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I'm so excited about college football being back, I'll watch South Carolina-Vanderbilt!!

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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 /
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

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