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

Not only is Clemson-Georgia over-hyped, it's meaningless. So is Alabama-Miami. Here's what you should watch instead.


Bowl season is great where it is: at the end of the schedule.

I don't think that, in it and of itself, is it controversial take. As a reward at the end of the season, a bizarre, neutral site destination in a repurposed baseball stadium, a weird municipal football stadium in a tertiary southern city, on a Hawaiian or Caribbean island, wherever.

Unless you are literally flying to Dublin or Tokyo or Australia, you should not be playing that game at the start of the year.

That's especially true when the game does not matter for the college football season, of which it is ostensibly a part.

That brings us to Saturday night's showdown, the Duke's Mayo Kickoff Classic at Bank of America Stadium in Charlotte, NC, featuring the Clemson Tigers and Georgia Bulldogs. This game does not matter, and there are a few reasons it does not.

First, because mayo is terrible and should never be allowed to sponsor anything except the bottom of the trash can.

Second, because there is no punishment for the loser of this game.

In a grander sense, the non-conference is becoming increasingly meaningless: lose a non-conference game to Clemson, or to Oregon, or to Virginia Tech, to pull that last one out of thin air, and if you are one of college football's blue bloods, it just does not matter if you lose a game at the start of the year. You will likely go 9-0 in your conference and win the conference championship, or you will go eight and one and find an excuseable loss somewhere along the way. There will be no punishment.

Of course, for the winner, there is the instant boost. There is no denying that whichever of Clemson or Georgia wins on Saturday will vault to #1 or #2 in the polls and be subject to breathless examinations on ESPN of weather or not they can beat Alabama.

But there is no punishment for the loser. They will still be a College Football Playoff contender. In an era in which so much of college football head coaching is about mitigating and avoiding risk, games like the Duke's Mayo Kickoff Classic are just another innovation in risk avoidance. It's one more true road game you don't have to play, one more bad loss you can avoid, one more 1.9 million dollar payout in the Chick-Fil-A kickoff classic that will feature Alabama and Miami while continuing to whitewash the reputation of a shitty company.

If you're new here or clicked, angry that I would dare to say Clemson-Georgia is pointless, welcome to Don't Watch This; Watch That.

This guide to each week's college football and other sports viewing adopts the approach that sports are better watched when they are fun, not professional; competitive, not the top ranked team out of laziness; in weird places and on weird channels, because it's better to watch a mustachioed 25-year-old who wrestles bears in his spare time throw for 500 yards and six touchdowns as a little-regarded Mountain West team gives an FBS squad all it can handle, interspersed with advertisements for colostomy bags and vaginal mesh lawsuits.

As I was watching a grainy online feed of NAIA football last Thursday, with Jamestown (ND) traveling 40 miles down I-94 to take on bitter archrival Valley City State in the Paint Bucket Bowl, Jesse Collins and I got to talking about why we were so damn fascinated with it.

It was after a personal foul penalty late in the third, with the Jimmies in a hopeless deficit, manhandled by the Vikings, that we had our moment of clarity: This was college football for college football's sake.

That is probably not a revolutionary thesis for any regular reader of this feature, and certainly not for most on this blog or indeed on the college football internet. But when it's not chasing rankings, when it's not proclaiming on your podcast or feature that college football is SO RANDOM AND FUN before defaulting to Alabama-LSU for the 500th time--when strip it down to local kids playing for a local school that is fighting for its little slice of state or regional supremacy, man, college football is fun to watch.

There are other watch guides and watch grids available, I'm grateful that you've stopped by what I think is the best one out there.

Let's watch some games. And not watch some others.

