Laboring to beat the champs

The opening weekend of the college football season includes many big contests – building to Monday night’s battle in Blacksburg.
Virginia Tech hosts defending champion Ohio State Monday at 8 p.m. on ESPN.
The Buckeyes’ run to the championship nearly ended in September, when the Hokies pulled the upset in Columbus. When Virginia Tech struggled through the ACC as the season wore on, the loss nearly kept Ohio State out of the four-team playoff.
A spot in this year’s national semifinals on New Year’s Eve might await Monday’s winner.
The season begins Thursday at 6 p.m. on ESPN, with North Carolina taking on South Carolina before Minnesota hosts TCU at 9 p.m. The Jim Harbaugh era begins at Michigan, traveling to Utah on FoxSports1 at 8:30 p.m.
ESPN has a pair of games Friday, with Baylor-SMU at 7 p.m. followed by Washington against Boise State.
Virginia starts its season at UCLA Saturday at 3:30 p.m. on Fox.
Notre Dame takes on Texas on NBC at 7:30 p.m. and CBS carries Auburn’s contest with Louisville at 3:30 p.m
ABC brings Nebraska-BYU at 3:30 p.m., then Cowboys Stadium hosts Wisconsin and Alabama at 8 p.m.
ESPN starts its day at noon with Stanford-Northwestern, then Penn State tackles Temple at 3:30 p.m. Texas A&M plays Arizona State in Houston at 7 p.m.
Clemson battles Wofford in the ACC game of the week Saturday at 12:30 p.m.
MASN2 has action from the Southland Conference between Southeastern Louisiana and Northwestern State Thursday at 7 p.m.
There’s three games Saturday, starting at noon with South Dakota State-Kansas. Texas Tech takes on Sam Houston State at 3:30 p.m., with Georgia Southern against West Virginia at 7:30 p.m.
FoxSports1 has Mississippi State facing Southern Mississippi Saturday at 10 p.m. and Purdue-Marshall Sunday at 3 p.m.
South Carolina State plays Arkansas Pine Bluff on ESPN Sunday at 3:30 p.m.
The NFL preseason concludes Thursday, and Comcast shows the Redskins facing the Jaguars at 7:30 p.m. while Comcast-plus has the Ravens and Falcons.
The Nationals host Atlanta in a four-game set starting Thursday  at 7 p.m. on MASN. while the Orioles visit Toronto on MASN2.
FoxSports1 offers Rays-Yankees at 1 p.m. Saturday, followed by Pirates taking on the Cardinals at 4 p.m. The series finale between the Rays and Yankees will be on TBS Sunday at 1:05 p.m. and ESPN has the Pirates and Cardinals Sunday night.
NASCAR returns Darlington to its traditional Labor Day weekend date, with the Southern 500 on NBC Sunday at 7 p.m. The Xfinity race will be Saturday at 3:30 p.m. on NBC, after qualifying at 11:30 a.m. on NBC Sports network. The Sprint Cup series has qualifying Saturday at 1:30 p.m., and there’s practice Friday at 11 a.m.
NBC Sports network offers the Italian Grand Prix Sunday at 7:30 a.m. There’s qualifying Saturday at 8 a.m. after practice Friday at 8 a.m.
Coverage of the U.S. Open continues Thursday on ESPN at 1 p.m. and ESPN2 at 7 p.m. There’s third round action Friday at 1 p.m. on ESPN and 7 p.m. on ESPN2, Saturday on ESPN2 at 11 a.m. and 7 p.m. and Sunday starts the Round of 16 at 11 a.m. and 7 p.m. on ESPN2.
NBC carries the Deutsche Bank Championship Sunday at 3 p.m. and the final round Monday at 1:30 p.m.
The United States faces Australia in rugby on NBC Sports network Saturday at 7 p.m.

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