National Preview: What to Watch in Week One

Nick Saban crawls out of the dark abyss where he resides during the offseason just in time for Saturday's prime time match-up against the Michigan Wolverines. (Photo by Kelly Lambert-US PRESSWIRE)

College football is back, ladies and gentlemen. The long, and unimaginely brutal offseason has mercifully run its corse. Now it's time to sit back and enjoy another season, like a big, shiny package that is waiting to be unwrapped each and every Saturday for the next three months.

Just a note- I'll be grouping the games into categories based on their "watchability" in the future. For now, let's enjoy the one week where you may find yourself watching Liberty play Wake Forest just because it's college football. Without any further ado, here's what to watch for in week one:

(9)South Carolina at Vanderbilt- Thursday 7 p.m. ESPN
If this were a noon game in week four it probably wouldn't make the list. But this is the first game of the season, so there is high anticipation for this game. South Carline has unusually high expectations this season, and watching Marcus Lattimore is always a treat. So crack open that first beer of the season and enjoy.

Washington State vs. BYU- Thursday 10:15 p.m. ESPN
Watch this relish in the fact that Mike Leach is back in college football. With all of the negative stories during the past 18 months, it's nice to know that someone of Leach's talent and character is back on the sidelines, where he rightfully belongs. Washington State may never be Alabama or USC, but they are capable of big things as Mike Price helped prove. Now it's time for Leach to see if he can take the program to new heights after a very rough decade for the Cougars. Bonus coverage - Watch to see if Leach plays nice with the network that played a major role in his downfall at Texas Tech. Leach will likely take the high road, but anything is possible with him.

Tennessee vs. NC State (in Atlanta) - Friday 7:30 p.m. ESPNU
It's two BCS programs facing off prior to the first Saturday of the season. Neither team will be playing for a national title, but it's a nice little treat to whet our football-starved appetities. If nothing else, it gives you something to watch while you are waiting to watch Sparty take on the Boise St. Speaking of which....

(24)Boise State at (13)Michigan State Friday 8 p.m. ESPN
Chris Peterson faces his biggest rebuilding season in some time at Boise State. Most notably, the ultra-efficient Kellen Moore will no longer be slinging the rock after leading the Broncos to numerous undefeated seasons since becoming Boise State's starting quarterback in 1989. Michigan State barely missed it's chance to go to the Rose Bowl last season. This will be a huge step in Sparty's extended quest to national prominence.

Notre Dame vs. Navy Saturday 9 a.m.
How cool is it to wake up to college football? Navy may be overmatched this season, but don't be shocked if they find a way to give the Fighting Irish fits once again. If nothing else, take the opportunity to scout Penn State's week three opponent while enjoying your traditional pre-game meal of a pound of extra crispy bacon.

(14)Clemson vs. Auburn (in Atlanta) Saturday 7 p.m. ESPN
Clemson enters year two of the Dabo experiment, with hopes of becoming a regular on the national scene. Auburn is looking to return to form after a disappointing 8-5 season.

(8) Michigan vs. (2) Alabama Saturday 8 p.m. ESPN (Game of the week)
Penn State fans know exactly what their B10 brethren are feeling right now as they prepare for the chance to knock off the mighty Crimson Tide. 'Bama loses plenty of talent from last year, but as usual they return plenty of top-notch players (especially on the OL) as well as many who will become breakout stars this season. Brady Hoke has done a tremendous job shaping a winning culture and recruiting circles around just about any other staff in the nation. We'll find out very soon if Michigan is ready to take that big step, or if they are still a year or two away from being a BCS Title contender.

Kentucky at (25) Louisville 3:30 p.m. Sunday ESPN
It's nothing to clear your schedule for, but I can think of worse ways to spend a Sunday afternoon than watching the Battle of the Bluegrass State.

Georgia Tech at (16) Virginia Tech 8 p.m. ESPN
Wrap up your Labor Day weekend in an extremely ELITE fashion.


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