Thursday Evening

Don’t Watch This

The Citadel Bulldogs at #22 Coastal Carolina Chanticleers (-33.5, O/U 53.5) [6pm, ESPN+]
Long Island Sharks at Florida International Panthers (-33.5, O/U 50.5) [6pm, ESPN3]
Western Illinois Leathernecks at Balls Tate Cardinals (-25.5, O/U 59.5) [6pm, ESPN+]
Wagner Seahawks at Buffalo Bulls (-48.5, O/U 57.5) [6pm, ESPN3]
(FCS #6) Weber State Wildcats at #24 Utah Utes (-27.5, O/U 46.5) [6pm, ESPN3]
South Florida Bulls at N.C. State Wolfpack (-18, O/U 59) [6:30pm, ACCN]
East Carolina Pirates at Appalachian State Mountaineers (-10.5, O/U 57.5) [6:30pm, ESPNU]
(FCS #21) UC Davis Aggies at Tulsa Golden Hurricane (-21, O/U 55.5) [6:30pm, ESPN+]
#4 Ohio State Buckeyes (-14, O/U 64) at Minnesota Gophers [7pm, FOX]
Bowling Green Falcons at Tennessee Volunteers (-35, O/U 61) [7pm, SECN]
UT Martin Skyhawks at Western Kentucky Hilltoppers (-9.5, O/U 39.5) [7pm, ESPN+]
Houston Baptist Huskies at New Mexico Lobos (-22.5, O/U 68.5) [7pm, n/a]

{WSOC} Ohio State vs. Central Florida [4pm, BTN+]
{WSOC} Purdue vs. Notre Dame [6pm, ESPN App]
{WSOC} Iowa vs. Purdue-Fort Wayne [6pm, BTN+]
{WSOC} Indiana vs. Western Michigan [6pm, BTN+]
{WSOC} Penn State vs. West Virginia [6pm, ESPN+]
{WSOC} Maryland vs. George Washington [6pm, BTN+]
{WSOC} Northwestern vs. North Carolina [6pm, ESPN App]
{WSOC} Michigan State vs. Bowling Green [6pm, BTN+]
{WSOC} Illinois vs. Xavier [7pm, BTN+]
{WSOC} Nebraska vs. Nebraska-Omaha [7pm, BTN+]
{WSOC} Wisconsin vs. Loyola-Chicago [7pm, ESPN+]
{MSOC} Wisconsin vs. Western Michigan [7pm, BTN+]

Watch That

Temple Owls at Rutgers Scarlet Knights

5:30pm | BTN | RU -14 | O/U 51.5

Boise State Broncos at UCF Knights

6pm | ESPN | UCF -5 | O/U 68

Jilted Minnesota fan: “YOU DIDN’T PICK OUR GAME!”
Also Jilted Minnesota fan: “We’re gonna lose by 21 :(“

That’s why.

(To be fair to OSU-Minnesota, it might be a 20-point game and STILL be the second most competitive came on this list.)

Temple-Rutgers was postponed when 6.5 inches of rain fell on Piscataway. From the looks of a nearby town called New York City, things might not be going well on the East Coast:

If I were tagging two potentially Fun games (for different reasons) here:

  • UT-Martin at Western Kentucky, where the Hilltoppers’ abysmal offense has made them just a 9.5-point favorite and given us a total under 40.
  • Houston Baptist at New Mexico for very opposite reasons—the Huskies put a scare in Texas Tech last year by just throwing the ball all over the goddamn park while not playing a lick of defense. Is New Mexico good? Doubtful!


Thursday night! As you pick up the remote and think long and hard about how your Thursday night viewing is something special and ought not be wasted, you waste it anyway on...

This poll is closed

  • 14%
    (16 votes)
  • 73%
    Ohio State-Minnesota
    (82 votes)
  • 12%
    Literally anything else.
    (14 votes)
112 votes total Vote Now

Thursday Late Nights

Don’t Watch This

Southern Utah THUNDERBIRDS at #25 Arizona State Sun Devils (-44.5, O/U 55.5) [9:30pm, Pac-12]

{WCQ} Canada vs. Honduras [7:05pm, Universo]
{WCQ} Mexico vs. Jamaica [9pm, TUDN]
{USL} Tacoma Defiance vs. Las Vegas Lights [9pm, ESPN+]

Watch That

(#14 FCS) Eastern Washington Eagles at UNLV Rebels

9pm | Stadium | UNLV -9.5 | O/U 67.5

{WCQ} El Salvador vs. US Men’s National Team

9:05pm | CBSSN | World Cup Qualifier

THAT’S the stuff right there, baby.


Thursday! It’s late! You don’t care about work tomorrow!

