Week 1 is finally upon us, bringing in tow one of the most important questions a fan can ask: Where are we watching the games?
Every SEC team will be in action between Thursday and Monday during the opening weekend, setting us up more than 50 hours of conference football. You’re going to have to come up for air at some point, however.
To assist with your maximum viewing value, we’ve ranked the watchability of all 13 games based on our unique scale of “One-to-Verne” (Verne being the highest-possible rating, naturally).
All games Eastern time zone and on Sept. 3, unless noted
1. NO. 5 LSU AT WISCONSIN
Watchability Rating: Verne
Kick-off: 3:30 p.m. on ABC/ESPN3
If we’re talking straight watchability, the backdrop of Lambeau Field is fairly hard to beat in any sport. The inaugural Lambeau Field College Classic pitting LSU and Wisconsin against one another isn’t just a gimmick to play the first collegiate game ever held on the home tundra of the Green Bay Packers. The contest itself is long on intrigue, including a matchup between the nation’s incumbent leading rusher Leonard Fournette and Wisconsin’s staunch defense, that finished No. 4 in the nation in 2015 against the run. Throw in the offseason defection of defensive coordinator Dave Aranda from the Badgers to the Tigers and this game has a little bit of everything. Les Miles has claimed he won’t tolerate his players performing the Lambeau Leap. Will they listen or take advantage of an opportunity of a lifetime?
2. NO. 11 OLE MISS AT NO. 4 FLORIDA STATE
Watchability Rating: Verne
Kick-off: Sept. 5, 8 p.m. on ESPN
Someone’s highly anticipated season is going to start off with a win over a decently ranked opponent when No. 11 Ole Miss and No. 4 Florida State square off Week 1 in Orlando’s Camping World Kick-off. A win for the Seminoles helps to validate their No. 4 ranking in the AP Top 25, while an Ole Miss victory will only add fuel to the Rebels’ matchup two weeks later against No. 1 Alabama.
3. NO. 20 USC AT NO. 1 ALABAMA
Watchability Rating: 4 Kiffins
Kick-off: 8 p.m. on ABC/ESPN3
Alabama, traditionally, isn’t afraid to take on a relatively big foe come Week 1. The last four opening-weekend opponents dating back to 2012 include Wisconsin and West Virginia, as well as Virginia Tech and Michigan. The 2016 season will be no different as the Crimson Tide head to Dallas for the third time in the last five years to kick off their season (Michigan 2012, Wisconsin 2015) when Nick Saban’s program takes on No. 20 Southern California. The game marks the first time Lane Kiffin will face his former squad, since USC officials unceremoniously fired the former Trojan head coach as he waited on the team bus after arriving home from a loss to Arizona State during the 2013 season.
4. NO. 18 GEORGIA AT NO. 22 UNC
Watchability Rating: 4 Boiled Peanuts
Kick-off: 5:30 p.m. on ESPN
Georgia and North Carolina have faced each other 30 times dating back to 1895, but the No. 18 Bulldogs and No. 22 Tar Heels rivalry has been on mothballs since the 1971 season when UGA took a 16-12-2 all-time series lead courtesy of a win in the Gator Bowl. Adding to the allure of this game is the anticipated return of star Georgia running back Nick Chubb, who suffered a season-ending knee injury midway through the 2015 campaign.
5. NO. 16 UCLA AT TEXAS A&M
Watchability Rating: 3 Departed Quarterbacks
Kick-off: 3:30 p.m. on CBS
Texas A&M has gained some momentum as a potential SEC West sleeper this season. Much of that uptick in popularity stems from a seasoned veteran in graduate transfer QB Trevor Knight taking over to guide one of the best wide receiver corps in the nation. UCLA, on the other hand, has its own star signal caller in the making. And Josh Rosen isn’t afraid to say what’s on his mind — including a recent diss on the Aggies’ fabled 12th Man, saying “After about 50k people, it all sounds about the same,” according to Fox Sports.
6. NO. 2 CLEMSON AT AUBURN
Watchability Rating: 3 Tigers
Kick-off: 9 p.m. on ESPN
Clemson takes on its second-consecutive team from the Yellowhammer State by kicking off its 2016 on the road against Auburn. Dabo Swinney’s program returns many of the parts from last year’s squad that lost to Alabama in the championship game of the second installment of the College Football Playoff. Led by Heisman hopeful Deshaun Watson, Clemson draws a Week 1 contest against an Auburn team that has plenty of talent. A strong showing against Clemson could go a long way toward allaying any hot seat rumors for Auburn head coach Gus Malzahn.
