: Hurricane Dorian might change this one). God, why?
Auburn-Oregon is obviously a rematch of the 2010 National Championship game, where Micheal Dyer was down. Auburn is favored by a little more than a field goal, but I can’t help but feel like the biggest difference in the game is going to be that Oregon has complete and utter confidence in their quarterback, and Auburn really doesn’t. Also, Oregon has a Justin Herbert and Auburn does not. Oregon doesn’t have the world’s greatest defense and Bo Nix might end up being really good, but I’m almost never going to go with a freshman making their first start in a game like this.
Florida State is favored by less than a touchdown against Boise State. I’m not buying that in the least. If FSU wins, it will probably come off a field goal, either one made or missed. The Noles are looking to improve from last year, but at the same time I don’t think they’re ready to come out the gate and match the Broncos.
My skepticism aside, both games look to be very close and very good.
Outside of that, Virginia and Pitt square off on the ACC Network and Mizzouri travels to Wyoming. The first game might be close but not really interesting until the end, but the Mizz-Wyo game lowkey could be a banger, especially with all the unknowns in week one. Keep a close eye on that one.
Fired USC Coaches For 400, Alex Shift
If you’re reading this then you’re probably into the thing where the national media is doing some hand wringing about Clay Helton’s seat and the varying readouts it gives on the thermometer. And for good reason, Jeff Tedford’s Bulldogs were scary last year, finishing 12-2. Do not shrug this game off because of brand recognition, I implore you.
Remember how I said Eastern Washington was running outside their upset range? It seems Washington State learned their lesson and are opening with New Mexico State, a team less likely for an upset.
HBCU Appreciation Shift
One of the cooler things about week one is that it falls on Labor Day weekend and a week before shieldball kicks off. This allows for games on Sunday and Monday in primetime (we’ll get to this later). But the HBCUs have really taken over the Sunday day shifts and put some inter-conference matchups to highlight that side of the sport, a side we often don’t get to see.
Bethune Cookman, a regular in these games, represents the MEAC while Jackson State represents the SWAC in Atlanta. Meanwhile in Canton, Ohio, Morehouse out of the SIAC plays Alabama A&M on the NFL Network.
Jalen Don’t Hurt Em Shift
Ex-Alabama signal caller Jalen Hurts takes over at Oklahoma with a revenge match against Houston. Nevermind that Hurts was at Alabama when the Coogs beat OU in NRG in 2016.
Labor Day Shift
Notre Dame and Louisville. Don’t feel overly compelled to watch this, you won’t miss much.