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The best game and sleeper game to watch in Week 1 of the college football schedule

It may not be the best slate of matchups over Labor Day weekend, but it’s still college football so let’s watch it all.

NCAA Football: Cotton Bowl Classic-Memphis vs Penn State Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports

Labor Day weekend has traditionally been a large celebration with the return of college football. Typically we see a bevy of non-stop college football action starting Thursday all the way through Monday. It is the only weekend college football has to itself with virtually every team playing without the NFL.

In 2020, things look a little bit different. To this point, the Big Ten and Pac-12 will not be playing football in the fall of 2020 with the MAC and Mountain West Conferences also sitting out. Teams trimmed their schedules with the hope of making it through the season as safe as possible. After all that, a Labor Day weekend that saw 83 games involving FBS teams in 2019 turned into just nine in 2020.

The FBS season began Thursday night with the UAB Blazers taking a 45-35 home win over the Central Arkansas Bears. This was followed by the first FBS vs. FBS matchup as South Alabama beat Southern Miss 32-21 on the road as double-digit underdogs.

Here’s the slate of games left with six more throughout the day on Saturday with one more on Monday night.

Saturday, Sept. 5

Eastern Kentucky vs. Marshall

Time: 1 p.m. ET


Middle Tennessee vs. Army

Time: 1:30 p.m. ET


SMU vs. Texas State

Time: 4:30 p.m. ET


Houston Baptist vs. North Texas

Time: 7:30 p.m. ET


Arkansas State vs. Memphis

Time: 8 p.m. ET


Stephen F. Austin vs. UTEP

Time: 9 p.m. ET


Monday, Sept. 7

BYU vs. Navy

Time: 8 p.m.


Best game

The best game to watch this weekend is clearly going to be the last game on the slate with the BYU Cougars heading to Annapolis, Maryland to play the Navy Midshipmen. This matchup will feature two very different offensive philosophies with Navy’s triple-option attack compared to BYU’s wide-open offense.

The Midshipmen are coming off their second 11-win season in the past five years, capped off by a Liberty Bowl victory over Kansas State. On the other side, BYU finished 7-6 for the second consecutive season. The Cougars operate as an independent without a conference, but they were able to manage putting together an eight-game schedule as it stands now.

Sleeper teams

Let’s be honest, it’s not too exciting of a college football weekend. If you are searching for an excuse to plop down on the couch and take in some football on Saturday, there are two teams worth taking note of. Those teams are SMU and Memphis from the American Athletic Conference. Both games will likely be blowouts with both point spreads fairly high, but these two should be fun to watch this season.

Memphis should be eyeing a spot in the College Football Playoff, and that should be a realistic goal for the Tigers. A Group of 5 team has never made the College Football Playoff in its six-year existence, and there has never been a better time for it to finally happen than in 2020. If the Tigers run the table in the AAC, they have a very legitimate argument they should be included.

SMU is likely behind the top three in the AAC with Memphis, Cincinnati and UCF, but the Mustangs are coming off their fist 10-win season since 1984, quarterback Shane Buechele is heading into his fifth season of college football and nearly threw for 4,000 yards and 34 touchdowns last season, both were among the most in college football.

It’s not what we originally planned for, but let’s enjoy some college football over this Labor Day weekend.