It’s not the official start of the college football season, but it’s close enough: Week 0 of the 2021 season is quickly closing in, bringing with it another year’s worth of storylines.
The usual questions, as always, remain: “Who will make the College Football Playoff? Who wins the Heisman Trophy? Who will win the national championship?” They remain enticing storylines, and important ones: But the biggest storylines of the 2021 season could very well take place off the field after one of the busiest offseasons in recent college football history.
At first, it appeared to be the reformation of the Playoff from four to 12 teams would be the storyline of the year — that quickly took a backseat with news that Oklahoma and Texas will jump ship from the Big 12 to join the SEC. That is the first act of what will likely be another huge round of conference realignment, one that likely will leave the college football landscape unrecognizable to observers in 2021.
Moreover, the NCAA has granted student-athletes the most agency and mobility ever in the history of the organization. That includes the one-time transfer rule, which allows athletes to be immediately eligible should they transfer to another school. But the bigger story is the ability for athletes to profit off their name, image and likeness, which has already created significant paydays for college football’s stars.
Oh, and the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Perhaps the coronavirus will have a lesser impact on the 2021 season now that several teams have reported significant vaccination rates, but it’s too early to say it won’t have any impact on the season at all.
With all the storylines going on, you could almost forget there was actual football to be played this year, with actual results and consequences based off the on-field action. It all starts with Week 0, and Sporting News is here to make sure you know how to watch every snap:
When is the first college football game in 2021?
- Date: Saturday, Aug. 28
The earliest confirmed game involving FBS teams is Nebraska-Illinois in Champaign, Ill. It will kick off at 1 p.m. ET on Saturday, Aug. 28. Following that, Hawaii and UCLA will kick off their respective seasons in Pasadena, Calif., at 3:30 p.m. ET.
Three other games are slated to kick off on Aug. 28, as well: UTEP at New Mexico State; UConn at Fresno State; and Southern Utah at San Jose State. Those games’ times have yet to be determined.
A combined 25 college football games will take place between Week 0 and the official start of the college football season on Sept. 4, though they will still be considered part of the Week 1 slate.
How to watch college football games in Week 0
Only two games will be nationally televised during college football’s unofficial opening weekend: Fox will air Nebraska at Illinois, while ESPN will broadcast Hawaii at UCLA. Two other games will air on CBS Sports Network: UTEP at New Mexico State and UConn at Fresno State. Those with active cable subscriptions can simulcast those games on the ESPN app or fuboTV, which offers a seven-day free trial.
College football schedule 2020: Week 0
Five college football games are scheduled to take place during college football’s Week 0. Below is the opening weekend slate: