SAN JOSE, Calif. — No. 19 South Florida is happy to get a head start on the beginning of the Charlie Strong era.

The Bulls will be the first ranked team to take the field this season when they travel to San Jose State to play the Spartans on Saturday in their first game under new coach Brent Brennan.

Let’s get 2017 started!

: 7:30 ET
: CEFCU Stadium
: @CBSSportsNet
: https://t.co/jhsJBtOlP8
: https://t.co/uoRjiA8sKy#BullStrong pic.twitter.com/NFlnWxLofI

— USF Football (@USFFootball) August 26, 2017

“Everybody is going to be watching,” South Florida running back D’Ernest Johnson said. “Everybody is happy that college football is back and we’re the ones that are playing on TV. I’m very excited. I’ve been waiting on this opportunity since last year, after the bowl game.”

This matchup is one of five this weekend on what some have dubbed “Week Zero” involving at least one FBS team. With the Spartans playing in Hawaii this season, they opted to play a 13th regular-season game and were allowed the early start.

Brennan would have preferred the traditional start next week if he had his choice, saying the earlier opener gave the team less time for training and complicated summer school for the players.

It also added another tough test for a challenging nonconference schedule that also includes trips to No. 23 Texas and Utah next month. But Brennan acknowledges there is a possible bright side.

We’ve been patient. We’ve put in the work. The time is now. It’s midnight in Tampa, which means the 2017 season is OFFICIALLY HERE!! pic.twitter.com/ptWx7gEeFJ

— USF Football (@USFFootball) August 26, 2017

“I think it’s an opportunity for great exposure if we rise to the challenge and play well, which I think we will,” he said.

South Florida wants to use this game to justify the high

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