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Schedule and Commentators for College Football’s Best Opening Weekend on ESPN’s Networks


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Watch: A Look at ESPN’s Best College Football Opening Weekend Schedule

Photos: ESPN’s 2016 College Football Commentators

  • 12 USC vs. No.1 Alabama, No. 9 Notre Dame at Texas and No. 14 Ole Miss vs. No. 4 Florida State Highlight Prime-Time Matchups
  • 2 Clemson, No. 3 Michigan, No. 5 Oklahoma and No. 6 LSU All in Action
  • More Than 40 Games Across ABC, ESPN, ESPN2, ESPNU, ESPNEWS, SEC Network, ACC Network Extra and ESPN3; ESPN Radio Broadcasts Too
  • Five Consecutive Days of Action with 14 Ranked Teams in Action

College football’s best opening weekend will be highlighted on ESPN’s networks by seven marquee games over Labor Day Weekend and more than 40 games overall Thursday, Sept. 1-Monday, Sept. 5, across ABC, ESPN, ESPN2, ESPNU, ESPNEWS, SEC Network, ACC Network Extra and ESPN3.

In addition to three nights of marquee games in prime time – No. 12 USC vs. No. 1 Alabama on ABC’s Saturday Night Football and on ESPN Radio (8 p.m.), No. 9 Notre Dame at Texas in a special ABC Sunday prime-time presentation (7:30 p.m.) and No. 4 Florida State vs. No. 14 Ole Miss on Labor Day night (8 p.m. on ESPN and ESPN Radio) – ESPN’s networks will televise 13 top 20 teams and, overall, 14 ranked teams in the season’s first full week. Among the must-see games on Saturday, Sept. 3, include No. 2 Clemson at Auburn (9 p.m. on ESPN), Hawaii at No. 3 Michigan (noon on ESPN), No. 5 Oklahoma vs. No. 18 Houston (noon on ABC), No. 6 LSU vs. Wisconsin (3:30 p.m. on ABC) and No. 13 Georgia vs. No. 19 North Carolina (5:30 p.m. on ESPN and ESPN Radio).

In addition to highly ranked teams facing off and some of the sport’s biggest brands, the location of games adds to the interest, as Lambeau Field hosts its first college game in more than 30 years and 2016’s first college football Saturday begins in Dublin, Ireland.

“We have been looking forward to week 1 since the day after last season’s College Football Playoff National Championship,” said ESPN senior coordinating producer Lee Fitting. “It is the best opening weekend college football has ever had and ESPN’s networks have the most marquee games and the best overall schedule in the industry.”

On Thursday, Sept. 1, No. 11 Tennessee will host Appalachian State (7:30 p.m.) and South Carolina plays at Vanderbilt (8 p.m.) to begin SEC Network and ESPN’s week 1 television slate, respectively. In addition to SEC Nation being on-location in Knoxville, Brent Musburger and Jesse Palmer will call the game with Laura Rutledge working double-duty, reporting both for the SEC Network’s traveling road show and the game telecast.  Mark Jones, Rod Gilmore and Quint Kessenich will be in Nashville when the Gamecocks and Commodores matchup. On Friday, Sept. 2, in Denver, new commentating crew of Adam Amin, Mack Brown and Molly McGrath will make their Friday night debut when they call Colorado State vs. Colorado from Sports Authority Field at Mile High on at 8 p.m. ESPN.

The season’s first full Saturday of games begins early from across the pond when Georgia Tech plays Boston College from Dublin, Ireland, at 7:30 a.m. on ESPN2. Jason Benetti, Kelly Stouffer, and Paul Carcaterra will be live from Aviva Stadium for the early morning kickoff in the United States. ESPN will televise three games, beginning at noon with No. 3 Michigan hosting Hawaii with Mike Patrick, Ed Cunningham and Dr. Jerry Punch on the call. In addition to the previously mentioned ABC triple header, ESPNU and SEC Network will also televise three games, while ESPN3 and ACC Network Extra will carry more than 10 games combined (schedule below).

Week 0
This season, college football will begin with week 0, when Hawaii plays Cal from ANZ Stadium in Sydney, Australia, on Friday, Aug. 26, at 10 p.m. on ESPN. Allen Bestwick, Mike Bellotti and Warren Smith will be on the call.  The next night the third annual FCS Kickoff will take place in prime time when defending Big South champions and No. 6 Charleston Southern visits five-time defending champion and No. 1 North Dakota State at 7:30 p.m. on ESPN. Amin, Brown and McGrath will make their debut as a commentating team that night.

New Commentators
In addition to Steve Levy and McGrath, new commentators for ESPN’s college football game television coverage include reporter Kris Budden and analysts Dusty Dvoracek and Clint Stoerner.

