USFL: Michigan Panthers (0-0) vs. Houston Gamblers (0-0)
When: 12:55 pm Sunday (inclement weather delayed kickoff an hour).
Where: Protective Stadium in Birmingham, Alabama.
TV: NBC—Jac Collinsworth and Jason Garrett.
Line: Panthers by 3½.
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Game notes: The Michigan Panthers are back — or at least their familiar maroon, blue and gold uniforms are! The inaugural USFL champions (in 1983) are part of the league’s reboot this weekend, though all 10 games this season will be played in Birmingham, Alabama, as will the rest of the league’s schedule until the four-team playoffs in the summer. (Those games will be played in Canton, Ohio.)
Michigan’s schedule starts against the Houston Gamblers on NBC. The Panthers, coached by former longtime NFL head coach Jeff Fisher, have a dose of local celebrity on the roster with No. 1 overall pick Shea Patterson, who quarterbacked Michigan for two seasons. Former NFL first-round pick Paxton Lynch (Memphis) is also on the roster at quarterback. Need more premises? The Panthers also have former MSU linebacker Taiwan Jones, ex-GVSU defensive tackle Kyshonn Tyson and ex-EMU linebacker Terry Myrick on their roster.
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The Gamblers, meanwhile, are led by former MSU offensive lineman Tyler Higby and former Saginaw Valley State wide receiver (and Saline assistant coach) Tyler Palka. If you’re looking for star power … well, there’s former Northwestern quarterback Clayton Thorson, who was a fifth-round pick in the NFL draft in 2019. He never made it onto the field for a regular-season game, but he has plenty of experience against teams from Michigan; he went 3-3 against Michigan, Michigan State and Western Michigan while starting at Northwestern.
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The league kicked off on Saturday night as the New Jersey Generals fell to the hometown Birmingham Stallions, 28-24. There are two additional games today, with the Philadelphia Stars taking on the New Orleans Breakers at 4 pm on USA Network and the Tampa Bay Bandits facing the Pittsburgh Maulers at 8 pm on FS1.
The Panthers have a short turnaround in Week 2, with their game coming against the Generals on Friday night at 8 pm on USA Network, while the Gamblers get the primetime slot on Saturday against the Stallions on FS1.
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Contact Ryan Ford at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @theford.