College football spring games, schedule 2024: Alabama, Ohio State highlight must-see scrimmages



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A majority of college football programs will take the field for a spring game over the next few weekends, giving fans an enticing preview of their favorite teams ahead of the 2024 season. While spring games are often glorified scrimmages, with the play-calling pared down and the best players protected to prevent any disastrous injuries, there are often standout storylines worth monitoring. 

For instance, Alabama takes the field without Nick Saban for the first time in nearly 20 years. Teams like Ohio State and Ole Miss hit the transfer portal hard to gear up for a run towards the expanded 12-team College Football Playoff. Those new pieces are figuring out their roles and trying to assimilate with the team as the spring progresses. 

Even Michigan, the reigning national champion, lost head coach Jim Harbaugh — and a whole lot more — to the NFL, creating an almost unprecedented transition for a team fresh off reaching such heights. There are plenty of story threads worth monitoring outside of these examples, especially given the latest wave of conference realignment and playoff changes, creating one of the most intriguing springs we’ve seen in a while. 

With that in mind, here are some spring games that you should pay attention to over the next few weeks. 

All times Eastern

Alabama 

Saturday, April 13 | 4 p.m. on ESPN: It’s an entirely new era in Tuscaloosa after the retirement of legendary coach Nick Saban, who led the Tide to national relevance and SEC dominance over 17 seasons. Kalen DeBoer is in after leading Washington to its first appearance in the College Football Playoff National Championship. DeBoer had a chaotic first couple of months at the helm, filled with transfer portal madness and plenty of staff shuffling. 

There are still enough pieces in place for Alabama to keep its spot among the SEC’s upper echelon, and the competition for those first-team snaps are always something to monitor, but this particular spring game will be worth viewing if only to see what a brand new, post-Saban Crimson Tide program looks like. 

Ohio State 

Saturday, April 13 | Noon on Fox: Buckeyes coach Ryan Day is going all-in for 2024. The biggest addition by far is Chip Kelly’s unprecedented arrival as the team’s offensive coordinator after stepping down as UCLA’s coach. Kelly brings decades of experience at every level of football, and his creative rushing philosophy, utilizing a mobile quarterback and versatile running backs, seems to fit the scheme that Day is drifting towards. 

Reinforcing that shift in mindset are the transfer portal additions of QB Will Howard (Kansas State) and RB Quinshon Judkins (Ole Miss). The former is a bruising rusher that can make plays out of structure, while the latter does his best work on carries between the tackles. Spring will give us a peek at this anticipated new look as Ohio State gears up for a potential national championship run. 

Michigan 

Saturday, April 20 | Noon on Fox: Michigan just went 15-0 and won its first national title since the beginning of the BCS/CFP era. Along the way, it picked up its third straight win against Ohio State and third straight Big Ten championship. Harbaugh, the man who steadily built Michigan towards this modern Renaissance, is off to the NFL’s Los Angeles Chargers. The Wolverines’ entire defensive staff followed Harbaugh to the professional level, though not all ended up with the Chargers. Longtime running backs coach Mike Hart, who tutored the record-shattering Blake Corum and engineered some of the best rushing offenses in the entire nation, is no longer on staff. 

The Wolverines also have to replace starting quarterback J.J. McCarthy, Corum, both leading wide receivers, six offensive linemen with starting experience and seven starters on the defensive side of the ball. Needless to say, new coach Sherrone Moore has plenty to figure out in his first spring running the program as the Wolverines will look almost entirely different than they did just a handful of months ago. 

Utah 

Saturday, April 13 | 1 p.m. on Pac-12 Networks: Utah is an early favorite to win the Big 12 as a first-year member and a dark horse to do a whole lot more on the national stage. A lot of those expectations are dependent upon seventh-year quarterback Cam Rising and his recovery from a devastating knee injury. The former First Team All-Pac-12 selection is going through spring and has scrimmaged, so there’s a good chance that he’ll suit up in the spring game. It will be his first televised action since the 2023 Rose Bowl. 

Star tight end Brant Kuithe is also coming back from a knee injury, so his progress is equally as important. The Utes have some starting spots to figure out elsewhere at running back and wide receiver after losing key contributors at both positions. The defense returns a lot of production, though the secondary has some question marks. 

Florida State 

Saturday, April 20 | 4 p.m. on ACC Network: Disregarding the bitter ending, can Florida State repeat the magic from the 2023 season? The Seminoles certainly won’t be excluded from a 12-team College Football Playoff, injured starting quarterback or not, if they can come anywhere close to another 13-0 ACC championship run. It won’t be easy to match; there are holes to fill all over the field. Quarterback Jordan Travis is gone after his breakout efforts, but coach Mike Norvell dipped into the transfer portal to sign ex-Clemson and Oregon State starter DJ Uiagalelei. Wide receivers Keon Coleman and Johnny Wilson, along with tight end Jaheim Bell, are taking a ton of receiving production to the NFL. The defense will have a ton of transfers stepping up into key roles after losing the likes of Jared Verse. 

On paper, this team is talented enough to challenge for another ACC title, but there are a lot of moving parts that need to be sorted over the next couple of weeks. 





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