College football has been going since the end of August, but the first Saturday in September marks the start of the real season. It’s the day when most of the country’s teams will begin their seasons, and that includes the majority of the Big Ten. Plenty of teams are playing, with the games starting at noon, but which games are the ones worth watching?
Three Games From The First Saturday Of Football
Northern Illinois @ Iowa, 3:40 PM on the Big Ten Network
This one is on BTN rather than ESPN or FOX, but don’t let that fool you. It should be an interesting matchup between a hopeful Big Ten West contender and an underdog that enters the season renewed after losing ground last year to quarterback injuries.
MAC Defensive Player of the Year Sutton Smith, who had 14 sacks last season, returns for Northern Illinois as a junior, and quarterback Marcus Childers will have more preparation for a starting role as well as more experience. Safety Mykelti Williams is another player to watch on the underdog team. As a sophomore, he had the third-most tackles on the team, with 73.
Northern Illinois only managed an 8-5 record, but they did have some bad luck during the 2017 season and that might cause the Hawkeyes to sleep on them heading into the opening game of the season for both teams.
Oregon State @ Ohio State, 12:00 PM on ABC (Or Texas vs Maryland)
Alright, there’s a decent chance that this one isn’t actually a good game. But it’s one of the first games of the day, and there’s more intrigue around it than, say, Texas versus Maryland. No offense, Maryland.
The reason this game is so interesting is that head coach Urban Meyer is suspended for it. Not that the talent level of Ohio State is any lower because of it, but stranger things have happened in college football than a team losing to a big underdog on opening day because they don’t have their head coach for whatever reason. Coaching is one of the most important aspects of the game, and once you remove a successful head coach for even one game, anything can happen.
Oregon State, though, did not have a good time last year. They only won one game, and head coach Gary Andersen felt bad enough about the situation there to leave 12 million dollars on the table and leaving the program of his own accord. While there is a chance that the off the field drama affects Ohio State, there’s also a chance that the Buckeyes run riot on their opponent and start Dwayne Haskins’ career as a starter off the right way.
In that case, it might be a perfectly good idea to flip the channel to Texas versus Maryland, assuming you aren’t a fan of either team and just want to see action.
Michigan @ Notre Dame, 7:30 PM on NBC
Did you really think this game wouldn’t be on the list? This one isn’t just the best Big Ten game of the week, but one of the best games in the nation, period. For those who have been complaining about neutral site games, and top programs not wanting to play each other home and away anymore, this one is for you.
Jim Harbaugh needs to get results at Michigan, after having a few years to bring in some of his own players, and this game should be a make or break one for him and his staff. Except, it’s not a late season game within the conference. It’s on the first Saturday of the season, and you don’t see too many openers with this much on the line for both teams.
Both of these fanbases are very large and vocal, and you can bet for sure that the loser will have a decent amount of people calling for the head coach to be fired. Also, Shea Patterson will make his Michigan debut. That’s not something that you’ll want to miss, especially if your favorite team plays the Wolverines later in the year.
Harbaugh hasn’t had a star quarterback since coming back to the University of Michigan. Will having that, plus a tough defense, be enough to knock off a top fifteen ranked rival? We’ll all find that out soon, with the top night game of the first weekend.