College football is so close yet so far. The end of speculative articles and offseason drama is near, programs across the nation are fine-tuning in fall camps, and soon we’ll have glorious, meaningful football. The NFL Preseason is fine, but nothing beats college football week one.
2019 offers some intriguing games when it comes to college football’s first week of action. Beginning on August 24 with Florida vs. Miami, college football fans will be treated to outstanding week one action from August 24 – September 2, when Notre Dame and Louisville wrap up the opening slate on Monday Night Football.
With plenty of games to choose from, there are headliners and duds. Here are the best college football week one games. If they don’t get you excited, nothing will.
Florida vs. Miami (Fla.) (August 24, 7:00 pm ET, ESPN)
The debut game of 2019 features an outstanding matchup between the Miami Hurricanes and Florida Gators. Florida is coming off a 10-3 season where their defense was one of the best in the nation. Returning a stable of talented players, expect the Gators to be a dangerous force in the SEC and challenge Georgia for the SEC East. If quarterback Feleipe Franks is able to build off a productive 2018 and live up to surrounding hype, Florida’s offense could be just as big a force to be reckoned with as its defense.
Miami, meanwhile, isn’t so bad themselves. Missing Clemson last year, the Hurricanes started off 2018 hot but cooled mid-season, losing four straights to the likes of Virginia, Boston College, and Duke. Fortunately, the Canes found a couple of late wins and have a positive outlook for 2019. Miami will rely once again on a solid defense that returns plenty from one of the nation’s top 2018 units. If their offense can progress in Manny Diaz’s first year as head coach, they could give Florida a run for their money.
Auburn vs. Oregon (August 31, 7:30 pm ET, ABC)
The game of the week is filled with plenty of storylines. Auburn vs. Oregon, a rematch of the 2011 BCS National Championship. College Gameday in town. Justin Herbert in the national spotlight commanding a young, talented offense. Auburn’s stout defense, anchored by Derrick Brown and Marlon Davidson. Oregon’s top-ranked offensive line. This game has the hype and appropriate talent to back it up. To the victor goes instant recognition in the College Football Playoff race.
Northwestern vs. Stanford (August 31, 4:00 pm ET, FOX)
All nerd football jokes aside, the college football week one game between Northwestern and Stanford is a treat. Stanford quarterback K.J. Costello is a name you should get to know (and a budding superstar) while Northwestern is looking to transfer QB Hunter Johnson (formerly of Clemson) to make a run at the division. For those expecting a snoozer between schools better-known for academics, you’ll miss out if you choose to pass this one up. The potential is there for either team to make moves within their conference and a week one win would be huge in establishing identity and confidence.
Boise State vs. Florida State (August 31, 7:00 pm ET, ESPN)
Wanna talk about a college football hot seat? Let’s talk Willie Taggart and Florida State. Impressing many in his lone season with Oregon, Taggart and the Seminoles struggled in his first year as head coach. Now in year two, the expectations are high for Taggart and so is the pressure. Florida State has another tough schedule to navigate, and it begins with Boise State. While the Broncos are an easy favorite in the Mountain West, few expect them to pull off a win over the Seminoles. How many times have the Broncos been overlooked before?
Utah vs. BYU (August 29, 10:15 pm ET, ESPN)
In the first game the East Coast will want to stay up for (sorry Arizona vs. Hawaii and Kent State vs. Arizona State), Utah and BYU trade blows in an early in-state rivalry. A win for Utah would be the first step (duh) towards justifying a much-hyped 2019 season where they are picked to win the Pac-12. They’ll have tougher opponents in the weeks ahead (at USC, at Washington), but the Utes should be careful not to ignore BYU: the Cougars are a team who have proven apt at upsets.
Houston vs. Oklahoma (September 1, 7:30 pm ET, ABC)
Sunday college football on ABC? Yes, please! College football week one wouldn’t be fun without a few wrinkles, right?
Featuring the debut of quarterback Jalen Hurts for Oklahoma and head coach Dana Holgorsen for West Virginia, this game has the potential for points, points, and more points. While the Sooners have what could be the nation’s top offense, don’t think the Cougars won’t be able to keep up. Houston Quarterback D’Eriq King is a player to watch out for, and in a Holgorsen offense there’s potential for some gaudy numbers. Let’s cross our fingers for a good ol’ fashioned college football shootout.