After an off-season that was more focused on teams moving conferences rather than any developments on the field. We are finally here. Until the end of the year, Saturdays are for one thing and one thing only. college football.
The opening weekend of college football can be different in terms of the games being played. In every other week of the season, there are at least 2 or 3 games between teams ranked in the top 25.
This week, this is only one. A lot of the leading teams this week are playing much weaker opposition, so while those games are still interesting, in 9 out of 10 occasions, the result is already known.
This all being said, let’s look back at Week 1 of college football in 2023.
TCU Horned Frogs: One Season Wonders?
The TCU Horned Frogs were the surprise of last season. Going into the season, no one expected them to contest for anything. Fast forward to the end of the year. The Horned Frogs went unbeaten in the regular season and made the college football playoff as the number 3 seed.
They would then defeat Michigan to make the National Championship game, where the Georgia Bulldogs destroyed them. TCU lost most of the stars of the team in the off-season. No one is expecting them to be as good as they were last year.
On the other hand, the Colorado Buffaloes had a terrible season last year, going 1-11, including a loss to TCU. In their off-season, they gained Coach Prime himself, Deion Sanders. So how would these teams fare with a matchup that on paper would give us one result?
It would be the Buffaloes who would get the first score of the game on their first drive. Led by quarterback Shedeur Sanders. The son of coach Deion Sanders. Colorado would drive the ball down to the 4-yard line before Sanders would throw the touchdown to Dylan Edwards.Embed from Getty Images
TCU’s reply to this started well, with quarterback Chandler Morris (who injured his knee in this fixture last season) moving the ball down to the Buffaloes’ 14-yard line. Colorado would then intercept Morris in the end zone. TCU would score on their next possession, however, from a 7-yard Trey Sanders run. Colorado would quickly strike back with another drive. Taking them down the field’s length, before Sy’veon Wilkerson ran it in to return the lead to the Buffaloes.
Things were going incredibly well for Colorado. That was until running back Dylan Edwards fumbled the ball on the edge of their own red zone. Possession was turned over to TCU. The Horned Frogs would take full advantage of this. Quickly scoring a touchdown, as Trey Sanders ran the ball into the endzone.
On the last drive of the half, the Buffaloes would score a 49-yard field goal, giving them a surprise 17-14 lead over TCU as the teams returned to the locker rooms.
The second half began just like the first half ended. On the second play of the half, Sanders tossed the ball to Dylan Edwards, who would run around 70 yards into the endzone to increase the Buffaloes’ lead to 10 points. TCU would quickly respond to this, with Morris throwing a 21-yard touchdown pass to Jared Wiley to restore the status quo.
On their next drive, Morris and company would move the ball down to the Buffaloes’ 4-yard line. A touchdown would be certain. Except, Morris was intercepted by a stunning catch by the Colorado defense. The Horned Frogs would score on their next drive, with Morris finding Dylan Wright for a 23-yard touchdown pass to give TCU the lead for the first time in the game.
This lead did not last long, as the Buffaloes found the endzone on a 7-yard Dylan Edwards run on their next drive, restoring their lead. TCU would then take the lead back on their next drive, with Morris rushing the ball in for a 19-yard touchdown.
The next three drives of the game would all end in touchdowns, making the score 45-42 to the Buffaloes with around 4 minutes left on the clock. Could they hold on to what would be a massive upset in college football?Embed from Getty Images
TCU slowly moved up the field but lost momentum at the Buffaloes’ 43-yard line. Morris’ 3rd down attempt went nowhere, meaning it was 4th & 9. The game was on the line. Morris passed to Jared Wiley, who dived as he was tackled in an attempt to reach the 9 yards needed. He was short.
This meant that the Colorado Buffaloes had recorded a 45-42 win over the number 17 ranked TCU Horned Frogs in Deion Saunders’ first game. Greatness seems to run in the family, as Deion’s son Shedeur threw for a school-record 510 yards in the victory.
For TCU, the proverbial penny has dropped. They are not the same team as they were last year and will hope to return to winning ways next week against Nicholls, while Colorado will hope to keep this form up, as they face rivals Nebraska.
The Battle of Carolina
The Universities of North Carolina and South Carolina have a strong rivalry. These two compete not only for recruits but for the assuage of the word “Carolina”. The rivalry that was once dominated by the North has seen a Southern resurgence over the last few years.
But, in general, the North Carolina Tar Heels are the stronger side, led by quarterback Drake Maye, who I have high hopes for. So, can the basketball school that gave us Lawrence Taylor among others start the season strong against the Gamecocks, or will former Oklahoma Sooners Spencer Rattler give South Carolina a good start to a schedule with some expects say is the toughest in college football?
The game did not start well for the Gamecocks as their opening drive went nowhere. In reply, Drake Maye and the Tar Heels drove the ball down the field to South Carolina’s one-yard line. Then, Omarion Hampton ran the ball in for the touchdown to give North Carolina the early lead.
