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Don’t Watch This; Watch That: Your Guide to College Football, Week 1

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We’re going to deep-dive on Mississippi State-Louisiana. No, not the Death Valley, purple-wearing, numbering the 5-yard line Louisiana, the actual, proper French ones. But yeah, that’s how bad these games are.

Cowboys Ride for Free

Time to attempt a full season of the college football schedule run-down no one’s asking for!

If you’re new or not paying attention, (1) I don’t blame you, and (2) welcome to Don’t Watch This; Watch That, your only college football viewing guide with a semicolon in the title.

We talked last week about the history of MONEY GAMES in college football’s Week 0 and how it’s gone has gone from “fun weird P5-vs-G5 shootouts” to “watch Miami and Florida show their entire ass in a shitty neutral site.” But now we’re onto a full, real slate of all college football games! So which ones should you watch? Don’t just fall back on Duke-Alabama or Ohio State-Florida Atlantic on ESPN or FOX because you don’t want to navigate the swamp of mid-major games and sure blowouts. Come, expand your mind.

For a guide to all those weird channels, check out Week 0’s guide:

We’re going to do a deep enough dive on all the games this week, and the list of games is massive this week. But I’m going to tell you right now—find something better to do on Saturday morning unless your Big Ten team plays, because I’m about to recommend you watch Louisiana-Lafayette lose to an SEC team in the Superdome.

More importantly than that, though, I learned this summer that the University of Louisiana-Lafayette, in addition to embracing “Ragin’ Cajuns” in the 1960s near than the boring old “Bulldogs” moniker, also occasionally goes by l‘Université des Acadiens to honor its Acadian French heritage.

It’s made me wish more schools took their particular heritage into account:

  • Rather than just bastardize Ski-U-Mah from 19th-century white people’s conception of Lakota speakers, put Mnisota Wouåspe Wa¶aåtuya on University of Minnesota headings.
  • Don’t call them the University of Alaska-Fairbanks Nanooks! Since they derive their mascot from the Iñupiat for “polar bear”, let’s reverse-engineer: “Ilitchuvik Alaasikaq” [by my count, “place of learning Alaska”].

I’m very scared I’ve just done the Parks and Rec bit where Ben tries to speak Wamapoke and accidentally says “red wagon wheel incest.” I should stop. But I think my point stands. Allez, l‘Université des Acadiens Furieux!

A note: Because we’ve got so many FBS-vs-FCS games this week, especially for G5 programs like Central Michigan (vs. Albany, 6pm on Thursday, ESPN3), I’m omitting those from the “Don’t Watch” portion. They’re included in the table below. If there is an interesting FBS/FCS game on ESPN3 or ESPN+, I’ll be sure to tell you.

Thursday Evening

Don’t Watch This

Florida A&M Rattlers at #17 UCF Knights (-47.5, O/U 65.6) [6:30pm, CBSSN]
Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets at #1 Clemson Tigers (-37, O/U 60) [7pm, ACCN]
Texas State Bobcats at #12 Texas A&M Aggies (-33.5, O/U 56.5) [7:30pm, SECN]

Watch That

UCLA Bruins at Cincinnati Bearcats

6pm | ESPN | Cincy -3 | O/U 58

FIU Golden Panthers Sunblazers at Tulane Green Wave

7pm | ESPN3 | Tulane -2.5 | O/U 58

#4 South Dakota State Jackrabbits at Minnesota Golden Gophers

8pm | FS1 | Minn -13 | O/U 56

There are already about a million reasons not to watch the slaughters occurring on the tertiary conference networks—the joke of a network that is SEC Network, and the sad travesty that is ACC Network. But UCF opening with a slaughter of an HBCU? Who do they think they are—Maryland?

For the other games, though, you’ve got two relatively evenly-matched games in UCLA-Cincy and FIU-Tulane, along with one should-be blowout...but this would be the last defeat to the three major D-1 Dakota football programs for the Gophers to have the complete box set. The Daily Gopher has your Jackrabbits coverage, but it boils down to this: New QB, but a strong set of playmakers everywhere else. Like, we mean everywhere.

For my money, though, fire up your ESPN3 connection and watch FIU-Tulane. It’s a perfect example of two middling teams who could make waves (I’m so sorry) in their conference, with the added bonus of each one’s strength being the other’s weakness:

Tulane can run Willie Fritz’s triple option and hit home runs on FIU’s shoddy rush defense with RBs Corey Dauphine and Darius Bradwell, while the Sunblazers can use QB James Morgan to throw all over the Angry Wave defense. Tulane’s a DWT;WT Team of Choice—check in on this one for points.

