Navigating The First Week Of College Football

Get ready, college football’s back

Some would say this is their favorite time of year. The holidays are right around the corner, the leaves are starting to change in color, and there’s a crisp feel in the air as the weather turns cooler. Of course, there’s also the simple fact that college football is back.

If you’re like me then you’ve been saving your pizza reward points and stocking up on beer for exactly this moment. So order your pizza or wings and grab a cold beer because college football is rolling out five days worth of couch-potato games.

UCF quarterback McKenzie Milton (10) dives for a touchdown as tight end Michael Colubiale (86) blocks and SMU defensive back Cedric Lancaster (3) and safety Mikial Onu (4) defend during the first half of an NCAA college football game, Saturday, Nov. 4, 2017, in Dallas, Texas. Photo: AP Photo/Mike Stone.

No. 21 UCF at UConn on Thursday, Aug. 30th (7 p.m., ESPNU)

Normally rivals are matched up towards the end of the season, but this year we’re getting an early one. Of course I’m not talking about the in-state rival between UCF and USF, but instead, the Civil ConFLICT rival created by former UConn head coach Bob Diaco in 2014. Regardless, all eyes are on the UCF Knights, who are coming off of an undefeated, “National Championship” year.

The Knights have high expectations for new head coach Josh Heupel and a team that returns a lot of starting talent. Should the ACC have another strong year, quarterback McKenzie Milton, who received three preseason Heisman votes, and the Knights have a chance to compete for a Playoff spot with their schedule and remain the top team in the state.

Stanford running back Bryce Love (20) is pursued by TCU cornerback Jeff Gladney (12) as he runs for a touchdown during the second half of the Alamo Bowl NCAA college football game Thursday, Dec. 28, 2017, in San Antonio. (AP Photo/Eric Gay)

San Diego State at No. 13 Stanford on Friday, Aug. 31st (9 p.m., FS1)

Preseason Heisman favorite Bryce Love takes the field Friday night to kick off No. 13 Stanford’s season against the Aztecs. Two dominant running teams will hopefully keep this late night game entertaining. Combined San Diego State and Stanford had 75 runs of 20 yards or more last year and ranked fourth and fifth in yards per rush.

Washington’s quarterback Jake Browning drops back to pass during the NCAA college football team’s practice Friday, Aug. 3, 2018, in Seattle. (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson)

No. 6 Washington vs. No. 9 Auburn on Saturday, Sept. 1st (3:30 p.m., ABC)

In what will probably be the best game of the weekend, Washington travels across the country to take on Auburn in Atlanta. Huskies quarterback Jake Browning will be put to the test in game one going up against Auburn’s All-American defense. In fact, there might not be a more equal quarterback matchup than this. Auburn’s Jarrett Stidham is the second returning quarterback head coach Gus Malzahn has ever had and they are confident he will be able to make big plays against a tough Huskies defense.

This game could ultimately decide who is in and who is out later in the year.

Florida Atlantic head coach Lane Kiffin leads his team on the field before an NCAA college football game against Wisconsin Saturday, Sept. 9, 2017, in Madison, Wis. Photo: AP Photo/Morry Gash.

Florida Atlantic at No. 7 Oklahoma on Saturday, Sept. 1st (Noon, Fox)

Lane Kiffin survived his first year and is back for more, except this year the Florida Atlantic Owls have the chance to prove themselves. Kiffin’s offensive mind is going to be put to work early in the season going up against Lincoln Riley.

The Sooners named redshirt junior Kyler Murray starting quarterback after losing Baker Mayfield last year. Murray is likely playing his last year of football before pursuing a pro baseball career. He was drafted by the Oakland Athletics in June. Don’t miss what will be a powerful offensive game.

Alabama quarterback Jalen Hurts (2) and quarterback Tua Tagovailoa (13) runs drills during a NCAA college football practice, Saturday, Aug. 4, 2018, in Tuscaloosa, Ala. (AP Photo/Butch Dill)

Louisville vs. No. 1 Alabama on Saturday, Sept. 1st (8 p.m., ABC)

How could you not be excited to see the Roll Tide take the field after ending the season in such fashion last year? Not only are we still waiting to see who will win the quarterback battle for Bama, but now we are wondering who they will throw to with Calvin Ridley gone. Alabama is going up against a Cardinals team who has a talented group of receivers featuring Dez Fitzpatrick.

San Francisco 49ers head coach Chip Kelly after an NFL football game against the Seattle Seahawks in Santa Clara, Calif., Sunday, Jan. 1, 2017. Photo: AP Photo/Tony Avelar.

Cincinnati at UCLA on Saturday, Sept. 2nd (7:00 p.m., ESPN)

Sure this might not seem like an exciting game, but Chip Kelly returns to college football after four years in the NFL so that in itself is reason enough to watch this opener. The last time Kelly was a coach in the NCAA he led the Oregon Ducks to a 12-1 season and Fiesta Bowl win. We might not see those same results this year at UCLA but don’t be surprised if they’re in playoff talk in the next couple of years.

Miami head coach Mark Richt speaks to the media during the Atlantic Coast Conference NCAA college football media day in Charlotte, N.C., Friday, July 14, 2017. Photo: AP Photo/Chuck Burton.

No. 8 Miami vs. No. 25 LSU on Sunday, Sept. 2nd (7:30 p.m., ESPN)

Mark Richt is back to redeem himself after ending last year on a three-game losing streak. Over in the bayou, Ed Orgeron is also looking to get things rolling for the LSU Tigers. The Canes have their best preseason ranking since 2004 and will look to be a strong part of the ACC. This game will mostly showcase two powerful defenses.

Alabama defensive back Ronnie Harrison (15) hits Florida State quarterback Deondre Francois (12) during the second half of an NCAA football game, Saturday, Sept. 2, 2017, in Atlanta. Alabama won 24-7. Photo: AP Photo/John Bazemore.

No. 20 Virginia Tech at No. 19 Florida State on Monday, Sept. 3rd (8 p.m., ESPN)

This conference matchup has fans sitting on the edge of their seat waiting for Monday to roll around (I know, you don’t hear that often). Florida State opens their season at home with what could be a fight to play for the ACC title. Like Alabama, the quarterback situation for FSU is still uncertain. Is Deondre Francois healthy and ready to lead the Noles again? Or will James Blackman keep the reins? Even Virginia Tech is battling offseason injuries. Heat up the leftover pizza and wings, but grab a fresh beer because this game is one you won’t want to just hear about the next day.

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Allison Leslie is a University of South Florida graduate with a bachelors degree in Mass Communications. She joined Genesis in 2016. With a passion for sports, Allison has interned with 620 WDAE, Pewter Report, Trifecta Team: St. Petersburg Bowl, Bullscast, and many other publications. Being a native to the Bay Area, she has followed and supported Tampa Bay teams her whole life.