It's never too soon to start looking at the upcoming college football season.
So with less than two months to go until the first game kicks off in the 2009 season, let's take a look at some of the big games around the country.
A good number of games for the first few weeks of the season have already been slotted by the networks and the viewing landscape is beginning to take shape.
In the last few seasons, the trend has been towards most of the big games starting in the 3:30 or 8:00 p.m. time slots. It seems that universities and networks are shying away from the noon kickoffs in the eastern time zone, making it harder to fill a full day with quality matchups.
If you're anything like me, you take a good look at the schedule each week and get upset when two intriguing games are being played at the same time, or even worse, on the same network.
All of the times and networks listed are subject to change, but this has been the information handed out by the networks and universities thus far.
Break out your calendar and let's start setting our viewing guide.
The season kicks off on a Thursday night, which will most likely be a little anti-climatic. Sure, it's a great way to start off Labor Day Weekend, but most people won't make it through a good Oregon/Boise State matchup.
North Texas at Ball State kicks off first, but I'm holding out for South Carolina and NC State.
South Carolina at NC State: 7 p.m., ESPN
Oregon at Boise State: 10:15 p.m., ESPN
Saturday gives us our first full slate of games topped by Georgia visiting Oklahoma State. This will be a great road test for Mark Richt, taking on Zac Robinson and Dez Bryant.
My advice is to start the day with a local game of interest and then settle in for Georgia/Oklahoma State at 3:30 p.m. Keep the remote handy with an interesting Illinois/Missouri game on at the same time.
Then, catch a little of BYU at Oklahoma before switching over to watch Alabama take on Virginia Tech. If this game becomes a blowout, switch over early to see Maryland visit Cal which starts just before another interesting night game of LSU at Washington.
Georgia at Oklahoma State: 3:30 p.m., ABC
Illinois vs. Missouri (in St. Louis): 3:30, ESPN
BYU vs. Oklahoma: 7 p.m., ESPN
Alabama vs. Virginia Tech (in Atlanta): 8 p.m., ABC
Maryland at California: 10 p.m., ESPN2
LSU at Washington: 10:30 p.m., ESPN
Labor Day gives us two interesting matchups that might be worth putting on while you're outside at a pool, or enjoying the air conditioning inside. Both should prove worthy of your time.
Cincinnati at Rutgers: 4 p.m., ESPN
Miami at Florida State: 8 p.m., ESPN
The second weekend kicks off with a good ACC matchup. I don't know about you, but I'm extremely curious to see year two of the Tech offense and the triple option.
Clemson at Georgia Tech: 7:30 p.m., ESPN
This Saturday hosts the number-one matchup of the preseason. Sure there will be lots of critical conference showdowns that develop as the year progresses, but USC at Ohio State is the grand-daddy of non-conference matchups whether it's played in the Rose Bowl or not.
Kudos to both schools for scheduling the tough opponent and giving college football fans what they deserve: meaningful football in September.
The day doesn't have much leading up to the big clash, but whet your appetite with Notre Dame at Michigan, UCLA at Tennessee, Iowa at Iowa State, and Stanford at Wake Forest.
Iowa at Iowa State: Noon, FSN
Stanford at Wake Forest: Noon, Raycom/ESPN GamePlan
Notre Dame at Michigan: 3:30 p.m., ABC
UCLA at Tennessee: 4 p.m., ESPN
USC at Ohio State: 8 p.m., ESPN
Purdue at Oregon: 10:15 p.m., FSN
The Thursday night ACC matchup is again very watchable at Georgia Tech has to travel to Miami.
Georgia Tech at Miami: 7:30, ESPN
This week looks to be a little more balanced with some quality games from start to finish.
Again, the noon timeslot will be filled with local matchups and the normal cupcakes, but Boston College at Clemson could be worth watching.
Don't sleep on the East Carolina/North Carolina game. We all remember how East Carolina started last season.
Then, Tennessee at Florida will be the game of the day, and Michigan State at Notre Dame should be worth flipping to during commercials.
Finish off the day with West Virginia at Auburn in a rare non-conference matchup, and Kansas State at UCLA which will carry into the a.m.
Boston College at Clemson: Noon, Raycom/ESPN GamePlan
East Carolina at North Carolina: Noon, ESPN or ESPN2
Michigan State at Notre Dame: 3:30 p.m., NBC
Tennessee at Florida: 3:30 p.m., CBS
West Virginia at Auburn: 7:45 p.m., ESPN or ESPN2
Kansas State at UCLA: 10:15 p.m., FSN
That's how the first three weekends of the season shake out. Hats off to the teams that scheduled interesting opponents in September and especially to those who are treating us to the rare, tough non-conference matchup.
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