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College football preview: These 11 games highlight kickoff weekend

By the time Labor Day weekend rolls around it is time for summer’s last gasp and the beginning of a new year....of football.

NCAA Football: CFP National Championship-Clemson vs Alabama Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Some games have already been played, including second ranked Ohio State in a surprisingly tough contest against Indiana, but the Labor Day weekend is the traditional start for college football. As we are every year, BTB is ready to help you feed your pigskin addiction by getting your Saturday off to a solid beginning with our weekly college preview.

Utah State @ #9 Wisconsin (Friday) 9:00 PM Eastern ESPN

Get an early start as the Badgers & Aggies take the field on Friday night. The Badgers are a threat to win the Big Ten if some other schools do not live up to the hype, and they could be a player in the national title hunt. Utah State, one the other hand, is coming off of 3-9 season. The Aggies will be looking to pull off the biggest upset in school history when they face the Big Ten powerhouse.

Boston College @ Northern Illinois (Friday) 9:30 PM Eastern CBS Sports Network

Recently I suggested that you might keep an eye on Harold Landry of BC. He has the makings of becoming the type of ‘wardaddy’ Jerry Jones wants in Dallas. This game will give you the first opportunity to do so. The Eagles look to have the advantage in this contest, but not so fast. Over the last two decades NIU has won four of six contests against Power Five schools. Will they make it five out of seven?

Kent State @ #5 Clemson 12 Noon Eastern ESPN

Somebody has to take the first shot against the defending national champions, and that duty fallas to Kent. Not only will the Tigers be using the game as a tune up before facing a pair of ranked schools in the next two weeks, they will also be pumped up from the pregame celebration of winning their recent title.

Akron @ #6 Penn State 12 Noon Eastern ABC

Another MAC school will also be facing a highly ranked team at the same time that Kent visits Death Valley. Terry Bowden might not be the same level of coach that his father was but he will have the Zips ready to face a Penn State team that is ready to prove that last season’s Big Ten championship was not a fluke and that the school has put the past behind them. The Nittany Lions are ready to write a positive chapter in the book of college football, and Akron has the fate of being the first up to test them.

UTEP @ #7 Oklahoma 3:30 PM Eastern Fox

A new era begins in Norman, Oklahoma as Lincoln Riley makes his debut as the Sooners head coach. The UTEP Miners will provide the fodder as Oklahoma shakes off the rust before squaring off against Ohio State next week.

#11 Michigan @ #17 Florida 3:30 PM Eastern ABC

The day’s first match up of ranked schools pits a pair of perennial top notch programs in a showdown at the Swamp. A series of suspensions on the home standing Gators side and a question at quarterback have the potential to greatly shift this game in the favor of the visitors from Ann Arbor.

Western Michigan @ #4 USC 5:15 PM Eastern PAC 12 Network

It looks all the world like a bloody weekend for the MAC. WMU joins Kent and Akron in facing a national contender. Imagine how shocked the football world would be if they could pull the ultimate opening weekend trifecta. Not that I would wager on it, but....

Georgia Southern @ #12 Auburn 7:30 PM SEC Network

Georgia Southern is a football school, just not at the same level as are the Auburn Tigers. Still they will play with pride and the knowledge that they are walking in the footsteps of some darned good football teams from the past. A new look Tiger offense with a first year quarterback and offensive coordinator at the helm might give them an opportunity to be this season’s surprise upset.

#3 Florida State @ #1 Alabama 8:00 PM ABC

This is one worth waiting for. Two national title contenders will square off in the Kickoff Classic to open the Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta. The experts give an edge to the Tide, but you know that Jimbo Fisher has spent countless hours dissecting the Clemson win in last year’s national championship looking for the edge that will vault his team.

#22 West Virginia @ #21 Virginia Tech (Sunday) 7:30 PM Eastern ABC

In case you did not get enough on Saturday, two old rivals renew acquaintances on Sunday night. The current players were in grade school the last time these two former Big East powers met on the field. Moves to the ACC and Big 12 cut short an old school rivalry, but now the two combatants will meet again in what looks to be an evenly matched contest.