It is Official: Historic Matchup Between No. 3 Florida State and No. 1 Alabama Highlights ESPN’s College Football Kickoff Weekend

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It is Official: Historic Matchup Between No. 3 Florida State and No. 1 Alabama Highlights ESPN’s College Football Kickoff Weekend

  • First Time the Preseason’s Top Ranked Team Faces Top 3 Team in Season Opener
  • 2 Ohio State, No. 5 Clemson, No. 6 Penn State, & No. 9 Wisconsin also on ESPN’s Slate; 17 Ranked Teams Overall
  • No. 14 Stanford Opens the Season in Australia on August 26
  • Commentators Announced for Week 0 and Week 1 Games

It is official: ESPN’s college football kickoff weekend schedule (Thursday, Aug. 31-  Monday, Sept. 4) will be unprecedented as, for the first time in the sport’s storied history, the preseason’s top team opens the season vs. an opponent ranked in the top 3. The year-long anticipation was set in stone when Florida State and Alabama were ranked No. 3 and No. 1, respectively, in the Associated Press Top 25 which was released earlier today.

ESPN Televises Nation’s Top 3 Teams, Majority of Top 10; 17 Ranked Teams Overall in Week 1 Slate
In addition to the Seminoles-Crimson Tide, ESPN’s entire five-day week 1 schedule is peppered with top teams, No. 2 Ohio State, No. 5 Clemson, No. 6 Penn State, No. 9 Wisconsin and, overall, 17 Top 25 teams will play across ESPN’s networks. The programming also features two additional matchups of ranked teams against one another.

ABC’s Saturday Night Football Airs Unprecedented Florida State vs. Alabama Matchup
ABC’s Saturday Night Football Presented by Wells Fargo team of Chris Fowler, Kirk Herbstreit and Maria Taylor call the first 2017 Chick-fil-A Kickoff Game between the Seminoles and Crimson Tide (Sept. 2 at 8 p.m. ET). Tom Rinaldi will join the crew and Taylor on the sidelines for the significant game, which will also be the first college football game in the brand new Mercedes-Benz Stadium. Taylor, who is making her Saturday Night Football debut, will cover the Seminoles, while Rinaldi will cover the Crimson Tide.

Only three previous times in college football history has the preseason No. 1 team opened the season vs. a top 5 opponent – 1986, 1983 and 1982 – but never against a top 3 team. In 1990, Notre Dame played their season opener as the nation’s No. 1 ranked team vs. No. 4 Michigan, however the Irish didn’t earn the No. 1 ranking until after the college football season began.

College GameDay Built by The Home Depot will also be onsite, as the premier show bookends the season in Atlanta.

Opening Night: No. 2 Buckeyes-Hoosiers get MegaCast Production
ESPN will unleash its MegaCast production for No. 2 Ohio State at Indiana on college football’s opening night (Aug. 31 at 8 p.m.), beginning the 2017 college football season with the most extravagant regular-season game presentation the sport has ever experienced.  The multi-network creation will feature the traditional telecast on ESPN and six alternate offerings for fans on ESPNU, ESPNEWS and ESPN3.  ESPN’s lead analyst Kirk Herbstreit makes a rare Thursday night appearance, as he gears up for a busy opening weekend, calling three games in five days. Dave Flemming will be alongside Herbstreit in the booth and Laura Rutledge will on the sidelines.

Complete details on ESPN’s MegaCast, including information on the Homers Telecast and Coaches Film Room, which includes three National Championship-winning head coaches, is here.

Big Ten’s Best Begin the Season on ESPN’s Networks
ESPN’s kickoff week schedule consists of all the Big Ten’s ranked teams: No. 6 Penn State hosting Akron (Sept. 2 at noon on ABC ), No. 9 Wisconsin hosting Utah State (Friday, Sept. 1, at 9 p.m. on ESPN)  and No. 11 Michigan vs. No. 17 Florida from Arlington, Texas (Sept. 2 at 3:30 p.m. on ABC), in addition to the aforementioned Buckeyes. The four teams were the conference’s New Year’s Six representatives last season.

ESPN’s new Friday night team of Adam Amin, Dusty Dvoracek and Molly McGrath will be in Madison, Wisc., while Joe Tessitore, Todd Blackledge and Holly Rowe begin their second season together for the Wolverines and Gators. Mark Jones, Rod Gilmore and Quint Kessenich will be in Happy Valley for the Nittany Lions opener.

