College Football- Week 0/Week 1 Top Games

    The 2023 college football season kicks off this Saturday and fans couldn’t be more excited to welcome their favorite sport back after a long offseason! Although Week 0 offers a few games to watch, Week 1 next Saturday is the first full slate of action featuring every FBS team as well as lower levels. With too many games to keep track of, I broke down the top games to watch in Week 0 and Week 1 to kick off the upcoming college football season.

    Week 0- Saturday, August 26th

    Navy vs. Notre Dame, 2:30 PM on NBC

    The first college football game of the 2023 season kicks off at 2:30 PM. It features two of America’s favorite teams battling overseas, the Notre Dame Fighting Irish battling the Navy Midshipmen. 13th-ranked Notre Dame should be heavy favorites over American conference member Navy.

    IB Nation Sports Talk: Navy Insider Preview, Sam Hartman's NIL, Freeman On Payne And Sneed - Sports Illustrated Notre Dame Fighting Irish News, Analysis and More

    Photo Cred: Sports Illustrated

    This will be a great way to start the college football season, bringing American traditions, big fanbases, and two different styles of football. Navy’s run-heavy offense will battle new Notre Dame quarterback Sam Hartman in his first game as a member of the Fighting Irish. If none of that excites you, tune in simply because it kicks off what should be an incredible college football season.

    Ohio @ San Diego State, 7:00 PM on Fox Sports 1

    Next up is a battle featuring two higher-end Group of Five teams battling on the West Coast. The Ohio Bobcats finished with a 10-4 record last season, losing to Toledo in the Mid-American Conference (MAC) championship. However, they did take down Wyoming in the Barstool Sports Arizona Bowl. Meanwhile, the San Diego State Aztecs had a win over MAC champions Toledo and had an up-and-down 7-6 season last season.

    Mountain West Football: Ohio at San Diego State Game Preview

    Photo Cred:

    The Aztecs were able to be one of the best Group of Five teams in the country in the 2021 season. San Diego State had a 12-2 record and victories over Pac-12 teams Arizona and Utah. Ohio returns quarterback Kurtis Rourke, who had over 3,000 passing yards last season, while SDSU plays great defense. Expect a close game where the Aztecs will be slight favorites at home.

    Hawaii @ Vanderbilt, 7:30 PM on SEC Network

    I would have picked San Jose State at #6 USC, but the game is on the Pac-12 network. It will be unavailable for many viewers and it should also be a blowout win for USC. There will be plenty of chances to see Heisman trophy-winning quarterback Caleb Williams in action this season, just not during Week 0 against a mismatched opponent. A more intriguing matchup, in my opinion, is Hawaii visiting Vanderbilt. A rematch from last season, Hawaii seeks revenge after losing at home to the Commodores 63-10.

    Vanderbilt-Hawaii final score: A historic blowout for the Commodores - Anchor Of Gold

    Photo Cred: Anchor Of Gold

    However, they will be 17.5 underdogs visiting an improved SEC squad that went 5-7 last season. Vanderbilt will feature quarterback AJ Swann and receiver Will Sheppard. Hawaii returns quarterback Brayden Schager in the run-and-shoot offense. Star running back Tylan Hines returns as well. In the end, Clark Lea’s Vanderbilt Commodores should open the season with a convincing win against Timmy Chang’s rebuilding Hawaii Rainbow Warriors. This should give Vanderbilt some momentum in the non-conference slate that they will need going against much tougher SEC teams later in the season.

    Honorable Mention: San Jose State @ USC

    USC, San José State to Meet in Football At Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum in 2023 - USC Athletics

    Photo Cred: USC Athletics

    Sickos game of the week (so bad it’s good): UMass @ New Mexico State

    UMass drops homecoming game 23-13 to New Mexico State – Massachusetts Daily Collegian

    Photo Cred: Massachusetts Daily Collegian

    Week 1- Thursday, August 31st

    Florida @ Utah, 8:00 PM, ESPN

    Shifting ahead to Week 1, the best matchup before a loaded Saturday slate takes place on Thursday night when the Florida Gators visit the Utah Utes. Florida won last season’s matchup against Utah 29-26 in Gainesville but stumbled to a 6-7 record and an embarrassing bowl loss. Meanwhile, Utah rose up to win the Pac-12 championship for the second year in a row.

    Late Interception Sends No. 7 Utah Home With Heartbreaking Loss To Florida

    Photo Cred: KSL Sports

    Cam Rising’s (the Utes star quarterback) status is still up in the air for this game. He continues to rehab from an injury sustained last season, while Florida will start former Wisconsin Badgers quarterback Graham Mertz. Mertz started three years for the Badgers before transferring to UF. Utah is currently favored by 5 points at home. Assuming Rising suits up, the Utes should be able to avenge last year’s loss to the Gators and start this season with a win.

    Saturday, September 2nd

    Colorado @ TCU, 12:00 PM, FOX

    Although a matchup between a 1-11 Colorado Buffaloes team and the national championship runners-up TCU Horned Frogs may not sound like a compelling game, the storylines in this game are aplenty. Deion Sanders and his reshaped roster will face a tough test as they visit last year’s title game loser at TCU. Colorado will also move to the Big 12 from the Pac-12 next year, along with Utah, Arizona, and Arizona State.

    TCU rolls past Colorado to kick off Sonny Dykes era -

    Photo Cred: Oregon Live

    This matchup could play out as a conference game as soon as next season. Fans will get to see how good (or not so good) a new-look Colorado team truly is. They will also get to see how a revamped TCU team that lost a handful of players to the draft will follow up last season’s national championship blowout loss to Georgia. This is the game to watch in the early 12:00 time slot.

