The 2015 College Football season is finally here with 88 FBS teams kicking off their season this weekend, starting with North Carolina vs. South Carolina and Florida International vs. UCF at 6 p.m. Thursday, according to ESPN.
In total, there are 19 games scheduled for Thursday, eight on Friday, 59 on Saturday, one on Sunday and one on Monday. Also, 18 games feature a team ranked in the Top-25 though only one game pits ranked teams against one another — No. 20 Wisconsin vs. No. 3 Alabama.
Here are the top-10 games to watch this weekend
10. Washington at No. 23 Boise State, 10: 15 p.m. (Friday) TV: ESPN
This should be an interesting matchup as Washington head coach Chris Petersen gets to face-off against his former team for the first time. Petersen, who went 8-6 in his first season with the Huskies, spent eight years as head coach at Boise State and compiled a 92-12 overall record — he led the Broncos to a Bowl berth in each season, which included a victory in the 2009 Fiesta Bowl and gave Boise State a 14-0 campaign.
The Huskies, who lost in the Cactus bowl last year, could be in for a long season as they return just nine starters — four on offense and five on defense. Plus Washington is unsettled at quarterback as junior Jeff Lindquist, redshirt freshman K.J. Carta-Samuels, and freshman Jake Browning as been vying for time.
In the meantime, Yahoo! Sports is reporting that Boise State is considered to have an outside chance at sneaking in the College Football Playoff this year. The Broncos return nine starters on offense that averaged nearly 500 yards and 40 points last year. However, Boise State will have a new quarterback in sophomore Ryan Finley.
Boise State also returns eight starters on defense.
9. Texas at No. 10 Notre Dame, 7:30 p.m. (Saturday) TV: NBC
This is year two in the rebuilding process for head coach Charlie Strong and the Texas Longhorns. The Longhorns finished 6-7 last year though five of their losses were blowouts.
The big question for Texas is can the Longhorns score enough points? Texas was held to 10 or less points five times last year and totaled a whopping 17 points in their last two games, which includes a 31-7 drubbing at the hands of Arkansas in the Texas Bowl.
Notre Dame, on the other hand, is hoping to surprise the college football world like they did in 2012 when they played for the BCS Championship, according to the USA Today.
Notre Dame is a veteran team that returns a slew of starters on both sides of the football. The Irish are expected to better on the defensive end than last year, when they surrendered 29.1 points a contest.
8. Michigan at Utah, 8:30 p.m. (Thursday) TV: FoxSports1
Former University of Michigan quarterback and San Francisco 49ers head coach Jim Harbaugh returns to college football with his alma mater. Harbaugh has a career college coaching record of 58-27 with San Diego and Stanford.
Michigan went 5-7 last year, marking the third time in the past seven years the Wolverines have not played in a bowl game. The Wolverines, who dropped a 26-10 decision to Utah last year at Ann Arbor, are just 46-42 over the past seven years.
The Wolverines have a legitimate shot at making a bowl game this year as they are talented, but Utah will be a tough first game.
Utah, which is likely a bubble playoff team, is led by senior running back Devontae Booker. Booker rushed for 1,512 yards and 10 touchdowns though he managed just 34 yards on nine carries last versus the Wolverines. He also had 43 receptions last season. Senior Travis Wilson will be under center for the Utes once again this year — Wilson threw for 2,170 yards, 18 touchdowns and five interceptions last year.
7. Louisville at No. 6 Auburn, 3:330 p.m. (Saturday) TV: CBS
Former Atlanta Falcons head coach Bobby Petrino leads Louisville into the Georgia Dome against sixth-ranked Auburn on Saturday.
Petrino, who led the Cards to a 9-4 record in his first season, has yet to name a starting quarterback — Reggie Bonnafon, Will Gardner, and Kyle Bolin have competed for the job during training camp. So, it will be interesting to see what he does.
Auburn is the favorite to win the SEC and earn one of the four playoff spots. The Tigers are very young on the offensive line and junior quarterback Jeremy Johnson, who has received a lot of hype this season, has thrown just 88 passes the past two seasons.
6. Penn State at Temple, 3:30 p.m. (Saturday) TV: ESPN
Can Temple finally beat Penn State?
The Nittany Lions have won 39 straight meetings between the schools and returns 15 starters, including seven from one of the top defenses in the nation. Penn State went 7-6 under head coach James Franklin in his first season at Happy Valley.
Temple, which is expected to contend for the American Athletic Conference title, returns seven starters on offense and 10 on defense — including the team’s leaders in tackles, sacks, and interceptions.
5. North Carolina vs. South Carolina, 6 p.m. (Thursday), TV: ESPN
This rivalry game will be played at Bank of America Stadium in Charlotte, N.C.
South Carolina head coach Steve Spurrier is 5-0 against North Carolina, but sophomore Connor Mitch will be making his first start at quarterback for the Gamecocks.
North Carolina could challenge for the ACC’s Coastal division title if they fixed their awful defense. The Tar Heels’ defense surrendered 39 points a game and nearly 500 yards last year.
4. BYU at Nebraska, 3:30 p.m. (Saturday) TV: ABC
This is the first-ever matchup between the programs and should be a doozy.
BYU has a history of taking down top-tier programs in season openers and Nebraska, which is under the direction of first year coach Mike Riley, hasn’t lost a season opener since 1985.
The Cougars will be without several players as a result of the team’s brawl against Miami (last year) but they will still have senior duel threat quarterback Taysom Hill.
The Huskers could be in for another solid season as quarterback Tommy Armstrong, Jr. returns. Armstrong threw for 2,695 yards and 22 touchdowns and rushed for another 705 yards along with six scores. Nebraska finished 9-4 last year.
3. No. 15 Arizona State vs. Texas A&M, 7:00 p.m. (Saturday) TV: ESPN
The Arizona State Sun Devils have high hopes for this season. The Sun Devils have won 28 games in Todd Graham’s first three seasons and finished ranked No. 12 in the nation last year, which is their highest finish since 1996.
Arizona State returns a bevy of talented offensive players including senior quarterback Mike Bercovici, senior wide receiver D.J. Foster, and sophomore running back Kalen Ballege.
Texas A&M will go with sophomore Kyle Allen, who only has a handful of games under his belt at quarterback, but the player to really watch is sophomore defensive end Myles Garrett, who recorded 11.5 sacks last year.
The Aggies, who finished 8-5 last season, are expected to compete for the SEC crown this year.
The game is being played in Houston.
2. No. 20 Wisconsin at No. 3 Alabama, 8 p.m. (Saturday) TV: ABC
The only matchup that features two ranked teams will be played in Arlington, Texas.
Alabama is expected to contend for the SEC title and a spot in the playoffs this year. The Crimson Tide possess a furious front seven and a terrific running game — junior running back Derrick Henry ran for 990 yards last season. However, they are unsettled at quarterback.
Wisconsin is led by junior running back Corey Clement, who rushed for 949 yards and nine touchdowns last season.
1. No. 1 Ohio State at Virginia Tech, 8 p.m. (Monday) TV: ESPN
Ohio State stumbled in week two last year against Virginia Tech but then went onto win the national championship. The Hokies, on the other hand, went 5-6 after defeating the Buckeyes to finish the season at 7-6 overall.
Ohio State is a favorite to repeat as national champs but they have several players out due to suspensions — wideouts Corey Smith, Jalin Marshall, halfback Dontre Wilson, and defensive end Joey Bosa.
Virginia Tech should be tough on defense with three all-ACC preseason selections in cornerback Kendall Fuller, linebacker Luther Maddy, and defensive end Dadi Lhomme Nicolas.
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