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College football Week 1 viewing guide, and other nuggets

Here are the matchups you must watch, the windows to skip and why to monitor a kicker from Lutz.
The Florida Gators open the Billy Napier era this weekend against No. 7 Utah.
The Florida Gators open the Billy Napier era this weekend against No. 7 Utah. [ STEPHEN M. DOWELL | Orlando Sentinel ]
Published Aug. 31

Week 1 of the college football season finally has arrived. Here’s the first part of our weekly game-day guide to help you navigate the five-day stretch.

Lamest time window: Friday night and early Saturday. Take those off, if you need to pace yourself for a long, fun few days.

Related: Are things different with Florida Gators, Florida State? We’ll see this weekend

Thursday

7: West Virginia at No. 17 Pitt (ESPN) marks the return of the Backyard Brawl, a fierce rivalry conference realignment shelved after a 2011 classic.

8: Fun fact: ESPN essentially traded the rights to the Penn State at Purdue game to Fox to allow NFL announcer Joe Buck out of his contract early so he could join the Monday Night Football crew. I love this fantastically weird sport.

Friday

8: Illinois at Indiana (FS1) gives us our first look at whether Tom Allen’s Hoosiers rebound from a 2-10 season.

Saturday

Noon: No. 13 North Carolina State is 1-4 all-time at East Carolina (ESPN). It would be on brand for the Wolfpack to stumble again to start a season with such high expectations.

3:30: There’s a lot of familiarity between No. 3 Georgia and No. 11 Oregon (ABC); first-year Ducks coach Dan Lanning spent four years as a Bulldogs assistant under Kirby Smart.

4: USF hung with BYU last year. Can the Bulls get it done this time against the No. 25 Cougars (ESPNU)?

7: The Billy Napier era opens at Florida against No. 7 Utah (ESPN).

Related: Florida vs. Utah is big for the Gators. It’s monumental for the Utes

7:30: Not sure No. 5 Notre Dame can hang with No. 2 Ohio State (ABC), but it sounds great on paper.

Sunday

7:30: A Florida State win over LSU in New Orleans (ABC) would be a massive statement for Mike Norvell.

Monday

8: No. 4 Clemson can answer some early questions about coordinator changes and quarterback DJ Uiagalelei by trouncing Georgia Tech (ESPN).

Local of the week

Ohio State kicker Noah Ruggles played at Steinbrenner High in Lutz.
Ohio State kicker Noah Ruggles played at Steinbrenner High in Lutz. [ REBECCA S. GRATZ | AP ]

Ohio State kicker Noah Ruggles (Steinbrenner High)

If the Notre Dame game gets close, the Buckeyes boast one of the best kickers in the nation. Ruggles has never missed an extra point and, and his .952 field-goal percentage last year was the highest in program history.

Orange Blossom Classic

Sunday’s Florida A&M-Jackson State game in Miami has bigger storylines than Tigers coach Deion Sanders. The Rattlers are reeling after having 20-plus ineligible players last week against North Carolina, while Jackson State has been dealing with the city-wide water crisis. Here’s hoping a game can showcase both teams well on ESPN2.

Related: Why Florida Gators’ Anthony Richardson is the state’s biggest unknown

By the numbers: Week 1

Florida State running back Treshaun Ward (Tampa Bay Tech) and the Seminoles have done well in the red zone lately.
Florida State running back Treshaun Ward (Tampa Bay Tech) and the Seminoles have done well in the red zone lately. [ PHIL SEARS | AP ]

39 — Consecutive times FSU has scored in the red zone, the nation’s longest active streak

27-3 — Utah’s regular-season non-conference record since joining the Pac-12

1974 — The last time Arkansas opened with a top-25 home matchup (a 15-point win over USC in Little Rock). The No. 19 Razorbacks host No. 23 Cincinnati on Saturday

10 — Consecutive home wins for the University of Texas at San Antonio, which opens against No. 24 Houston

14-3 — Georgia quarterback Stetson Bennett’s record as a starter

• • •

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