We have been treated to the opening act thus far throughout the first three weeks of the 2020 college football season. Saturday, however, is when the rock concert truly begins. The SEC will kick off its 10-game, conference-only season on Saturday in what should be a three-month sprint to Atlanta and the SEC Championship Game.
There are other intriguing matchups as well. No. 12 Miami (FL) will host Florida State and No. 24 Louisville will travel to No. 21 Pittsburgh in key ACC games that could set the tone for the conference season.
What should you keep an eye on this weekend? Here’s a handy viewer’s guide to help you navigate the action from noon-midnight. All times eastern.
The biggest games
No. 23 Kentucky at No. 8 Auburn — noon, SEC Network: The only ranked-on-ranked SEC matchup during the first weekend should be a big test for a Tigers team that has College Football Playoff hopes. They have undergone an overhaul of the defensive line, and will line up against a Wildcats offensive line that is one of the best in the nation.
No. 24 Louisville at No. 21 Pittsburgh — noon, ACC Network: This might not seem like a huge game from a name-recognition standpoint, but it’s essentially a must-win for the Cardinals. They fell last weekend to Miami, and probably can’t afford another loss if they hope to make the ACC Championship Game. The Panthers have paired their always-stout defense with a dynamic offense under quarterback Kenny Pickett.
Mississippi State at No. 6 LSU — 3:30 p.m., CBS: The Tigers will kick off their national title defense in the SEC on CBS Game of the Week against first-year coach Mike Leach and the Bulldogs. Tigers quarterback Myles Brennan has big shoes to fill after Joe Burrow won the Heisman Trophy last season, and will have plenty of fresh faces that need to grow with him if their going to win their second straight SEC West title.
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No. 2 Alabama at Missouri — 7 p.m., ESPN: The Crimson Tide enter the season with plenty of experience on both sides of the ball, and will look to make a statement on the road against an experienced Tigers defense. Could this be the game that kicks off quarterback Mac Jones‘ Heisman Trophy campaign? It’ll be interesting to see what he looks like after owning the job during the offseason.
Florida State at No. 12 Miami — 7:30 p.m., ABC: This is another ACC game that will define the conference race. The Seminoles can’t afford to drop their second conference game of the young season, and a Hurricanes win over a heated rival would undoubtedly give them a ton of confidence … especially if the offense continues to look dangerous.
Other big games
Kansas State at No. 3 Oklahoma — noon, Fox: Who doesn’t want to get another glimpse of Sooners quarterback Spencer Rattler, right? The redshirt freshman looked like a superstar in the opener, and will get a little big tougher of a challenge this weekend against the Wildcats. Any chance to watch a Lincoln Riley offense in action is worth it.
No. 8 Texas at Texas Tech — 3:30 p.m., Fox: Another week, another chance for the Longhorns to prove if they’re “back” or not. This time, it’s against a cross-state rival that would love to wreck their season before it really gets cranked up. Longhorns quarterback Sam Ehlinger looked like a star against UTEP. Is the Red Raiders defense better than the Miners? Well, maybe a little bit.
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No. 4 Georgia at Arkansas — 4 p.m., SEC Network: Who will start at quarterback for the Bulldogs: D’Wan Mathis or JT Daniels? Coach Kirby Smart hasn’t said anything other than Daniels hasn’t officially been cleared to play as of early this week. Meanwhile, first-year Razorbacks coach Sam Pittman will get his chance to spoil the season of his former employer.