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2019 College Football Kickoff: television schedule, viewing guide, and unwatchable filth.

That was as long an offseason as I can remember.

<p zoompage-fontsize="15" style="">paul bryant young

“Son, what’s all this forward passing about?”

Whoo hoo! Football for the next five days. That was a terribly long offseason. But, we’ve made it, and so now it’s time to reap our rewards. Here’s the schedule for tonight and tomorrow, why you should watch, and your open thread. Enjoy!

Thursday Night’s Games

Visting Team Home Team Time (Central) TV
Visting Team Home Team Time (Central) TV
UCLA Cincinnati 6:00 PM ESPN
Wagner UConn 6:00 PM ESPN3
Albany Central Michigan 6:00 PM ESPN3
Morgan State Bowling Green 6:00 PM ESPN3
Robert Morris Buffalo 6:00 PM ESPN+
Florida A&M #17UCF 6:30 PM CBSSN
Central Arkansas Western Kentucky 6:30 PM ESPN+
Gardner-Webb Charlotte 6:30 PM ESPN+
Georgia Tech #1Clemson 7:00 PM ACCN
Florida International Tulane 7:00 PM ESPN3
Alabama State UAB 7:00 PM ESPN+
Texas State #12Texas A&M 7:30 PM SECN
South Dakota State Minnesota 8:00 PM FS1
Kent State Arizona State 9:00 PM PAC12
Northern Colorado San Jose State 9:00 PM :(
#14Utah BYU 9:15 PM ESPN

What to Watch on Thursday & Friday:

South Dakota State at Minnesota -13.5 (Thursday, 8:00 FS1)
A few years ago, one of my many alma maters went into Minneapolis and laid waste to Minnesota (#GoYotes). This Gophers team isn’t as bad as that 2010 version of course, but this Jackrabbits team is much, much better. Alongside North Dakota State and a handful of other D1AA squads, they really should be playing big boy football. Don’t be surprise if this is closer than it should be based on perception of the names on the jerseys. That said, for all of you degenerate gamblers, I wouldn’t touch this game with stolen money.

FIU at Tulane -2 (Thurs, 7:00 ESPN3)
This should be a really good one if you want to see midmajor division contenders from the AAC and CUSA slug it out in a defensive showcase. And, of course you do. I really love what both Butch Davis and Willie Fritz are doing in Atlanta and Miami. I think the upgrade in the talent level here, especially on the defensive side of the ball, may surprise you. This won’t be your standard lower-midmajor powderpuff tilt. This one likely deserves better than ESPN3.

UCLA at Cincinnati -2.5 (Thurs, 7:00 ESPN)
The Bearcats are my Ohio River Valley Large Adult Son. I’m in the tank for the job Fickell has done. And, when Cincy faces off vs. Memphis in December for the AAC title game, remember where you heard it first, way back in February. Chip Kelly, my dude, you never really can go home again, can you? I have zero faith in this UCLA squad, the talent level, the offense, or his notorious curmudgeon schtick on a campus where hoops are king and in a city with too many distractions. New Hampshire and Oregon were great places for him. Sunny Los Angeles? Me? I’d be hitting the Whiskey and talking up all the pretty girls with giant hairspray bangs. Still, this should be a close one — a touchdown either side. Bad Power 5 talent is still at least as good as/better than Good Group of 5 talent.

Holy War! Utah (+5.5) at BYU (Thurs., 9:00 ESPN)

This game is going to hit harder than Dave Mustaine’s iconic intro riff to its namesake. Want to see two teams, two schools that genuinely do not like one another? This is your ticket. And if you think Mormons are too nice for a dirty, chippy game with personal fouls a’plenty, then I give you both this rivalry and...well...a certain piece of Utah history to ponder. This is the crown jewel of the Thursday schedule where we’ll find out a lot about the Utes’ national ambitions in a road test. The defenses should shine tonight, and Sr. QB Brent Huntley is one of the best-kept secrets East of the Mississippi.

