College football schedule, games 2021: What to watch in Week 0, TV channels, Saturday kickoff times

Written by on August 28, 2021

It’s been a long offseason for college football fans, but the wait is finally over. Saturday marks the beginning of what should be a wild and interesting 2021 season. Week 0 features an early important conference game, multiple coaches hoping to stay off of the hot seat and a 12-hour football feast that will last deep into the night and even into Sunday morning.

Nebraska and coach Scott Frost, who is in a critical year, will visit Illinois and first-year coach Bret Bielema in a division matchup that will set the tone for the Big Ten season. Then, fourth-year UCLA coach Chip Kelly, who hasn’t finished with a winning season in Westwood, will lead his Bruins into the Rose Bowl in a home matchup vs. Todd Graham and Hawaii on Saturday afternoon. 

Those are just two of the games to follow, with more kicking off into the afternoon and evening. Get those remote controls ready. Here’s a handy viewer’s guide to help you navigate through the action.

All times Eastern

The big game

Nebraska at Illinois — 1:20 p.m., Fox: It’ll be an interesting battle of quarterbacks when Cornhusker veteran Adrian Martinez will square off against Illini senior Brandon Peters. Martinez has regressed after posting a solid freshman campaign, while Peters has tossed 21 touchdowns in two seasons after transferring from Michigan. If Nebraska loses this game, things could get dicey for Frost in Lincoln. After all, that pesky NCAA investigation going on, too.

Other big games

Hawaii at UCLA — 3:30 p.m., ESPN: The Rainbow Warriors have quarterback Chevan Cordeiro back and will try to spring an upset over UCLA, which hasn’t won a season-opener under Kelly. However, all four of UCLA’s losses in 2020 were by six points or fewer. That bodes well considering the Bruins return 10 starters on each side of the ball. Quarterback Dorian Thompson-Robinson will be the key in a potential shootout. 

UConn at Fresno State — 2 p.m., CBS Sports Network, UConn’s first game since the end of the 2019 season will take place in California — a state it has never visited. Fresno State returns veteran running Ronnie Rivers and wide receiver Jalen Cropper from a group that led the Mountain West last year in total offense (479.3 yards per game) and finished second in scoring offense (32.8 points per game). We’ll see how rusty the Huskies are after a year-and-a-half off.

Best of the rest

UTEP at New Mexico State — 9:30 p.m., Bally’s Arizona+, FloSports: New Mexico State skipped the 2020 fall season and only played two games in the spring, one of which was a loss to Tarleton State. Squaring off against a Miners team that returns all 11 starters on offense will be a tall order. My colleague Tom Fornelli writes the “Bottom 25” every week and the loser of this game might find itself in the cellar for the first edition of the 2021 season.

Southern Utah at San Jose State — 10 p.m., CBS Sports Network, Week 0 wraps up in the Bay Area when San Jose State takes on a Thunderbirds team that went 1-5 in the FCS spring season. If you haven’t watched Spartans quarterback Nick Starkel, stay up late Saturday night. The journeyman threw for 2,174 yards and 17 touchdowns in eight games last season for the reigning Mountain West champs.

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