This poll is closed

  • 5%
    Eastern Washington-UNLV
    (5 votes)
  • 17%
    El Salvador-USMNT
    (16 votes)
  • 2%
    SUU-Arizona State
    (2 votes)
  • 46%
    The tail end of Ohio State beating down Minnesota, then bedtime for me
    (41 votes)
  • 28%
    I care about my work and thus will be asleep
    (25 votes)
89 votes total Vote Now

Friday Evening

Don’t Watch This

Duke Blue Devils (-6.5, O/U 60.5) at Charlotte 49ers [6pm, CBSSN]
Old Dominion Monarchs at Wake Forest Demon Deacons (-31, O/U 63) [6pm, ACCN]
St. Francis (PA) Red Flashes at Eastern Michigan Eagles (-30.5, O/U 52.5) [6pm, ESPN3]
Michigan State Spartans at Northwestern Wildcats (-3, O/U 45) [8pm, ESPN]
Northern Colorado Bears at Colorado Buffaloes (-35.5, O/U 56.5) [8pm, Pac-12]

{CFL} Montreal Alouettes (-7.5, O/U 42.5) vs. Ottawa REDBLACKS [6:30pm, ESPN+]

{B1GVB} Georgia at #4 Nebraska [6pm, BTN]
{B1GVB} #11 Washington at Illinois [8pm, BTN]
{MSOC} Michigan State vs. Oakland [6pm, BTN+]
{WSOC} Rutgers vs. Monmouth [6pm, BTN+]
{MSOC} Maryland vs. George Mason [6:30pm, BTN+]
{MSOC} Northwestern vs. Loyola-Chicago [7pm, ESPN+]
{MLS} Nashville SC vs. New York City FC [6:30pm, ESPN+]
{MLS} Philadelphia Union vs. New England Revolution [6:30pm, ESPN+]
{MLS} Houston Dynamo vs. Portland Timbers [7pm, ESPN+]
{MLS} Los Angeles FC vs. Sporting Kansas City [9pm, TUDN]

Watch That

#10 North Carolina Tar Heels at Virginia Tech Hokies

5pm | ESPN | UNC -5.5 | O/U 64

South Dakota Coyotes at Kansas Jayhawks

7pm | ESPN+ | Kansas -15 | O/U 58.5

(#4 FCS) South Dakota State Coyotes at Colorado State Rams

8pm | FS1 | South Dakota State -3.5 | O/U 53.5

You are not reading any of this incorrectly.

Look, MSU or Northwestern fans, this ain’t for you. This is for fans who want to watch actually fun college football—our game will not be that. It will likely be a disgusting, defensive struggle of a rebuilding team and a “who the fuck knows?” Northwestern.


You’re not reading that wrong. The Jacks are favored at Colorado State. Steve Addazio has, uh...a lot of work to do in Fort Collins.


Friday evening. What to watch?

This poll is closed

  • 9%
    (10 votes)
  • 25%
    (28 votes)
  • 42%
    Michigan State-Northwestern
    (47 votes)
  • 9%
    Big Ten volleyball
    (10 votes)
  • 0%
    Maybe some MLS
    (1 vote)
  • 12%
    I’ll be down at the local high school, drinking Fireball and Busch Light and telling them how we would’ve gone to state if coach would’ve put me in or I wouldn’t have torn up my knee
    (14 votes)
110 votes total Vote Now

Saturday Morning

Don’t Watch This

#2 Oklahoma Sooners (-26.5, O/U 69.5) vs. Tulane Green Wave [11am, ABC]
#19 Penn State Nittany Lions at #12 wisconsin badgers (-5.5, O/U 50) [11am, FOX]
Western Michigan Broncos at Michigan Wolverines (-17, O/U 67) [11am, ESPN]
Stanford Cardinal at Kansas State Wildcats (-2.5, O/U 53) [11am, FS1]
Fordham Rams at Nebraska Cornhuskers (-41.5, O/U 55.5) [11am, BTN]
ULM Warhawks at Kentucky Wildcats (-31, O/U 54) [11am, SECN]

{WCQ} Cyprus vs. Russia [11am, ESPN3]
{WCQ} Latvia vs. Norway [11am, ESPN+]
{WCQ} Slovenia vs. Malta [11am, ESPN3]
{WCQ} Serbia vs. Luxembourg [11am, ESPN+]
{WCQ} Republic of Ireland vs. Azebaijan [11am, ESPN+]

Watch That

Holy Cross Crusaders at UConn Huskies

11am | CBSSN | UConn -2.5 | O/U 53.5

Army Black Knights at Georgia State Panthers

11am | ESPNU | GASt -2 | O/U 49.5

There is nothing likable about a Penn State-wisconsin matchup.

