clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

Three Games to Watch: Week 0 Edition

New, 38 comments
NCAA Football: Rice at Stanford Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

College football is back! Well it is back in a small way. We thought we would dust off the three games to watch series we do, which features three college football games that are either noteworthy and/or have an impact on Utah, and we predict a winner and tell you who to root for. This slate of games on Saturday is being called week zero because there are only five games are being played. Hawaii and three other teams that will play Hawaii this season are playing because the NCAA allows an extra 13th game for teams that travel to Hawaii, so by playing a week early, these teams can still have a bye week during the season. There is also, for the second year in a row, a game played in Australia. Despite only five games being played, three of Utah’s future opponents appear in week zero. For this week zero three games to watch article, we feature Utah’s three future opponents. We will dive into each matchup, but it seems unlikely that any of these games will end up being close with one game not having a point spread because it features an FCS opponent, and the other two having point spreads greater than three touchdowns.

Portland State at BYU - 1:00 p.m. MT ESPN

Utah plays BYU in week two of the season, so this will be the first chance Utes fans will get to see the Cougars in action in 2017. I doubt the starters will play much into the second half though, so this will be a game where BYU’s depth will be on display. Because of that and the simple fact that football is back are the two main reasons to watch a game that likely will not be close.

Who to root for and who will win

It would be a major upset if Portland State could pull off the win in Provo. They won only 3 games last season, with one coming against a lower division Central Washington squad. They got crushed in each of their games against FBS teams last year falling 66-35 against San José State and 41-3 against Washington. BYU might be looking ahead to games against LSU, Utah, and Wisconsin in the next three weeks, but they should still win comfortably. On who to root for, it would be fun to see the upset happen, but BYU is Utah’s toughest nonconference game, so the better the Cougars play in 2016 will help Utah’s strength of schedule.

#19 South Florida at San José State - 5:30 p.m. MT CBSSN

The Spartans face the preseason favorite team to represent the Group of Five in the New Year’s Six automatic bowl bid. They are the weakest FBS team on Utah’s schedule. It will mark former Texas head coach Charlie Strong’s debut at South Florida. Utah faces SJSU in week three of the season as their final nonconference opponent before they start Pac-12 play.

Who to root for and who will win

The team to cheer for in this is the team who will likely get blown out on their home field: San José State. South Florida has a lot of talent, led by quarterback Quinton Flowers. South Florida may start a little slow with a new coaching staff after former coach Willie Taggart left for Oregon. If the Spartans pull the upset as 22-point underdogs, it would make Utah’s game against them a bit more meaningful.

#14 Stanford vs Rice Allianz Stadium, Sydney, NSW Australia 8:00 p.m. MT ESPN

Stanford, like their Bay Area rival Cal did last season, will kick off their season in Australia. They face a Rice squad that has not made a bowl since the 2014 Hawaii Bowl. The Owls only won three games last season. This game, like the BYU game against Portland State, will likely see backups play quite a bit since it figures to not be close. The fact that the game is being played in Australia should add some intrigue to what figures to be an otherwise boring game.

Who to root for and who will win

The Cardinal are the marquee opponent coming to Rice-Eccles Stadium this year, so a strong showing out of the gate would be good for the conference as a whole as Stanford is one of only four Pac-12 teams ranked in the preseason AP Poll. Stanford is favored by more than 30 points in this game and should cruise to an easy victory.

Bonus

Since there are only two other games being played, we will mention them as they both figure to be closer. Oregon State travels to Colorado State at 12:30 p.m. MT on CBSSN. The Rams are favored by four, but a win by the Beavers would be nice for the Pac-12. Hawaii has to make the long trip all the way to UMass for their game at 4:00 p.m. on NESNPLUS, or a live stream curtesy of UMass Athletics that can be found here. UMass is favored at home by two.