Game of the week
Alabama vs. Wisconsin at Arlington, Texas (7 p.m. Saturday on ESPN)
The Badgers look to get the Paul Chryst era off to a big start. Wisconsin quarterback Joel Stave is a fifth-year senior with a 21-7 career record as a starter, but he’s going against what should be one of the nation’s top defenses. Who starts at quarterback for the Crimson Tide? The choices are Jake Coker, Cooper Bateman and Alec Morris. Whoever it is will face an excellent Wisconsin secondary.
Upset of the week
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Texas A&M over Arizona State in Houston (6 p.m. Saturday on ESPN)
John Chavis takes over the Aggies defense, and what better way to introduce himself than with a game plan to hold down the potent Sun Devils offense? That probably won’t happen, but Texas A&M is capable of keeping pace offensively. Aggies quarterback Kyle Allen, who is from Scottsdale, took over the starting job in the middle of last season and led A&M to an upset of Auburn and was a bowl game MVP.
Others to watch
BYU at Nebraska (2:30 p.m. Saturday on ABC)
The Mike Riley career begins in Lincoln. One of the most interesting answers at his first game-week news conference came when he was asked if Nebraska could beat his best teams at Oregon State, including four that finished in the top 25. “That’s an interesting thought, but yes, I do,” Riley said. We’ll see if that’s good enough to beat the Cougars in a tough opener.
Texas at Notre Dame (6:30 p.m. Saturday on NBC)
The Irish are covered in preseason hype, but not the Longhorns. Notre Dame has talent and depth but inexperience at quarterback. Malik Zaire has started one game, the bowl victory over LSU last season. Texas quarterback Tyrone Swoopes had his moments last season but not nearly enough of them. Redshirt freshman Jerrod Heard is expected to see playing time.
Louisville vs. Auburn in Atlanta (2:30 p.m. Saturday on CBS)
Cardinals coach Bobby Petrino is back in Atlanta, where he abruptly left his NFL job to coach Arkansas. The defensive coordinators are in the spotlight here. Former Florida coach Will Muschamp leads the Tigers, and Todd Grantham, formerly of Georgia, did a superb job with the Cardinals last season.
On the horizon
Sept. 12 games
Oregon at Michigan State
Rose Bowl or national semifinal preview?
Oklahoma at Tennessee
Credibility game for the Vols.
Big 12 schedule
All games Saturday unless noted
No. 4 Baylor at SMU, 6 p.m. Friday (ESPN)
South Dakota State at Kansas, 11 a.m. (Fox Sports KC)
Sam Houston State at Texas Tech, 2:30 p.m. (Fox Sports KC+)
South Dakota at Kansas State, 6 p.m. (No TV; webcast at K-StateHD.tv)
Akron at No. 19 Oklahoma, 6 p.m. (PPV)
Texas at No. 11 Notre Dame, 6:30 p.m. (NBC)
Georgia Southern at West Virginia, 6:30 p.m. (Fox Sports KC+)
Northern Iowa at Iowa State, 7 p.m. (No TV; webcast at Cyclones.tv)
Louisiana-Monroe at No. 9 Georgia, 11 a.m. (SEC Network)
Tennessee-Martin at No. 17 Mississippi, 11 a.m. (SEC Network+)
No. 6 Auburn vs. Louisville at Atlanta, 2:30 p.m. (CBS)
UTEP at No. 18 Arkansas, 2:30 p.m. (ESPNU)
Southeast Missouri at No. 24 Missouri, 3 p.m. (SEC Network+)
No. 25 Tennessee vs. Bowling Green at Nashville, Tenn., 3 p.m. (SEC Network)
No. 15 Arizona State vs. Texas A&M at Houston, 6 p.m. (ESPN)
Louisiana-Lafayette at Kentucky, 6 p.m. (ESPNU)
McNeese State at No. 14 LSU, 6:30 p.m. (SEC Network+)
New Mexico State at Florida, 6:30 p.m. (SEC Network)
No. 3 Alabama vs. No. 20 Wisconsin at Arlington, Texas, 7 p.m. (ABC)
Mississippi State at Southern Mississippi, 9 p.m. (Fox Sports 1)
Top 25 schedule
No. 1 Ohio State at Virginia Tech, 7 p.m. Monday (ESPN)
No. 5 Michigan State at Western Michigan, 6 p.m. Friday (ESPNU)
No. 7 Oregon vs. Eastern Washington, 7 p.m. (Pac-12 Network)
No. 8 Southern California vs. Arkansas State, 10 p.m. (Pac-12 Network)
No. 10 Florida State vs. Texas State, 7 p.m. (ESPNews)
No. 12 Clemson vs. Wofford, 11:30 a.m.
No. 13 UCLA vs. Virginia, 2:30 p.m. (Fox)
No. 21 Stanford at Northwestern, 11 a.m. (ESPN)
No. 23 Boise State vs. Washington, 9:15 p.m. Friday (ESPN)