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Three Games to Watch Before Saturday

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NCAA Football: Colorado State at Colorado Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

Week one in college football starts with a bang. Since it is Labor Day Weekend, games are spread out from Thursday to Monday. There are so many good games with the huge neutral site match ups that have become synonymous with week one that we could not just pick three games this week. Instead, we are breaking up the three games to watch series into three parts for week one: three games to watch before Saturday, games to watch Saturday (hint, there are more than three), and three games to watch after Saturday. Without further ado, here are the three games to watch before Saturday:

Thursday

#2 Ohio State at Indiana 6:00 p.m. MT ESPN

This game will be tricky for Utah fans to watch if they attend the North Dakota game in person because it kicks off 30 minutes after Utah’s game. While Ohio State is a heavy favorite, this game is worth watching if you can because of the production ESPN is doing for this game. They will broadcast a special two hour edition of ESPN College Gameday live from campus in Bloomington on Thursday morning. The game will be broadcast with MegaCast. Here are more details about all that here. ESPN’s Derek Volner says it will be “the most extravagant regular-season game presentation the sport has ever experienced.” He also says, “The multi-network creation will feature the traditional telecast on ESPN and six alternate offerings for fans on ESPNU, ESPNEWS and ESPN3.” This type of production has previously only been used for College Football Semi-Final games and Championship game. Just taking this production value could make this game a unique viewing experience even if the game itself likely will not be close.

Who to root for and who will win

Ohio State is a common College Football Playoff pick in the preseason and are nearly three touchdown favorites. ESPN’s FPI gives Ohio State over a 95% chance to win the game. Ohio State also features former Indiana head coach Kevin Wilson as their new offensive coordinator. If Indiana could pull off the huge upset, it would be helpful for Pac-12 teams that are College Football Playoff hopefuls, so hope for an Indiana upset but expect to see them get blown out by the Buckeyes who just have too much talent for the Hoosiers to handle.

Friday

#8 Washington at Rutgers 6:00 p.m. MT FS1

I debated including this game or Arizona State’s game against New Mexico State. There were a few reasons I ultimately chose this one over the ASU game. UW has the longest trip of any Pac-12 team in week one traveling all the way to New Jersey to take on Rutgers. They were the 2016 Pac-12 Champions and played in the College Football Playoff. They had four players drafted in the first two rounds of the 2017 NFL Draft (and five overall) including wide receiver John Ross III, who was selected ninth overall. Like Utah, the Huskies lost a lot from their secondary. Despite the personnel losses, the Huskies are the favorite in the Pac-12 North, and I have heard from my UW sources the guys they have coming in to replace the departed players could end up being better. Washington is light on experience at a few positions, but they are heavy on talent across the board.

Who to root for and who will win

Back the Pac in this one and root for the Dawgs. I also expect them to blow out Rutgers, who was terrible last year. Ultimately, Rutgers is still a Power Five team, and it is a long trek, so the Huskies might start a little slow before dominating down the stretch. Utah has to travel up to Seattle in November to face the defending Pac-12 Champions, so take this opportunity to get your first look at the 2017 version of the Huskies.

Colorado State vs. Colorado 6:00 p.m. MT PAC12 Sports Authority Field, Denver, Colo.

The in-state rivals will meet for their annual matchup at the stadium of the NFL’s Denver Broncos. This has the potential to be a sneaky good game. Colorado State demolished Oregon State in week 0 58-27. Colorado is the reigning Pac-12 South Champions, but they lost a lot off their defense, and defensive coordinator Jim Leavitt is coaching at Oregon now. Many expect the Buffaloes to slide down to the bottom half of the Pac-12 South after a one year anomaly last year. Colorado State is expected to be near the top in the Mountain West and looked great in their first game this year. CU’s rebuilt defense will have to face a Rams offense that hung 58 points on the Beavers in week 0. The Colorado offense returns a lot of talent, and they are facing a defense that forced five turnovers last week. This is a game that could tell us a good bit about Colorado, Utah’s final regular season opponent.

Who to root for and who will win

This is a tricky one on who to root for. A Colorado win would help the Pac-12, but it could also mean the Buffaloes could be a contender in the Pac-12 South for the second year in a row. They clobbered Colorado State last year to get their “Rise is Real” season off to a great start. Since I think the Pac-12 could use some wins in week one (I have four Pac-12 teams going down in week one), root for Colorado, just hope it is not a dominant performance. One of the Pac-12 teams I have going down though is actually Colorado. I do not think their rebuilt defense can stop Colorado State. The reason Colorado was so much better last year was because they had a great defense, which they did not have in past, and they lost a lot of shootouts. I see Colorado regressing this season because they will not be able to stop teams and fall in multiple shootouts like in years past.