College football games to watch on TV

By David Fox

McClatchy-Tribune

Published: Wednesday, Aug. 31 2011 8:31 p.m. MDT

LSU coach Les Miles probably echoed the sentiment of fans across the country earlier this week.

"I think all of us are looking forward to football," Miles said after a difficult offseason, which most recently included the suspension of his starting quarterback after a fight outside a bar.

Finally, talk of conference realignment, NCAA investigations, TV contracts, suspensions and arrests will cease: It's the first week of the season.

That being said, the season starts with a whimper. Barring a shocking upset, Thursday's games appear to be lacking. The showcase game of the first evening of college football? UNLV at Wisconsin. Two other TV games include four teams including an FCS program from the state of Kentucky.

Although there are 38 FBS-FCS games, there is plenty to watch through the remainder of the weekend. TCU is at Baylor on Friday, and LSU-Oregon and Georgia-Boise State are the premier games Saturday, though that could lead to some channel-switching as both kick off at 8 p.m. Eastern.

Here's our look at the top games of the first weekend.

All times Eastern.

WEEK 1 VIEWER'S GUIDE

FRIDAY

TCU AT BAYLOR

When: 6 p.m., ESPN

Broadcasters: Joe Tessitore play-by-play, Rod Gilmore analyst

The line: TCU by 6

Why you should watch: TCU routed Baylor 45-10 in last season's meeting in Fort Worth, but don't be shocked if this game unfolds different. Horned Frogs QB Andy Dalton is gone. In his place is sophomore Casey Pachall, a four-star recruit in 2009 who has attempted nine career passes. Pachall is a skilled dual-threat quarterback, but TCU will miss Dalton's steady hand, at least in the early part of the season. Baylor has the edge at quarterback with the dynamic Robert Griffin. He'll get a second chance at TCU's stout defense, which held him to 185 yards of total offense last season, his lowest total of the year.

SATURDAY

USF AT NOTRE DAME

When: 1:30 p.m., NBC

Broadcasters: Dan Hicks play-by-play, Mike Mayock analyst

The line: Notre Dame by 10

Why you should watch: The game will be notable because of the return of Skip Holtz to South Bend. Holtz is a Notre Dame graduate, a former Irish assistant and the son of Lou, the last coach to win a national title at Notre Dame. Let's look past that storyline and look at the game itself: USF features a fast and aggressive defense, anchored by LBs Sam Barrington and DeDe Lattimore. On the other hand, Notre Dame hopes its defense is the story. The Irish allowed just three offensive touchdowns (two passing, one rushing) in its four-game winning streak to end last season. If Notre Dame is indeed a BCS contender, it should be able to handle USF's offense on its home field. Big East teams have given Notre Dame trouble in recent years; the Irish's victory over Pittsburgh last season ended a four-game losing streak to the league.

BYU AT OLE MISS

When: 2:45 p.m., ESPN

Broadcasters: Bob Wischusen play-by-play, Bob Davie analyst

The line: BYU by 3

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