ESPN’s College Football Schedule

Week 0

Friday, Aug. 26

Time (ET) Game Network
10 p.m. Hawaii vs. Cal from ANZ Stadium in Sydney, Australia
Allen Bestwick, Mike Bellotti and Warren Smith


Saturday, Aug. 27

Time (ET) Game Network
7:30 p.m. FCS Kickoff: No. 6 Charleston Southern at No. 1 North Dakota State
Adam Amin, Mack Brown, Molly McGrath


Week 1

Thursday, Sept. 1  

Time (ET) Game Network
7 p.m. Charlotte at Louisville ACC Network Extra*
Tulane at Wake Forest ACC Network Extra
Presbyterian at Central Michigan ESPN3
Tennessee-Martin at Cincinnati ESPN3
Maine at UConn ESPN3*
7:30 p.m. Appalachian State at No. 11 Tennessee
Brent Musburger, Jesse Palmer, Laura Rutledge
SEC Network
Indiana at Florida International
Mike Couzens, Clint Stoerner
William & Mary at NC State ACC Network Extra
8 p.m. South Carolina at Vanderbilt
Mark Jones, Rod Gilmore, Quint Kessenich
9 p.m. Montana State at Idaho ESPN3*


Friday, Sept. 2

Time (ET) Game Network
6 p.m. Mississippi Valley State at Eastern Michigan ESPN3
7 p.m. Colgate at Syracuse ACC Network Extra
Albany at Buffalo ESPN3
Ball State at Georgia State ESPN3*
8 p.m. Colorado State vs. Colorado from Sports Authority Field at Mile High in Denver, Colo.
Adam Amin, Mack Brown, Molly McGrath
9 p.m. Toledo at Arkansas State

Roy Philpott, Clint Stoerner


Saturday, Sept. 3

Time (ET) Game Network
7:30 a.m. Georgia Tech vs. Boston College from Aviva Stadium in Dublin, Ireland
Jason Benetti, Kelly Stouffer, Paul Carcaterra
Noon 2016 AdvoCare Texas Kickoff: No. 5 Oklahoma vs. No. 18 Houston from NRG Stadium in Houston
Dave Pasch, Greg McElroy, Tom Luginbill
Hawaii at No. 3 Michigan
Mike Patrick, Ed Cunningham, Dr. Jerry Punch
Western Michigan at Northwestern
Clay Matvick, Dusty Dvoracek
South Alabama at Mississippi State
David Neal, Matt Stinchcomb, Olivia Harlan
SEC Network
Eastern Kentucky at Purdue
Dave Lamont, Ray Bentley
Boise State at Louisiana-Lafayette ESPN3*
12:30 p.m. Liberty at Virginia Tech ACC Network Extra*
1:30 p.m. Villanova at Pittsburgh ACC Network Extra
3:30 p.m. No. 6 LSU vs. Wisconsin from Lambeau Field in Green Bay, Wis.
Steve Levy, Brian Griese, Todd McShay
Miami (Ohio) at No. 23 Iowa
Eamon McAnaney, John Congemi
Richmond at Virginia ACC Network Extra
4 p.m. Louisiana Tech at Arkansas
Beth Mowins, Anthony Becht, Rocky Boiman
SEC Network
5:30 p.m. 2016 Chick-fil-A Kickoff Game: No. 13 Georgia vs. No. 19 North Carolina from Georgia Dome in Atlanta
TV: Bob Wischusen, Brock Huard, Allison Williams
Radio: Marc Kestcher, Tom Ramsey
ESPN and ESPN Radio
6 p.m. North Carolina Central at Duke ACC Network Extra
Florida A&M at Miami (Fla.) ACC Network Extra
Western Carolina at East Carolina ESPN3
6:30 p.m. VMI at Akron ESPN3
7 p.m. Southeast Missouri State at Memphis ESPN3
South Carolina State at UCF ESPN3
Towson at South Florida ESPN3
Rhode Island at Kansas ESPN3*
Oklahoma Panhandle State at Sam Houston State ESPN3
7:30 p.m. Southern Mississippi at Kentucky
Anish Shroff, Ahmad Brooks
UMass at Florida
Tom Hart, Andre Ware, Cole Cubelic
SEC Network
8 p.m. No. 12 USC vs. No. 1 Alabama from AT&T Stadium  in Arlington, Texas
Chris Fowler, Kirk Herbstreit, Samantha Ponder
Radio: Bill Rosinski, David Norrie, and Ian Fitzsimmons
ABC and ESPN Radio
Coastal Carolina at Lamar ESPN3*
9 p.m. No. 2 Clemson at Auburn
Brent Musburger, Jesse Palmer, Kaylee Hartung


Sunday, Sept. 4

Time Game Network
1 p.m. 2016 MEAC/SWAC Challenge: Alcorn State vs. Bethune-Cookman

Eric Clemons, Jay Walker

6 p.m. Texas Southern vs. Prairie View A&M
Mark Neely, Forrest Conoly
7:30 p.m. No. 9 Notre Dame at Texas
Joe Tessitore, Todd Blackledge, Holly Rowe


Monday, Sept. 5

Time Game Network
8 p.m. 2016 Camping World Kickoff: No. 14 Ole Miss vs. No. 4 Florida State from Camping World Stadium in Orlando, Fla.
TV: Chris Fowler, Kirk Herbstreit, Samantha PonderRadio: Bill Rosinski, David Norrie, Ian Fitzsimmons
ESPN and ESPN Radio

*Not exclusive

Please note:’s “way too early top 25” rankings were used for this release. ESPN will utilize AP Rankings once they come out on August 21 for the start of the season. FCS Rankings were only utilized for the FCS Kickoff and are per the FCS Coaches’ Poll (Aug. 8). 

Schedule and commentators subject to change


Media contact: Derek Volner at 860-384-9986; [email protected] and @DerekVolner