Instead, could I interest you in UConn barely being favored—at home!—against an unranked FCS opponent? Remember, nothing matters as long as the Huskies score first—that gets Randy Edsall $2,000. You can make your own version of a Randy Edsall Bonus Tracker like UConn Blog did in 2019 if you’re interested.


Good morning! This is a slate of games made for a hangover.

This poll is closed

  • 5%
    Holy Cross-UConn
    (6 votes)
  • 1%
    Army-Georgia State
    (2 votes)
  • 73%
    Penn State-wisconsin
    (77 votes)
  • 6%
    Western Michigan-Michigan
    (7 votes)
  • 4%
    (5 votes)
  • 2%
    Something else football-related
    (3 votes)
  • 0%
    Something else soccer-related
    (1 vote)
  • 3%
    Something else related-related
    (4 votes)
105 votes total Vote Now

Saturday Afternoon

Don’t Watch This

Fresno State Bulldogs at #11 Oregon Ducks (-20.5, O/U 63.5) [1pm, Pac-12]
Rice Owls at Arkansas Razorbacks (-19.5, O/U 50.5) [1pm, ESPN+]
Lafayette Leopards at Air Force Falcons (-42.5, O/U 49.5) [1pm, Stadium]
#1 Alabama Crimson Tide (-19.5, O/U 61.5) at #14 Miami Hurricanes [2:30pm, ABC]
Miami Hydroxide Redhawks at #8 Cincinnati Bearcats (-23, O/U 50.5) [2:30pm, ESPN+]
Marshall Thundering Herd (-2.5, O/U 47) at Navy Midshipmen [2:30pm, CBSSN]
Louisiana Tech Bulldogs at Mississippi State Bulldogs (-23, O/U 52.5) [3pm, ESPNU]
Central Michigan Chippewas at Missouri Tigers (-14, O/U 60.5) [3pm, SECN]
UMass Minutemen at Pittsburgh Panthers (-38, O/U 56) [3pm, ACCN]
(#11 FCS) Montana State Bobcats at Wyoming Cowboys (-18, O/U 44.5) [3pm, Facebook]
(#16 FCS) Northern Iowa Panthers at (somehow, FBS) #7 Iowa State Cyclones (-37.5, O/U 42.5) [3:30pm, ESPN+]
#23 Louisiana Ragin’ Cajuns at #21 Texas Longhorns (-8, O/U 58) [3:30pm, FOX]

{WCQ} Israel vs. Austria [1:45pm, ESPN3+]
{WCQ} Ukraine vs. France [1:45pm, ESPN+]
{WCQ} Gibraltar vs. Turkey [1:45pm, ESPN3]
{WCQ} Scotland vs. Moldova [1:45pm, ESPN+]
{WCQ} Slovakia vs. Croatia [1:45pm, ESPN+]
{WCQ} Faroe Islands vs. Denmark [1:45pm, ESPN+]
{WCQ} Netherlands vs. Montenegro [1:45pm, ESPN+]

Watch That

#17 Indiana Hoosiers at #18 Iowa Hawkeyes

2:30pm | BTN | Iowa -3.5 | O/U 45

West Virginia Mountaineers at Maryland Terrapins

2:30pm | ESPN | WVU -3 | O/U 57

San Jose State Spartans at #15 USC Trojans

4pm | Pac-12 | USC -14 | O/U 59.5

I don’t know if Neal Brown is actually building anything at West Virginia, but the Terps are good for some random batshit insanity in the non-conference, and that’s all we need here.

Give me something to believe in, Indiana. Same goes for DWT;WT Team of Choice San Jose State—the Spartans looked a little undisciplined against FCS Southern Utah last weekend, but them putting a scare in USC would be positively delightful.

Of course now that I say that, Louisiana will give Texas a run—I can’t stomach more TEXASBAK—while USC slowly strangles the Spartans.

