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Games to Watch on Saturday

NCAA Football: Alabama vs Southern California Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

We normally pick three games to watch, but have you seen the slate of games today? There are just too many games to just pick three. It is also the first full Saturday of college football, so why not watch as much football as possible? Also, with Utah not playing after defeating North Dakota 37-16 on Thursday, Utah fans can just sit back and enjoy all of the other games happening today.

California at North Carolina 10:20 a.m. MT ACCN (see link for more watching options)

There are no really compelling morning games, so here is a Pac-12-ACC showdown that is not nationally televised. Cal Golden Blogs has a great how to watch post for this game. North Carolina is one of the better non conference opponents for a Pac-12 team in week one (along with Texas A&M who UCLA plays tomorrow). This is will be a long trip for Cal, similar in travel length to UW’s trip to Rutgers for their game there yesterday. This will be the first game for first-time head coach Justin Wilcox at Cal. It is also a matchup between the two teams that have had the first quarterback taken in the last two NFL Drafts (Cal quarterback Jared Goff went No. 1 in the 2016 NFL Draft and UNC quarterback Mitchell Trubisky went No. 2 in the 2017 NFL Draft).

Who will win and who to root for

While Utah does not play Cal, a Golden Bears win could still be a help for the Utes. Non conference match ups between Power Five conference teams is often used to judge the strength of a given conference, so a good showing by Pac-12 member Cal would give the Pac-12 a boost in reputation early in the season. Unfortunately, Cal is projected to be at the bottom of the Pac-12 North, and I do not see them winning a game this far from home that starts at 9:20 a.m. Pacific Time against a good UNC team.

#11 Michigan vs #17 Florida 1:30 p.m. MT ABC AT&T Stadium, Arlington, Texas

This is the first time since 1991 that Florida plays a regular-season non conference game outside the state of Florida (they lost to Syracuse at the Carrier Dome in Syracuse, N.Y. 38-21). Their last non conference win outside Florida came in 1989 at Memphis St. (now just called Memphis). Michigan will be wearing an all-maize uniform for the first time since the 1920s (the uniforms will be like an NFL Color Rush game). Florida has 10 players suspended for the game, while Michigan returns the fewest starters of any team in the nation. This is one of three games against ranked teams in week one.

Who will win and who to root for

This game has no bearing on the Utes because Utah does not play either of these teams, but this game should be interesting since it is two teams that are both ranked despite having a lot of new faces playing. This game could have College Football Playoff implications as well, especially when it comes to discussing conference supremacy. I really dislike the SEC, so I will be cheering for Michigan, a team I have been following more lately since their home and home series with Utah in 2014 and 2015. Even with so few starters back, I think Michigan wins because they have recruited really well and get a Florida team that has so many players suspended.

Western Michigan at #4 USC 3:15 p.m. MT PAC12

This is one of only two games featuring two New Year’s Six Bowl participants from last season (the other is game is receiving a bit more hype: Alabama vs. Florida State). USC won the Rose Bowl last year while Western Michigan lost the Cotton Bowl. WMU lost their best player in wide receiver Corey Davis to the NFL and coach P.J. Fleck to Minnesota. USC returns Heisman hopeful quarterback Sam Darnold, and they are the heavy favorites to win the Pac-12 South.

Who will win and who to root for

The Trojans are almost four touchdown favorites in this one, and I would be shocked if they do not win (not sure they cover that big of a spread though). USC is Utah’s main competition in the Pac-12 South, but this is a non conference game, so root for the Trojans. USC looking good against non conference opponents is a positive for the Pac-12 Conference.

#3 Florida State vs #1 Alabama 6:00 p.m. MT ABC Mercedes-Benz Stadium, Atlanta, Ga.

This might be the most hyped season opener in college football history. The meeting between the Crimson Tide and the Seminoles features two teams in the preseason top three. Games like this do not happen very often. The College Football Playoff committee has shown they factor in strength of schedule, which has helped make a game like this happen along with the increase in the number of neutral site games. The two coaches are familiar with each other; Florida State head coach Jimbo Fisher was the offensive coordinator for Nick Saban at LSU where they won a national championship together in 2003. This game will likely have huge College Football Playoff implications.

Who will win and who to root for

Ithink the Crimson Tide get this one. They just have too much talent up front on both lines for the Seminoles. FSU struggles to protect quarterback Deondre Francois last year, which could be a big problem against Alabama. I am just hoping for this game to live up to the hype and not turn into a blowout. I would like to see FSU win just to see a blow dealt to Alabama’s playoff chances.

BYU vs. #13 LSU 7:30 p.m. MT ESPN Mercedes-Benz Superdome, New Orleans, La.

This game was originally supposed to take place in Houston, Texas but was moved due to the damage caused by Hurricane Harvey. BYU started the season with a 20-6 win at home against Portland State, but they will line up against a much better team in this game. LSU is dealing with some injuries to pass rushers with players like linebacker Arden Key unavailable.

Who will win and who to root for

I will not advocate for cheering for BYU, but I will say a BYU win in this game would add more intrigue to the Utah-BYU game next week. Like I have stated before, Utah would benefit from a strong season from BYU to boost Utah’s strength of schedule. With how BYU looked last week against Portland State though, I do not expect them to come away victorious against the Tigers. LSU has too much speed and talent for BYU to handle.