John Clay

Five games of interest on a huge opening weekend for college football

Patrick Towles will make his Boston College debut on Saturday when BC plays Georgia Tech in Dublin, Ireland.
Patrick Towles will make his Boston College debut on Saturday when BC plays Georgia Tech in Dublin, Ireland. Associated Press

Random notes:

▪  Yes, yes, we know California beat Hawaii last Friday in the Land Down Under, but college football kicks off for real on Thursday night and continues through what some are calling the best opening weekend in the sport’s history.

Amid the great games, here are five — outside of Kentucky-Southern Miss, of course — I’m most interested in watching:

Boston College-Georgia Tech: What this ACC tilt in Dublin, Ireland, lacks in the way of quality teams it makes up for in the presence of Patrick Towles, former UK quarterback, now grad transfer at Boston College. To watch Towles’ BC debut you’ll have to set your alarm clock. Kickoff is at 7:30 a.m. Saturday on ESPN2.

LSU-Wisconsin: What a great setting — college football on Lambeau Field in Green Bay, Wis. Stud LSU running back Leonard Fournette wants to start off his Heisman Trophy campaign on the right foot. Wisconsin wants to punish ex-defensive coordinator Dave Aranda for taking the same job at LSU. ABC has this one at 3:30 p.m. Saturday.

Georgia-North Carolina: Will the debut of Georgia Coach Kirby Smart include running back Nick Chubb, who tore his ACL last year? Tune in to ESPN at 5:30 p.m. Saturday to find out.

Alabama-USC: Everything’s bigger in Texas, and there are some big questions for this opener at Cowboys Stadium. Who’s the Alabama quarterback? Will Damien Harris be Bama’s lead running back? How will ex-UK assistant Tee Martin fare as Southern Cal’s new offensive coordinator? ABC has the prime-time 8 p.m. start.

Clemson-Auburn: Clemson, the 2015 runner-up, has the nation’s best quarterback in Deshaun Watson. Meanwhile, the tradition of rolling Toomer’s Corner after a big Auburn win returns this year. Two new oak trees are ready for toilet paper. Doubt the tradition will be reborn Saturday night, however. ESPN has the 9 p.m. kickoff.

▪  By now, you are probably tried of hearing about 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick and why he refused to stand for the national anthem last week. My bottom line stance: Peaceful protest is allowed under the law.

▪  Given the injury rate for quarterbacks in the NFL, the Bengals would be nuts to trade backup AJ McCarron to the Vikings, who are looking for a quarterback after Teddy Bridgewater’s ACL injury on Tuesday.

▪  Speaking of LSU-Wisconsin, LSU coach Les Miles says if any of his players try the famous “Lambeau Leap,” they’ll be hitching a ride back to Louisiana.

▪  It took longer than expected for Western Kentucky Coach Jeff Brohm to name Mike White his starting quarterback for the opener Thursday night against Rice. Does that mean the former South Florida starting quarterback wasn’t all that impressive? Or does it mean his competition played so well Brohm was forced to delay his decision?

▪  CBS Sports Chairman Scott McManus to SI’s Richard Deitsch about Phil Simms, “Listening to it with a very critical ear, I think Phil is vastly underappreciated, and part of that is the overreaction to social media.”

▪  Quick note on UK kicker Austin MacGinnis: He has made 16 of 23 field goals at Commonwealth Stadium for 69.6 percent. He has made 18 of 21 field goals on the road for 85.7 percent.

▪  Aaron Rodgers wore a cowboy outfit at the Green Bay Packers’ annual Welcome Back Luncheon on Wednesday. Even if you’re not a Packers fan, how can you not be an Aaron Rodgers fan?

▪  During last weekend’s 20-year reunion of the 1995-96 Kentucky national champions, Rick Pitino referred to them as the “best team ever.” On Monday, while congratulating Alex Poythress for signing with the Indiana Pacers, John Calipari tweeted, “That’s 8 players from one of the greatest teams ever.”

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