As introduced in Part 1, here's the rest of my weekend viewing guide:
12:00 - Oregon State at Ohio State (ABC/Watch ESPN) - 0.13
12:00 - Kent State at Illinois (Big Ten Network) - 2.07
12:00 - Texas State at Rutgers (Big Ten Network) - 1.76
12:00 - Texas vs. Maryland (Landover) (FS1) - 2.98
12:00 - Coastal Carolina at South Carolina (SEC Network) - 1.11
12:00 - Ole Miss vs. Texas Tech (Houston) (ESPN) - 4.26
12:00 - Florida Atlantic at Oklahoma (FOX) - 4.03
12:00 - Southern at TCU (FOX) - 0.08
12:00 - James Madison at NC State (ESPNU) - 0.56
12:00 - Villanova at Temple (WatchESPN) - 0.79
12:00 - Houston at Rice (CBS Sports) - 2.17
While ABC may try to talk you into the Urban Meyer storyline, I'm not sure Oregon State, debuting under a new coach, is the right team to take advantage of that. Texas/Maryland has some novelty of being at an NFL "neutral" site, and last year's game was surprising, but I think the Longhorns correct things this time around. The choices here are easy, I think. Ole Miss should be both fun and decent this year, and Texas Tech has a coach potentially on the hotseat and in need of a good start. On a neutral field, that game should be fun. And do I even need to sell you on the watchability of a Lane Kiffin team playing a top-5 powerhouse who happens to be replacing its Heisman winner/#1 overall NFL draft pick (and doing so with a top-10 MLB draft pick)?
12:20 - Furman at Clemson (ACC Network) - 0.00
12:30 - Alcorn State at Georgia Tech (ACC Network) - 0.11
1:00 - Massachusetts at Boston College (ACC Network/WatchESPN) - 2.44
2:00 - Stony Brook at Air Force (CBS Sports) - 1.09
2:00 - Howard at Ohio (ESPN+) - 0.08
3:30 - Albany at Pittsburgh (ACC Network/WatchESPN) - 0.27
3:30 - Appalachian State at Penn State (Big Ten Network) - 1.92
3:30 - Marshall at Miami-OH (ESPN+) - 6.81
3:30 - Austin Peay at Georgia (ESPN) - 0.00
3:30 - Central Michigan at Kentucky (ESPNU) - 1.78
3:30 - Auburn vs. Washington (Atlanta) (ABC) - 8.92
3:30 - Tennessee vs. West Virginia (Charlotte) (CBS) - 3.92
3:30 - Northern Illinois at Iowa (Big Ten Network) - 3.90
3:30 - Washington State at Wyoming (CBS Sports) - 5.90
You'll see title contenders Clemson and Georgia, but the only intrigue surrounding either is simply whether everyone can stay healthy or not. If either game is close, these aren't the teams we thought they were. Take a second to get a look at true freshmen QBs Trevor Lawrence and Justin Fields, who will probably get some action, but that's it. The game in Charlotte has some sneaky appeal. You have a big-name program breaking in a first time head coach who has drawn some criticism from former players before his first game. On the other side, you have Will Grier, one of the country's best quarterbacks. If you chose that game, I couldn't blame you. Then there's Wazzou's weird road trip of the year (they've played at Boise and Nevada in recent years) against a well coached 1-0 Wyoming. Mike Leach games are always watchable, even if 2018 looks like it could be a tough one in Pullman.
But the picks here are half obvious, half out of nowhere. The Chick-Fil-A kickoff game is the only of the weekend that features two national title contenders, and it's expected to be a competitive game. The last time Chris Peterson was in Atlanta in September, his Boise State Broncos surprised Georgia with a relatively easy victory in 2011. Auburn is also a team that typically finishes stronger than it starts: against P5 teams in its first 4 games of the year, Auburn is 7-6 under Malzahn. While the War Eagles are often a terror by October, they sometimes struggle to find their footing in September, for whatever reason.
But seriously, what is Marshall/Miami doing on here? The Thundering Herd have an outside shot at 10 wins, but to get there they'll almost certainly need this one, the closest projected game on their schedule. The Redhawks, on the other hand, are merely settling in for a season full of potential nail-biters. As Bill pointed out in their preview, such games have been excruciating for Miami in recent years. This game means a lot to a pair of bowl contenders, and it should be close.
