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Spring Gameday Preview: What, when and where to watch Saturday

Saturday will bring plenty of spring football action your way as we hit our stride in the spring game schedule this month. Plenty of big name programs will be wrapping up spring practices Saturday with a spring game or scrimmage, including the defending national champions from Florida State. Some of the big draws this weekend will be expected to be seen in the Big Ten with Nebraska, Ohio State and Penn State all expected to see big crowds as usual. Down in the SEC we will see Florida, Georgia, South Carolina, Tennessee and Vanderbilt all bring their springs to a close in the east while Mississippi State is the lone SEC West team calling it a spring this weekend. Defending Pac-12 champion Stanford, Big 12 favorite Oklahoma, Mountain West contenders Boise State and Utah State and independent Notre Dame are all in the mix as well. We will have plenty to watch on Saturday. Here is the full spring game schedule for this weekend, along with a few things to keep an eye on.

All times eastern

ACC

  • N.C. State, 1:00 p.m.
  • Virginia, 1:00 p.m.
  • Florida State, 3:00, ESPN
  • North Carolina, 3:00 p.m., ESPN3
  • Clemson, 4:00 p.m., ESPNU
  • Miami, 6:00 p.m., ESPN3

Florida State should be one of the top teams in the country again in 2014, but you have to wonder if Clemson will be able to plug in some new key players and be able to keep pace. The Tigers have big shoes to fill at quarterback and wide receiver, and both positions will be the main attraction Saturday. Miami is a team to watch. Miami’s quarterback situation is now a huge question mark after senior Ryan Williams went down with an ACL injury.

American

  • UCF, 2:00 p.m.
  • East Carolina, 2:30 p.m.
  • UConn, 3:00 p.m.

The defending AAC and Orange Bowl champions at UCF are the main attraction this weekend in the conference. The Golden Knights have some question marks at key positions following the most successful season in school history. Replacing Blake Bortles is hard enough, but UCF also needs to find a new running back.

Big 12

  • Texas Tech, 12:00 p.m., Fox Sports Southwest/FCXP/ULive
  • West Virginia, 1:00 p.m., Local West Virginia TV
  • Kansas, 2:00 p.m., Jayhawk TV Network/ESPN3
  • Iowa State, 3:00 p.m.
  • Oklahoma, 3:00 p.m., Fox Sports Southwest

Oklahoma is once again beginning to receive hype as the conference favorite. Moving Trevor Knight to the no-questions-asked starting QB will be key. At Texas Tech we could see Kliff Kingsbury take some snaps, which would be fun, but can they do anything on defense? West Virginia has some defensive issues to address as well.

Big Ten

  • Purdue, 1:00 p.m., BTN2Go
  • Ohio State, 1:30 p.m., Big Ten Network/BTN2Go
  • Penn State, 1:30 p.m., BTN2Go
  • Nebraska, 2:00 p.m., BTN2Go
  • Minnesota, 2:30 p.m., BTN2Go
  • Illinois, 3:00 p.m., BTN2Go
  • Indiana, 3:00 p.m., BTN2Go
  • Wisconsin, 4:00 p.m., Big Ten Network, BTN2Go

Lots of stuff to watch round the Big Ten, so the BTN2Go service should be in overdrive. Ohio State’s defense is said to be improving this spring. Penn State’s depth at offensive line is a concern for James Franklin, who makes his Beaver Stadium debut. Nebraska and Wisconsin each have some quarterback questions to settle as well. And what will Kevin Wilson do as an encore at Indiana? Perhaps a preview this weekend.

Conference USA

  • FIU, 11:00 a.m.
  • Louisiana Tech, 2:00 p.m.
  • Old Dominion, 3:00 p.m.
  • North Texas, 3:00 p.m., UVerse

Old Dominion gets set for the first season in Conference USA. Will they continue to be a pass-happy program or will they find more success on the ground? North Texas just extended the contract for Dan McCarney and now we wait to see how he takes this program the next step forward.

Independents

  • Notre Dame, 12:30 p.m., NBC Sports Network

The Fighting Irish welcome back Everett Golson at quarterback. Will he be rusty? Is the defense ready to lock things down and fill in big holes up front?

MAC

  • Toledo, 1:00 p.m.
  • Ohio, 2:00 p.m.
  • Eastern Michigan, 6:00 p.m.

Ohio was a bit of a disappointment in 2013 and now looks for some new leaders on both sides of the football. Toledo also fell shy of some expectations due to injuries to key players. Will they find some new stars in the spring game?

Mountain West Conference

  • Utah State, 4:00 p.m.
  • Boise State, 5:00 p.m.

The top two teams in the Mountain Division look to finish spring on a high note. We get our first glimpse of the Broncos under Bryan Harsin, who replaces Chris Petersen as head coach. Utah State is always strong on defense, but the big question about the Aggies will not be addressed until much later with quarterback Chuckie Keeton still out of action.

Pac-12

  • Colorado, 2:00 p.m., Pac-12 Network/Pac-12.com
  • Arizona, 4:00 p.m., Pac-12 Network/Pac-12.com
  • Stanford, 4:00 p.m., Pac-12 Network/Pac-12.com

The two-time defending Pac-12 champions of Stanford bring a close to the spring, but will they show any new wrinkles on either side of the football? We have come to expect a tough, physical defense and running game and that should remain the case in Palo Alto. Rich Rodriguez has suggested the Wildcats will continue to keep thing moving quickly on offense, so we could get a sense of that tempo.

SEC

  • Vanderbilt, 11:00 a.m.
  • South Carolina, 12:00 p.m., ESPNU
  • Georgia, 1:00 p.m., CSS/ESPN3
  • Mississippi State, 1:00 p.m., CSS (4 p.m.)
  • Florida, 1:30 p.m., GatorVision
  • Tennessee, 3:00 p.m.

How does Florida begin to fix that offense? Who steps up as a playmaker for the Gators? Where does South Carolina turn to lead the offense and who replaces Jadeveon Clowney on the line? Georgia is looking for a starting quarterback for the first time in years. Vanderbilt begins a new era with Derek Mason in charge, so look for some defensive adjustments to come.

Sun Belt

  • Georgia Southern, 12:00 p.m.
  • Georgia State, 12:00 p.m.
  • UL Lafayette, 1:00 p.m.
  • UL Monroe, 2:00 p.m.
  • Texas State, 2:00 p.m.

Take your pick between the Louisiana schools as favorites in the Sun Belt this season. Both should be fighting tooth and nail for the conference championship along with Arkansas State. Which one looks more complete will be the question on Saturday. We also get to see Georgia Southern bring a close to their first spring in preparing to compete at the FBS level.

Helmet sticker to FBSchedules.com for spring game times and television information.

Kevin McGuire

About Kevin McGuire

Managing editor of Crystal Ball Run and contributor to College Football Talk on NBCSports.com. Member of the FWAA and National Football Foundation. College Football Hall of Fame voter. Also managing Bloguin's NittanyLionsDen.com and Macho-Row.com.

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