Poll

It’s Thursday evening, and I’m watching...

This poll is closed

  • 27%
    UCLA-Cincy
    (66 votes)
  • 5%
    FIU-Tulane
    (12 votes)
  • 52%
    SDSU-Minnesota
    (126 votes)
  • 15%
    Something else
    (36 votes)
240 votes total Vote Now

It’s late Thursday and I’m drunk...

We should have a conversation about your drinking habits. Now if you’ll excuse me, it’s Wednesday night and I’m out of Grain Belt and I need to finish this fucking conceit.

Don’t Watch This

Northern Colorado Bears at San Jose State Spartans (-10, O/U 59.5) [9pm, no TV]
Kent State Golden Flashes at Arizona State Sun Devils (-25, O/U 60.5) [9pm, Pac12N]

Watch That

#14 Utah Utes at BYU Cougars

9:15pm | ESPN | UU -6.5 | O/U 48.5

Want to watch UNC-SJSU? WELL, YOU CAN’T. (Seriously, maybe it’s time for the Spartans to join the Big Sky.)

As for the Holy War? Hell yeah. You throw out the records when these two teams get together. Let’s have some brawls, let’s have gratuitous signs taking shots at Mormons, let’s have personal foul calls that actually matter, and that aren’t bullshit Florida vs. Miami spats that are more for TV and the ego of some drunk 50-something Floridians.

Poll

I head to the bar (on Thursday night? really?), and on TV...

This poll is closed

  • 9%
    Whatever the bartender’s got on
    (18 votes)
  • 4%
    Kent State-Arizona State
    (8 votes)
  • 63%
    HOLY WAR
    (118 votes)
  • 22%
    lol i passed out hours ago
    (41 votes)
185 votes total Vote Now

Friday Evening

Don’t Watch This

Rice Owls at Army Black Knights (-21.5, O/U 48) [5pm, CBSSN]
Tulsa Golden Hurricane at #18 Michigan State Spartans (-23, O/U 47.5) [6pm, FS1]

Watch That

#19 wisconsin badgers at South Florida Bulls

6pm | ESPN | wisc -12.5 | O/U 59.5

Massachusetts Minutemen at Rutgers Scarlet Knights

6:15pm | BTN | RU -15.5 | O/U 55.5

Utah State Aggies at Wake Forest Demon Deacons

7pm | ACCN | Wake -3.5 | O/U 60

One thing to get straight: The Army Black Knights are absolutely a DWT;WT Team of Choice. And, if my fanboy interview of Kaylah Jackson and GoForThree was any indication, I’m rooting for them to go 12-0 in 2019.

But Rice is not the team you want to want to watch that start against. Mike Bloomgren’s Owls are still a ways off from being the Stanford of Greater Houston, and the only reason to watch this is if you’ve got the itch at 5pm and don’t like the evening news.

As for “Watch That”? There’s lots of insanity out on the East Coast! Let’s run ‘em down:

  • The badgers head to South Florida. This is a game you almost certainly shouldn’t watch and should absolutely take the under on if you expect wisconsin to win. But it’s definitely a scoreboard-flipper—if you see the game is close or USF is scoring, you flip over to watch how soon the badgers switch from Jack Coan to Graham Mertz.
  • Wake plays fast and dumb and has lots of playmakers. Utah State has Gary Andersen back! You remember him! He’s also got RB Jordan Love and RB Gerold Bright, and that means points that not even Grim Reaper Gary can take away. A dark horse game.
  • LAST BUT NOT LEAST, MY GAME OF THE WEEK: Rutgers-UMass. You want it. You need it. You know you have to have it. Will it be the Buffalo #beatemdown of the Knights from 2018? Probably not. Will it be the Knights’ blow-out of Texas State? Nah—I like the Minutemen to play just fast enough to test the Rutgers defense. Keep it in the back of your mind.

Regardless, though, UMass-Rutgers is a game that embodies what DWT;WT stands for! It’s two bad teams who could do anything from a 13-9 slapfight to a 55-42 shootout! And with UMass, I’d tend toward the latter—they’ve had a tendency to run out of gas as the season goes on—with QB Randall West and WR Sadiq Palmer surprising the Knights early.

Poll

Happy Friday! What’s on TV after work?

This poll is closed

  • 4%
    Rice-Army
    (9 votes)
  • 12%
    Tulsa-Sparty
    (25 votes)
  • 58%
    wisconsin-USF
    (116 votes)
  • 22%
    UMass-Rutgers
    (44 votes)
  • 3%
    USU-Wake
    (6 votes)
200 votes total Vote Now

It’s Friday night, and I’m drunk...

