College football is here. Week 0 may not necessarily provide the marquee matchups or intrigue of Week 1 which features No. 5 Notre Dame at No. 2 Ohio State and No. 11 Oregon at No. 3 Georgia, among other games, but Week 0 will still put football on television sets, and for that, we thank it.
Week 0 – which will only have games on Aug. 27 – features 11 matchups in Division I, with five of them featuring Power Five competition and several Group of Five games to boot. Here are the key games set to kick off on Saturday.
Nebraska vs. Northwestern at Dublin, Ireland (12:30 p.m., FOX): This is the only game in Week 0 that features two Power Five opponents facing off, and it just happens to be two Big Ten teams that will take the field at Aviva Stadium in Dublin, Ireland, with the Cornhuskers and Wildcats kicking off at 5:30 p.m. local time.
Northwestern is looking for a bounce back season after finishing last year with a 3-9 record and a 1-8 mark in conference play. Nebraska is led by Scott Frost, who enters his fifth season in Lincoln with a 15-29 record (10-25 in Big Ten Play) and perhaps one of the hottest seats in the country. The Cornhuskers finished with a 3-9 record, though all but one of those losses – a 26-17 defeat to Ohio State – were within a possession.
Wyoming at Illinois (4 p.m., BTN): Another Big Ten team will kick off its season with the Fighting Illini playing host to the Mountain West’s Wyoming. The Cowboys are coming of a 7-6 campaign that ended in a win over Kent State in the Famous Idaho Potato Bowl, while Bret Bielema in his first season at Illinois finished one game shy of a bowl appearance with a 5-7 record.
Duquesne at Florida State (5 p.m., ACC Network): The Seminoles are opening their season with an FCS opponent, and head coach Mike Norvell, who is entering his third season, are hoping for a better result. Florida State faced FCS-level Jackson State last season, and led by head coach Deion Sanders, the Tigers knocked off the Seminoles on a game-winning, walk-off touchdown in Tallahassee.
Florida A&M at North Carolina (8:15 p.m., ACC Network): The Tar Heels will host FCS-level Florida A&M in their first game of the season. The Rattlers finished 9-3 last season in the Southwestern Athletic Conference, second in the league’s East Division behind Jackson State. This is North Carolina’s second game in program history against an FCS opponent, the first being a 28-3 loss to Furman in the 1999 season.
Expectations were high last season for the Tar Heels entering Mack Brown’s third season (13th overall) back in Chapel Hill, but there was little that went to plan as North Carolina finished the year with a 6-7 record, entering the season at No. 10 in the preseason AP Poll before falling out completely by the fifth week of the season.
Vanderbilt at Hawaii (10:30 p.m., CBS Sports Network): A strange non-conference matchup will close the first day of the college football season with Vanderbilt traveling to Hawaii, the first-ever meeting between these teams.
The Commodores remain a program in the midst of a rebuild under head coach Clark Lea, who is entering his second season at Vanderbilt after a 2-10 record in his first outing. The Rainbow Warriors, meanwhile, will be breaking in new head coach Timmy Chang, a native of Honolulu who is also an alum of Hawaii. Chang replaces former head coach Todd Graham, who resigned earlier this year after allegations of player mistreatment
The Group of Five will also be in action, with teams from the C-USA and Mountain West represented among Saturday’s contests. Austin Peay visits Western Kentucky at 12 p.m. on CBS Sports Network, following immediately by Idaho State at UNLV at 3:30 p.m. on the same network.
Moving to FS1, independent Connecticut will take on Utah State at 4 p.m. Charlotte at Florida Atlantic will then kick off at 7 p.m. on CBS Sports Network.
In the night cap slots, North Texas will travel to UTEP at 9 p.m., streaming on Stadium, and ESPN2 will broadcast New Mexico State hosting Nevada at 10 p.m.