Friday Night’s Games

Visitor Home Time (Central) TV
Visitor Home Time (Central) TV
Rice Army 5:00 PM CBSSN
Tulsa #18Michigan State 6:00 PM FS1
#19Wisconsin South Florida 6:00 PM ESPN
UMass Rutgers 6:15 PM BTN
Utah State Wake Forest 7:00 PM ACCN
Purdue Nevada 8:30 PM CBSSN
Colorado State Colorado 9:00 PM ESPN
Oklahoma State Oregon State 9:30 PM FS1

Wisconsin (-10.5) at South Florida (Fri., 6:00 ESPN)
The line on this one has dropped like a rock, and rightly so. The Badgers will probably need points (and plenty of conditioning) on the road in the muggy, stygian 9th Circle of Tampa. The Badgers should win but, man, are they flaky early in the season. Throw in the impending hurricane — notably unfamiliar climate in Madison, I add — and this could get dicey. OR, UW shows up like the Big 10 powerhouse it is, smothers the speedy Bulls with their mammoth run game, and controls the clock en route to a routine, SOS-building OOC victory. And I still don’t know which way I lean.

Utah State (+4.5) at Wake Forest (Fri., 7:00 ACCN).
It’s a pity that this one is buried on the ACC Network, since this could very well be the game to watch on Friday. Expect a shootout, wide open football, and two genuinely fun teams to watch with roughly equal talent.

Purdue (-9.5) vs. Nevada (Fri., 9:00 CBSSN).
I mean, why not? You’re up. The Boilermakers travel to the high desert of Reno to face the owners of the prettiest uniform color in college sports, the Nevada Wolfpack. At times over the past two seasons, Nevada has seemed as though they are improving. Then, they do things like get mauled by Vanderbilt. They are infinitely better at home though, which means you can be prepared to reach for the remote if Bad Road Purdue and its Bad Defense show up. That’s as likely as any other scenario.

Scores only:

Maybe catch a few series of Ga. Tech (+37) at Clemson. This one is going to be hideous. But, let’s see how far Saban alumnus Geoff Collins has come with the Yellow Jackets in such a short time.

Texas State travels to A&M (-34.5) for its paycheck beating on Thursday. The Aggies have to rebuild the defense and running game, putting a lot of pressure on the passing game. Let’s see if rumors of Mond’s improvement are substantiated.

Kent State (+24.5) heads to the desert to face Herm’s Fightin’ Sun Devils. That game begins at 11:00 local time for the Golden Flashes. They’re going to get killed.

Rice at Army (-22.5). Consider this one a gauge of how far the Owls have come, if at all, and how far the Knights have fallen off, if at all.

Tulsa (+23.5) at Michigan State. Nothing to see here, it really only presents a problem if the Spartans struggle with a bottom-tier AAC team.

Colorado State at Colorado (-13.5). Sigh. I remember when this was a good rivalry...and played over Thanksgiving. But, I’m old and hate all change, so ignore me. That said, both teams stink at the moment and this game is going to suck. Don’t take too much away from this, no matter the final score (and I suspect the Buffaloes and their outstanding WR corps smoke the Rams).

Oklahoma State (-14) at Oregon State. This one is exclusively for those who hate defense, but love Halloween-themed uniforms and fantastic double entendre. Will the Pokes get it done against the Beavers? Can they stiffen up when needed and get penetration against weak resistance? (It’s also a good game to bet on: Take the Cowboys.)

Weeknight Unwatchable Filth

Rutgers at Umass is prohibited by law in 27 countries and several local governments. The worst Power 5 team in the nation vs. one of the worst G5 squads — one contemplating giving up football? This is really how we’re going to honor the 150th anniversary of Rutgers playing in the first football game? Strictly for the masochists out there. Not even I would watch this.

This is your weeknight thread, so have fun with it. And let the games begin.