College football is the one sport that begins with playoffs and ends with an exhibition season. Professional football, for example, is completing its exhibition season tonight and tomorrow night, and then will begin a regular season, and then have playoffs.
Not in college football. The bizarre process begins tonight and then this weekend in full force. Any major team that loses this weekend, the very first weekend of the season, is virtually eliminated from championship contention. A loss before labor day can ruin, literally ruin, a championship run for Ohio State, Florida, Penn State.
Once the regular/playoff season is over in November, then teams play a series of bowl games that are essentially exhibitions. With only one game predetermined as the national championship game, these Gator, Citrus, whatever bowls are for show.
So, if you are interested in college football and care about national championships, every single week, for better or worse, is sudden death for any team who aspires to be the number one team in the nation.