Lamest time window: The Friday games seem more like background noise than must-watch TV.
8: Florida at No. 14 Utah (ESPN) is the best option. Here’s hoping it’s as entertaining as last year’s thriller in Gainesville (which Calvary Christian alumnus Amari Burney sealed with an interception in the end zone).
7:30: Louisville has the schedule to be a dark-horse ACC contender in Jeff Brohm’s first season, which makes the Cardinals’ opener at Georgia Tech (ESPN) worthwhile.
12: I don’t know what to expect from Deion Sanders at Colorado, nor do I know what to expect from No. 17 TCU (Fox) after losing most contributors from last year’s playoff team. We’ll start to find out in this matchup.
3:30: If No. 10 Washington is a playoff team, the Huskies should handle Boise State (ABC) easily. Also, a trip to Conference USA frontrunner Western Kentucky will be an early measuring stick for USF (CBSSN).
7: A fun matchup on FS1 between two teams jumping to bigger conferences: UTSA (from Conference USA to the AAC) at Houston (from the AAC to the Big 12).
7:30: No. 7 Penn State can convince some doubters (like me) by thumping West Virginia (NBC). The Carolina battle between the Gamecocks and No. 21 Tar Heels (ABC) could be the best game of the day.
7:30: Though the loser of No. 5 LSU vs. No. 8 Florida State (ABC) in Orlando won’t be out of the playoff picture, the winner will end the weekend as an early frontrunner.
8: No. 9 Clemson should not look past Duke (ESPN), which won nine games last season and returns a good quarterback (Riley Leonard).
Local of the week
Coastal Carolina defensive lineman Kennedy Roberts (Clearwater Central Catholic)
The 6-foot-3, 290-pound super senior is a captain for the Chanticleers, who lost coach Jamey Chadwell this offseason. Roberts faces a big Week 1 challenge against Chip Kelly’s offense at UCLA.
Eye on the NFL draft
Florida State defensive end Jared Verse proved he belonged at the major-college level last year with two sacks and a blocked field goal in his FSU debut against LSU. He can justify the first-round hype with another big game against the Tigers.
7 non-Deion debuts to monitor
USF coach Alex Golesh
The first-time head coach turned over about half the Bulls’ roster and has added a cutting-edge, up-tempo offense. We’ll see how the defense looks, too, against a Western Kentucky scoring offense that ranked in the top 15 each of the past two years.
Nebraska coach Matt Rhule
The former Carolina Panthers coach returns to his college roots and will try to lead the Cornhuskers out of their worst three-year stint since 1959-61. A trip to Minnesota will be a tricky Thursday night challenge.
Texas A&M offensive coordinator Bobby Petrino
There will be fireworks with the former Louisville/Arkansas/Falcons head coach and his boss, Jimbo Fisher. Whether that’s a lot of points or a lot of yelling remains to be seen, though expect the former against New Mexico.
Florida defensive coordinator Austin Armstrong
Wisconsin transfer Graham Mertz is the most interesting new player, but Armstrong is the most notable newcomer in Gainesville. How quickly can he fix a historically bad defense?
Big 12 rookie UCF
Though the Knights should have no issues with Kent State, Thursday’s opener will give us a peek at whether UCF’s talent level and size look any different in its first Power Five season.
Arizona State quarterback Jaden Rashada
The former Gators signee was at the center of an eight-figure name, image and likeness deal gone wrong. To his credit, he rebounded well and will be the second Sun Devils quarterback to start the opener as a freshman (after Jayden Daniels, now at LSU).
Clemson offensive coordinator Garrett Riley
The younger brother of USC coach Lincoln Riley helped lead TCU to the national title game. If he can quickly repair the Tigers’ offense — starting at Duke — Clemson will be a playoff contender again.
History lesson: Florida out of state
The Gators’ last out-of-state non-conference game was a 33-17 loss to Michigan in a top-20 showdown in Arlington, Texas. But their last true, non-conference road game? That was at Syracuse in 1991. Jefferson High alumnus Kirby Dar Dar returned the opening kickoff for a 95-yard touchdown in the No. 17 Orangemen’s 38-21 upset over No. 5 Florida.
Stat of the week
This will be the fourth time FSU has opened the season with a top-10 matchup. The Seminoles lost the previous three but do have a pair of wins in top-12 openers:
2017: No. 3 FSU lost 24-7 to No. 1 Alabama in Atlanta at Mercedes-Benz Stadium’s first big event.
2016: No. 4 FSU rallied from a 22-point deficit in Orlando for a 45-34 win over No. 11 Mississippi.
2006: Gary Cismesia’s fourth-quarter field goal completed a 13-10 comeback win for the No. 11 Seminoles at No. 12 Miami.
2004: No. 5 Miami blocked a late field goal before Frank Gore’s overtime touchdown knocked off No. 4 FSU 16-10.
1988: The No. 8 Hurricanes quickly and emphatically ended FSU’s first stint as the nation’s top team with a 31-0 blowout.
By the numbers: Week 1
10-0-2 — FSU’s record in Orlando. The Seminoles have won nine in a row there, including last season’s bowl win over Oklahoma
70 — Indiana’s field-goal percentage last season. It’s noteworthy, because the Hoosiers aren’t revealing their starting kicker — as if it’s some sort of secret that will help them end a 27-game losing streak against Ohio State
0 — Games of head-coaching experience for Michigan defensive coordinator Jesse Minter, the No. 2 Wolverines’ interim leader this week against East Carolina
0 — Previous times No. 13 Notre Dame has played a Football Championship Subdivision team before hosting Eddie George and Tennessee State
2 — Touchdown passes North Carolina’s Drake Maye needs to tie former No. 2 overall pick Mitch Trubisky for sixth in school history (41)
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