College football kicks off this weekend with four games to watch
Sports are supposed to provide an escape from the everyday grind. Unfortunately, the real world has been all too prevalent in the issues that have dominated the news cycle in college football of late.
It should come as some relief, then, that there are actual games to watch this weekend. There aren’t any marquee contests on the week 0 slate, but hopefully a couple of the televised offerings can remind us why this game is fun.
Hawaii at Colorado State, 7:30 p.m. ET, CBSSN
The season’s first clash of FBS opponents has the added value of being a conference game. Neither team is expected to claim the Mountain West title, but an opening win could prove extremely important to both teams’ bowl aspirations.
Each programs have dealt with non-football related distractions in the days leading up to kickoff. The visiting Warriors arrived on the mainland with Hurricane Lane bearing down on the islands. The Rams’ concerns were for coach Mike Bobo, who was able to rejoin the team after a hospital stay as he was treated for peripheral neuropathy.
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On the field, both squads will be installing a lot of new pieces. Warriors coach Nick Rolovich would like to restore the high-flying attack that gave Hawaii its identity, but he’ll be asking a first-time starter at QB to run it. The choice will most likely be sophomore Cole McDonald, but freshman Chevan Cordeiro could also see the field. The Rams boasted the league’s most productive offense in 2017, but most of its top producers are gone. Washington transfer K.J. Carta-Samuels will take over at QB. He might not be as prolific through the air as predecessor Nick Stevens, but his footwork will make him hard to contain.
Wyoming at New Mexico State, 10 p.m. ET, ESPN2
The Aggies begin life as a football independent upon separation from the geographically inconvenience Sun Belt. On the plus side, NMSU is coming off a bowl appearance, the program’s first since 1960, and hopes to maintain some of that momentum. Now the bad news — the offense that was the key to the team's success last year must be almost completely rebuilt. The job will be particularly difficult for new starting QB Matt Romero as he faces a Cowboys’ defense that returns eight starters, including potential all-America safety Andrew Wingard. The Wyoming offense in 2017 was something of a puzzle, struggling through the air despite the presence of highly drafted QB Josh Allen. Redshirt freshman Tyler Vander Waal was named the new starter by coach Craig Bohl, and he’ll be backed up by fifth-year senior Nick Smith.
The Week 0 schedule also includes a couple of FBS post-season long shots seeking strong starts against FCS competition.
Rice, with new coach Mike Bloomgren, plays host to Prairie View A&M. The Owls are looking to change the program's fortunes after just nine wins in three seasons that were preceded by three consecutive bowl berths under David Bailiff. Rice won a 65-44 shootout two years ago in the only prior meeting between these teams, so there’s definitely some fun potential.
Massachusetts hosts Duquesne in what would be a conference clash if indoors and on hardwood. The two Atlantic-10 basketball members will meet on the gridiron for the first time. The Minutemen have steadily improvement since joining the Bowl Subdivision in 2012. Last year, they posted a program-best four wins since the move. All of them came in the last half of the season, including defeats of Appalachian State and Brigham Young. There were also close losses at Tennessee and Mississippi State that demonstrated their competitiveness. QB Andrew Ford is poised for a big year and has the potential to be drafted by the NFL.