We are a few weeks away from the best time of the year. When everyone has the same opportunity to win a championship, everyone, no matter who they are, will begin the season with a record of 0-0. As we enter the 2023 college football season, conference pride and jockeying for a late-season playoff position begins. Week Zero has a couple of interesting games, but my eyes go to weeks one thru four with intriguing out-of-conference games that will have a major impact on the rankings.
Week one Sunday night Prime-Time, the defending SEC West Champion LSU Tigers travel to Orlando, Florida, to take on the Florida State Seminoles. This is a rematch from last year’s labor day weekend opening game for both schools, where the Seminoles won dramatically the previous season, 24-23. This game has a lot to live up to, but with the offensive firepower returning for both teams, this one will surely be as exciting or more than last year’s matchup. The Seminoles will likely have the larger crowd, but the Tiger fan base is known to travel well. Will Florida State hold off the Tigers two years in a row? Jayden Daniels and the Tigers will have something to say about that. ACC or SEC? If the Tigers come into the game healthy, I lean toward an LSU 1-0 start in 2023.
Will this be College Gameday’s week two destination? It’s too early to tell, but I would think so. This is the first time the Longhorns have visited Tuscaloosa since 1922. Bryant-Denny will be packed with crimson and burnt Orange. After feeling like they let one slip away in Austin last season, Texas will have much to prove. The Tide will replace Bryce Young at quarterback, while the Longhorns have veteran Quinn Ewers returning. That is, if he can beat out true Freshman Arch Manning for the job. Texas wants to prove they belong in the SEC a year before they jump into their new conference. Losing is something Nick Saban doesn’t often do, and not at home. The Tide will hold off Texas and get another win in Tuscaloosa like a normal Saturday under Nick Saban.
The 2022 season could not end soon enough for either one of these schools. Year one under Mario Cristobal didn’t go exactly as planned for the Hurricanes to finish 5-7, but in College Station, 2022, it was nothing short of a train wreck. Jimbo Fisher and company began the season ranked in the Top 10 but yet somehow finished the season with a record of 5-7. The seat is warm in Miami but on fire in College Station. The Aggies have brought Bobby Petrino to help with the offense, but will it be enough? The Hurricanes gave the Aggies all they wanted in an ugly game, coming up short 17-9 at Kyle Field last season. This game could define both teams’ seasons for the good or the bad. ACC vs. SEC again in week two. The SEC gets another win over the ACC in week two. Jimbo’s seat is just a little hotter than Cristobal’s, and he finds a way to get it done in South Florida.
The Huskies make the return trip to East Lansing to take on the Spartans in week three. Michigan State wants to ensure the Huskies go home without another victory over them. In 2022, Washington jumped on Michigan State early and never looked back. The Huskies have PLENTY of offensive talent returning for the 2023 season and look to be a dark horse to represent the Pac-12 in the college football playoff. The biggest question is will Michigan State have enough defense to slow down Michael Penix and the Huskies’ offense? The Spartan’s best defense may be to find a consistent running game and keep the Huskies’ offense off the field. Big Ten or Pac-12 in this one? The Huskies will be put to the test but will have too much offensive firepower for Michigan State.
The Buckeyes travel to South Bend to take on Notre Dame for their first true road test of the 2023 campaign. This will be the seventh meeting all-time between Ohio State and Notre Dame. Both schools will replace quarterbacks from last season, which will be no easy task. Ryan Day is looking for a big-time road win to help improve his team’s resume for the playoffs at the end of the season. The Irish want to defend their home turf and get a much-needed win over a nationally branded power five program. These two programs are historically two of the most successful programs of all time. The Buckeyes will be too much for the Irish to handle and get a much-needed resume-building win.