As always seems to be the case, summer has flown by. We approach Labor Day weekend with the sound of parents rejoicing in kids going back to school ringing in our ears. While you soak up that last full weekend of summer, the boys of the gridiron return for a new season. Across the country, 130 teams start their journey (some got an early jump last weekend) in hopes of making a College Football Playoff appearance. There are plenty of marquee match-ups to keep an eye on this weekend, and to make it easy for you, we’ve compiled a quick list of the top games with how and when to watch them.
Thursday, August 30th
#21 UCF @ UConn 7:00 p.m.
The Knights are coming off a 13-0 campaign that allowed them to claim a share of the national championship. They have a new head coach and lost some key stars from their defense. QB MacKenzie Milton is part of the preseason Heisman watch, and he’ll get his first chance to dazzle in the national spotlight on Thursday. Where to watch: ESPNU
Saturday, September 1st
#23 Texas @ Maryland 12:00 p.m.
The Longhorns enter Year 2 under coach Tom Herman looking to improve on a 7-6 debut showing. But they had plenty of talent depart, and QB Sam Ehlinger, who was recently named starter, was a bit of a roller-coaster ride in his freshman year. They face a Maryland team in turmoil in the midst of an investigation into head coach D.J. Durkin after the death of offensive lineman Jordan McNair during an offseason workout. A moment of silence will be held prior to the game to honor McNair. Where to watch: FS1
#6 Washington vs. #9 Auburn (Atlanta, GA) 3:30 p.m.
In arguably the biggest game of the weekend, Chris Petersen’s Huskies have a chance to make a statement if they can beat the reigning SEC champions. Gus Malzahn’s crew, meanwhile, will be looking to announce themselves as a title contender once again this season by taking down a top out-of-conference foe. Either way, this should be a highly entertaining contest at Mercedes-Benz Stadium, featuring two top-tier QBs in Washington’s Jake Browning and Auburn’s Jarrett Stidham. Where to Watch: ABC
Tennessee @ #17 West Virginia 3:30 p.m.
The debut of new Vols coach Jeremy Pruitt comes with a difficult task: slowing the Mountaineers’ attack led by Heisman hopeful QB Will Grier and WR David Sills V. If nothing else, this is your chance to familiarize yourself with the Mountaineers’ dynamic duo that gave opposing defenses fits all last season (Sills had 18 TDs) and is likely to do so again this year. Where to Watch: CBS or CBSSports.com
#14 Michigan @ #12 Notre Dame 7:30 p.m.
Jim Harbaugh has a new QB, Shea Patterson, who proved in his time at Ole Miss that he can be extremely dynamic if he’s allowed the room to freelance. That tends to go against Harbaugh’s preference, so watching that struggle between the two will be fascinating. They’re facing a Notre Dame team that could insert itself into the Playoff conversation with another step forward from QB Brandon Wimbush. Where to Watch: NBC
Louisville @ #1 Alabama 8:00 p.m.
The defending national champions take the field, with the biggest question being which QB will have the starting duties. That mystery likely won’t be solved in Game 1 of the season, but regardless, ‘Bama is, once again, built to make a championship run. They’ll face Bobby Petrino’s Cardinals, who are trying to replace Heisman winner Lamar Jackson at QB. Where to Watch: ABC
Sunday, September 2nd
#8 Miami @ #25 LSU 7:30 p.m.
After faltering in the final three games of the season last year, Mark Richt’s squad enters this season hoping to make another trip to the ACC title game and maybe pull off an upset of Clemson. LSU, on the other hand, is breaking in a new QB in Ohio State transfer Joe Burrow, new RB, and new wide receivers. The Tigers defense, however, is loaded with potential young stars and one already big name in LB Devin White. Where to Watch: ABC
Monday, September 3rd
#20 Virginia Tech @ #19 Florida State 8:00 p.m.
The Hokies and Seminoles are both looking to establish themselves as contenders in the ACC, and this game will give us a better idea of the chances for both. Virginia Tech has QB Josh Jackson back at the helm for his sophomore season, while FSU brings back Deondre Francois to work under new coach Willie Taggart. It’s a solid finale to a weekend bonanza of college football. Where to Watch: ESPN