Any given Saturday starting Sept. 1, you could see an epic upset like Georgia Tech's FG block and touchdown return against Florida State, or you could see whether Deshaun Watson, Leonard Fournett or Christian McCaffrey have a breakout performance in their Heisman Trophy quest. With more than 200 games spread across dozens of networks, there's plenty of action on tap for the 2016 season, but keeping up with your favorite college teams can be an arduous process.
Luckily, with an internet connection and some money at your disposal, you can sidestep a lot of the difficulty and just focus on the games instead. You can find an awful lot of college football online, regardless of whether you have a cable or satellite subscription. Just bear in mind that no matter what you do, you won't be able to watch every single game. No one ever said college sports were fair.
While ESPN isn't the only network for college football, it's arguably the most important one. Between ESPN, ESPN2, ESPNews and especially ESPN3, you can watch a pretty sizable chunk of the college football season. If you're not tethered to your TV, however, WatchESPN can help. This online streaming service is available for computers, mobile devices and game consoles, and makes use of your existing cable or satellite ESPN subscription. Keep in mind that you'll still have to watch games live, as WatchESPN doesn't generally record matches for on-demand viewing.
The CBS Sports Network is slated to host a respectable number of college football games. These matches are generally — but not always — broadcasts of the Southeastern Conference games, including teams from Alabama and Mississippi. If you want to watch them online, the process is pretty simple — provided that you subscribe to Cox or Optimum for your cable service. CBS Sports allows viewers to watch live programming on their computers, as long as they can provide login credentials for one of the two networks listed. (More are supposedly on the way, but the site gives no time frame for those.) CBS Sports is not the most comprehensive solution for watching college football online, but it's still one possible avenue.
If you don't have a cable or satellite subscription, Sling TV is the easiest and most comprehensive way to get live college football online. You can even record it, if you want to watch it later. Sling TV offers live streaming channels, including ESPN and ESPNews, on computers, mobile devices, streaming players and game consoles. Better still: WatchESPN lets you log in with Sling TV as a provider, so you can watch the ESPN2 and ESPN3 games through that service. Sling TV starts at $20 per month, with an optional sports package available for $5 per month.
PlayStation Vue is one of the most comprehensive cable alternatives available. It offers a host of ESPN channels and Fox Sports, as well as NBC, Fox and ABC broadcast networks, each of which hosts a handful of matches. Furthermore, PlayStation Vue will grant you access to WatchESPN, giving you another way to stream college football games to computers, mobile devices, streaming players and game consoles. You can watch in real time or DVR the games, and it will cost you between $50 and $75 per month, depending on your package.
HD antenna rebroadcast
While most college football action takes place on cable, there are still a fair number of games broadcast on channels like Fox, NBC and ABC. As such, your best bet for watching them online is to set up an HD antenna in your home, and then use a service like Channel Master, Tablo or Simple.TV to access it on a computer, mobile device or streaming player. The price involved varies, depending on your setup and whether you want to watch the games live or record them. Still, it's a relatively inexpensive way to catch a few college games on your own time, on whichever device you choose.
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Marshall Honorof is a senior editor for Tom's Guide, overseeing the site's coverage of gaming hardware and software. He comes from a science writing background, having studied paleomammalogy, biological anthropology, and the history of science and technology. After hours, you can find him practicing taekwondo or doing deep dives on classic sci-fi.