When Does College Football Start? A Comprehensive Guide to the 2023-2024 Season

As the calendar inches closer to the vibrant hues of autumn, the hearts of college football enthusiasts across the nation quicken in anticipation. A harmonious convergence of traditions and rivalries, the arrival of “football season” signifies more than just a sporting spectacle; it’s a cultural phenomenon that embodies the spirit of fall. From the crackling excitement of August through the crisp air of November, crowds of devoted fans gather to witness the clash of titans as teams duel for supremacy in the regular season.

Yet, this is merely a prelude to the following grand symphony of competition. With the close of November comes the crescendo—the conference championships, the bowl games, and the pinnacle of collegiate football, the College Football Playoff (CFP). The countdown begins as we stand on the brink of a new season, promising a tapestry of unforgettable moments and a chance for one team to etch its name in the annals of sporting glory.

The Kickoff: Week 0 and Week 1

The NCAA college football season for 2023-2024 commences on Saturday, August 26, starting with the designated “Week 0.” Traditionally, smaller football schools begin their season during this week. Nonetheless, this particular year, notable teams such as the University of Southern California (USC) and Notre Dame are scheduled to have their season openers on the final Saturday of August.

Week 0 Games College Football Schedule

Week 0 marks the kickoff for numerous smaller schools. Still, this year’s distinctive twist involves two significant programs, Notre Dame and USC, taking early action with their openers on Saturday, August 26.

Navy vs. Notre Dame (Dublin)

This game promises our initial glimpse of Sam Hartman donning the Fighting Irish uniform. The seasoned quarterback, celebrated as the ACC’s all-time touchdown pass leader, made a significant move to Notre Dame. He now stands poised to showcase his skills behind one of college football’s most formidable offensive lines. Notably, he joins forces with a cadre of exceptional running backs. Tune in at 2:30 p.m. ET on NBC and Peacock for this exciting clash.

San Jose State at USC

The returning Heisman Trophy winner, Caleb Williams, is primed to vie for yet another Heisman and potentially etch his name alongside Archie Griffin in this illustrious circle. Leading an explosive offense, Williams holds the reins for what could be one of college football’s most formidable attacking units. The spotlight, however, falls on USC’s defensive resurgence. Last season, the defense teetered in some matchups and ultimately faltered in the Pac-12 title showdown and the Cotton Bowl. Catch the action at 8 p.m. ET on the Pac-12 Network.

Other notable matchups for the week include:

  • North Alabama vs. Mercer
  • UTEP at Jacksonville State
  • Ohio at San Diego State
  • Fordham at Albany
  • UMass at New Mexico State
  • Hawaii at Vanderbilt
  • Jackson State vs. SC State
  • FIU at Louisiana Tech

The stage is set for an exhilarating start to the college football season, featuring a blend of powerhouse clashes and intriguing face-offs.

Week 1 College Football Schedule Game

Thursday, August 31

Florida against Utah

The initial clash favored the Gators, marking the commencement of the previous season. However, subsequent events saw these teams embarking on divergent paths: Florida struggled to a 6-7 finish and bid farewell to their quarterback as he transitioned to the NFL, whereas Utah clinched the Pac-12 championship and retained crucial elements of their lineup, including the standout quarterback, Cameron Rising. Utah seems poised to avenge their prior loss and take a significant early stride toward securing their third consecutive Pac-12 title. Catch the action at 8 p.m. ET on ESPN.

Nebraska is taking on Minnesota.

This game offers the inaugural glimpse into the fruits of Matt Rhule’s labor at Nebraska following a whirlwind debut offseason. This intense activity has sparked optimism among Cornhusker fans, who eagerly anticipate their program’s resurgence. The match will be against the Gophers, a team that suffered losses among their key playmakers. This early Big Ten West division showdown will illuminate both teams’ prospects. Tune in at 8 p.m. on Fox.

