The early season primetime schedule is starting to come together. On Wednesday, ESPN announced the first three games that will be the spotlight game of the week for ABC’s Saturday Night Football. Perhaps not so surprising, Alabama and Ohio State each make an appearance in the first three weeks.
ABC’s Saturday Night Football broadcasts will begin in Orlando, Florida for the Camping World Kickoff between defending national champion Alabama and Louisville. The matchup between the Crimson Tide and Cardinals will be played on September 1 with the standard start time for the broadcast at 8:00 p.m. ET. ABC will also broadcast the following day’s game in Arlington, Texas between Miami and LSU at 7:30 p.m. ET.
Also in Week 1, NBC will air Notre Dame’s home game against Michigan beginning at 7:30 p.m. ET. The opening weekend of college football will conclude on Monday, September 3 with Florida State hosting Virginia Tech at 8:00 p.m. on ESPN.
Week 2 will take ABC to western Pennsylvania for the in-state rivalry game between Pittsburgh and Penn State. It will be the first time the two schools have kicked off under the lights since the mid-1980s. In Week 3, ABC heads back to Arlington for the matchup between TCU and Ohio State. A year after Urban Meyer pointed out his concerns about playing so many night games, it is possible the Buckeyes will be playing at least two night games away from home in September. In addition to the game against TCU in Arlington, Ohio State’s road game at Penn State feels like a near lock to appear in primetime. Penn State could also be playing three primetime games in September with the Pitt road game, a Friday night game at Illinois, and the hypothetical home game against the Buckeyes.
More kickoff times will be confirmed at later times, but FOX has reportedly already selected a handful of games to broadcast this season. FOX has claimed this season’s Ohio State-Michigan, Oklahoma-Texas, and Michigan-Michigan State games. Of those three, the most likely to be placed in primetime on FOX would be the Michigan-Michigan State game, with the other two traditionally being played in the afternoon. FOX is expected to also grab a Week 2 matchup between Stanford and USC for a possible primetime broadcast. Another option might be Oklahoma’s home game against Chip Kelly and UCLA.
But the schedule is now starting to get some kickoff times locked in, which means the season will be here sooner than you may realize.