The Syracuse Orange got the job done on Friday night with a convincing 50-7 victory over the Central Connecticut State Blue Devils. With a win under our belts, we can relax a bit on Saturday and just enjoy the day’s games.
As ESPN’s College Gameday wraps up in Atlanta, what contests are we paying the most attention to, and where are we watching them? We’ll start with the ACC, then highlight a few other games around the country worth tuning into.
You won’t enjoy this game because it’s Clemson and you have to watch them unveil a bunch of championship stuff. But it’ll kill some time until what’s likely a much more entertaining game shortly after.
Cal moved on from Sonny Dykes, but despite hiring a defensive coach in Justin Wilcox the air raid personnel’s still there. Plus, Wilcox understood his limitations as a defensive guy and hired Eastern Washington’s Beau Baldwin to run the offense. UNC’s hitting reset a bit, but still has the talent to make a bowl. Heels should win, but maybe Cal’s pesky.
Bethune-Cookman Wildcats at Miami Hurricanes, 12:30 p.m. ET, ACCN
Miami breaks in its new quarterback, but other than that, the ‘Canes should make short work of an FCS foe. The Miami front seven is horrifying, and should do whatever they want in this one.
Youngstown State Penguins at Pittsburgh Panthers, 1 p.m. ET, ACCN
YSU upset Pitt five years ago, and this year’s squad -- coming off a surprise trip to the FCS title game — may be better than that one. Pitt’s replacing its lead rusher and passer, and has to hope last year’s defense gets better (it was one of the worst in the country). I’m not high on the Panthers this year, but this game should be a win nonetheless.
NC State Wolfpack vs. South Carolina Gamecocks, 3 p.m. ET, ESPN
If you don’t believe the hype on NC State, this dangerous neutral site (Charlotte) matchup could confirm your thoughts. State’s senior-laden front four is among the best in the country, but the team also replaces workhorse back Matt Dayes. South Carolina has a quality defense, so at the very least, it’s a litmus test for what the Wolfpack offense can do this year.
William & Mary Tribe at Virginia Cavaliers, 3:30 p.m. ET, ACCN
The Hoos aren’t above losing to an FCS opponent, and W&M isn’t scared to put up a fight with UVA either. Everyone is rightfully down on Virginia, but they should be able to earn a win here.
North Carolina Central at Duke Blue Devils, 6 p.m. ET, ACCN
Everyone may be underrating Duke this year, but we won’t learn that this week. The Blue Devils are likely to roll in this FCS game.
Purdue’s in the process of installing an up-tempo offense, but it’s not going to be operational just yet. Louisville returns pretty much the entire offense from last year, and playing indoors in Indianapolis should provide an assist for a fast start. Maybe Lamar Jackson hurdles someone else, just to put another team in his highlight reel.
For once, ESPN’s shouting about the best/greatest/biggest event might be right. Two title contenders matching up in week one is rare, and adding to the storylines, FSU’s Jimbo Fisher used to be a Nick Saban assistant. Whoever loses here isn’t out of the championship hunt, but the winner is certainly in the driver’s seat. Should be a fun one as both teams look for a little redemption from last year.
A few more notable games
Is Wyoming QB Josh Allen a real NFL prospect? This game will confirm or deny a bit more.
Michigan’s pretty likely to win with like half of the Gators suspended for this one. Harbaugh’s entertaining enough. Let’s see if Michigan is reloading this year or a legitimate contender again.
One of these teams went 4-8 last year. The other won its conference.
Troy was resurgent and exciting team last year, while Boise State was its typical self. This will be a fun opener for both, and a potential Group of Five elimination game for an access bowl spot. Watch this game.
Kentucky Wildcats at Southern Mississippi Golden Eagles, 4 p.m. ET, CBSSN
I’m willing to buy into UK as an SEC East darkhorse, but this game should help decide whether the awful beginning or strong end of last year was the fluke.
Appalachian State Mountaineers at Georgia Bulldogs, 6:16 p.m.ET, ESPN
App State’s pretty good (as is Georgia), and an upset would be fun. The Mountaineers almost knocked off Tennessee last year. Let’s have this happen, please.
Scouting opportunity for Syracuse fans as MTSU takes the field with a Scott Shafer defense for the first time.
More scouting for Syracuse, as we get to observe if LSU has a capable offense under Matt Canada.
Football is back! Enjoy the games today and feel free to chat throughout the afternoon about Saturday’s action as well as any lingering thoughts around Syracuse’s effort from Friday.