Michigan at Notre Dame, Louisville Facing Alabama Highlight Week 1 College Football Matchups

By James Grega on May 23, 2018 at 8:38 am
Notre Dame Stadium

Matt Cashore-USA TODAY Sports

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To borrow a phrase from Judge Smails, "Well? We're waiting."

We are 99 days out from the first official weekend of college football, which starts on Thursday, Aug. 30. No, I don't include the matchups below as the official first weekend, because I have standards. 

Schedule

Not a knock against those fine programs, but you couldn't pay me to sit down and watch any of these games (though I will gladly hear any and all offers). That said, if you have the patience to wait one more week, you are in for a treat. 

The actual week 1 of the college football season is stacked with a plethora of premier matchups. Sadly, Ohio State is not involved in one of them, as the Buckeyes are expected to paste Oregon State at Ohio Stadium on Sept. 1. 

However, once you get your fill of Dwayne Haskins in his first Ohio State start, there will be plenty of other opportunities to watch some great matchups in week 1, in primetime. 

Sept. 1: Michigan at Notre Dame, 7:30 p.m.

Inject this directly into my veins. No matter how much Ohio State fans dislike these to programs, there is no denying the rivalry is great for college football. 

We haven't had the pleasure of seeing these two schools play each other since the final season of the Brady Hoke era, which saw the Wolverines lose a 31-0 heartbreaker to the Irish. It wasn't a complete loss however, as it provided us with one of the best websites on the Internet

This game will also start the Shea Patterson era in Ann Arbor and will give Jim Harbaugh an opportunity to finally pick up a rivalry win. He is just 1-5 against Ohio State and Michigan State combined in his three seasons as the head man. A win over the Irish would be the perfect way to kick off his fourth campaign. If he loses however, it might be fair to say he his seat is getting warm. 

Sept. 1: Louisville vs. Alabama, 8 p.m.

Are you as sick of Alabama not playing true road games in the non-conference as I am? You are? Good. You should be. 

The Crimson Tide haven't played a true non-conference road game since 2011, when they traveled to Happy Valley and defeated Penn State 27-11. Since then, Alabama has played a number of premier non-conference games, all of which have come at a neutral location. This season won't be any different, as Alabama is set to open against Louisville at Camping World Stadium in Orlando, Fla. 

This game loses a lot of its luster with Lamar Jackson gone to the NFL. If Louisville's offensive line is as bad as it was last season, Alabama is going to have this game locked up by halftime. Still, the brand recognition of the two schools makes it an interesting matchup. If nothing else, it should be fun to see how Alabama handles its own #QBGeddon between Jalen Hurts and Tua Tagovailoa. 

Sept. 1: Tennessee vs. West Virginia, TBD

Oh look, another neutral site game. Hooray! 

I am just as sick of these neutral site games as the next guy, as they take away from the pageantry of college football, but nonetheless, this should be a solid matchup. 

The Vols open up the Greg Schiano Jeremy Pruitt era with a trip to Charlotte, N.C. to take on West Virginia at Bank of America Stadium, in a game that has yet to set a start time. 

The Mountaineers return Will Grier as their starting quarterback, which gives them a chance to compete in the Big 12, considering Baker Mayfield no longer resides in Norman (Browns in the Wild Card, baby), and TCU graduated its starting quarterback, running back and three of their four leading tacklers. 

Sept. 2: LSU vs. Miami (FL), 7:30 p.m.

Another neutral site game, but I won't complain about this one, as Joe Burrow will finally get his chance to start a college football game (probably). 

If I remember correctly, the last time these two teams met was in the 2005 Peach Bowl, when LSU throttled the Hurricanes, 40-3, resulting in a despicable fight that all but ended the dynasty that Larry Coker created inherited in South Beach. 

Hopefully we don't see another fight other than the one in between the lines. The Hurricanes won their first 10 games of the Mark Richt era before dropping three in a row to end the season, falling to Pitt, Clemson and Wisconsin respectively. They figure to be a contender for the ACC title again in 2018 however, as quarterback Malik Rosier returns for his junior campaign. 

Watching Rosier go head-to-head against Burrow should be a fun one for Ohio State fans to watch, and on a Sunday night no less, before we begin watching the revolution in Cleveland, Ohio for the rest of our fall Sunday's. 

Sept. 3: Virginia Tech at Florida State, 8 p.m.

Finally, we get back to a traditional home game between two traditional college football powers. 

The Hokies travel to Tallahassee on Labor Day night, as the Seminoles open the first year of the Willie Tagart era. Virginia Tech has been slowly resurrecting the program that Frank Beamer left, as Justin Fuente enters his third season as the head man in Blacksburg. 

Usually, I am not a huge fan of conference games to open the season, but in this case I will make an exception. I love everything about the Labor Day night game. Ohio State's game against Virginia Tech in 2015 was electric (I wasn't there, but I hear good things), and I am all about college football on the weeknights. Just have to push through until November so I can get some #MACtion back in my life. 

All jokes aside, this game should be a stellar matchup. Florida State gets quarterback Deondre Francois back healthy after suffering a season-ending injury against Alabama in last year's season opener. Pitting him up against an always stellar Hokie defense should make for an excellent conclusion to the first weekend of college football. 

Honorable Mentions:

Sept. 1: Texas at Maryland, TBD
Sept. 1: Ole Miss vs. Texas Tech, TBD (NRG Stadium)

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