The 2019 college football season is officially here. Or, at least the television schedule for the 2019 college football season is here. It's the end of May, so excuse us if we're a little excited.
ESPN, Fox and CBS Sports Network all dropped their early-season schedules on Thursday. There was a lot there so we won't bore you with the details -- Memphis at South Alabama will air at 3:30 p.m. ET on ESPN on Sept. 14, if you must know -- instead, we'll just hit the highlights.
-- We wrote previously about Fox's big, smart bet to put its best game each Saturday in the noon ET window, thereby avoiding the SEC on CBS package that wins at 3:30 ET and ABC's "Saturday Night Football" package. But Fox's No. 1 package will be only as successful as the games it airs, and those games... leave a lot to be desired.
Here are the first four weeks of Fox noon games:
- Aug. 31: Florida Atlantic at Ohio State
- Sept. 7: Army at Michigan (Cincinnati at Ohio State airs at noon ET on ABC)
- Sept. 14: Ohio State at Indiana (Pittsburgh at Penn State airs on ABC)
- Sept. 21: Michigan at Wisconsin
Having your best game at noon is smart programming, but it only works when your best game is the best game. Pickings are admittedly slim on Aug. 31, but Cincinnati-Ohio State and Pitt-Penn State are objectively better games than the ones Fox got. Fox has to share its Big Ten and Big 12 rights with ABC/ESPN, which means compromise is necessary -- Fox does have Texas vs. Oklahoma on Oct. 12 and Ohio State at Michigan on Nov. 30 -- but it's a tough start for Fox's new era.
-- CBS has only announced two specific assignments as of yet, but we got a big tell with this release on Wednesday.
CBS's contract with the SEC gives the network two double-headers a year -- one at noon and 3:30, another at 3:30 and 8 p.m. Since 2011, CBS has annually reserved its lone primetime SEC game for the Deep South Super Bowl -- Alabama vs. LSU. But LSU at Alabama is on Nov. 9 this year, and the schedule above puts CBS's primetime game on Sept. 21.
That's the day Notre Dame visits Georgia.
Nothing is written in blood at this time, but it certainly looks like LSU-Alabama will air at 3:30 p.m. ET for the first time since 2010, while Notre Dame at Georgia on Sept. 21 gets the primetime treatment. (Auburn at Texas A&M or Tennessee at Florida seem like safe bets for the 3:30 kick in Week 4.)
-- ESPN previously announced Miami vs. Florida was moved from Week 1 to Week 0 and that Oregon vs. Auburn will get the ABC "Saturday Night Football" treatment, but here's your full Week 0, Week 1 and Week 2 schedule for the major broadcast windows on the Worldwide Leader's air (all times Eastern):
Saturday, Aug. 24
FCS Kickoff: Samford vs. Youngstown State -- 3 p.m., ESPN
FBS150 Kickoff: Miami vs. Florida (at Orlando) -- 7 p.m., ESPN
Thursday, Aug. 29
UCLA at Cincinnati -- 7 p.m., ESPN
Georgia Tech at Clemson -- 8 p.m., ACC Network (ACC Network's launch game)
Utah at BYU -- 10:15 p.m., ESPN
Friday, Aug. 30
Wisconsin at South Florida -- 7 p.m., ESPN
Colorado State vs. Colorado (at Denver) -- 10:15 p.m., ESPN
Saturday, Aug. 31
Ole Miss at Memphis -- noon, ABC
South Alabama at Nebraska -- noon, ESPN
Duke vs. Alabama (at Atlanta) -- 3:30 p.m., ABC
North Carolina vs. South Carolina (at Charlotte) -- 3:30 p.m., ESPN
Boise State vs. Florida State (at Jacksonville) -- 7 p.m., ESPN
Oregon vs. Auburn (at Dallas) -- 7:30 p.m., ABC
Fresno State at USC -- 10:30 p.m., ESPN
Sunday, Sept. 1
Houston at Oklahoma -- 7:30 p.m., ABC
Monday, Sept. 2
Notre Dame at Louisville -- 8 p.m., ESPN
Saturday, Sept. 7
Cincinnati at Ohio State -- noon, ABC
Texas A&M at Clemson -- 3:30 p.m., ABC
BYU at Tennessee -- 7 p.m., ESPN
LSU at Texas -- 7:30 p.m., ABC
Stanford at USC -- 10:30 p.m., ESPN
Memorial Day is now past us, which means the college football season will be here before we know it. It can't get here fast enough.