Anyway, for the rest of the world, Thump’s graphic says it all about that Alabama-Miami matchup:

That was on display last night during the UAB-Jacksonville State game. Compounding matters was that the J’ville State QB, Zerrick Cooper, was a Clemson transfer, meaning all we got to hear about was the impending Clemson-Georgia game.

To be fair that, was mostly in between Cooper running for his life or passes falling incomplete, but it would be great to hear a 31-0 rout spiced up by something other than gargling the balls of two programs who don’t need their balls gargled on ESPN airwaves any more than already happens.


NOW we’re talking. What’s on TV for Saturday afternoon?

This poll is closed

  • 66%
    (73 votes)
  • 13%
    West Virginia-Maryland
    (15 votes)
  • 1%
    San Jose State-USC
    (2 votes)
  • 1%
    (2 votes)
  • 3%
    Alabama-Miami, because I NEED to watch a 30-point blowout
    (4 votes)
  • 11%
    Something else
    (13 votes)
109 votes total Vote Now

Saturday Evening

Don’t Watch This

Campbell Fighting Camels at Fightin’ Falwells (-21.5, O/U 53.5) [5pm, ESPN3]
Gardner-Webb Runnin’ Bulldogs at Georgia Southern Eagles (-32.5, O/U 52.5) [5pm, ESPN3]
Syracuse Orange (-1.5, O/U 55.5) at Ohio Bobcats [6pm, CBSSN]
Akron Zips at Auburn Tigers (-36.5, O/U 55) [6pm, ESPN+]
Eastern Illinois Panthers at South Carolina Gamecocks (-43, O/U 58.5) [6pm, ESPN+]
(FCS #12) Monmouth Hawks at Middle Tennessee Blue Raiders (-7.5, O/U 59.5) [6pm, ESPN3]
Missouri State Bears at Oklahoma State Cowboys (-36.5, O/U 51.5) [6pm, ESPN+]
Baylor Bears (-13.5, O/U 53.5) at Texas State Bobcats [6pm, ESPN+]
(FCS #23) Nicholls Colonels at Memphis Tigers (-24.5, O/U 69.5) [6pm, ESPN+]
Abilene Christian Wildcats at SMU Mustangs (-30.5, O/U 66.5) [6pm, ESPN+]
Norfolk State Spartans at Toledo Rockets (-37.5, O/U 58.5) [6pm, ESPN3]
(FCS #13) Central Arkansas Bears at Arkansas State Red Wolves (-13.5, O/U 65.5) [6pm, ESPN3]
Southern Jaguars at Troy Trojans (-26.5, O/U 56.5) [6pm, ESPN3]
#5 Georgia Bulldogs vs. #3 Clemson Tigers (-3, O/U 51) [6:30pm, ABC]
Florida Atlantic Owls at #13 Florida Gators (-23.5, O/U 52) [6:30pm, SECN]
Northwestern State Demons at North Texas Mean Green (-17.5, O/U 64.5) [6:30pm, ESPN3]
Northern Illinois Huskies at Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets (-17.5, O/U 58) [6:30pm, ACCN]
Bill & Mary at Virginia Cavaliers (-33.5, O/U 49.5) [6:30pm, ESPN3]
Kent State Golden Flashes at #6 Texas A&M Aggies (-28.5, O/U 67) [7pm, ESPNU]
(FCS #9) Montana Grizzlies at #20 Washington Huskies (-23.5, O/U 54.5) [7pm, Pac-12]
East Tennessee State Buccaneers at Vanderbilt Commodores (-21.5, O/U 44.5) [7pm, ESPN+]
Southern Miss Golden Eagles at South Alabama Jaguars (-1, O/U 56.5) [7pm, ESPN+]
Duquesne Dukes at TCU Horned Frogs (-49.5, O/U 56.5) [7pm, ESPN+]

{MLS} Vancouver Whitecaps vs. Austin [6pm, ESPN+]
{MLS} Orlando City SC vs. Columbus Crew [6:30pm, ESPN+]
{MLS} Real Salt Lake vs. Dallas [7pm, TUDN]
{MLS} Cincinnati vs. Inter Miami [7pm, ESPN+]

Watch That

Oregon State Beavers at Purdue Boilermakers

6pm | FS1 | Purdue -7 | O/U 68.5

Texas Tech Red Raiders vs. Houston Cougars

6pm | ESPN | TTU -1.5 | O/U 64
Game at NRG Stadium, Houston, TX

UTSA Roadrunners at Illinois Fighting Illini

6:30pm | BTN | Illinois -5.5 | O/U 49

#16 LSU Tigers at UCLA Bruins

7:30pm | FOX | LSU -3 | O/U 65.5

Neutral-site, made-for-TV bullshit Top 5 matchups suck. You know it, I know it. There’s no point to Clemson-Georgia except to bolster the resume of one team—whoever loses only has a “good loss” on their schedule. No thanks. Charlotte deserves this bullshit.

