Alabama beat Clemson, and 234 days later, here we are. College football season begins.
It kind of already began, with a semi-meaningless game in Australia and a good game in North Dakota, but Thursday night’s schedule (included in full below) has 16 games involving FBS teams, at least a couple pretty good matchups, and even the SEC opener! Don’t ask which SEC teams are in that game. You’ll find out soon enough.
OK, fine, the game that will kick off the season for most people, since it’s on ESPN at 8 p.m. ET, is South Carolina at Vanderbilt. The decent games are either streaming only or on lesser networks.
This is going to be wretched viewing. Bill Connelly’s S&P+ projects both of these teams to go about 5-7 and 2-6 in conference, but it’s not just that. Last year, the Gamecocks ranked No. 99 in yards gained per game, and that was with Steve Spurrier instead of Will Muschamp; Vandy ranked No. 117. Our SC and Vandy blogs discuss, among other things, whether the game will be riveting; the answer is no.
The offense might be even uglier than those numbers suggest, since one team should be excellent at defense, and the other should be much improved. Which is which? If you’re just tuning in, I won’t spoil that surprise for you. Now you have something to watch for!
This also marks the whateverteenth year in a row that a South Carolina game has been a marquee part of opening night.
Who could forget the Gamecocks falling bottom-first into a win over UNC during 2015’s debut, which ended up looking important later in the season? Or 2014, when Texas A&M’s Kenny Hill won the September Heisman by tearing apart the No. 9 Gamecocks (he’s at TCU now)? Or 2013, when Jesse Palmer convinced us all that Jadeveon Clowney was actually bad and lazy because the cameras showed the defensive end, like, breathing and stuff?
Our sport has bizarre traditions, and few are odder than the whole thing repeatedly kicking off in Columbia. But we’re on a three-year streak of that SC opener at least being memorable, so let’s keep it running.
(Somewhere in there, we'll get to overreact wildly to whatever Tennessee does against App State, boggle at whatever #ChaosTeams Indiana pulls off, and gawk at Western Kentucky having 42 points in the second quarter. Everything is good.)
|Game||Time||TV / Online streaming|
|Charlotte at No. 19 Louisville||7 p.m. ET||RSN / ACCNExtra|
|Maine at UConn||7 p.m. ET||ASN / WatchESPN|
|Presbyterian at Central Michigan||7 p.m. ET||WatchESPN|
|Tulane at Wake Forest||7 p.m. ET||ACCNExtra|
|UT Martin at Cincinnati||7 p.m. ET||WatchESPN|
|Appalachian State at No. 9 Tennessee||7:30 p.m. ET||SECN / WatchESPN|
|Indiana at FIU||7:30 p.m. ET||ESPNU / WatchESPN|
|William & Mary at NC State||7:30 p.m. ET||ACCNExtra|
|Jackson State at UNLV||8 p.m. ET||MWN|
|Rice at WKU||8 p.m. ET||CBSSN|
|South Carolina at Vanderbilt||8 p.m. ET||ESPN / WatchESPN|
|Southern Utah at Utah||8 p.m. ET||Pac-12N / Pac-12.com|
|Montana State at Idaho||9 p.m. ET||ITVSN / WatchESPN|
|Oregon State at Minnesota||9 p.m. ET||BTN / BTN2Go|
|South Dakota at New Mexico||9 p.m. ET||ROOT Sports|
|Weber State at Utah State||10 p.m. ET||MWN|
We’re doing a new weekly picks pool game thing, betting confidence points on the biggest games. Play along in the comments! We’re still in the process of figuring out what’s at stake for you and for us, because Bud came up with this idea about 36 hours ago, to be honest.
The Big 12 is reportedly down to about seven expansion candidates. Here are all 13 of those seven.
Podcasts! The Recruiting Podcast talks what it takes to build a national champion, and Shutdown Fullcast previews portions of Week 1 while mostly talking about which animals Spencer looks like and how bad of a college student I was.
Red Cup Rebellion does its annual Ole Miss schedule predictions markup, and therefore it must be football season.
This video of Mike Weber’s parents finding out he’s Ohio State’s starting RB is pretty good.
To gaze upon these team helmets, Photoshopped into archrival colors, is to know true terror.
NCAA, be cool. Let LSU and Wisconsin do the Lambeau Leap without being penalized. They’re adolescents.
Spurrier was on Fox News. They changed his nickname to something from a Trina song.