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What to Watch in College Football, Week 1: Harbaugh is back, Petersen returns to Boise

The top 5 games on the TV schedule in the first week of college football.

Mary Langenfeld-USA TODAY Sports
5) Michigan at Utah - 6:30 PM MT - Fox Sports 1 (Thursday)

The Jim Harbaugh era is (finally) upon us. I’ll be watching this game to see Harbaugh, not the players, which is probably the only team in the country I would say that about. Best case scenario is that Michigan comes out swinging and beats Utah but then magically gets worse in time for BYU’s visit in week 4. If we can’t play Utah directly, then can we at least use the commutative property of college football rivalries to reclaim some bragging rights? (BYU>Michigan>Utah). Utah brings back some serious talent and a veteran QB, so expect them to likely take it.

Prediction: Utah finishes with a strong fourth quarter to win 31-21.

4) Virginia at UCLA - 1:30 PM MT - FOX

This game starts at the same time as the BYU game, so it will be the game you flip to during commercials to develop your own scouting report on Josh Rosen, true freshman phenom QB who has been compared to Troy Aikman and Peyton Manning. No pressure, kid.

UVA has (strangely) done well in recent years in getting elite defensive talent, so they will give Rosen a tough test in his first collegiate start.

Prediction: UCLA overcomes tentative play by Rosen to win 28-20.

3) Washington at #23 Boise State - 8:15 PM MT - ESPN (Friday)

Chris Petersen returns to everyone’s favorite football field as a Husky to take on his former team. Boise State embarrasses at least one Power 5 team every year, right? So it might as well be Washington this year, although the Broncos play Virginia in Charlottesville in week 4 if the Huskies win. This is another scouting report game for Cougar fans, Boise travels to Provo in Week 2.

Prediction: Boise State controls the entire game and wins 38-17

2) #15 Arizona State vs. Texas A&M - 5:00 PM MT - ESPN

This is a sneaky huge game for both of these teams. It probably is not getting the hype it deserves because the Aggies are not ranked, but this game is the Sun Devils’ only chance for a statement out of conference win before a brutal PAC-12 schedule. This one will be played at NRG Stadium in Houston. Kirk Herbstreit has selected them as a playoff team this year, which could look really silly if Texas A&M outplays them in Houston.

Prediction: Texas A&M wins 31-28

1) #20 Wisconsin vs. #3 Alabama - 6:00 PM MT - ABC

This game is being played in AT&T Stadium in Dallas and should be the best football game of the week. Two schools known for defense, line play, very big players and old-fashioned offense go head to head. If Bama can win convincingly, you have to like their chances of making the college football playoff even if they have 12 games to go before the field is even announced. If Wisconsin can win (convincingly or not) then they jump into the Top 10 and may not play a ranked team until they play Ohio State (Or Penn State or Michigan State) in the Big Ten title game.

Prediction: Wisconsin with the upset, 24-21.