For millions of college football fans, their Saturdays are about to be busy again. The 2021 college football season is scheduled to begin on Aug. 28 with a slate of five games making up what has been dubbed week zero, the preamble before the massive week one schedule that will feature games from Sept. 1-Sept. 6.
Week zero has been around in college football since 1983. It was designed to give a national TV audience to certain games ahead of week one, and in 2021 the schedule includes big-name programs like Nebraska and UCLA, among others.
What to Watch will be keeping tabs on how to watch many of the big college football games for the 2021 season — including the weekly Saturday Night Football matchup, the SEC Game of the Week and games available on ESPN Plus and Paramount Plus — but here’s what you need to know about college football’s week zero.
College football week zero schedule
All five of week zero’s games will take place on Aug. 28, with four of them available on national TV. Here are the matchups:
Nebraska at Illinois, 1 p.m. ET, Fox
UConn at Fresno State, 2 p.m. ET, CBS Sports Network
Hawai’i at UCLA, 3:30 p.m. ET, ESPN
UTEP at New Mexico State, 9:30 p.m.
Southern Utah at San Jose State, 10 p.m., CBS Sports Network
How to watch college football week zero in the U.S.
With nearly every game taking place on a different network, there are multiple ways to try and catch any and all the action of college football’s week zero.
The Nebraska at Illinois game will air on the Fox broadcast network, meaning that it will be available to all viewers on their local Fox channel via either a traditional cable subscription or a TV antenna. Fox local stations are also carried on vMVPD streaming services like Fubo TV, Sling TV, Hulu with Live TV and YouTube TV. Additional options to watch the Nebraska vs. Illinois game is through the Fox Sports website or the Fox Sports app, but you will need to be a cable or vMVPD subscriber to do so.
Both the UConn at Fresno State and Southern Utah at San Jose State will play nationally on the CBS Sports Network. Though it carries the CBS brand, this sports dedicated network is a cable channel, meaning that it is not available unless included in your cable package. Thankfully, plenty of traditional cable services do (check your subscription details) as do Fubo TV, Hulu with Live TV and YouTube TV. If you subscribe to one of these services you can watch live game footage through the CBS Sports Network website.
For the Hawai’i at UCLA game an ESPN subscription is going to be needed. The cable sports network is available through most subscription services (though perhaps in premium packages), including Sling TV, Fubo TV, Hulu with Live TV and YouTube TV. A subscription to any of these services will also get you the ability to watch the game either through the Watch ESPN website or app. It should be noted that a game on ESPN does not mean that it will be available on ESPN Plus.
The one game not on national TV is the UTEP at New Mexico State game, but local fans of those teams will be able to watch those games on their local stations. Those residing in Las Cruces, N.M., can watch the game on KVIA ABC-7. The game will also be available to stream on FloFootball, a speciality streaming service, which streams high school and some college football games for a monthly fee of $29.99.
How to watch college football week zero in the U.K.
Select college football games will be broadcast each week for U.K. audiences on BT Sport, generally on BT Sport ESPN. For £10 BT TV subscribers can add BT Sport to their package, or consumers can add BT Sport as a standalone service for £25.
For week zero, BT Sport will feature the Hawai’i at UCLA game on Extra 4.
How to watch college football week zero from anywhere
If you find yourself somewhere in the world where you can’t easily watch college football action, a virtual private network could prove to be a valuable investment. A VPN is designed to route network traffic through a specific set of servers in a specific country, allowing viewers to watch content on an encrypted feed over a computer.
Michael Balderston is a D.C.-based entertainment writer and content producer for What to Watch. He previously has written for TV Technology and Awards Circuit.
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