College Football Week 1: Top Games to Watch

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College football is back. 

Over the course of the next four months, teams across the country will go head-to-head each week with one goal in mind: making it to New Orleans, Louisiana for the 2020 College Football Playoff National Championship

This season, we'll break down the top games of the week that have the biggest implications for the CFP National Championship. 

Let's take a look at the slate for Week 1. 

No.1 Clemson vs. Georgia Tech

Thursday, 8/29 — 8:00 p.m.

Clemson enters the season as the AP No.1 for the first time in program history. 

After defeating Alabama to claim the 2019 National Championship, head coach Dabo Swinney and company are looking to make another run at the CFP National Championship this year. 

Sophomore quarterback and Heisman Trophy candidate Trevor Lawrence is back at the helm of the Tigers offense and will look to get off to a hot start in Atlanta. This game will also give viewers a chance to see Clemson's other Heisman hopeful, running back Travis Etienne, in the backfield. With the combination of Lawrence and Etienne leading the way for the Tigers, Clemson is looking to establish their footing as the country's number one team while also starting their ACC season off well. 

This will be Georgia Tech's first game under new head coach Geoff Collins, who was hired in the offseason after two winning seasons at Temple. Former head coach Paul Johnson, famous for his implementation of the triple option offense, retired after the conclusion of last season.

This will be the first glimpse at what life looks like for the Yellow Jackets after taking the triple option philosophy out of the program. Players have shifted positions as the Ramblin' Wreck have become more conventional in their offensive approach, and we'll see an insight into the future of the team in Week 1.

No.16 Auburn vs. No.11 Oregon

Saturday, 8/31 — 7:30 p.m. ET

The biggest game of the weekend pits two of the best from the SEC and the PAC 12 against one another to kick off the season. 

Auburn head coach Gus Malzahn is putting the fate of the Tigers in the hands of freshman quarterback Bo Nix. The five-star dual threat is taking over for Jarrett Stidham, who forewent his senior season to enter the 2019 NFL Draft. 

The Ducks enter the 2019-20 season in the opposite situation of Auburn, turning back to senior quarterback and Heisman Trophy contender Justin Herbert, who chose to stay in Eugene for his final season instead of going pro. This game is vitally important to Oregon and head coach Mario Cristobal, as a win over a ranked SEC opponent would likely propel them into the Top 10 early.

For Auburn, the matchup with Oregon will give the team a good sense of where they are competitively with dates against Florida, LSU, Georgia and Alabama awaiting them on their SEC schedule.

No.2 Alabama vs. Duke

Saturday, 8/31 — 3:30 p.m. ET

Alabama and Duke starts the season at a neutral site as both sides head to Atlanta for the Chick-Fil-A Kickoff Classic. 

This is Alabama's first game back after a 44-16 blowout defeat against Clemson in the 2019 CFP National Championship. The Crimson Tide took headlines in the offseason for a plethora of coaching changes to Nick Saban's staff, including the loss of both his offensive and defensive coordinator. 

But with Saban still at the top, Alabama is still the preseason title favorite among the SEC's big shots. 

Junior quarterback Tua Tagovailoa is back for his second full season at the head of Alabama's offense and will look to take advantage of the pseudo-home field advantage of playing in the Mercedes-Benz Stadium. Tagovailoa was the Heisman Trophy runner-up last year after setting the SEC ablaze, but lost out to Oklahoma's Kyler Murray. 

This game will also showcase the start of a new era for Duke, as redshirt senior quarterback Quentin Harris will start in the Blue Devils first game without Daniel Jones. After three seasons as the starter in Durham, Jones declared for the 2019 NFL Draft and was taken sixth overall by the New York Giants.  

No.3 Oklahoma vs. Houston

Sunday, 9/1 — 7:30 p.m. ET

The next stage in the career of former Alabama quarterback Jalen Hurts begins in Norman on Saturday. After losing his starting job to Tagovailoa last season, Hurts transferred to Oklahoma to become the new leader of head coach Lincoln Riley's offense. 

Riley's success has a proven track record, as the last two Heisman Trophy winners have been Oklahoma quarterbacks Baker Mayfield and Kyler Murray. 

Hurts brings a different style of play to the table for the Sooners, but there's reason to believe that the results will be similar. 

This game also features the debut of new Houston head coach Dana Holgorsen. After seven seasons as the head man at West Virginia, Holgorsen resigned from his position to become the new head coach of the Cougars. During his tenure in Morgantown, Holgorsen went 0-7 against Oklahoma. Maybe the change of scenery is what he needed to finally get one over the Sooners. 

No.9 Notre Dame vs. Louisville

Monday, 9/2 — 8:00 p.m. ET

Notre Dame's 2018-19 season came to a crashing halt by way of a 30-3 defeat to Clemson in the Cotton Bowl. 

They look to rebound from that defeat and find the same energy that propelled them to a 12-0 regular season last year with a trip to Louisville on Monday. 

With head coach Brian Kelly entering his 10th year in South Bend and veteran quarterback Ian Book leading the charge, the Fighting Irish seem poised to make another run at the College Football Playoff in this campaign. 

Louisville are now under the tutelage of new head coach Scott Satterfield, who is leading the program after six seasons in charge at Appalachian State. The Cardinals are looking to become a recognizable force in the ACC once again, and a meeting with Notre Dame to kick off a new era will be an appropriate test of where the team is at.

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