    Boise State @ Washington, 3:30 PM, ABC

    This game pits one of the best Group of Five teams in the nation against the 10th-ranked team in the country. #10 Washington is also a sleeper to win the Pac-12 and possibly sneak into the College Football Playoff. The Boise State Broncos, famous for their blue home turf, are coming off a 10-4 season.

    Vegas Bowl Prediction: #19 Boise State vs. Washington Huskies - UW Dawg Pound

    Photo Cred: UW Dawg Pound

    They lost in the Mountain West championship to Fresno State but had a bowl win over North Texas in the Frisco Bowl. The Washington Huskies are coming off an 11-2 season and a bowl win over Texas in the Alamo Bowl. Both teams expect to make noise in their own conferences. Seeing how a high-end G5 team does against a high-end Pac-12 team should be a great game to watch in the late afternoon time slot.

    West Virginia @ Penn State, 7:30 PM, NBC

    You can’t go wrong with a night game in Happy Valley. The seventh-ranked Penn State Nittany Lions head into this season’s opener with a lot to prove. They are coming off an 11-2 season and a Rose Bowl win over Pac-12 champions Utah. Five-star recruit Drew Allar is set to take the reins at quarterback for the team. Many analysts see this year to be the one Penn State upsets one of Ohio State or Michigan. That way, they can really stake their claim in the Big Ten and the College Football Playoff race after falling short the past few seasons. Welcoming another Power Five opponent in the West Virginia Mountaineers poses an interesting challenge. Regardless, it should still be a statement victory for Penn State.

    Penn State Football to Host West Virginia at 7:30 p.m. on NBC - Penn State Athletics

    Photo Cred: Penn State Athletics

    North Carolina @ South Carolina, 7:30 PM, ABC

    Another contest to keep your eye out for in the evening time slot is a battle of the Carolinas. #21 ranked North Carolina battles South Carolina in a neutral site game at Bank of America Stadium, which is home to the Carolina Panthers. North Carolina is coming off a 9-5 season, including an ACC championship loss to Clemson. South Carolina had an 8-5 season, which included victories over Tennessee and Clemson.

    UNC football will face South Carolina to open 2023 season

    Photo Cred: Tar Heels Wire

    However, they would lose to Notre Dame in the Gator Bowl. UNC returns star quarterback Drake Maye for his final season before being drafted early in next year’s NFL draft. Meanwhile, SC returns Spencer Rattler and looks to build on an upstart year where they had a couple of upset victories. A rematch of the Duke’s Mayo Bowl from a few years ago, this game should be an exciting non-conference game to watch in primetime.

    Sunday, September 3rd

    Northwestern @ Rutgers, 12:00 PM, CBS

    This game is one that both Rutgers and Northwestern fans have been looking forward to for a long time. A Sunday standalone game on national television, these two Big Ten teams will have the eyes of the nation on them. They’re both trying to rebound from poor showings last season. The Rutgers Scarlet Knights have made significant improvements on both sides of the ball. Gavin Wimsatt looks to make a season-opening statement in his first season as starting quarterback. After winning their first three games in the non-conference slate, Rutgers struggled the rest of the way last season. They only won one game in the Big Ten against Indiana to finish with a 4-8 record.

    Back to the Birthplace Game: Sunday, Sept. 3 vs. Northwestern - Rutgers University Athletics

    Photo Cred: Rutgers Athletics

    Meanwhile, Northwestern has dealt with a hazing scandal, which led to them replacing longtime head coach Pat Fitzgerald with former defensive coordinator David Braun. They too have improved at the quarterback position with transfer Ben Bryant from Cincinnati. However, they are coming off an abysmal 1-11 season, where their only win was against Nebraska in last year’s season-opening game in Ireland. Both teams would like to start the season with a conference win, and both teams need it for any hopes to get to a bowl game. The hype all offseason leads to this Sunday showdown in Piscataway, so make sure you tune in to this one!

    LSU @ Florida State, 7:30 PM, ABC

    Arguably the game of the week, this Sunday night showdown features two top-ten teams. #5 LSU faces #8 Florida State. These two teams met in last season’s opener, with Florida State edging out LSU. The Seminoles blocked the Tigers’ extra-point attempt on a last-second LSU touchdown to win the game 24-23. The two teams went on to pretty successful seasons. Louisiana State won the SEC West and finished 10-4 on the season, ending it with a 63-7 bowl win over Purdue. The Tigers return lots of talent, including quarterback Jayden Daniels and playmakers on both sides of the ball. Meanwhile, Florida State finished with a 10-3 record and returns a very talented roster themselves. This includes quarterback Jordan Travis and a top defense, as well as transfers such as wide receiver Keon Coleman from Michigan State on offense. 

    LSU Football: Instant analysis from loss to Florida State

    Photo Cred: LSU Wire

    There is a lot of hype surrounding the Seminoles this season, as they won the Cheez-It Bowl over Oklahoma last season. They are one of the favorites to win the ACC alongside Clemson. LSU had a monumental upset over Alabama last season and looks to return to the SEC Championship Game. This game has College Football Playoff implications, as each team is one of the best in their conference. However, even one loss could hurt their chances, making a win even more important. You don’t want to miss this game, and the lights will be shining bright in Orlando for this monumental clash.

    Honorable mentions: Virginia @ Tennessee, Ohio State @ Indiana, Coastal Carolina @ UCLA

    Photo Cred: Sports Illustrated                                Photo Cred: Sofascore

    Sickos games of the week (so bad they’re good): Akron @ Temple, Maine @ FIU

    Photo Cred: Buckeye Scoop                                      Photo Cred: FIU Alumni Association

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