The REST of this? This is a goddamn smorgasbord:

  • There is no information out there on Purdue-Oregon State. I’m pretty sure not even at this blog. No one has any idea what to expect. This is like the old days of college football, when newspapers would describe how “the Corvallis Eleven disembarked from their train, brows glistening in the Midwestern sun, when the bystanders realized they were actually twenty-two youth, pair up, one on the shoulders of another and wearing trench coats.” That might literally be who shows up to play Purdue. I’d still only take the Boilers by 10.
  • Dana Holgorsen is on the hot seat in Houston, where the Coogs have decided they’re owed something—remember when the lost to Army, 70-14, and fired Major Applewhite two years into his coaching career? I wish I was in town to see this nonsense with Texas Tech.
  • Is Illinois good? NO ONE KNOWS!
  • DACOACHO looking for a redemption season against a very sweaty Chip Kelly—a real showdown in terms of whose face can turn a deeper shade a red as the game goes on.


Choose from among this beautiful footballing action:

This poll is closed

  • 41%
    (39 votes)
  • 14%
    (14 votes)
  • 1%
    Some Texas showdowning
    (1 vote)
  • 24%
    LSU goes west
    (23 votes)
  • 3%
    Syracuse at Ohio
    (3 votes)
  • 15%
    All that excellent football, and I’d rather watch Clemson-Georgia and talk NFL Draft prospects
    (15 votes)
95 votes total Vote Now

It’s Late and I’m Drunk...

Don’t Watch This

Bethune-Cookman Wildcats at UTEP Miners (-19.5, O/U 51.5) [8pm, ESPN3]
BYU Cougars (-12.5, O/U 54) at Arizona Wildcats [9:30pm, ESPN]
New Mexico State Aggies at San Diego State Aztecs (-31, O/U 51) [9:30pm, CBSSN]

{MLS} San Jose Earthquakes vs. Colorado Rapids [9pm, TUDN]

Watch That

Nevada Wolf Pack at California Golden Bears

9:30pm | FS1 | Cal -3 | O/U 52.5

Utah State Aggies at Washington State Cougars

10pm | Pac-12 | Wazzu -17 | O/U 67

Portland State Vikings at Hawai’i Rainbow Warriors

10:59pm | Team1Sports (mobile/laptop only) | UH -21.5 | O/U 61.5

Nevada’s a front-runner to win the West Division of the Mountain West Conference, and Jay Norvell would make a helluva coach at, I don’t know, Nebraska or something...can they break through a decent Cal defense?

Who cares, because it’s late, we’re drunk, and there’s gonna be reaaaaal dumb football on when the Aggies roll into Pullman for ol’ Antivax Nick Rolovich’s Coogs.

And then you watch Hawaii football on your phone. Shut up and do it.


It’s late and I’m drunk, so I’m watching...

This poll is closed

  • 25%
    (21 votes)
  • 7%
    Utah State-Wazzu
    (6 votes)
  • 8%
    Portland State-Hawaii
    (7 votes)
  • 10%
    Whatever the bar has on
    (9 votes)
  • 48%
    lol i passed out hours ago
    (41 votes)
84 votes total Vote Now

Make sure you’ve checked out Kind of...’s wrap-up of a wild Week 1 in Big Ten volleyball that includes Minnesota playing a HELL of a schedule that continues with a brutal match Sunday afternoon match (1pm, ESPNU) at #5 Florida.

You’ve got some football Sunday and Monday, too, but one of those games is Notre Dame and I refuse to dignify that with a preview. Louisville-Ole Miss on Monday should be bangin’, though.

Here’s your thread for the afternoon until football starts and your guide to the rest of the weekend. Behave yourselves and enjoy the football.