Don’t Watch This

Colorado State Rams vs. Colorado Buffaloes (-13.5, O/U 55.5) [9pm, ESPN, Denver]

Watch That

Purdue Boilermakers at Nevada Wolf Pack

8:30pm | CBSSN | Purdue -11 | O/U 58.5

Oklahoma State Cowboys at Oregon State Beavers

9:30pm | FS1 | Okie Lite -14 | O/U 72

WEIRD BIG TEN ACTION AT A WEST COAST MID-MAJOR.

TWO OSUs PLAYING FOR THE CHANCE TO BE THE SECONDARY OSU.

Let’s get weird. THIS is a Friday slate: O/U’s firmly in “shootout” territory, fast-paced offenses with exciting playmakers. Rondale Moore is going to run back a kick for a touchdown. You’re welcome, Purdue fans.

Poll

It’s Friday night, I’m having drinks with a buddy who’s a college football agnostic, and we watch...

This poll is closed

  • 15%
    ...the Battle for Colorado, oddly.
    (32 votes)
  • 62%
    Purdue-Nevada! Choo choo bitches!
    (129 votes)
  • 15%
    BATTLE OF THE SECONDARY OSUs
    (33 votes)
  • 6%
    lol i dont have friends, i’m in bed
    (14 votes)
208 votes total Vote Now

Saturday Morning

Don’t Watch This

Akron Zips at Illinois Fighting Illini (-18, O/U 61) [11am, BTN]
East Carolina Pirates at N.C. State Wolfpack (-16.5, O/U 54.5) [11am, ACCN]
Florida Atlantic Owls at #5 Ohio State Buckeyes (-27.5, O/U 63.5) [11am, FOX]
Toledo Rockets at Kentucky Wildcats (-11.5, O/U 62) [11am, SECN]
South Alabama Jaguars at #24 Nebraska Cornhuskers (-36, O/U 66) [11am, ESPN]
Howard Bison at Maryland Terrapins (-29.5, O/U 65.5) [11am, BTN]
Northern Iowa Panthers at #21 Iowa St. Cyclones (-18.5, O/U 41.5) [11am, FS1]

Late Entrant; Do What You Want

Boise State Broncos at Florida State Seminoles

11am | on TV still, probably | FSU -4.5? | O/U 51.5 | not-Jacksonville, FL

This game got moved from 6pm due to a hurricane. It’s played in Tallahassee now, and tickets are all $10 general admission.

It’s still not worth going to Florida for this.

Watch That

Indiana Hoosiers vs. Ball State Cardinals

11am | CBSSN | IU -17 | O/U 60 | in Indianapolis

Ole Miss Rebels vs. Memphis Tigers

11am |ABC | Mem -5.5 | O/U 66

Mississippi St. Bulldogs at Louisiana Ragin Cajuns

11am | ESPNU | MSSt. -20 | O/U 60

FCS #16 Indiana State Sycamores at Kansas Jayhawks

11am | Fox Sports Regional | KU -4.5 | O/U 53.5

Burnley vs. Liverpool

11:30am | NBCSN

I mean this sincerely: What a crap morning of football.

I am not interested in your Nebraska leg-humping surrounding a made-up Top 25 ranking and a soon-to-be pasting of the lowly USA Jaguars. I am not interested in a Ryan Debut on FOX when he’s already had one and will be kicking the shit out of Lane Kiffin. I would have recommended Akron-Illinois for the laughs, but Lovie Smith takes no joy in beating the shit out of tomato cans.

No, instead we fall back on a time-tested DWT;WT rule: If a P5 school goes on the road to play a weird G5 school—you watch. Doesn’t matter if it’s Miami slowly throttling down at Toledo, Indiana slowly strangling FIU, or Wake Forest almost bafflingly losing to Tulane. Weird things will happen, and weird things will happen with a Joe Moorhead team that has Tommy Stevens but doesn’t play a ton of defense, and a Louisiana-Lafayette team that...well, they’re defending a Sun Belt West title and they have a ridiculously-talented and -experienced offensive line and running back stable of Trey Ragas, Elijah Mitchell, and Raymond Calais. Let’s get weird in the Superdome with some Cajuns.

Les Miles debuts and might lose to a legitimately-decent Sycamores club. Let’s get weird on Fox Sports North (or Ohio or whatever).

Or watch soccer. Just this once. Did Burnley just lose 3-1 to third-division Sunderland in the Carabao Cup? DON’T ASK QUESTIONS. Just watch Mohamed Salah score goals.

Edit: Now there’s Boise-FSU, and turns out I forgot Ole Miss-Memphis. So there’s that.

Poll

It’s Saturday morning! What’s the first thing on at 11am?

