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Games to Watch: Week 1

A Guide to Week 1’s games and juicy narratives.

ESPN College GameDay Built by The Home Depot - Times Square Photo by Mike Stobe/Getty Images

While some will tell you that Summer technically ends on Sept. 21, let’s be real: Labor Day weekend is the unofficial end of Summer. The holiday weekend is the last bastion of the most hopeful and carefree of the four seasons. After Labor Day Weekend, it’s time to shift away from the carefree mindset of Summer and into the more industrious mindset of the Fall Season.

Labor Day Weekend also serves as the bridge into the Fall’s most cherished gift: the College Football season. Over the last 15 years, College Football’s opening weekend has turned into a spectacle that’s now capable of being branded on its own terms. This year, the opening weekend schedule is jam packed from Thursday Night through Monday Night. Luckily, The Champaign Room has your go-to viewing guide:


Purdue v Rutgers Photo by Rich Schultz/Getty Images

Purdue at Northwestern- ESPN 8pm est/7pm cst-

The stakes are pretty big for this opening weekend clash between Big Ten West rivals. What will Purdue look like in year two under Jeff Brohm? Is Northwestern ready to take the next step and compete for the Big Ten West? With a difficult conference slate looming for both teams, a 1-0 start in conference play is crucial.


Western Kentucky at Wisconsin- ESPN 9pm est/8pm cst -

Everyone knows what Wisconsin brings to the table. So, tune in to confirm your worst fears about how good the Badgers will be in 2018.

Stanford v San Diego State Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images

San Diego St. at Stanford - FS1 9pm est/ 8 pm cst-

San Diego St. has won three in a row against Pac 12 competition (Cal 2016, Arizona State 2017, Stanford 2017) and will eagerly be looking to make it four in a row when they enter Palo Alto for a Friday Night white knuckle brawl. Stanford, on the other hand, wants to avenge last season’s loss to the Aztecs and show they are ready to compete with Washington for the top spot in the Pac-12 North.

Colorado vs Colorado State (Denver)- CBSSN 9:30pm est/8:30pm cst-

This is a classic “liberal arts snobs” (CU) vs. “the Ag school with a chip on its shoulder” (CSU) rivalry. Naturally, CSU hates CU with a passion but the Rams come into this one reeling after giving up 600 yards of offense to Hawaii in Week Zero. Still, the biggest improvement comes from game 1 to game to 2 so expect the Rams to put their best face forward against CU.

Meanwhile, the Buffs dipped back into mediocrity in 2017 and are now trying to prove that their rise in 2016 was real. This one is always fun and intense. Tune in. Stay up late.


Early Games

Illinois v USC Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images

Kent State at Illinois- BTN 12pm est/11am cst-

The Illini have not won a football game in over 350 days. Tune in and enjoy.

Texas vs. Maryland (Washington D.C.) - FS1 12pm est/11am cst -

The Terps shocked Texas in Austin last year on opening day. How will Maryland respond to an off-season filled with turmoil and tragedy? Will Texas undergo a significant enough second year bump under Tom Herman to re-enter the nation’s elite? We will have some answers early on Saturday.

Afternoon Games

PlayStation Fiesta Bowl - Penn State v Washington Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images

Washington vs. Auburn (Atlanta)- ABC 3:30pm est/2:30 cst -

Everyone in PAC-12 land will be watching this one closely to see if Washington can go into the heart of SEC Country and give their conference a much needed win over a good (maybe excellent) SEC team in Auburn. On the other side, after looking like the best team in the country heading into last December’s conference championship weekend, Auburn finished last season with a whimper losing their last two games, both in Atlanta’s Mercedes Benz Stadium.

Now, Auburn returns back to Atlanta for the season opener in front of what is expected to be a pro-Auburn crowd at Mercedes Benz Stadium. One team will be national title contender after this one. Tune in to find out whether Auburn or Washington will become Week 1’s media darling.

Boise St. at Troy- ESPN NEWS 6pm est/5pm cst -

While all those “Basic” College Football fans are watching Washington-Auburn (or suffering through West Virginia-Tennessee), College Football Hipsters will be tuned into Boise St. at Troy. Fulfill those inner desires to rebel against mass conformity by watching the showdown between defending Sun Belt Champ Troy and defending Mountain West Champ Boise State.

Night Games

NCAA Football: Michigan at Maryland Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports

Michigan at Notre Dame - 7:30pm est/6:30pm est -

These two teams could compete for a national title. But, college football is a cruel sociopath for pinning these two fragile fanbases against each other on opening weekend. The loser of this one will enter a week long (maybe longer) collective existential crisis that will make them feel like they entered an episode of Black Mirror. Naturally, hot take artist like Paul Finebaum and Clay Travis will be circling Notre Dame Stadium like vultures Saturday Night looking to pounce on the fragile psyche of the losing fanbase.

Will Notre Dame fans continue questioning their long term path under Brian Kelly or will Michigan fans have to endure a week of heckling and out-of-context tweets comparing Jim Harbaugh’s record to Brady Hoke’s through the first 40 games of their respective tenures?

BYU at Arizona - 10:45pm EST/9:45 CST -

This is all you need to know: Khalil Tate on PAC 12 After Dark.


NCAA Football: Citrus Bowl-Notre Dame vs Louisiana State Reinhold Matay-USA TODAY Sports

Miami vs. LSU (Dallas) - 7:30pm est/6:30 pm cst-

A Miami win accelerates the inevitable firing of Ed Orgeron. An LSU win delays the inevitable firing of Ed Orgeron. Inevitability aside, tune in. This one should be fun.


NCAA Football: Florida State Spring Game Melina Myers-USA TODAY Sports

Virginia Tech at Florida State - ESPN 8pm est/7pm cst -

The ACC has cornered the market on Labor Day Night College Football. This year, America gets a rebuilding but dangerous Virginia Tech heading to Tallahassee to take on FSU in the first game of the Willie Taggart era. Taggart has promised “lethal simplicity” as the norm going forward in Tallahassee. How far is he from installing an offense that’s simple enough to be executed effortlessly yet lethal enough to keep defensive coordinators up at night? This game will tell us.

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