7. MISSOURI AT WEST VIRGINIA
Watchability Rating: 2 Country Roads
Kick-off: Noon on Fox Sports 1
Missouri and West Virginia last met when the former was in the Big 12 and the latter resided in the Big East. It’s now 18 years later and the Mountaineers are in the Big 12, courtesy of a vacancy created by Mizzou’s departure. The matchup makes for a strange conference pride-type atmosphere. The Tigers bring what should be another staunch defense, but will have to be leery of a West Virginia squad that could surprise some teams this year with a powerful offense.
8. APPALACHIAN STATE AT NO. 9 TENNESSEE
Watchability Rating: 2 Yard Sales at the Big House
Kick-off: Sept. 1, 7:30 p.m. on Sept. 1; SEC Network
The very mention of name Appalachian State sends shivers down the spine of some fans after the Mountaineers upset No. 5 Michigan to kick off the 2007 season in one of the more improbable endings in college football lore. Nine years to the day, App State is back, this time with its eyes set on upending Tennessee’s promising 2016 campaign. The Mountaineers should present a challenge for the Vols after setting the Sun Belt Conference record for wins (11) last season and becoming the first former FCS program to claim a bowl victory in their first year as a Division 1 FBS bowl-eligible school.
SOUTH CAROLINA AT VANDERBILT
Watchability Rating: 1 Bowl Bid
Kick-off: Sept. 1, 8 p.m.; ESPN
Victories will come at a premium for both South Carolina and Vanderbilt in 2016, meaning the Gamecocks’ and Commodores’ Week 1 tilt carries some weight for each school. A bowl berth for Will Muschamp in his first season in Columbia would be considered a success, while Derek Mason’s squad finally believes it has the pieces in place to make the program’s first postseason appearance during the head coach’s third season in Nashville. Both schools need this win to reach the requisite six wins for bowl eligibility.
MASSACHUSETTS AT NO. 25 FLORIDA
Watchability Rating: 1 Minuteman
Kick-off: 7:30 p.m. on SEC Network
Florida will sit five players with suspensions for its Week 1 contest against Massachusetts. The lack of players doesn’t figure to harm the Gators too badly, considering the Minutemen arrive in The Swamp having failed to eclipse three wins in each of their first four years of bowl eligibility as a FBS program.
LOUISIANA TECH AT ARKANSAS
Watchability Rating: 1 Woo Pig Sooie
Kick-off: 4 p.m. on SEC Network
Arkansas holds a 3-0 all-time series lead over Louisiana Tech between games held in Fayetteville, Little Rock and Ruston, La. The series returns to Fayetteville 19 years after their last meeting. As far as watchability, the matchup is a bit of a homecoming for La. Tech head coach Skip Holtz, who played quarterback for Fayetteville High School while his father Lou Holtz coached Arkansas. Holtz has nine wins in each of his last two seasons in Ruston, meaning the Week 1 contest could become another Toledo if the Hogs aren’t careful.
SOUTH ALABAMA AT MISSISSIPPI STATE
Watchability Rating: 1 Cowbell
Kick-off: Noon on SEC Network
South Alabama has had little success against the SEC, going winless in four tries. Half of those defeats came at the hands of Mississippi State, the Jaguars’ Week 1 opponent. This will be the first game for the Bulldogs without Dak Prescott, providing plenty of intrigue as to what kind of team Dan Mullen will field this year in Starkville — just not enough suspense to avoid this list’s penultimate spot.
SOUTHERN MISS AT KENTUCKY
Watchability Rating: 1 Long Season
Kick-off: 7:30 p.m. on ESPNU
You know a game loses marquee value when it’s the only SEC contest kicked over to ESPNU. Kentucky and Southern Miss last squared off against one another in 1986, one year before Brett Favre arrived on campus in Hattiesburg. The Golden Eagles could have used Favre that day 30 years ago, as the Wildcats steamrolled their way to a 32-0 blanking. Kentucky head coach Mark Stoops — searching for his first bowl game in four tries during his tenure in Lexington — could benefit greatly from another one-sided victory.