College football is so back! Week zero offered a sneak peek of the upcoming season. Notre Dame and USC seem to have formidable offenses, while UMass may have its best team in years. Now, it’s time to dive into the excitement of our first full week of action. Week one can be hit or miss since most teams are playing tune-up games. A few schools schedule high-stakes games that capture everyone’s attention with exciting matchups. A full lineup of games from Thursday through Monday will satisfy our craving for college football.
5: Coastal Carolina vs UCLA (Saturday, 10:30 EST on ESPN) – Pac-12 After Dark is set to kick off with a bang. Grayson McCall and Coastal Carolina are California-bound to take on Chip Kelly and the UCLA Bruins. Coastal Carolina has won 31 games over the past three seasons, but we will notice a significant change on the sidelines. Jamey Chadwell left for Liberty, and former NC State offensive coordinator Tim Beck has taken over as the head coach. Coastal Carolina still aims to be a powerful offensive team, with quarterback strength on their side, unlike UCLA. The Bruins are currently embroiled in a quarterback battle among Collin Schlee, Ethan Garbers, and five-star freshman Dante Moore. UCLA will also rely heavily on Ball State transfer Carston Steele to carry the football and keep the chains moving. The current spread favors UCLA by two touchdowns, but Coastal Carolina should be able to keep the game close in the first half.
4: Clemson vs Duke (Monday, 8:00 EST on ABC) – Clemson will go on the road in the first game of the season to face one of the best quarterbacks in the ACC. Riley Leonard helped lead the Duke Blue Devils to a nine-win season in Mike Elko’s first year as head coach. Leonard threw for 2,967 yards and 20 touchdowns in his first year as a starter. He also proved to be a dynamic dual-threat quarterback, rushing for 699 yards and 13 touchdowns. Clemson is entering a new era on the offensive side of the ball. Dabo Swinney hired Garrett Riley as the offensive coordinator from TCU after a few disastrous years. Cade Klubnik also takes over as the full-time starter at quarterback after DJ Uiagalelei transferred to Oregon State. Keep an eye on Will Shipley; he’s the player to watch for Clemson. He can score at any moment, and if he can avoid injuries, he could be in line for a trip to New York City for the Heisman ceremony. Clemson is currently a 12.5-point favorite. Expect a close game, but Clemson will pull away late, and the final score won’t reflect the closeness.
3: Boise State vs Washington (Saturday, 3:30 EST on ABC) – The Boise State vs. Washington matchup might just be one of the most underrated games of the first full weekend. Typically, a top 15 team playing a group of five school would result in a blowout. Washington comes into the game with one of the best offenses in college football, returning star quarterback Michael Penix. He threw for 4,641 yards and 31 touchdowns last year and is poised for another big season. Rome Odunze and Jalen McMillan form one of the most underrated receiving tandems in the entire country, totaling more than 150 receptions, 2,200 yards, and 17 total touchdowns. Boise State was in the top 10 nationally in defensive statistics last year, but they did lose six starters off the defensive side of the ball. Boise State is led by Taylen Green, who is a true dual-threat quarterback. Green averaged 7.3 yards per carry and posed a constant threat to opposing defenses. Washington’s defense struggled to stop opponents, which means this game could turn into a shootout. Washington is currently favored by two touchdowns heading into the game week.
2: North Carolina vs South Carolina (Saturday, 7:30 EST on ABC) – The initial site of College Gameday for the 2023 season will be in Charlotte, where North Carolina and South Carolina will square off on a neutral field on Saturday night. Drake Maye and Spencer Rattler, the obvious headliners, should attract attention nationwide. Maye is considered a top 10 pick in next year’s NFL draft, while Rattler is in the process of rebuilding the hype he enjoyed early in his career at Oklahoma. The key to this game will be defense. North Carolina was one of the worst defensive teams in the country last year, allowing more than 30 points per game. The secondary ranked 116th in yards allowed through the air. South Carolina may not have as explosive of an offense as North Carolina, but if the Tar Heels’ defense does not improve, the Gamecocks should score plenty of points. Their secondary was a strong point, allowing just 204 passing yards per game. North Carolina enters the game as a 2.5-point favorite, promising an exciting matchup on Saturday night.
1: LSU vs Florida State (Sunday, 7:300 EST on ABC) – The weekend’s premier game unfolds on Sunday night as LSU journeys to Orlando for a rematch of last year’s opening weekend game against Florida State. LSU and Florida State enter the season with National Championship aspirations, positioning themselves among the nation’s top teams. LSU is led by Jayden Daniels, who totaled 29 touchdowns and just three interceptions in his first season at Baton Rouge. Keep an eye on linebacker Harold Perkins; he emerged as one of the best defenders in college football despite being a true freshman last year. He roamed the field, recording 72 tackles, 13.0 tackles for loss, 7.5 sacks, and four forced fumbles. Perkins had limited impact in last year’s game against Florida State, registering just one tackle. Florida State will be looking to debut numerous weapons in their high-profile offense, with Jordan Travis returning for his sixth season and continued improvement. Along with Johnny Wilson returning, the Seminoles added Keon Coleman (Michigan State) and Jahiem Bell (South Carolina) to an already potent offense. LSU enters the game as a 2.5-point favorite. Be sure to tune in on Sunday night for what could be one of the season’s most exciting matchups.