This poll is closed

  • 37%
    My Big Ten team is playing at this time.
    (73 votes)
  • 8%
    Mississippi State-Louisiana
    (17 votes)
  • 12%
    Indiana State-Kansas
    (24 votes)
  • 11%
    Burnley-Liverpool
    (23 votes)
  • 29%
    It’s so bad MNW is recommending soccer? I’ll get some yardwork done.
    (57 votes)
194 votes total Vote Now

Saturday Afternoon

Don’t Watch This

Eastern Washington Eagles at #13 Washington Huskies (-21, O/U 42) [2pm, Pac12N]
Eastern Michigan Eagles (-6, O/U 53.5) at Coastal Carolina Chanticleers [2:30pm, ESPN+]
Duke Blue Devils vs. Alabama Crimson Tide (lots, O/U 57) [2:30pm, ABC, Atlanta]
Georgia State Panthers at Tennessee Volunteers (-26, O/U 57.5) [2:30pm, ESPNU]
Holy Cross Crusaders at Navy Midshipmen (Navy -21.5, O/U 53.5) [2:30pm, CBSSN]
Idaho Vandals at #15 Penn State Nittany Lions (-40, O/U 58.5) [2:30pm, BTN]
Montana State Bobcats at Texas Tech Red Raiders (-25, O/U 60) [3pm, Fox Regional]
Portland State Vikings at Arkansas Razorbacks (-28.5, O/U 60.5) [3pm, SECN]

Watch That

South Carolina Gamecocks vs. North Carolina Tar Heels

2:30pm | ESPN | SC -10 | O/U 63.5 | Charlotte, NC

Northwestern Wildcats at #25 Stanford Cardinal

3pm | FOX | Stanford -6.5 | O/U 47.5

Virginia Tech Hokies at Boston College Eagles

3pm | ACCN | VT -4.5 | O/U 58.5

If I were going to tell you to break these recommendations, it’d be for Eastern Michigan at Coastal Carolina (yes, they’re FBS)—Mike Glass III and Shaq Vann are an exciting QB/RB combo for the Eaglets, and the Chanticleers will seek a seamless transition from Wall Street CEO-turned-coach-turned Executive Director of Football Joe Moglia to OC-turned-HC Jamey Chadwell and his high-scoring offense. Bad defense + weird road game + ESPN Plus = DWT;WT potential.

As for the rest, P5 matchups are winners this afternoon for different reasons:

  • You want to watch 2018 Big Ten West Champions Northwestern lose. You know it, I know it, the comment sections certainly reflect it. Tune in and enjoy the schadenfreude as TJ Green starts over Hunter Johnson and I chug mini-bottles of vodka in the stands.
  • RETURN OF THE MACK (BROWN): I am not the first person to make that joke and I don’t care; the Battle of the Carolinas has been oddly low-scoring in the past, but let’s watch some dumb, bad teams get into a weird slapfight in a shitty corporate town.
  • Boston College and AJ Dillon are a silly kind of fun early in the season. That’ll change later in the year, but QB Anthony Brown plus WRs Kobay White and Ben Glines are gonna get theirs, and VaTech is a total wild card after Justin Fuente ran off approximately half their team. Can DC Bud Foster right the ship on defense? Can a talented Hokie receiving corps find space against a sometimes-stifling Eagles defense? I WANT TO KNOW.

Poll

Happy afternoon! As you drift into a drunken, hazy nap after your team struggles with an FCS squad, you wake up to see...

This poll is closed

  • 11%
    My own Big Ten team playing.
    (20 votes)
  • 7%
    BATTLE FOR CAROLINA
    (14 votes)
  • 66%
    NERD FIGHT
    (119 votes)
  • 14%
    ...why is he recommending ACC Network games?
    (26 votes)
179 votes total Vote Now

Saturday Evening

Don’t Watch This

#22 Syracuse Orange (-18, O/U 68) at Liberty Flames [5pm, ESPN+]
Incarnate Word Cardinals at Texas-San Antonio Roadrunners (-5.5, O/U 58.5) [5pm, ESPN3]
UC Davis Aggies at California Golden Bears (-13, O/U 50) [5:30pm, Pac12]
SMU Mustangs at Arkansas State Red Wolves (-2.5, O/U 56) [6pm, ESPN+]
FCS #13 Illinois State Redbirds at Northern Illinois Huskies (-5.5, O/U 42.5) [5pm, ESPN+]
Miami-Ohio Redhawks at #20 Iowa Hawkeyes (-21.5, O/U 47) [6:30pm, FS1]
Georgia Southern Eagles at #6 LSU Tigers (-27.5, O/U 52.5) [6:30pm, ESPNU]
Virginia Cavaliers (-2.5, O/U 46.5) at Pittsburgh Panthers [6:30pm, ACCN]
Middle Tennessee Blue Raiders at #7 Michigan Wolverines (-34, O/U 54) [6:30pm, BTN]
Louisiana Tech Bulldogs at #10 Texas Longhorns (-20.5, O/U 55) [7pm, LOLhorn Network]
Arkansas-Pine Bluff Lions at TCU Horned Frogs (-14, O/U 52.5) [7pm, FS Regional]
FCS #9 Weber State Wildcats at San Diego State Aztecs (-7.5, O/U 36.5) [8pm, Facebook]

