Opening weekend's schedule, in my opinion, is extremely light in terms of quality. So there's a few things to watch for the first week of the college football season.
All times Eastern.
Pittsburgh at Utah (8:30pm, Versus) is the best game based on where the teams are ranked. QB is a question for the Panthers with Tino Sunseri taking over as the starter. Dion Lewis is not a question and I expect him to be featured early and often as the Utes lost over half of their defensive starters. Utah's offense may be the key to the as they return eight starters from last year's 10-3 team, including nearly the entire offensive line.
USC at Hawai'i (11pm, ESPN) is more interesting as we will see how a Trojans team starts out what amounts to two seasons of lame-duck play. No bowls to play for, no reward outside of the chance to be ranked in the AP poll. I don't believe that Hawai'i will provide a stiff challenge, but I want to see the Trojans step up and not go through motions.
Some might turn in to Northern Illinois at Iowa St. (8pm, most FSN regions), but not to watch the game but for the possibility of critiquing the graphics that may be used. There's a chance that FSN will use the graphics that FOX debuted in the NFL preseason.
More trainwreck-type games here. UConn at Michigan (3:30pm, ABC or ESPN2) begins Rich Rodriguez's 3rd year in Ann Arbor. Could be his final year too if the maize & blue don't finish the year in a bowl game. The Huskies are not flashly, they're a fundamentals team, out-working opponents and executing their game plan. Their downhill attack on the ground can wear out anyone.
LSU at North Carolina (8pm, ABC) seemed to be a very interesting on-field matchup, but now with the NCAA sniffing around for violations in the UNC program, who knows if UNC may have a team that can even keep it close for a couple quarters.
As for an intriguing game, check out Washington at BYU (7pm, CBS College). BYU lost key components on offense (QB Max Hall, RB Harvey Unga, TE Dennis Pitts) and will alternate QBs with Jake Heaps & Riley Nelson. It's rare that you'll find a team have much success with platooning QBs, but BYU returns nearly all of their starting offensive line. Meanwhile, Washington QB Jake Locker begins his senior season with a Heisman campaign and at the top of Mel Kiper's Big Board of NFL prospects.
TCU's game vs. Oregon St. (7:45pm, ESPN) also brings a lot to the table. The Beavers return 17 starters from last years 8-5 team, a team that had a chance at the Rose Bowl if they would have won their Civil War matchup vs. Oregon. The game also serves as a return to Texas for the Rodgers brothers. TCU's offense returns nine starts and Gary Patterson has been able to plug in players on defense and consistently rank as one of the top defensive teams in the majors, but both starting CBs are stepping up from the bench and could be targeted early & often.
Navy vs. Maryland (4pm, ESPN) is the undercard based on time zone, but Middie QB Ricky Dobbs has a small but dedicated following for the Heisman and he runs the type of offense that can get him a lot of attention. He'll have the ball in his hands on every snap and his ability to run the ball can lead to some eye-popping highlights that everyone loves.
Boise St. vs. Virginia Tech (8pm, ESPN) wraps up week one as Boise begins their much-hyped season towards a national championship with a game. Boise returns all but two starters from last year's undefeated team, while the Hokies rebuild on defense. The Hokies will also start an entire new left side of the offensive line, so expect the Broncos to test the line often with blitzes, stunts and other defensive schemes designed to exploit and confuse the Hokies. And with a mostly new secondary at VT, Kellen Moore should take to the air.