When Does College Football Start?

When does college football start? How do you get tickets? Find the answers to all your 2023-2024 football season questions.
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  • The 2023-2024 NCAA college football season kicks off Saturday, Aug. 26, which is known as "Week 0."
  • Typically, smaller football schools kick off their season in Week 0. But this year, powerhouses like the University of Southern California and Notre Dame will play their respective season openers on the last Saturday in August.
  • Students at big football schools should look to secure tickets before game day. Most colleges offer season tickets to students at a discounted price.

At many colleges across the country, "football season" and "fall" are synonymous. From August to November, hundreds of thousands of fans watch their teams compete against conference and nonconference rivals in the regular season.

When the regular season wraps at the end of November, the best college football teams meet up in conference championships. And then the best of the best are selected to play in a bowl game. This is capped off by the College Football Playoff (CFP), where one team will bring home a national championship trophy.

Last season, the University of Georgia Bulldogs blew out the Texas Christian University (TCU) Horned Frogs in the national championship game, winning their second consecutive title. The battle for the 2023-2024 national championship starts in less than three months, when 14 teams will compete for a "W" in the first slots on their schedule.

When Does the 2023-2024 College Football Season Begin?

For 14 schools — including Idaho State , Jacksonville State, and Vanderbilt — the 2023-2024 NCAA college football season begins Saturday, Aug. 26.

This year, two big names will join the first weekend lineup: the University of Southern California (USC), home to 2022 Heisman Trophy winner Caleb Williams, will play San Jose State. And Notre Dame, winner of the 2022 Gator Bowl, will take on Navy in Dublin, Ireland.

"Week 0" Games

Across the country, and even across the pond, college football fans will gather around TVs or in stadiums to celebrate the start of the season. Here are all of the games to keep an eye out for Aug. 26.

  • FIU vs. Louisiana Tech
  • Hawaii vs. Vanderbilt
  • Ohio vs. San Diego State
  • Navy vs. Notre Dame
  • San Jose State vs. USC
  • UMass vs. New Mexico State
  • UTEP vs. Jacksonville State

The majority of teams, however, play their first game the following week, commonly known as "Week 1." On Thursday, Aug. 31, the Florida Gators will take on the Utah Utes. In last year's Week 1 matchup, Florida topped Utah 29-26.

Big games to kick off the first weekend in September include West Virginia vs. Penn State and North Carolina vs. South Carolina on Sept. 2 and Florida State vs. LSU on Sept. 3.

For the first time since 1992, Penn State's Nittany Lions will take on the West Virginia Mountaineers. Penn State won the last four matchups between the two schools, dating back to 1989. The last time Penn State hosted a home opener night game was in 2001.

The battle of the Carolinas will take place in Charlotte, where in 2021, the two teams competed in the Duke's Mayo Bowl at the end of the season. South Carolina came out on top 38-21.

Last year, Florida State and LSU also competed against each other for the first game of the season. The Seminoles defeated the Tigers by 1 point, successfully blocking LSU's extra point.

Be sure to tune into these first "official" week of college football games. Among the matchups:

"Week 1" Games

Thursday, Aug. 31

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  • Florida vs. Utah
  • Elon vs. Wake Forest
  • Nebraska vs. Minnesota
  • Missouri State vs. Kansas
  • Kent State vs. UCF
  • NC State vs. UConn

Friday, Sept. 1

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  • Stanford vs. Hawaii
  • Louisville vs. Georgia Tech
  • Central Michigan vs. Michigan State
  • Miami (OH) vs. Miami (FL)

Saturday, Sept. 2

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  • Tennessee State vs. Notre Dame
  • SE Louisiana vs. Mississippi State
  • South Dakota vs. Missouri
  • Sam Houston vs. BYU
  • Texas Tech vs. Wyoming
  • Rice vs. Texas
  • Portland State vs. Oregon
  • Old Dominion vs. Virginia Tech
  • Ohio State vs. Indiana
  • Texas State vs. Baylor
  • Northwestern vs. Rutgers
  • Virginia vs. Tennessee
  • Wofford vs. Pittsburgh
  • Western Carolina vs. Arkansas
  • West Virginia vs. Penn State
  • Washington State vs. Colorado State
  • UTSA vs. Houston
  • Toledo vs. Illinois
  • Utah State vs. Iowa
  • UT Martin vs. Georgia
  • UMass vs. Auburn
  • Towson vs. Maryland
  • Northern Iowa vs. Iowa State
  • Alabama A&M vs. Vanderbilt
  • Colgate vs. Syracuse
  • Coastal Carolina vs. UCLA
  • Central Arkansas vs. Oklahoma State
  • Cal vs. North Texas
  • Buffalo vs. Wisconsin
  • East Carolina vs. Michigan
  • Boise State vs. Washington
  • Ball State vs. Kentucky
  • Arkansas State vs. Oklahoma
  • Colorado vs. TCU
  • Eastern Kentucky vs. Cincinnati
  • NIU vs. Boston College
  • Mid Tenn vs. Alabama
  • Northern Arizona vs. Arizona
  • North Carolina vs. South Carolina
  • New Mexico vs. Texas A&M
  • Nevada vs. USC
  • Mercer vs. Ole Miss
  • Fresno State vs. Purdue

Sunday, Sept. 3

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  • LSU vs. Florida State
  • Oregon State vs. San Jose State

Monday, Sept. 4

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  • Clemson vs. Duke

After Week 1, college football will be in full swing, and students should be ready to jump the hurdle of securing tickets.

How to Get Student Tickets for College Football Games

Most schools reserve a substantial number of tickets, usually thousands, for current students and alumni. Schools should announce ahead of time when tickets will become available for the upcoming season.

Some schools with high ticket demand use a lottery system to award single-game tickets to students, with seniors usually having the best odds at nabbing them.

Season Tickets

Some schools offer season tickets to enrolled students. For example, Penn State begins its season tickets sales in late July and opens the ticket marketplace to students based on seniority.

Other schools sell a variety of full and partial season ticket packages. For example, Ohio State offers a full season ticket option that includes all home games, an option for four Big Ten Conference games, and a variety of other packages based on seating.

Game Day Tickets

As a general rule, if you want to go to a game, plan ahead and buy your tickets in advance. If student tickets are no longer available, you can also buy any tickets made available to the general public, but these often come with a steep price markup — getting your hands on student tickets is likely the cheapest way to attend a game.

That said, there is no admission price to tailgate. If you don't have a ticket but still want to support your team, you can join a throng of supporters outside the stadium in an hourslong celebration.