Daily Sports: College Football Kicks Off Thursday

Real football is back starting tonight. No more preseason games, no more replays from last year on ESPN Classic or the NFL Network. The 2013 college football season kicks off tonight and sets the tone for Thursday’s daily sports agenda.

TheSportsNotebook’s Week 1 preview for college football highlighted four key non-conference games involving SEC teams, and one of them is Thursday’s feature. South Carolina hosts North Carolina at 6 PM ET on ESPN. Immediately following this game is a key SEC conference game between Ole Miss and Vanderbilt at 9:15 PM ET.

If you follow the midmajors in college football, then ESPNU will be a good place to check out at 7 PM ET. Tulsa won Conference USA last year and has an explosive running back in Trey Watts. They visit Bowling Green, a contender to win the MAC title. And the late-night special is USC-Hawaii at 11 PM ET on CBS Sports Network.

We certainly don’t mean to shortchange baseball, and TheSportsNotebook takes pride in ensuring that MLB coverage continues to take precedence over football between now and the end of the World Series.

There’s a day-night doubleheader on MLB Network that’s huge in the American League playoff race. Oakland-Detroit play a getaway game at 1 PM ET, and then it’s Baltimore-Boston from the Fens at 7 PM ET.

The NFL concludes its preseason tonight as all 32 teams play their final game before next week’s regular season opener. NFL Network will have a doubleheader of Giants-Patriots and 49ers-Chargers that begins at 7:30 PM ET.

Here at TheSportsNotebook we’re driving to the finish line on our preseason NFL analysis. The only two divisions still left to cover are the AFC West and NFC East. We won’t finish both today, but we’ll at least begin.