Labor Day weekend generally marks the end of summer vacation and return to school, but college football enthusiasts know the weekend better as the start of the most wonderful time of the year. Break out your playbooks, grab your pompom shakers, and get ready for another electric season of one of the most celebrated collegiate sports.

The long-awaited return of pigskin Saturdays kicks off this week as eager fans gear up for another season of kicks, punts, touchdowns, and tailgating. The 2023 season promises to be another thrilling ride filled with intense rivalries, breakout stars, and competitive matchups.

To celebrate opening weekend, 45 games will be played from Thursday, August 31, through Monday, September 4. The first game begins the quest for the National Championship contenders, Heisman Trophy hopefuls, and standout new players and coaches.

Who to watch:

To no surprise, the back-to-back reigning champs, The University of Georgia Bulldogs, are ranked first in the pre-season Associated Press poll. Following UGA are two Big Ten teams, the University of Michigan and The Ohio State University, at two and three.

Two more Southeastern Conference (SEC) powerhouses, University of Alabama and LSU, come in at fourth and fifth place as Nick Saban takes on his 16th season with the Crimson Tide, hoping to win his 7th national title at Alabama.

The second half of the preseason AP top-10 include teams from the PAC-12 Conference, University of Southern California at six and University of Washington at ten, the Big 10’s Penn State at seven, and the Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC)’s Florida State and Clemson at eight and nine.

Will Georgia make it a three-peat this year or do Michigan and Ohio State have a chance of making it to the final game? Who will be this season’s breakout team, like Texas Christian University shocked fans last year. In their last year of the Big-12 Conference before they move to the SEC, do the University of Texas or University of Oklahoma have a chance for one last conference championship? We can’t wait to take a front row seat to the upcoming season.

A look at kickoff weekend’s biggest games:Your Guide to the 2023 NCAA Football Kickoff Weekend

  • #1 Georgia plays unranked University of Tennessee-Martin

  • #2 Michigan plays unranked East Carolina

  • #3 Ohio State plays unranked Indiana

  • #4 Alabama plays unranked Middle Tennessee

  • #5 LSU plays #8 Florida State – this is set to be the weekend’s biggest matchup, taking place on Sunday, September 3rd

  • #6 USC plays unranked San Jose State at LA Memorial Coliseum

  • #9 Clemson plays unranked Duke on Monday, September 4th

  • #14 Utah plays unranked Florida on Thursday, August 31st

  • Arizona State plays Southern Utah on Thursday, August 31st, at Sun Devil Stadium

  • Georgia Tech plays Louisville in this year’s Alfac Kickoff Game, formerly known as the Chick-Fil-A Kickoff Game, at Mercedes-Benz Stadium

With football season comes tailgate season:

Tailgating is a social activity that involves gathering in parking lots or designated areas outside a sports stadium, particularly before football games, to enjoy food, drinks, and camaraderie before attending the game. It is a popular tradition in the United States, especially in the context of American football. College football fans consider Labor Day weekend the official kick off of tailgating season.

Tailgaters typically arrive in their vehicles, which are often adorned with team flags, banners, and other decorations. They set up portable grills, tables, and chairs to create a makeshift party atmosphere. Some fans even bring couches, flat-screen TVs, and elaborate setups to enhance their tailgating experience. Most of the colleges will have specific areas for tailgating, such as Alabama’s The Quad, and Ole Miss’s The Grove, and will begin setting up tents for tailgaters during the week.

Where to park:

The best way to enjoy your game-day is to prepare. Bring your most comfortable sneakers, pack a water bottle, and plan your trip to your favorite university town. College towns are especially known for heavy traffic on game days and congestion can be found from the highway to the stadium.

The best way to avoid the traffic is to arrive early and guarantee you have a parking space waiting for you. This is where ParkMobile scores–we offer parking reservations at many college campuses, so you can reserve a parking spot in advance of football games. You can even filter your parking lot by tailgate capabilities, proximity to the stadium, and car size to ensure you pick the right lot for your football needs.

To make a reservation, a user searches for the event venue in the ParkMobile app or website and selects the location they’d like to park in. After the user books the reservation, it can be redeemed at the location using a mobile pass in the ParkMobile app or a printed permit.

And with that, we bid your team good luck and happy fall! Hope to see you at the playoffs or at NRG Stadium in Houston for the 2024 College Football Playoff National Championship.