Lamest time window: Friday. There are games Thursday-Monday, so if you need to pace yourselves, take Friday night off. Enjoy the rest.
Boise State at UCF (7 p.m.) is a juicy Group of Five matchup. Keep an eye on USF at North Carolina State (7:30) to open Jeff Scott’s second year and what No. 4 Ohio State looks like at tricky Minnesota (8).
6: No. 10 North Carolina at Virginia Tech will help us see whether the Tar Heels are legitimate playoff contenders and how hot Justin Fuente’s seat is about to get for the Hokies.
Noon: No. 19 Penn State will try to show No. 12 Wisconsin last year’s 4-5 season was an anomaly.
3:30: No. 1 Alabama can improve to 16-1 in Atlanta under Nick Saban with a win over D’Eriq King and No. 14 Miami.
4:30: Don’t call it an upset if No. 23 Louisiana Lafayette spoils Steve Sarkisian’s debut at No. 21 Texas. The Ragin’ Cajuns knocked off a ranked Iowa State team by 17 in last year’s opener.
7:30: No. 3 Clemson against No. 5 Georgia in Charlotte should be the best game of the regular season.
8:30: Will Chip Kelly’s Bruins be able to build off last week’s blowout win over Hawaii by toppling No. 16 LSU?
7:30: No. 9 Notre Dame is a great measuring stick to start Florida State coach Mike Norvell’s second season.
8: Louisville-Mississippi doesn’t have marquee name recognition, but this is a fun matchup destined for weirdness, like anything Lane Kiffin touches.
New QBs to know
A quick look at the up-and-comers who will replace some of last year’s top passers:
Out: Trevor Lawrence, the Jaguars’ No. 1 overall pick who led the Tigers to the 2018 national title.
In: D.J. Uiagalelei. The California native was the No. 10 overall recruit in 2020 and was 59-of-85 for 781 yards, four touchdowns and no interceptions in two starts last year.
Out: Mac Jones, who led the Tide to last season’s national title and is now the Patriots’ starter.
In: Bryce Young. The No. 2 overall recruit in 2020 was California’s Gatorade high school player of the year. He threw 22 passes (13 completions, one touchdown) last fall.
Out: Ian Book, the winningest quarterback in program history.
In: Jack Coan. The grad transfer went 12-6 as Wisconsin’s starter and ranks third in Badgers history in completion percentage and passing efficiency.
Out: Justin Fields, who led the Buckeyes to a pair of Big Ten titles before being drafted 11th overall by Chicago.
In: C.J. Stroud. The California native was a top-50 national recruit in 2020, and his lone college statistic is a 48-yard touchdown rush against Michigan State.
As great as No. 3 Clemson was last year, its offensive line was merely fine. But fine won’t be good enough against No. 5 Georgia, which has one of the country’s best defensive fronts. The game could hinge on how well Will Putnam (Plant High) and the rest of Clemson’s interior line block Georgia’s elite tackles, Devonte Wyatt and Jordan Davis.
Local of the week
Indiana quarterback Michael Penix (Tampa Bay Tech)
The breakout star of last year’s breakout team has recovered from the torn ACL he suffered in November. Penix and the No. 17 Hoosiers will try to show last year wasn’t a fluke when they open at No. 18 Iowa.
By the numbers: Week 1
313-91 — Combined score of Alabama’s last eight neutral-site openers. The closest game: FSU’s 24-7 loss at Atlanta in ‘17.
2-0 — Jim McElwain’s record against Missouri at UF (he and the Gators parted ways at the start of Mizzou week in his third season). He’ll lead Central Michigan to Mizzou on Saturday, if he recovers quickly enough from an appendectomy Wednesday.
1,299 — Games in No. 2 Oklahoma history. No. 1,300 will be against Tulane in Norman after Hurricane Ida forced it to move from New Orleans.
3-0 — Josh Heupel’s record in season openers at UCF. Surely his new team, Tennessee, is good enough to make it 4-0 against Bowling Green, right?
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