Ranking the Top 10 ESPN Marquee Games in Week 0 and Week 1

    ESPN has revealed its marquee matchups to kick off the 2024 season, but which games in Weeks 0 and 1 should be on your radar?

    With the debut of the 12-team College Football Playoff and several top-tier programs joining new conferences, the 2024 season’s intrigue has reached all-time levels. But which matchups should you tune in to as the campaign kicks off in Weeks 0 and 1?

    Top 10 ESPN Marquee Games in Weeks 0-1 in 2024

    On Tuesday, May 14, ESPN revealed its marquee games to begin the 2024 campaign, and the media giant will release its schedule for the first three weeks of the season — and other special date games — on Thursday, May 30. Then, on Thursday, June 6, ESPN will announce its full slate of bowl games.

    10) Florida A&M vs. Norfolk State | Week 0

    Any chance you get to watch HBCU football, you take it. The MEAC/SWAC Challenge will feature former FAU QB Daniel Richardson at QB for the Rattlers and the returning Otto Kuhns for the Spartans.

    FAMU went 12-1 last season, winning 11 straight games to finish the year, and hope to keep the moment rolling in 2024. Meanwhile, Norfolk State went 3-8 and hasn’t had a winning season since 2021 (before that, it was 2007).

    9) Stanford vs. TCU | Week 1

    Stanford joins the ACC off back-to-back 3-9 campaigns, which is less than exciting, to say the least. However, it is only Year 2 of the Troy Taylor era, and the head coach proved he could turn a program (Sacramento State) from a bottom dweller into a conference contender. Plus, WR Eric Ayomanor will be on the field — enough said.

    TCU suffered a massive national championship hangover, going from 13-2 to 5-7, but Sonny Dykes utilized the transfer portal to bring in 10 potential starters. Although the Horned Frogs are still a ways away from competing for a title again, they should start rebounding in 2024.

    8) Alabama vs. Western Kentucky | Week 1

    In Week 1, we’ll see the debut of Kalen DeBoer in crimson and white. It will be the first time since 2007 that someone other than Nick Saban will patrol the sidelines for the Crimson Tide, and that is worth viewing in and of itself. Of course, Alabama is also in the thick of the SEC race with plenty of talent to show for it.

    If there is one thing we know about Western Kentucky, it’s that the Hilltoppers will put up points. Whether former LSU, Auburn, and Texas State QB TJ Finley is at the helm or 2023 backup Caden Veltkamp, the team will serve as a decent test for Alabama’s new-look defense under DC Kane Wommack.

    7) Florida State vs. Boston College | Week 1

    Florida State hosts Boston College on Labor Day, signaling the first time we’ll see Bill O’Brien serving as a college head coach since his time at Penn State (2012-2013). Jeff Hafley left the Eagles to take the Green Bay Packers’ vacant DC role, but he led the program to its first bowl win in seven years before departing Massachusetts.

    The Seminoles lost large swaths of talent to the NFL, including QB Jordan Travis, RB Trey Benson, and WRs Keon Coleman and Johnny Wilson. The offense will look quite different with Clemson and Oregon State transfer DJ Uiagalelei slinging the rock, but Week 1 won’t be his FSU debut…

    6) Florida State vs. Georgia Tech | Week 0 (in Dublin, Ireland)

    Hello, Dublin, Ireland! ACC rivals Florida State and Georgia Tech will duke it out across the pond to kick off their seasons, where they’ll be joined by College GameDay. We’ve talked about Mike Norvell’s squad, but don’t sleep on what’s brewing in Atlanta.

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    Brent Key led the Yellow Jackets to their first winning season since 2018 (7-6), and 10 of their 11 offensive starters return, including QB Haynes King and 1,000-yard RB Jamal Haynes.

    5) Colorado vs. North Dakota State | Week 1

    The game could turn into a blowout — in either direction. Cam Miller and the Bison are perennial FCS championship contenders and will look to punch the Buffaloes in the mouth to commence the year.

    Deion Sanders and Colorado are circled on every team’s calendar, and with the sheer number of starters they exchanged in the portal, they better hope they can back up their offseason talk. Shedeur Sanders and Travis Hunter are only two players, even if Hunter technically counts as two starters.

    4) Florida vs. Miami (FL) | Week 1

    The Sunshine State Showdown takes place in “The Swamp” this season — a pivotal one for both head coaches. Florida is coming off back-to-back losing campaigns, and Billy Napier has to get over the hump to silence critics. Graham Mertz is great at taking care of the football and checking it down, but can he push the ball downfield and take pressure off the Gators’ defense?

    Mario Cristobal’s squad has fared better in his two years at the helm, but not by much. Now with Cam Ward under center and Damien Martinez in the backfield, the Hurricanes have the offensive firepower to make the ACC Championship Game. But will they?

    3) Texas A&M vs. Notre Dame | Week 1

    The first full Saturday of college football caps off with Texas A&M and Notre Dame on prime time. College GameDay will be in College Station for the matchup, with the legendary Nick Saban joining Lee Corso, Kirk Herbstreit, Desmond Howard, and Pat McAfee on the desk.

    On the field, the Aggies lost two potential 2025 NFL Draft first-rounders, DT Walter Nolen (Ole Miss) and WR Evan Stewart (Oregon), to the transfer portal. However, they also brought in several talented athletes, including Purdue EDGE Nic Scourton. Yet, the team will go as far as QB Conner Weigman can take them, and he looked elite when healthy last season.

    Notre Dame has its own star QB in Duke transfer Riley Leonard, but it’s the defense that deserves the spotlight. DT Howard Cross III, LB Jack Kiser, CB Benjamin Morrison, and S Xavier Watts headline one of the best units in the country.

    2) USC vs. LSU | Week 1 | (in Las Vegas)

    It’s fitting that USC and LSU begin their seasons in Sin City because both teams are dangerous gambles in 2024.

    Caleb Williams and Jayden Daniels are gone, as are their top pass catchers from a year ago. Lincoln Riley needs results, and anything less than an SEC title push will draw the ire of Tigers fans for Brian Kelly. An out-of-conference battle in Week 1 will go a long way toward defining both teams’ seasons.

    1) Clemson vs. Georgia | Week 1 (in Atlanta)

    The clash of two-time national champions will take place in Mercedes-Benz Stadium, the home of the 2025 CFP National Championship. Georgia expects to start and end the season there, while Clemson hopes to rebound after their first non-double-digit win campaign since 2010.

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    The game may not be close, as FanDuel has the Bulldogs as 13.5-point favorites, but the Tigers should provide a solid test to open the year. And if it’s a rout, it could signal another long season for Dabo Swinney and Co.

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