College football early TV schedule coming into focus with Deion Sanders, Colorado getting major spotlight

With the 2023 college football season only a few months away, the early-season broadcast schedule is slowly being finalized.

Multiple networks unveiled their selections Wednesday, giving us a glimpse of the action-packed Saturdays to come. Week 1 is especially intriguing.

Starting Thursday night (Aug. 31), Utah will host Florida at 8 p.m. ET on ESPN opposite Matt Rhule’s Nebraska debut on the road versus Minnesota on Fox. Of the five games Friday, the most notable is an ACC meeting between Georgia Tech and Louisville on ESPN at 7:30 p.m. Michigan State (7 p.m. vs. Central Michigan on FS1) and Miami (7 p.m. vs. Miami Ohio on ACC Network) will also be in action on Friday night.

That weeknight action will be a nice preview for a fun Saturday slate that includes Deion Sanders’ debut at Colorado and the first glimpse of Big Ten football on CBS and NBC:

  • Colorado at TCU (Noon on Fox)

  • Virginia vs. Tennessee (Noon on ABC)

  • East Carolina at Michigan (Noon on Peacock)

  • Boise State at Washington (3:30 p.m. on ABC)

  • Ohio State at Indiana (3:30 p.m. on CBS)

  • Rice at Texas (3:30 p.m. on Fox)

  • North Carolina vs. South Carolina (7:30 p.m. on ABC)

  • West Virginia at Penn State (7:30 p.m. on NBC/Peacock)

Week 1 continues over Labor Day weekend into Sunday and Monday.

Before the biggest game of Week 1, CBS has a double-header with Northwestern at Rutgers at noon and Oregon State at San Jose State at 3:30 p.m. The Sunday nightcap is the marquee matchup between LSU and Florida State in Orlando. LSU is coming off an SEC West title in its first season under Brian Kelly and is expected to be even better in 2023.

FSU, meanwhile, had a breakthrough 10-win season last year and is the current betting favorite (+175) to win the ACC at BetMGM. FSU is just ahead of Clemson on the ACC title odds board. Clemson, listed at +200, will be in action Monday night as it travels to Duke for an 8 p.m. kickoff on ESPN.

FILE - Colorado head coach Deion Sanders looks on in the first half of the team's spring practice NCAA college football game Saturday, April 22, 2023, in Boulder, Colo. Scouting and recruiting players in the NCAA transfer portal has become a vital part of building a college football program. Sanders’ team has added 20 transfers since the portal window opened April 15. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski, File)
Colorado head coach Deion Sanders will be in the national spotlight as CU's first two games will be part of Fox's "Big Noon Saturday" broadcast. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski, File)

Week 2 schedule is loaded

The Week 2 schedule is even better than Week 1.

The group of games is highlighted by Texas’ trip to Alabama at 7 p.m. on ESPN. There is also the rematch between Texas A&M and Miami (3:30 p.m. on ABC), Notre Dame going to NC State (Noon on ABC), Oregon visiting Lubbock to face Texas Tech (7 p.m. on Fox), Nebraska’s trip to Colorado for another “Big Noon Saturday” showcase for Coach Prime’s crew (that will actually kickoff at 10 a.m. local), Ole Miss’ trip to New Orleans to face defending Cotton Bowl champions Tulane (3:30 p.m. on ESPN2) and the annual rivalry game between Iowa and Iowa State (3:30 p.m. on Fox).

Here’s a more-detailed look at what has been announced for Week 2:

  • Notre Dame at NC State (Noon on ABC)

  • Nebraska at Colorado (Noon on Fox)

  • Utah at Baylor (Noon on ESPN)

  • Troy at Kansas State (Noon on FS1)

  • Purdue at Virginia Tech (Noon on ESPN2)

  • Texas A&M at Miami (3:30 p.m. on ABC

  • Iowa at Iowa State (3:30 p.m. on Fox)

  • Ole Miss at Tulane (3:30 p.m. on ESPN2)

  • Texas at Alabama (7 p.m. on ESPN)

  • Oregon at Texas Tech (7 p.m. on Fox)

  • UCF at Boise State (7 p.m. on FS1)

  • Wisconsin at Washington State (7:30 p.m. on ABC)

  • Arizona at Mississippi State (7:30 p.m. on SECN)

  • Stanford at USC (10:30 p.m. on ESPN)

  • Oklahoma State at Arizona State (10:30 p.m. on FS1)

