Games to watch: Week one

Jacob Martella

Wisconsin vs. Alabama – 7 p.m. – Cowboys Stadium – ABC

The start of the Paul Chryst era at Wisconsin will get off to a challenging start against reigning SEC champion Alabama in the season opener. Chryst went to Madison after Gary Andersen bolted for Oregon State, becoming the third head coach in the past four seasons for the Badgers. Meanwhile, Alabama head coach Nick Saban has yet to name his starting quarterback, adding to the concern at the most important position in football. If Alabama struggles at the quarterback position and Wisconsin comes out swinging, this ought to be a fun way to start the season.

Ohio State at Virginia Tech – 7 p.m. Monday – ESPN

Reigning national champion Ohio State comes into this game with revenge in mind. Last year, the Hokies handed the Buckeyes a loss in Columbus, adding some concern to Ohio State’s playoff chance. The loss didn’t hurt them, but the Buckeyes come in with other concerns, including an injury to wide receiver Noah Brown and suspensions for a number of players, including defensive end Joey Bosa. Virginia Tech is said to be much improved, but that’s yet to be seen on the field. With the crowd going at Lane Stadium, this is a must-watch game this weekend.
Arizona State vs. Texas A&M – 6 p.m. – NRG Stadium – ESPN

Two playoff hopefuls will enter NRG Stadium, but only one will emerge with a quality win to show the committee. Arizona State comes into this season poised to improve on its 10-3 campaign last season and make a run at the Pac-12 title. The Sun Devils will likely rely heavily on receiver D.J. Foster to get the offense going. Meanwhile for Texas A&M, the defense will likely be the key for the Aggies’ success. Last year, the Aggies struggled to stop opponents — evident in the 59-0 loss to Alabama — but new defensive coordinator John Chavis figures to change that. Someone’s playoff hopes will likely die in this one, making it a must-see game.
Louisville at Auburn – 2:30 p.m. – CBS

This is sort of a sleeper game, especially among the early games on Saturday. There’s not a whole lot of talk about Louisville sneaking into the playoffs, but some hype surrounds Auburn. Louisville, in its second season under Bobby Petrino, will have to replace running back Michael Dyer and almost the entire offensive line, but it does have former TCU defensive lineman Devonte Fields. Auburn also has a number of key players to replace, including quarterback Nick Marshall. Whichever team is able to get its new players settled in will likely come out on top.