The Gamecocks’ next drive seemed to be a copy of the previous Tar Heel drive. Quarterback Spencer Rattler moved the ball down deep into the opposition territory, then running back Dakereon Joyner ran the ball in for a 4-yard touchdown to make the score level.Embed from Getty Images
The Tar Heels would turn the ball over on downs on their next drive, but the Gamecocks could do nothing with this. In fact, they moved the ball backwards. North Carolina would be the next to score as another drive stalled and resulted in a 37-yard field goal.
However, the Gamecocks would quickly respond to this. Rattler would throw 3 20+ yard passes in a short drive that ended in a one-yard touchdown from Juju McDownell to give South Carolina the lead. The lead did not last long, as Maye would throw a 34-yard touchdown pass to Kobe Paysour to give the Tar Heels a 17-14 lead at halftime.
North Carolina would continue their offensive scoring at the beginning of the second half, as Hampton would score a one-yard touchdown to increase their lead on a drive that included a 37-yard pass from Maye to Gavin Blackwell. On the other hand, South Carolina could not get the ball moving.
The Tar Heels defense was too strong for them, resulting in many drives going nowhere, and Rattler getting sacked many times. North Carolina would widen the gap on their southern rivals in the 3rd quarter as Maye threw an 18-yard touchdown to John Copenhaver.
The Gamecocks had some luck in the second half as they intercepted Maye on two consecutive drives. However, their offense could not take full advantage of this small shift in momentum, only scoring a field goal.Embed from Getty Images
The rest of the game was a mixture of Tar Heel punts, Gamecock turnovers, and quarterbacks being sacked. In the end, Spencer Rattler would be sacked 9 times in this game, a game that the North Carolina Tar Heels would easily win 31-17. Not the best game offensively for either team, but credit to the Tar Heels’ impenetrable defense in the second half.
Next week, the Gamecocks face Furman of the Southern Conference, while the number 21 ranked Tar Heels welcome Appalachian State to Chapel Hill.
The tigers collapse
In the only college football game of this week between two teams that were ranked, the number 5 ranked LSU Tigers played the number 8 ranked Florida State Seminoles. Coming into this season, the Tigers are seen as the third best team in the SEC, while many say that Florida State could win the ACC and even make the college football Playoff. So, what happened in this matchup?
The Tigers had the opening possession of the game and wasted no time in moving the ball. On the opening play of the game, returning Tigers Quarterback Jaylen Daniels recorded a 55-yard pass to Tre Bradford to move them into the Seminoles’ RedZone. The Tigers would soon make it down to the one-yard line, but could not the Seminoles’ defense.
Third down became fourth down and obviously, the Tigers went for it. Daniels would be sacked on this play, handing possession to Florida State. Unlike LSU, the Seminoles would be more successful on their opening drive. After moving the ball into LSU territory, Seminoles’ Quarterback Jordan Travis threw a 40-yard touchdown pass to Keon Coleman to take an early lead.
LSU would quickly respond to this. Their next drive again brought them to the 1-yard line. But this time they were more successful, with Tre Bradford running the ball in for the tying touchdown.Embed from Getty Images
Ball security would then become a minor problem in this game. On their next drive, LSU would again turn the ball over after Daniels was again sacked on a fourth down attempt. Florida State would do nothing with the ball on their next drive and had to punt.
However, the LSU catcher fumbled the punt, which was recovered by Florida State on the edge of the Tigers’ red zone. Unfortunately for the Seminoles, Jordan Travis was intercepted on the first play of the drive
The Tigers would again score from the 1-yard line soon after this with a Noah Cain rushing touchdown. Florida State would shake off the problems seen in their last few drives and reply to this score. A 21-yard touchdown pass from Travis to Coleman made the scores level again. Then, on the stroke of halftime, LSU kicker Damian Ramos would score a 36-yard field goal to give the Tigers a 17-14 lead at halftime.
Florida State would have the ball to open the second half and would put some points on the board from it. Their drive would stall around the Tigers’ 15-yard line, so Seminoles kicker Ryan Fitzgerald would kick a 33-yard field goal to again tie the scores up. On their next drive, Florida State would take the lead via a one-yard rushing touchdown from Jordan Travis.Embed from Getty Images
In their reply, LSU struggled to move the ball past the halfway line. They then lost the ball altogether, as Daniels was intercepted. This gave the Seminoles a good field position to increase their lead. And increase it, they did. On the next two drives by Travis and company, the Seminoles would find the end zone, with the second score resulting from a 44-yard touchdown pass to Jaheim Bell.
The Tigers have lost all momentum, as they turned the ball over again on their next drive, which resulted in another touchdown for the Seminoles. LSU did score a 75-yard touchdown to end the game, but it was all academic. The number 8 ranked Florida State Seminoles had beaten the number 5 ranked LSU Tigers 45-24.
