Sports column: Your handy guide to Week 1 of the college football season

Published 9:00 am Saturday, September 2, 2023

We’ve arrived in September and entered what might be one of the most confusing eras in college football history.

Conference lineups are changings on a daily basis. The clock won’t stop for first downs any more, unless it does. (Bull)dogs and (Wild)cats will surely play together at some point.

It’s a lot to digest, so here is a quick tutorial to the action in Week 1 — not to be confused with Week Zero, which was last Saturday — and some of the things you’ll see and hear:

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• Thanks to a rules change, the clock no longer stops on a first down during the course of the game. It still will stop in the last two minutes of each half. You will be reminded of this approximately 2.4 million times this weekend and probably five times a game for the next 30 years. We’ve had overtime in college football since 1996 and they still recap the rules every time it pops up.

• One of the intriguing Week 1 games was on Friday night when Miami (Ohio) played Miami (Florida). They played it at Miami’s Hard Rock Stadium, which might or might not be located at the corner of First and First Streets, at the nexus of the universe.

• It feels like the SEC was supposed to sign off on CBS five years ago, but it’s still there. So is the Big Ten. The SEC is still CBS’ cash cow for now and will maintain its weekly 2:30 p.m. time slot beginning on Sept. 16.
The Big Ten, however, will have that slot the first two weeks, a primetime game on Sept. 23, and then three more Saturday games later in the season.

• Conference realignment would take a 45-minute power point presentation to sort out, so let’s simplify it as best we can.
For 2023, the Big Ten, SEC, ACC and Pac-12 are all the same as they’ve been for a while. It’ll all change in 2024 when the Pac-12 is incinerated in a nuclear explosion and the fallout lands mostly in the Big Ten and Big 12, so enjoy this while it lasts.

The Big 12 still has Texas and Oklahoma and won’t add four Pac-12 defectors until next year. It does, however, gain BYU, Cincinnati, Houston and Central Florida. So the Big 12 has 14 teams … until it loses two and gains four in 2024 … to stay at 14 teams. Got it?

• You’ll have to row, row, row your remote gently to a stream to find Ole Miss’ and Southern Miss’ games this Saturday. Both are streaming only on ESPN+ and will not be on traditional TV. It’s another glimpse of a college football future no one asked for.

Ole Miss plays Mercer at 1 p.m. in Oxford. Southern Miss faces Alcorn State at 6 p.m. in Hattiesburg.
Mississippi State plays Southeastern Louisiana at 3 p.m. on SEC Network.

• Speaking of streaming, Week 1 is Streaming Saturday for SEC teams. Ole Miss, Georgia, Vanderbilt and Arkansas will all have their season openers available only on ESPN+. It feels like a throwback to the old days when not every game was on TV and you might have even had to pony up for pay per view to watch your team beat down some jabroni.

Guess that makes Week 1 of the 2023 season the perfect way to kick off a multiversal confluence of eras. Enjoy it!

Ernest Bowker is the sports editor of The Vicksburg Post. He can be reached at

About Ernest Bowker

Ernest Bowker is The Vicksburg Post's sports editor. He has been a member of The Vicksburg Post's sports staff since 1998, making him one of the longest-tenured reporters in the paper's 140-year history. The New Jersey native is a graduate of LSU. In his career, he has won more than 50 awards from the Mississippi Press Association and Associated Press for his coverage of local sports in Vicksburg.

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