Next Saturday is the big start to the 2018 college football season. However, fans can get a nice taste tomorrow, with four games involving FBS teams on the docket.
No Power Five teams are in action until Thursday. However, we do have some interesting match-ups later in the day.
Here are the four college football games being played tomorrow, which is commonly called “Week Zero.”
UMass Minutemen vs. Duquesne Dukes – Amherst, MA – 5:30 p.m. ET
Mark Whipple continues his second stint as UMass head coach, as the team attempts to break through as an FBS independent. The Minutemen were very successful under Whipple the first time around, from 1998-2003, but during that stretch, it competed in Division 1AA, now known as FCS.
Whipple is just 12-36 during this second stretch in Amherst, though last year’s 4-8 record was a high-water mark. The team should be able to ease into things with Duquesne, which went 7–4 last year as an FCS club.
Rice Owls vs. Prarie View A&M Panthers – Houston, TX – 7:00 p.m. ET – ESPN+
Rice football is in full rebuild, after firing David Bailiff and hiring former Stanford assistant head coach Mike Bloomgren. Bailiff had been at Rice, a very tough job given the school’s academic reputation, since 2007, hitting a high-water mark of 10-4 in 2013, but things had gotten stale. The Owls were 4-20 in the last two years.
Prarie View, an in-state FCS program, was 6-5 last season. The Panthers did not face an FBS opponent in 2017. In 2016, the two teams faced off, resulting in a 65-44 Rice win.
Colorado State Rams vs. Hawai’i Rainbow Warriors – Fort Collins, CO – 7:30 p.m. ET – CBS Sports Network
Both of these teams face mitigating factors off the field in the run-up to Saturday’s game. CSU head coach Mike Bobo just got out of the hospital on Thursday, after a nearly-two week stint following an examination for numbness in his feet. For a while, it seemed unlikely that he’d be ready to coach this game, but luckily it seems like he’s doing better.
Hawai’i heads to Colorado as the islands prepare for Hurricane Lane, which is expected to be a category four or five storm. It can’t be easy to play, with many of the Rainbow Warriors players’ families back home dealing with what could be a horrible storm.
The Rams are coming off of three straight 7-6 (5-3) seasons under Bobo, the former Georgia offensive coordinator. If anything, that has been viewed by many as underachievement, considering the school’s investment into the program, and some of the talent that has come out of CSU in recent years.
Nick Rolovich took over Hawai’i with the program in a pretty tough spot financially. All things considered, he’s done a very nice job, going 7-7 in 2016 with a Hawaii Bowl win. Last year’s 3-9 record was a step back, but he looks to be on solid footing as he attempts to return the team to being competitive in the Mountain West.
New Mexico State Aggies vs. Wyoming Cowboys – Las Cruces, NM – 10:00 p.m. ET – ESPN2
Wyoming was in the public consciousness last season because of eventual first round pick Josh Allen starring at quarterback. Allen actually had a pretty middling year, but a Top 25 defense led Craig Bohl’s Cowboys to a second-straight eight win year.
New Mexico State was one of the surprises of the 2017 season. After a string of 2-10 and 3-9 seasons, the Aggies broke through for a 7-6 year under head coach Doug Martin, with a win in the Arizona Bowl over Utah State. It was the first bowl berth for the program in 57 years.