Saturday, September 2

Colorado against TCU

The debut of the Buffaloes under the guidance of Deion Sanders, who made a significant impact during the offseason by departing from Jackson State to revitalize the Colorado program. Sanders orchestrated a massive reformation, a wave of departures and arrivals through the transfer portal. Their opponents, the Horned Frogs, last season’s national title runners-up, also changed. While they gained notable transfers, they suffered substantial losses, including key players like their top quarterback, receiver, running back, and offensive coordinator. The matchup is set for 12 p.m. ET on Fox.

Virginia vs. Tennessee

A clash of the ACC and SEC unfolds in Nashville as a rebuilding Virginia team takes on the challenge posed by the Volunteers. Despite losing the core components of college football’s previously top-ranked offense, the Volunteers return a wealth of talent, positioning themselves for another shot at the SEC East title. The game begins at 12 p.m. ET on ABC.

Ohio State at Indiana

As the Hoosiers prepare to face the heavily-favored Buckeyes, coach Tom Allen finds himself under scrutiny. The Buckeyes, boasting an impressive roster laden with skill talent, present their own set of uncertainties, particularly at the quarterback position, as Ryan Day seeks a replacement for Heisman finalist CJ Stroud. Additionally, the offensive line is an area of focus for Ohio State. The intriguing matchup takes place at 3:30 p.m. ET on CBS.

West Virginia against Penn State

This historic rivalry, which has its roots dating all the way back to 1904, has been dormant since 1992. The Nittany Lions secured a resounding 45-point victory over the Mountaineers in ’91. Fast forward to 2023, and Penn State seems to have the edge as the more well-rounded and formidable team. Fresh off an impressive Rose Bowl triumph, they are set to face off against a West Virginia squad led by Coach Neal Brown, whose position is notably precarious. Catch the action at 7:30 p.m. ET on NBC/Peacock.

North Carolina vs. South Carolina

The eagerly anticipated clash features the return of Drake Maye, a consensus top-tier quarterback in college football, donning the Tar Heels’ colors once again. Meanwhile, Spencer Rattler makes his presence felt as he leads the Gamecocks. Questions loom over North Carolina’s defensive capabilities, coupled with the departure of offensive coordinator Phil Longo. On the other side, South Carolina bid farewell to key players like tight end Jaheim Bell and edge rusher Jordan Burch due to prominent transfers. Tune in for this showdown at 7:30 p.m. ET on ABC.

Coastal Carolina at UCLA

An intriguing matchup awaits as Grayson McCall, a standout in the transfer portal, rejoins the Chanticleers for another exciting chapter. His impressive 8,000-yard passing career sets the stage for a thrilling encounter against UCLA. The Bruins, on an upward trajectory, face the challenge of replacing their top two playmakers. However, the team has bolstered its ranks with notable transfers, including quarterback Collin Schlee, running back Carson Steele, and receiver J. Michael Sturdivant. Don’t miss the action at 10:30 p.m. ET on ESPN.

Sunday, September 3

LSU vs. Florida State

LSU faced off against Florida State in an intense game that saw FSU clinch victory by a single point. Both teams went on to have remarkable seasons – FSU secured ten wins for the first time since 2016, while LSU triumphed in the SEC West and took down Alabama.

The rematch features the return of both quarterbacks, Jordan Travis for FSU and Jayden Daniels for LSU. Defensive standouts like Jared Verse for the Noles and Maason Smith and Harold Perkins for the Tigers are set to make an impact. Both schools have also bolstered their squads with impressive additions from the transfer portal. Tune in to ABC at 7:30 p.m. ET to catch the action.

Getting Student Tickets for College Football Games

Attending college football games is an exhilarating experience for students. Most schools reserve a substantial number of tickets for current students and alumni, providing them with an opportunity to cheer on their teams. Let’s explore how students can acquire these coveted tickets.

Season Tickets

One option for students is to purchase season tickets. Many schools, such as Penn State, offer season ticket sales to enrolled students[^2^]. These season tickets provide access to all home games throughout the season. Students should pay attention to announcements from their respective schools regarding when season tickets will become available and how to secure them.

