Each week our national college football writer describes how he would handle the television remote Saturday, handicapping what's worth watching, and skipping:
Penn State vs. Central Florida, in Dublin, Ireland
5:30 a.m., ESPN2
Celebrate the dawn of the James Franklin era with a traditional Irish breakfast special for the Croke Park Classic in Dublin. Wish these teams luck with a plate of rashers, baked beans, halved tomatoes, black and white pudding and some Irish Brown bread. Then watch Penn State go to work with sophomore quarterback Christian Hackenberg, while Central Florida breaks in a new quarterback after passing Blake Bortles on to the NFL.
No. 5 Ohio State vs. Navy, in Baltimore
9 a.m., CBS Sports Network
One team enters the season riding a two-game losing streak with huge questions at quarterback. The other team is Navy. This figured to be a tough game for Ohio State even with quarterback Braxton Miller. Navy gave the Buckeyes a scare in 2009, losing, 31-27, in Columbus. The Midshipmen are also coming off a 9-4 season in which they won their last five games. Navy has stability at quarterback with option-master Keenan Reynolds, who rushed for 31 touchdowns last season. With Miller out, Ohio State plugs in freshman J.T. Barrett, who hasn't thrown a pass that counts since his junior year in high school.
Appalachian State at Michigan
9 a.m., ESPN2
"Where were you when?" Appalachian State stunned the Wolverines, 34-32, in Ann Arbor on opening day 2007. Appalachian State has since moved up to the Football Bowl Subdivision but isn't as talented as the '07 team that went on to win the 1-AA national title. What people forget about 2007: Michigan ended the season with a win in the Capital One Bowl over defending national champion Florida, led by Heisman Trophy winner Tim Tebow.
9 a.m.: UCLA at Virginia, ESPN; Indiana State at Indiana, ESPNews; North Dakota State at Iowa State, FS1; Western Michigan at Purdue, ESPNU; Northern Iowa at Iowa, BTN; Tennessee-Martin at Kentucky, SEC.
9:30 a.m.: Georgia Southern at North Carolina State, KDOC; Wofford at Georgia Tech, FS West.
West Virginia vs. No. 2 Alabama, in Atlanta
12:30 p.m., Channel 7
Nick Saban will use this game as a tryout for the quarterback job, replacing Heisman runner-up AJ McCarron. What's the hurry? Alabama doesn't have a meaningful game until Florida comes to Tuscaloosa on Sept. 20. And Florida is coming off a 4-8 season. Fighting for the chance to lead Alabama to another national title are Jacob Coker, a transfer who left Florida State after he was aced out by Jameis Winston, and senior Blake Sims.
Rice at No. 17 Notre Dame
12:30 p.m., Channel 4
Pop quiz: Name the players who are replacing the five Notre Dame players being held out of the opener as the school investigates a possible academic scandal. Please, no cheating. What promised to be a rebound season for Notre Dame has been clouded by developments that have left Brian Kelly "shocked and disappointed." One positive: the return of Everett Golson, the quarterback who led the Irish to a 12-0 season two years ago before sitting out last year with his own academic issues.
No. 16 Clemson at No. 12 Georgia
2:30 p.m., ESPN
Clemson has to replace quarterback Tajh Boyd and speedy receiver Sammy Watkins. For Georgia, Hutson Mason takes over at quarterback for Aaron Murray. Clemson won a thriller last year but then blew all its national equity with a blowout home loss to Florida State. Saturday's winner gets a big, early bump in playoff jockeying.
12:30 p.m.: California at Northwestern, ESPN2; South Dakota State at Missouri, ESPNU; Florida Atlantic at Nebraska, BTN.
1 p.m.: Arkansas at Auburn, SEC; William & Mary at Virginia Tech, ESPNews; UC Davis at Stanford, Pac-12.
4 p.m.: Central Arkansas at Texas Tech, Prime; Northern Arizona at San Diego State, CBSSN; Idaho at Florida, ESPNU.
4:30 p.m.: Fresno State at USC, Channel 11; Southern Mississippi at Mississippi State, SEC.
No. 1 Florida State vs. Oklahoma State, in Arlington, Texas
5 p.m., Channel 7
The Seminoles begin their national title defense against a good but not great Cowboys team that is probably not ready for this challenge. Florida State scored an FBS-record 723 points last year and amassed 7,267 yards en route to a 14-0 record. The Oklahoma State secondary returns only one starter.
No. 14 Wisconsin vs. No. 13 Louisiana State, in Houston
6 p.m., ESPN
This is an early gauge to determine just where the Big Ten stands against the SEC. Wisconsin needs to take advantage of LSU's turnstile roster; the Tigers have lost 18 players early to the NFL the last two years. Keep eyes glued to LSU freshman tailback Leonard Fournette, touted by some as the best college running back since Oklahoma's Adrian Peterson.
South Dakota at No. 3 Oregon
7:30 p.m., Pac-12 Networks
Oregon tunes up for next week's big visit from Michigan State against the FCS Coyotes, who finished 4-8 last year and are riding a five-game losing streak that is about to become six.
5 p.m.: North Carolina at East Carolina, ESPNews.
7:30 p.m.: Washington at Hawaii, CBSSN; Samford at Texas Christian, Prime (tape delayed).Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times