  • Auburn at Cal (10:30 p.m. on ESPN

College Football: Texas quarterback Quinn Ewers (3) in action, passes vs Alabama Will Anderson Jr. (31) and Dallas Turner (15) at Darrell K Royal Memorial Stadium. 
Austin, TX 9/10/2022 
CREDIT: Greg Nelson (Photo by Greg Nelson/Sports Illustrated via Getty Images)
(Set Number: X164150)
Texas quarterback Quinn Ewers (3) passes vs Alabama's Will Anderson Jr. (31) and Dallas Turner (15) at Darrell K Royal Memorial Stadium. (Photo by Greg Nelson/Sports Illustrated via Getty Images)

Fox giving Deion Sanders, Colorado center stage

Colorado’s unprecedented roster transformation under Sanders has been the talk of the offseason. Mainly using the transfer portal (and some high school recruiting), Sanders has brought in dozens of new players to Boulder on the heels of a brutal 1-11 record in 2022.

That new-look Buffs roster will get a national audience in Weeks 1 and 2 with Fox announcing Wednesday that Colorado will be part of its first two “Big Noon Saturday” broadcasts of the season. In Week 1, Colorado will head to Fort Worth to take on TCU, which is coming off a national runner-up finish.

In Week 2, Fox will head to Boulder for a unique 10 a.m. local kickoff as the Buffs host Nebraska at Folsom Field. Nebraska is entering its first season with Matt Rhule as head coach.

On top of that, ESPN will get in on the Colorado action in Week 3 for CU’s home game versus Colorado State. That game is slated for a 10 p.m. ET kickoff. ESPN will also broadcast Colorado’s Friday night home game versus Stanford on Oct. 13 at 10 p.m. ET. Another Friday night game — CU’s Nov. 17 trip to Washington State — will air on FS1 at 10:30 p.m. ET.

Big Ten set to debut on CBS and NBC

The Big Ten’s new television deal will begin this season with an array of Big Ten games airing on CBS and NBC. CBS will begin integrating the Big Ten into its arsenal as it closes out its deal with the SEC. This will be the final year of the long-standing "SEC on CBS" broadcast.

Included in the NBC deal are games exclusively streaming on Peacock, including Michigan’s season- opener against East Carolina. The other Peacock-exclusive games are Delaware at Penn State on Sept. 9 and Washington at Michigan State on Sept. 16.

Confirmed Big Ten on CBS broadcast schedule to date:

  • Saturday, Sept. 2: Ohio State at Indiana (3:30 p.m.)

  • Sunday, Sept. 3: Northwestern at Rutgers (Noon)

  • Saturday, Sept. 9: UNLV at Michigan (3:30 p.m.)

  • Saturday, Sept. 23: Iowa at Penn State (7:30 p.m.)

  • Saturday, Oct. 28: Matchup TBA (Noon)

  • Saturday, Nov. 4: Matchup TBA (Noon)

  • Friday, Nov. 24: Iowa at Nebraska (Noon)

NBC's Big Ten offerings:

Saturday, Sept. 2

  • East Carolina at Michigan (Noon on Peacock)

  • West Virginia at Penn State (7:30 p.m. on NBC/Peacock)

Saturday, Sept. 9

  • Delaware at Penn State (Noon on Peacock)

  • Charlotte at Maryland (7:30 p.m. on NBC/Peacock)

Saturday, Sept. 16

  • Washington at Michigan State (5 p.m. on Peacock)

  • Syracuse at Purdue (7:30 p.m. on NBC/Peacock)

Saturday, Sept. 23

  • Ohio State at Notre Dame (7:30 p.m. on NBC/Peacock)

Saturday, Nov. 11

  • Michigan State at Ohio State (7:30 p.m. on NBC/Peacock)

Friday, Nov. 24

  • Penn State at Michigan State (7:30 p.m. on NBC/Peacock)

Midweek C-USA joins the party

We’re all fans of the mid-week MAC games that typically start popping up on the schedule in late October and early November. Beginning this season, mid-week games from Conference USA will be part of our college football weeks.

Conference USA is going to look a lot different this year with Charlotte, Florida Atlantic, North Texas, Rice, UAB and UTSA all leaving for the AAC. With those schools exiting, Jackson State, Liberty, New Mexico State and Sam Houston all joined the conference. C-USA is now a nine-team league with FIU, Louisiana Tech, Middle Tennessee, UTEP and Western Kentucky staying behind.

To get some more eyeballs on the new-look conference, Conference USA smartly agreed to a midweek scheduling model that will mainly take place in October. There will be 10 midweek games on CBS Sports Network and ESPN carrying nine games on either ESPN2 or ESPNU. The games are mainly spread across Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays. There’s one Friday game, too.