Defending Champion Clemson Highlights Quadrupleheader on ESPN
The defending College Football Playoff National Champion, No. 5 Clemson Tigers, open their season hosting Kent State (Saturday, Sept. 2, noon), the first of four games ESPN televises on opening Saturday.  The 2017 AdvoCare Texas Kickoff between BYU and No. 13 LSU (9:30 p.m.) from Houston is the nightcap, with NC State vs. South Carolina from Charlotte (3 p.m.) and Appalachian State at No. 15 Georgia (6:15 p.m.) leading into the Cougars-LSU Tigers matchup.

Beth Mowins, Anthony Becht, and Rocky Boiman will be in Clemson for the call of the Golden Flashes-Tigers and Dave Pasch, Greg McElroy and Tom Luginbill will be in Charlotte. Tommy Tuberville makes his ESPN debut with Mike Patrick and Paul Carcaterra as the trio will be in Athens and Bob Wischusen, Brock Huard and Allison Williams will be Houston.

Ranked Matchup Between Big 12 and ACC on Special Sunday Night Presentation; No. 25 Tennessee Highlights ESPN’s Traditional Labor Day Night Matchup
For the second straight year, ABC televises a special Sunday night prime-time game to commemorate the season’s first week: a top-25 matchup between the Big 12 and the ACC when No. 22 West Virginia plays No. 21 Virginia Tech (Sept. 3 at 7:30 p.m.) from FedExField in Landover, Md. Steve Levy, Brian Griese and Todd McShay will be on the call, as they begin their second season working together.

ESPN will conclude its opening week slate with its traditional Labor Day Night Game, this year featuring the second 2017 Chick-fil-A Kickoff Game: No. 25 Tennessee vs. Georgia Tech (8 p.m. on ESPN) in an SEC-ACC matchup.  The Volunteers-Yellow Jackets matchup is also from Mercedes-Benz Stadium, as ESPN will produce the stadium’s first two college football games in a 48-hour span. Herbstreit concludes his stretch with the call, and Rece Davis will be on play as Chris Fowler will return to New York City for the US Open. Taylor will be on the sidelines.

Additional Week 1 highlights

  • Lane Kiffin’s FAU Debut: Head coach Lane Kiffin will make his Florida Atlantic debut when the Owls host Navy (Fri, Sept. 1 at 8 p.m.) on ESPNU
  • SEC Network: Coverage for week 1 includes four games, beginning Aug. 31 with Arkansas hosting Florida A&M (8 p.m.) and continuing with a tripleheader on Sept. 2 (noon, 4 p.m., 7:30 p.m.). The network’s new SEC Saturday Night crew of Tom Hart, Jordan Rodgers and Cole Cubelic will be in Little Rock on Thursday, and then Auburn on Saturday when the No. 12 Tigers host Georgia Southern in the network’s final game of the day. The network’s Saturday morning pregame show, SEC Nation, will be in Arlington for the Gators matchup vs. the Wolverines.


Week 0: No. 14 Stanford vs. Rice from Australia Caps Tripleheader on ESPN
Fans craving college football can begin their season in week 0 (Aug. 26), as No. 14 Stanford plays Rice from Sydney, Australia (10 p.m. on ESPN).  Roy Philpott, Tom Ramsey and Quint Kessenich will be in Australia for the call of the game.

ESPN will air a tripleheader that day beginning with Portland State at BYU (3 p.m.) followed by the 2017 Guardian Credit Union FCS Kickoff between Chattanooga and Jacksonville State (6:30 p.m.). ESPNU will also air two games during Week 0: Colgate at Cal Poly (7 p.m.) on Saturday and Richmond at Sam Houston State (7 p.m.) on Sunday, Aug. 27.

