The first weekend of college football is not historically loaded with must-see matchups.
This year, however, there are a handful of games that will be worth setting aside time to watch.
And this is a good thing.
Sometimes a college football fan wants to see what their favorite team has to offer after an offseason of turnover. Said fan looks forward to blocking out part of the weekend to see a highly touted true freshman, a conference foe’s handling of a lesser team, or just meaningful regular season football in general.
Gone are the days of one “Kickoff Classic” at a neutral field and in are the days of a Thursday-through-Monday weekend slate of games. An added bonus is that none of the games below have kickoffs that conflict with each other.
Here are five games that could end up being must-see college football on opening weekend:
1. #8 Michigan v. #2 Alabama
- Dallas Cowboys Stadium
- Saturday, Sept. 1st
- 8pm EST
This is similar to the LSU versus Oregon opening in Dallas last year.
In that game, Oregon was stymied by penalties and turned the ball over too many times to come close to winning. But we realized LSU was for real, and it was a really exciting atmosphere. A lot of that may have had to do with LSU fans taking over the stadium, but it had a big-time bowl game feel between two great programs.
This year might be different because Michigan fans travel well, and there is a lot of excitement about the Wolverines being in the preseason top 10 for the first time since 2007.
Just like LSU in 2011, Alabama looks to keep their BCS championship momentum going with a victory in the best opening weekend tilt in 2012. Enough said.
2. #24 Boise State at #13 Michigan State
- Friday, August 31st
- 8pm EST
The Broncos and the Spartans have a lot in common heading into 2012 after coming off stellar 2011 seasons.
The good news for both teams is that they have great coaches, both of whom have a knack for the dramatic, which is great news for a viewer.
The bad news might be both squads having to break in new quarterbacks on offense after graduating two studs to the NFL. But that’s just a maybe because Spartans coach Mark Dantonio and Broncos coach Chris Petersen seem to find ways to reload their systems and compete.
Even though the game is in East Lansing, Petersen has coached early season victories over Georgia, Virginia Tech, and Oregon (twice) since 2008. Only one of those wins came at home. I see no reason why one would not want to catch the end of this game (at least), after any early evening Friday plans.
3. Notre Dame v. Navy
- Dublin, Ireland
- Saturday Sept. 1st
- 9am EST
I have to see this. It is definitely the most unique college football situation that I have encountered in my lifetime.
I have noticed the fanaticism of overseas soccer (futbol) fans, and they have many similarities to college football fanatics. Even being in the homeland of the Fighting Irish mascot, there will be a lot of fans on both sides traveling for this once in a once-in-a-lifetime game in Ireland.
It is on at 9AM Eastern Standard Time in the States, which is also unique. This is a good excuse (if you need one) for an Irish Coffee during breakfast while channel changing from a boring “feel good” piece on College Gameday.
And if you catch Brian Kelly’s face turning red in anger live on TV you may not get a better belly laugh throughout the weekend.
4. Georgia Tech at #16 Virginia Tech
- Monday Sept. 3rd
- 8pm EST
This is college football, but it is the opening Monday night football game of 2012.
You were planning on tuning in to NFL Monday Night Football for the rest of 2012 anyway, so why not start now?
The Yellow Jackets and the Hokies will not feel like an NFL game, but their focus on the option, defense, and special teams will get any college football fan excited.
Another good aspect of this game is the choice of ACC teams. Thankfully, it is doubtful that we will have to lose focus from real football on a team depleted from suspensions (Miami) or a hideous uniform choice like Maryland’s awful digs in 2011.
Another added plus is that this is the first game (on this list) that has conference implications. The victor of this game could hold the tiebreaker advantage for the ACC Coastal division at the end of the year. It is never too early in the season to keep conference implications in mind.
5. Washington State at BYU
- Thursday August 30th
- 10:15pm EST
At number five, it was either this game or South Carolina at Vanderbilt. Both are on the first Thursday of the 2012 season, so it is a coin flip.
I chose this game because of the Mike Leach factor.
He will make this really exciting to watch, and Brigham Young is fun to watch sometimes as well. Most people would rather watch an SEC conference game, but I like WSU at BYU better. It might be similar to one of those odd Bowl games you end up watching on December 27th that turns out to be highly entertaining.
I wouldn’t lose sleep if I couldn’t watch all 60 minutes of on-field action. But if you ignore it, you might hear a bunch of people talking about it the next day at work or on the radio.
Which game are you looking forward to most?