Expanding on the hit feature film "Friday Night Lights," this poignant series centers on the small rural town of Dillon, Texas, where the coveted state football championship rings are held in the highest regard. Dillon's promising high school team, its star quarterback, and newly appointed head coach Eric Taylor feel the mounting pressure of the town's pride and honor riding on their shoulders as a new football season kicks off.
Coach Taylor receives news that his starting quarterback will regain the use of his hands and arms, but he's paralyzed from the waist down. His wife, who needs something to do other than sit on committees or sit in book clubs, searches for a job. The town, itself, deals with the heartache, some already trying to throw in the towel on the young season.
The situation in town begins to get ugly as Coach Taylor and his family is forced to endure heat from a difficult loss against the San Marco HS Rattlers. Tim and Tyra break up after he confronts her about Smash, and Lyla, after having an argument with Jason, vents her anger onto Tim.
Coach Taylor deals with outside influences on who to start at quarterback, with the biggest game of the year coming up against their rivals, who have taken it upon themselves to raise the bar by trashing the Panthers' locker room. His wife has no picnic, either, as she is given two days to plan a team tradition barbecue and the visiting list keeps getting bigger. Jason is moved to a rehab unit, still not accepting his situation, as his replacement and Matt, deals with competition when a new quarterback is brought in from Louisiana as a refugee from Hurricane Katrina.
While only two days away from their next game, Coach Taylor still doesn't know who to start at quarterback, and Jason still doesn't know that his best friend is spending a lot of time with his girlfriend.
Coach Taylor questions his principles regarding Voodoo's eligibility and is confronted with another problem when his #1 defensive player is arrested for assaulting a fellow student. Tim and Lila break Jason out of the hospital for the afternoon.
Coach Taylor asks Jason to attend the upcoming Homecoming game, who begins to suspect there's something going on between Tim and Lila. Smash feels the pressure of college scouts, even though he's still a junior. Tyra and Billy plan the ultimate party for after the game.
With a very intimidating opponent on the horizon, Coach Taylor deals with his former starting quarterback and his unfaithful girlfriend and his new starting quarterback dating his own daughter. Lila and Tim face repercussions of their own actions, and Smash deals with having to go back to his old hometown for the big game and dealing with old feelings regarding his father, all the while facing the issues surrounding his secret steroid use, especially when his sister begins to notice the changes in him.
While everyone is focused on the cheerleaders, who have an upcoming competition, they focus on giving Lila a hard time. Smash begins to show signs of steroid abuse, and Coach Taylor finds another way to occupy his starting quarterback in an effort to squash Matt's efforts with the coach's daughter.
The Panthers are preparing yet again for another game they can't afford to lose. Jason (Scott Porter) still finds it difficult to adjust to life at home, and the feelings he still has for Lyla (Minka Kelly) don't make it any easier. Meanwhile, at what couldn't seem like a better time, Matt's (Zach Gilford) dad comes home from Iraq, but the homecoming is not what Matt expected. To make situations even more complicated, UT has taken an interest in Coach Taylor, whose popularity continues to grow, and Smash becomes more and more dependent on unnatural substances to keep ...
Matt's dad decides to stay home instead of returning to Iraq, while Jason's parents level a lawsuit against the coach for negligence. Smash tries to get closer to a girl, but he keeps getting in the way, himself. The whole town awaits another game involving two other schools, with the results determining the Panthers' post-season hopes.
Smash's mom finds his steroids and reports them to Coach Taylor, forcing the coach to bench Smash for the next game. Matt's dad is recalled to Iraq leaving Matt to once again take care of his grandma. Lila's dad sets her up with a date and Jason gets upset.
When an assistant coach is quoted in the media with racial intentions, he draws a line between the team, right at playoff time. Julie and Tyra are forced to join the powderpuff game as a result for skipping class, and Julie's dad is a bit elated when she's picked for quarterback by Matt. Tyra, meanwhile, has a hard time dealing with her mother's growing relationship with Buddy Garrity, and starts taking it out on his daughter, Lila. Jason gets an invite to join the local rugby team.
Julie is confronted by her parents regarding her growing relationship with Tyra. Matt tries his hardest to get back in Julie's good graces. Meanwhile, the post-season is in jeopardy as Coach Taylor remains divided over firing his offensive coordinator or standing by his friend, which is the key to one quarter of the team taking a stand by sitting out of the next game.
When his wife throws him out of the house, Buddy Garrity turns to Coach Taylor and Lila turns to Jason. Julie turns to her mother when an accident happens involving Tyra's mother, even though she knows she's not supposed to be hanging out with Tyra. And Waverly's father turns to Smash when he fears that she has taken a personal change without consulting her father.
With TMU trying to recruit Coach Taylor, Julie insists that she will not be moved away from Matt and Dillon. The quad rugby recruiters in Austin deliver some bad news to Jason. Riggins becomes friends with a single mother and her son.