ESPN’s Week 1 Schedule

Date Time (ET) Game Network
Thu, Aug. 31 6:30 p.m. Presbyterian at Wake Forest
Shawn Kenney, Al Groh
ACC Network Extra
7 p.m. Elon at Toledo
Keith Morehouse, Watson Brown 
Rhode Island at Central Michigan
Michael Reghi, Marcus Ray
Tennessee State at Georgia State
Matt Stewart, Wayne Gandy
Austin Peay at Cincinnati
Jim Barbar, John Gregory
Holy Cross at UConn ESPN3*
8 p.m. No. 2 Ohio State at Indiana
Traditional Call: Dave Flemming, Kirk Herbstreit, Laura Rutledge
MegaCast: Details here
ESPN and ESPN Megacast Production
Florida A&M at Arkansas from Little Rock, Ark.
Tom Hart, Jordan Rodgers, Cole Cubelic
SEC Network
9 p.m. Sacramento State at Idaho ESPN3*
Fri, Sept. 1 6:30 p.m. Charlotte at Eastern Michigan
Dan Gutowsky, Mark Herrmann
7 p.m. Central Connecticut State at Syracuse
Doug Sherman, Tyoka Jackson
ACC Network Extra
8 p.m. Navy at Florida Atlantic
Dave Lamont, Kelly Stouffer, Tiffany Greene
9 p.m. Utah State at No. 9 Wisconsin
Adam Amin, Dusty Dvoracek, Molly McGrath
Sat, Sept. 2 Noon Akron at No. 6 Penn State
Mark Jones, Rod Gilmore, Quint Kessenich
Kent State at No. 5 Clemson
Beth Mowins, Anthony Becht, Rocky Boiman
Bowling Green at Michigan State
Clay Matvick, Kirk Morrison
Missouri State at Missouri
David Neal, Matt Stinchcomb, Dawn Davenport
SEC Network
12:20 p.m. California at North Carolina ACC Network Extra
12:30 p.m. Bethune-Cookman at No. 18 Miami ACC Network Extra
1 p.m. Youngstown State at Pittsburgh
Robert Lee, Dustin Fox
ACC Network Extra
3 p.m. NC State vs. South Carolina from Charlotte
Dave Pasch, Greg McElroy, Tom Luginbill
3:30 p.m. No. 11 Michigan vs. No. 17 Florida from Arlington, Texas
TV: Joe Tessitore, Todd Blackledge and Holly Rowe
Radio: Marc Kestcher, Barrett Jones
ABC and ESPN Radio
William & Mary at Virginia
Dave Weekley, Matt Chatham
ACC Network Extra
3:45 p.m. Troy at Boise State
Mike Couzens, John Congemi
4 p.m. Charleston Southern vs Mississippi State
Taylor Zarzour, Andre Ware, Olivia Harlan
SEC Network
Stony Brook at No. 19 South Florida
Drew Fellios, Forrest Conoly
6 p.m. James Madison at East Carolina
Greg Mescall, Rene Ingoglia
North Carolina Central at Duke
Shawn Kenney, Al Groh
ACC Network Extra
6:15 p.m. Appalachian State at No. 15 Georgia
Mike Patrick, Tommy Tuberville, Paul Carcaterra
7 p.m. Central Arkansas vs. No. 20 Kansas State ESPN3*
Hampton at Ohio
Jim Barbar, Jerod Cherry
Stephen F. Austin at SMU
Dave Raymond, Jay Taylor
UMass at Coastal Carolina
Brock Bowling, Stan Lewter
Southeastern Louisiana at Louisiana
David Saltzman, TBD
Houston Baptist at Texas State
Tyler Denning, Stanford Routt
7:30 p.m. South Alabama at Ole Miss
Anish Shroff, Ahmad Brooks, Roddy Jones
Georgia Southern at No. 12  Auburn
Tom Hart, Jordan Rodgers, Cole Cubelic
SEC Network
8 p.m. 2017 Chick-fil-A Kickoff Game: No. 3 Florida State vs. No. 1 Alabama from Atlanta
TV: Chris Fowler, Kirk Herbstreit, Maria Taylor and Tom Rinaldi
Radio: Bill Rosinski, David Norrie, Ian Fitzsimmons
ABC and ESPN Radio
Grambling at Tulane
Joel Meyers, Hutson Mason
9:30 p.m. 2017 AdvoCare Texas Kickoff: BYU vs. No. 13 LSU from Houston
Bob Wischusen, Brock Huard, Allison Williams
Sun, Sept. 3 2:30 p.m. 2017 MEAC/SWAC Challenge: South Carolina State at Southern
Eric Clemons, Jay Walker, Tiffany Greene
7:30 p.m. No. 22 West Virginia vs. No. 21 Virginia Tech from Landover, Md.
Steve Levy, Brian Griese, Todd McShay
Mon, Sept. 4 8 p.m. 2017 Chick-fil-A Kickoff Game: No. 25 Tennessee vs. Georgia Tech from Atlanta
TV: Rece Davis, Kirk Herbstreit, Maria Taylor
Radio: Bill Rosinski, David Norrie, Ian Fitzsimmons
ESPN and ESPN Radio

*Not Exclusive


Media contact: Derek Volner at 860-384-9986; [email protected] and @DerekVolner


Derek Volner

I currently lead ESPN’s NFL Communications, including Monday Night Football, NFL Draft and studio programming. Previously, I did the same for ESPN’s vast college football portfolio. I have been with ESPN since 2013.
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