The college football season has arrived after an interminably long offseason filled with satellite camps, expansion talk and all manner of somewhat football-related things that weren’t actually football.
Cal and Hawaii will open the college football season in Australia at 10 p.m. ET on Friday (ESPN/WatchESPN), easing us into the year a week before the full schedule begins. Think of Cal-Hawaii as dipping your toe in the water to test the temperature right before getting hit in the face by a massive wave.
That’s the biggest reason to watch this game, even if you aren’t a fan of the two teams. These aren’t national powerhouses or even teams expected to compete for their conference titles, but this is a real football game that matters to the two teams involved and it can give you that college football fix you’ve been waiting for since the national title game seven months ago.
The first full week of the college football season — and at five days long, it’s a week now rather than a weekend — is a marathon of football watching from Thursday through Monday. You have to pace yourself that first week and to do so, you need a game to get back into the rhythm of the season. Cal-Hawaii is your perfect metronome.
Cal-Hawaii is the first game of the season for all of us. Mistakes will be made, but they’ll be learning experiences so when it comes time for the big games on that first Saturday — which we do not get to ease into because Oklahoma and Houston play at 12 p.m. ET — you’ll be in mid-season form.
As far as what to look for on the field, the most intriguing part of this game will be how former Texas Tech gunslinger Davis Webb looks in his first start for the Golden Bears as he replaces top draft pick Jared Goff. Cal should win this game, and do so with relative ease as a 19.5-point favorite, but moving forward, how Webb plays in Goff’s absence will be significant in whether Cal is able to put together back-to-back seasons with winning records for the first time since 2008 and 2009.