4:00 - North Carolina at California (FOX) - 5.82
4:00 - UNLV at USC (Pac 12 Network) - 1.12
4:00 - UT-Martin at Missouri (SEC Network) - 0.21
4:00 - Eastern Illinois at Arkansas (SEC Network/WatchESPN) - 0.11
6:00 - Old Dominion at Liberty (ESPN Radio) - 4.64
6:00 - Fordham at Charlotte (ESPN+) - 0.23
6:00 - North Carolina A&T at East Carolina (ESPN3) - 1.05
6:00 - Elon at South Florida (ESPN3) - 0.63
6:00 - Richmond at Virginia (ACC Network/WatchESPN) - 0.56
6:00 - Delaware State at Buffalo (ESPN3) - 0.06
6:00 - Boise State at Troy (WatchESPN) - 5.20
6:00 - South Carolina State at Georgia Southern (ESPN+) - 2.13
7:00 - Grambling at Louisiana (ESPN3) - 1.35
7:00 - VMI at Toledo (ESPN3) - 0.00
7:00 - Southeast Missouri State at Arkansas State (ESPN+) - 0.25
7:00 - Mercer at Memphis (ESPN3) - 0.51
7:00 - Central Arkansas at Tulsa (ESPN3) - 1.32
7:00 - Louisiana Tech at South Alabama (ESPN+) - 4.24
7:00 - Jackson State at Southern Miss (ESPN+) - 0.06
7:00 - Cincinnati at UCLA (ESPN) - 2.79
7:00 - Indiana at Florida International (CBS Sports) - 2.30
7:00 - Nicholls at Kansas (ESPN3) - 0.62
7:00 - South Dakota at Kansas State (ESPN3) - 0.75
As the 3:30 games wrap up, have a glance at UNC/Cal, two generally decent programs hoping for greener pastures in 2018. Boise State at Troy is a lovely little G5 matchup as well. You'll have some other minorly interesting storylines, like Chad Morris' debut at Arkansas, an in-state welcome-to-the-FBS game for Liberty, another decent G5 game with LaTech and USA, and Chip Kelly's debut at UCLA.
7:30 - Michigan at Notre Dame (NBC) - 6.72
7:30 - Charleston Southern at Florida (SEC Network/WatchESPN) - 0.21
7:30 - Stephen F. Austin at Mississippi State (ESPNU/WatchESPN) - 0.00
7:30 - Middle Tennessee State at Vanderbilt (SEC Network/WatchESPN) - 4.54
7:30 - SMU at North Texas (local radio KTCK) - 6.58
7:30 - Northern Arizona at UTEP (ESPN3) - 1.29
It's a shame SMU/North Texas won't be on national television. The Safeway Bowl features two likely bowl contenders from the Metroplex, one of which is replacing one of the better playcallers in the country in Chad Morris. In this same timeslot we get the Dan Mullen games, as Florida returns to life with him and Mississippi State adjusts to life without him, although neither game's intrigue really extends beyond seeing the new coaches pacing the sideline. Middle Tennessee could make Vandy's bowl hopes a little tougher, and there's at least some geographic interest there.
But the main game here is Michigan/Notre Dame. College football's two winningest teams, both with major aspirations this fall. Michigan may be, due to its schedule, more of a fringe national contender, but these are two of football's biggest programs of the moment. That makes this some must-watch football.
8:00 - Incarnate Word at New Mexico (ESPN 3) - 0.09
8:00 - Akron at Nebraska (FOX) - 1.52
8:00 - Abilene Christian at Baylor (local radio 98.1 FM) - 0.00
8:00 - South Dakota State at Iowa State - 0.63
8:00 - Bowling Green at Oregon (Pac 12 Network) - 1.67
8:00 - Alabama vs. Louisville (Orlando) (ABC) - 2.61
10:00 - Idaho at Fresno State (ESPN Radio) - 0.49
10:30 - UTSA at Arizona State (FS1) - 2.27
10:45 - BYU at Arizona (ESPN/WatchESPN) - 3.36
11:00 - Navy at Hawaii (CBS Sports) - 3.59
After the 7:30 games end, you could catch the end of Scott Frost's debut, have a glance at what Mario Cristobal's Oregon Ducks look like, or watch Bobby Petrino replace a former Heisman winner against defending national champion Alabama. Maybe watch the last few minutes of that latter game, just to see what happened with the Bama QB situation. Then take a moment to see what the hell a Herm Edwards Arizona State looks like before settling in for some late night fun. BYU is no stranger to September wildness, but the real appeal of this game is seeing what Khalil Tate, perhaps the country's most exciting player, will look like in Kevin Sumlin's offense. End your Saturday with Hawaii, fresh off an encouraging upset of Colorado State, seeing how they fare against the machine-like efficiency of the Navy offense. After several weeks of watching NFL preseason, I need some triple option football on my TV, and so do you.
7:30 - LSU vs. Miami (Arlington) (ABC/WatchESPN) - 6.84
These two are probably only title contenders if something goes awry for another program, but they're both interesting and always watchable. Inside JerryWorld, that's even more the case.
8:00 - Virginia Tech at Florida State (ESPN) - 6.34
Willie Taggart's FSU debut is reason alone to watch, as he's bringing excitement and swagger back to Tallahassee. But it's also key for the Hokies. No division seems as perennially wide-open as the ACC Coastal. Miami certainly has the edge, but in a division that has historically been surprisingly competitive, every conference win counts.