Aug 27, 2021 - Sports

College football kicks off with COVID cases at highest since January

Daily reported cases of COVID-19 in the U.S.
Data: The New York Times; Chart: Thomas Oide/Axios Visuals

College football kicks off Saturday, as the sport begins a second season in the midst of a global pandemic.

The state of play: Much like last year, teams, students and fans face varying realities. Some stadiums will require proof of vaccination, some will require masks and others will require neither.

Yes, but: While the pandemic hovers over this fall much like the last, the upcoming season will look more like 2019 than 2020, with most schools welcoming full crowds and encouraging tailgating.

The big picture: Late August is always a special time in America. Summer is winding down, school is starting back up, football is kicking off and fall is just around the corner.

  • For the second straight year, those late summer vibes feel slightly off, to say the least.
  • But football remains a constant in our lives, marking the time as it has for decades.

Schedule: There are just five games on Saturday, with the real action starting next week. The most notable matchup, and the only conference game, is Nebraska vs. Illinois.

  • 1 p.m. ET: Nebraska (-7) at Illinois (Fox)
  • 2 p.m.: UConn (+27.5) at Fresno State (CBSSN)
  • 3:30 p.m.: Hawaii (+17.5) at UCLA (ESPN)
  • 9:30 p.m.: UTEP (-10) at New Mexico State
  • 10 p.m.: Southern Utah (+24) vs. San Jose State (CBSSN)

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