The Chick-fil-A Kickoff Classic, featuring Florida State and Alabama on Sept. 2 (8 p.m. ET, ESPN) in Atlanta, highlights an otherwise Big Ten-heavy Week 1 schedule, which was released on Thursday by ESPN. The five-day, televised schedule begins on Aug. 31 and continues through Labor Day.
FSU and Alabama are early favorites to contend for the College Football Playoff, which is entering its fourth year, and they will play in the new Mercedes-Benz Stadium, which will also host the 2018 College Football Playoff National Championship game (Jan. 8 on ESPN).
While FSU and Bama will garner the most national attention on opening week, the season officially begins Aug. 31, when Indiana hosts 2016 playoff semifinalist Ohio State (8 p.m. ET, ESPN). Clemson, the defending national champ, opens the season at home against Kent State on Sept. 2 (12 p.m. ET, ESPN).
The Big Ten was one of the playoff's biggest storylines last year, as conference champion Penn State was left out of the selection committee's top four in spite of beating the Buckeyes head-to-head. The Nittany Lions open their season Sept. 2 at home against Akron (12 p.m. ET, ESPN), but the bigger Week 1 game that day featuring a Big Ten team is Michigan at Florida in the AdvoCare Classic in Arlington, Texas (3:30 p.m., ABC). Wisconsin will host Utah State on Friday, Sept. 1 (9 p.m. ET, ESPN).
West Virginia and Virginia Tech will renew their old Big East rivalry on Sunday, Sept. 3, in Landover, Maryland, (7:30 p.m., ABC), and Tennessee and Georgia Tech will punctuate Week 1 on Labor Day in Atlanta (8 p.m. ET, ESPN).
Oklahoma at Ohio State (Sept. 9 at 7:30 p.m. on ABC) will highlight Week 2 in a game that will have major playoff implications. It's only the fourth time the programs have met, with Ohio State winning the last two games, including last season, when they handed the Sooners their second loss of the season and instantly made them a long shot for the CFP. This will be OU's first trip to Columbus in 40 years, when the Sooners beat Ohio State 29-28.
The prime-time game in Week 3, on Sept. 16, will feature longtime rivals Florida State and Miami (8 p.m. ET, ABC).