Watch That

Missouri Tigers at Wyoming Cowboys

6:30pm | CBSSN | Mizz -17.5 | O/U 55

#11 Oregon Ducks vs. #16 Auburn Tigers

6:30pm | ABC | Auburn -3.5 | O/U 55.5 | JerryWorld

I didn’t list it, but I gotta say I’m intrigued that the Monmouth Hawks-Western Michigan Broncos line is WMU -25.5 with an O/U of 73.5. Give me some 54-30 weirdness in Kalamazoo. Syracuse-Liberty is similarly intriguing, but fuck Liberty.

If you REALLY love a defensive struggle, though, maybe fire up Facebook and check out San Diego State, who are only a touchdown favorite over FCS Weeeeeeeber State and are expected to beat them by approximately 22-15. If THAT doesn’t say weird football...

I want to take a shot at these neutral-site games, but given the Big Ten options (Iowa sitting on Miami Hydroxide and Michigan running it up on Middle Tennessee) and whatever the hell the state of Texas is thinking having like 10 games running at the same time, a Top 20 matchup featuring Oregon running eleventy billion trick plays and Boise State please-oh-please-oh-please beating Free Shoes? Hell yeah.

Last but not least? Mizzou goes to Mile High War Memorial to take on Craig Bohl’s Cowboys in a rootin’ tootin’ good time. Lest you forget...

Poll

Saturday evening! What’s our dinnertime viewing?

This poll is closed

  • 21%
    My Big Ten team is beating up on Step 1 of its underwhelming non-conference slate (the joke is, it could be Iowa or Michigan! there’s no way of knowing!)
    (36 votes)
  • 9%
    Boise State-Florida State
    (16 votes)
  • 43%
    Oregon-Auburn
    (72 votes)
  • 7%
    ROOTIN’ TOOTIN’ TIME
    (12 votes)
  • 4%
    one of those FCS games actually sounds intriguing
    (8 votes)
  • 13%
    I think I will go out for a nice dinner.
    (23 votes)
167 votes total Vote Now

I’m Saturday night, and I’m awake and drunk...

You made it! Good job! I’ll be paying $11 for Miller Lite and cursing the fucking QB rotation in San Francisco.

Don’t Watch This

Southern Utah Thunderbirds at UNLV Rebels (-24, O/U 70.5) [9pm, unlv.com]

Watch That

New Mexico State Aggies at #23 Washington State Cougars

9pm | Pac-12 Network | Wazzu -31.5 | O/U 64.5

Fresno State Bulldogs at USC Trojans

9:30pm | ESPN | USC -13.5 | O/U 52.5

This is more drunken exuberance that football is back. Should Wazzu blow out NMSU? Sure! Did I draft Max Borghi because Fantrax told me to? Probably!

I just want to watch football on Saturday night, and it’s either a shootout/blowout or a grind-out game that’ll either (1) be Step 1 on Clay Helton’s road to getting fired or (2) a boring USC win over a Fresno team that hasn’t replaced Marcus McMaryion. Watch and pray for the former.

Poll

It’s Saturday night. Three straight nights of drinking. You’re exhausted. But you’re a trooper. You go to the bar. You turn on the TV. You watch...

This poll is closed

  • 12%
    EXCUSE ME BARTENDER, DO YOU HAVE A UNLV.COM SUBSCRIPTION
    (17 votes)
  • 12%
    battle of the crimson state schools
    (17 votes)
  • 31%
    the war on the san joaquins
    (44 votes)
  • 44%
    THIS WAS EXHAUSTING
    (62 votes)
140 votes total Vote Now

There are games on Sunday and Monday, too. Watch the one that’s Bethune-Cookman vs. Jackson State in Atlanta (Sunday at 2pm, ESPN2), then watch Oklahoma Sooners and Houston Cougars pu up ALL THE POINTS after that (Sunday at 6:30pm, ABC).

Don’t bother on Monday—it’s Notre Dame.

Enjoy the games, everyone.