Fans across the nation have been counting down the days until college football is back in their life. Not only is college football back, but it’s back with a bang! Nationally ranked teams with championship aspirations have tough tests during Week 1 of the season, and the kickoff of the first big game is highly anticipated.
College students showing their school pride, alumni reliving the glory days and the next generation of fans are all excited to have the Saturday tailgate back in their lives, but the party gets started on the field in Texas during the opening weekend of college football. There are championship implications for games going down in Houston, Arlington and Austin. Historic programs and Heisman hopefuls are just the beginning of the story.
No. 3 Oklahoma Sooners vs. No. 15 Houston Cougars – 9/3, 12:00 PM, NRG Stadium in Houston, TX
As a member of the four-team College Football Playoff last season, the Oklahoma Sooners expect to be in the same position this season. First things first, they must take care of the upstart Houston Cougars in enemy territory. NRG Stadium, home of the Houston Texans, will host this game and it should be an old-fashioned Western shootout. Baker Mayfield is the dual threat quarterback of the Sooners, and his name has been in every Heisman conversation in the preseason. Mayfield possesses a power running game and he has a cannon for an arm, but teams will look to test that arm this season as he lost his best target, Sterling Shepherd, to the NFL.
As for Houston, they will have the home crowd and Greg Ward, Jr. on their side. The Cougars quarterback took the AAC by storm last season scoring 38 touchdowns while Houston averaged over 40 points a game. His skills were on display when Houston shocked the college football world by upsetting Florida State in the Peach Bowl last season. Whichever defense can turn the opposing quarterback in to a one-dimensional player will have the best shot in this one.
No. 1 Alabama Crimson Tide vs. No. 20 USC Trojans – 9/3, 8:00 PM, AT&T Stadium in Arlington, TX
When it comes to college football powerhouse programs, few schools can rival Alabama or USC. The storied universities will square off in Arlington at AT&T Stadium, a fitting venue to host college football royalty.
USC is a decade removed from having one of the most dominating college football teams in recent memory when Matt Leinart, Reggie Bush and LenDale White helped the Trojans storm their way to a 2004 National Championship. The program is still recovering from the turmoil the high profile athletes left in their wake, but expectations remain heading in to every season. Quarterback Max Browne will need to be ready for the spotlight as the hybrid athlete (an understatement if you watch video below) that is Adoree’ Jackson and reliable receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster will need to carry the load for the Trojans to gain traction this season.
Odds are this won’t be the game USC figures it all out, they will put up a fight, but the new dynasty that seems to have solidified its place in college football history is the Alabama Crimson Tide. On defense, Reuben Foster (linebacker), Tim Williams (linebacker) and Jonathan Allen (defensive line) could all be first-round draft picks next season. They swarm running backs and terrorize quarterbacks on a weekly basis, and will be hungry to make a statement in the first week of the season.
USC has a shot, it’s a small one, but if big plays can be made against Alabama’s defense sometimes they go in to shock. Alabama has a middle of the road offense as well, but no one has a better defense or special teams in the country so I can see Alabama easily pulling away late in the game.
No. 10 Notre Dame Fighting Irish vs. Texas Longhorns – 9/4, 7:30 PM, Royal Texas Memorial Stadium in Austin, TX
On Sunday, the wild rollercoaster that Week 1 of the college football season will be comes to an end when the Texas Longhorns host the Notre Dame Fighting Irish. Both programs are used to unparalleled success but it has been a struggle of late. Texas had success for decades culminating in a National Championship in 2005 with Vince Young at quarterback. Since 2010, the program has not met expectations, but with every new year Texas fans are still passionate about football and want to see their team succeed again. The talent is there for Texas, but with QB Jerrod Heard moving to wide receiver this season it seems Texas has more questions than answers at the moment.
As for Notre Dame, spending the money to get coveted head coach, Brian Kelly, has seemed to pay off. Notre Dame returned to the national stage in 2013 by going undefeated in the regular season, but realized how far it still had to go when it was embarrassed by Alabama, 42-14. Notre Dame is also in the news for all the wrong reasons at the moment as six of their players were arrested for numerous charges including possession of marijuana and resisting arrest. Kelly will have a tough task at hand as he juggles championship aspirations with controlling his locker room.
This is the distraction that Texas needed to have a chance but Notre Dame has too much talent to let this game slip away so early on in the season. The game will be closer than last year’s contest in which Notre Dame cruised to a 38-3 win, but Malik Zaire is a premiere pocket passer and should help Notre Dame prevail.
While all these contests have yet to be decided, one thing is for sure: all college football fans will be ready to see their favorite teams take the field! TicketNetwork has a wide selection of college football tickets for the upcoming season, find them all right here!