It’s been 234 days since Clemson upset Alabama in the 2017 College Football Playoff Championship Game. And now, Week one of the 2017 college football season has finally arrived. From Tom Herman making his Texas coaching debut to Alabama and Florida State squaring off for a potential College Football Playoff preview, check out the most anticipated games of the opening weekend in college football.
Texas vs. Maryland (Noon ET, FS1)
In Tom Herman’s first game as the Longhorn head coach, he will ride with second-year, sophomore quarterback Shane Buechele who started 12 games for Texas last season. Herman, voted the most overrated coach by college football media members, brings his high-octane offense over from Houston and hopes to turn around a depleted Longhorn team that finished 5-7 under Charlie Strong last season. Herman’s first task is D.J. Durkin’s Maryland Terrapins. Maryland possesses a disruptive pass rush that finished third in the Big Ten with 38 sacks last season and a talented running back duo who combined for over 1,600 rushing yards in 2016.
Alabama vs. Florida State (8 p.m. ET, ABC)
The top-ranked Crimson Tide and the third-ranked Seminoles face off in Atlanta’s new Mercedes-Benz Stadium, the home of the 2018 College Football Playoff Championship Game. This potential College Football Playoff preview is the fourth season-opening game involving two teams in the top five. Nick Saban and the Crimson Tide aren’t strangers to tough opening weekend matches up, crushing Southern California 52-6 in week one last season. But this Florida State team will provide a tougher matchup for Alabama. The Seminoles return starting quarterback Deondre Francois and safety Derwin James, both All-American candidates. Even though both teams possess stingy defenses, this game will be a high-scoring affair.
Clemson vs. Kent State (Noon ET, ESPN)
The reigning College Football Playoff Champions Clemson will start the 2017 season with a new signal caller. Clemson coach Dabo Swinney puts all his confidence in junior quarterback Kelly Bryant to replace Heisman Trophy runner-up Deshaun Watson. Kelly will make his starting debut Saturday against Kent State, becoming the fourth starting Clemson quarterback since 2011. “Running down the hill and taking the first snaps as a quarterback, being a starter, it's always been a dream and I want to keep living the dream every Saturday now that I'm here,” Bryant, the first South Carolina native to start as Clemson’s quarterback since 2008, said. Bryant’s first-career start should be an easy one against a Kent State defense that allowed 380 passing yards and six touchdowns per game in 2016.
Florida vs. Michigan (3:30 p.m. ET, ABC)
There is as much hype around the Florida-Michigan game as the Mayweather-McGregor fight. The stage is set for No. 17 Florida and No. 11 Michigan. There have been some verbal jabs exchanged between head coaches Jim McElwain and Jim Harbaugh ahead of the showdown at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas. It all started when Harbaugh refused to release Michigan’s 2017 depth chart, especially the starting quarterback. “We haven’t gotten into Michigan prep yet at all,” McElwain said last week. “When you guys get their roster let me know who we’re playing.” Even with two days before the two teams meet, Harbaugh isn’t ready to reveal his starting quarterback. On the other hand, McElwain announced redshirt freshman Feleipe Franks as the Gators starting quarterback, beating out incumbent starter Luke Del Rio and Notre Dame transfer Malik Zaire. To say the least, this game should end with an intense mid-field handshake.
Louisville vs. Purdue (7:30 p.m. ET, Fox)
All eyes will be on Louisville quarterback and reigning Heisman Trophy winner Lamar Jackson once opening weekend kicks off. Will Jackson be able to replicate his incredible sophomore season when he threw for 3,543 yards and 30 touchdowns while totaling over 1,500 yards and 21 touchdowns on the ground. Jackson’s first chance to show the world he wasn’t a one-hit wonder will come against Purdue in week one. Even though the Boilermakers are 26-point underdogs, Purdue head coach Jeff Brohm, a Louisville alum, thinks his team has a shot if they can contain Jackson at the line of scrimmage. Good luck to coach Brohm and the Boilermakers because only three teams were able to hold Jackson under 100 yards rushing last season.