Single-Game Tickets

In addition to season tickets, schools often allocate a portion of tickets for single-game purchases. Some schools may use a lottery system to distribute these tickets, giving all students an equal chance to attend specific games[^2^]. Seniors may have better odds of securing single-game tickets due to their higher class standing.

To increase their chances of getting tickets, students should follow their school’s announcements and keep an eye out for ticket sale dates. It’s important to act quickly, as tickets can sell out fast, especially for highly anticipated matchups.

Game Day Tickets

If student tickets are no longer available, students can still attend games by purchasing tickets made available to the general public. However, it’s worth noting that these tickets often come with a higher price markup compared to student tickets[^2^]. Planning ahead and purchasing tickets in advance is recommended to secure the best seats at a reasonable price.

Alternatively, even without a ticket, students can still be part of the game day experience by joining the vibrant tailgating scene outside the stadium. Tailgating provides an opportunity to connect with fellow fans, enjoy food and drinks, and show support for the team, creating lasting memories.

Notable Matchups and Rivalries

College football is renowned for its fierce rivalries and historic matchups. Each season brings a host of exciting games that capture the attention of fans nationwide. Let’s take a closer look at some of the highly anticipated matchups of the 2023-2024 season.

Penn State vs. West Virginia

One exciting matchup to watch out for is the game between Penn State and West Virginia. The Nittany Lions and Mountaineers will face off for the first time since 1992[^1^]. Penn State has emerged victorious in its previous four matchups, dating back to 1989. This game is sure to reignite the rivalry between these two storied programs.

North Carolina vs. South Carolina

The battle between the Carolinas is always a thrilling encounter. North Carolina and South Carolina will clash in Charlotte, continuing their rivalry that extends beyond the football field[^1^]. In their previous meeting, South Carolina emerged victorious, and both teams will undoubtedly bring their best to secure a win.

Florida State vs. LSU

Florida State and LSU will renew their rivalry in a highly anticipated game. Last season, the Seminoles narrowly defeated the Tigers by 1 point, adding to the intensity of their upcoming matchup[^1^]. Fans can expect a fierce battle between these two talented teams.

These are just a few examples of the exciting matchups that await college football fans in the 2023-2024 season. The schedule is packed with thrilling games that will showcase the skill, passion, and dedication of student-athletes.

The Road to the College Football Playoff

As the regular season progresses, teams will vie for a coveted spot in the College Football Playoff (CFP). The CFP is the culmination of the season, where the top-ranked teams compete for the national championship.

Before reaching the CFP, teams must navigate their respective conference championships and bowl games. Conference championships bring together the best teams from each conference to determine the conference champion. These games often feature high stakes and intense competition.

Following the conference championships, the top teams in the nation will be chosen to participate in prestigious bowl games. These bowl games allow teams to showcase their skills on a national stage and compete against formidable opponents.

Finally, the College Football Playoff will feature the four best teams in the nation, as determined by the selection committee. These teams will compete in semifinal contests, and the victors will progress to the national championship game. The stakes are high; the ultimate goal is to claim the national championship trophy.

Last season, the University of Georgia Bulldogs emerged as the national champions, defeating the Texas Christian University (TCU) Horned Frogs in a resounding victory[^1^]. The 2023-2024 national championship battle promises to be fiercely contested, with 14 teams vying for the coveted title.


The start of the college football season is an exciting time for fans, students, and alumni alike. From the kickoff in Week 0 to the highly anticipated matchups of Week 1, the 2023-2024 NCAA college football season promises to deliver thrilling moments and unforgettable memories.

Students can secure tickets for these games through various means, such as season ticket sales and single-game purchases. Planning ahead and staying updated with announcements from their respective schools is key to ensuring a memorable game day experience.

As the season progresses, teams will battle for conference championships and the opportunity to compete in prestigious bowl games. The road to the College Football Playoff is filled with excitement and anticipation, culminating in the crowning of a national champion. So mark your calendars and get ready to cheer on your favorite college football teams. The 2023-2024 season is just around the corner, and it promises to be a thrilling ride from start to finish. Let the games begin!

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