As for LSU, the second-half collapse may come back to haunt them in the rankings. Next week, the Seminoles welcome Southern Mississippi to Tallahassee, while LSU play Gambling State.
What Happened to the other ranked teams?
UT Martin @ #1 Georgia
All eyes are on Georgia, to see if the number 1 ranked Bulldogs can win the national championship for the third year in a row. I have previously stated that I think that Georgia’s schedule is too easy for them this year, facing little challenging opposition. I still agree with this sentiment, as the Bulldogs easily defeated the UT Martin Skyhawks 48-7.
East Carolina @ #2 Michigan
The number 2 ranked Michigan Wolverines are one of the 5 teams that I have tipped to potentially win the National Championship this year. The Wolverines also start their three-game stretch without coach Jim Harbaugh. The absence of Harbaugh made no difference, as quarterback J.J McCarthy threw 3 touchdowns in the Wolverines’ 30-3 victory over the East Carolina Pirates.
#3 Ohio State @ Indiana
Unlike a majority of teams this week, the number 3 ranked Ohio State Buckeyes faced conference opposition in the Indiana Hoosiers in their opening game. The Buckeyes looked somewhat sluggish in their 23-3 win
Middle Tennessee @ #4 Alabama
The number 4 ranked Alabama Crimson Tide had a disappointing season last year by their high standards. They started their season against the Middle Tennessee Blue Raiders. The Crimson Tide dominated this game, winning 56-7. Next week however will not be so easy for Alabama, as they welcome the Texas Longhorns to Tuscaloosa.
Nevada @ #6 USC
The Number 6 ranked USC Trojans are the favorite to win the PAC-12 this year, and to even take the college football playoffs. They showed their winning caliber in this game against the Nevada Wolf Pack. Trojans quarterback and reigning Heisman Trophy winner Caleb Williams scored 5 touchdowns as the Trojans easily defeated Nevada 66-14.
West Virginia @ #7 Penn State
If it was not for both Michigan and Ohio State, then the number 7 ranked Penn State Nittany Lions would easily be favorite to win the Big 10. They faced the West Virginia Mountaineers in a battle of two Power 5 conference schools (unlike a lot of other teams). Nittany Lions quarterback Drew Allar would score 3 touchdowns in Penn State’s 38-15 victory.
#9 Clemson @ Duke
The number 9 ranked Clemson Tigers opened their season against fellow ACC opponent the Duke Blue Devils. In one of the biggest upsets of the week, Duke defeated the Tigers 28-7. If they can keep up this form, maybe the basketball school that gave us Daniel Jones can become a football school, like rivals North Carolina are.
Boise State @ #10 Washington
The number 10-ranked Washington Huskies will attempt to win the Pac-12 in their final season before moving to the Big 10. They started their season against the Boise State Broncos. The Broncos would take an early lead in this game, but 5 touchdowns from Huskies quarterback Michael Fenix Jr gave Washington a 56-19 win.
Rice @ #11 Texas
As well as moving to the SEC next season, the number 11-ranked Texas Longhorns are hoping to win the Big 12 this season. They are one of the teams that I have picked to potentially win the National championship. There is a lot of talent on this team, but sometimes the talents need time to warm up. The Longhorns welcomed the Rice Owls to Austin, and at times early in the game struggled. Texas would end up winning the game 37-10. The real test for Texas is next week, as they visit Alabama.
Virginia @ #12 Tennessee
There was an emotional atmosphere at Rocky Top when the Virginia Cavaliers came to town to face the number 12-ranked Tennessee Volunteers. This was the first game that the Cavaliers played since they lost 3 teammates to a shooting. Tennessee would win this game 49-13, but to many people, the score didn’t matter.
Tennessee State @ #13 Notre Dame
Last week, the number 13 ranked Notre Dame Fighting Irish went over to Dublin to play and defeat Navy. In that game, Navy did not score a single touchdown. This week, Tennessee State made the journey to South Bend. They also did not score a touchdown. Notre Dame scored many in their 56-3 victory over the Tigers to give them a 2-0 record.
Florida @ #14 Utah
The number 14 ranked Utah Utes have dominated the Pac-12 in the last few years, while the Florida Gators are struggling to reclaim their former successes, as seen in the Netflix documentary series “Swamp Kings”. The Gators’ performance in this game was, like my view of the documentary, disappointing. Utah’s offense and defense suffocated the Gators, giving the Utes a 24-11 win to start their season.
Portland State @ #15 Oregon
On the subject of one-sided games, the number 15 ranked Oregon Ducks scored the most points this week. They faced the Portland State Vikings, but these Vikings were more like monks compared to Oregon. The Ducks’ quarterback Bo Nix would score 3 touchdowns and the team overall would find the endzone 11 times in their 81-7 victory. This meant a lot of pushups for The Oregon Duck.
Southeast Missouri @ #16 Kansas State
The number 16 ranked Kansas State Bearcats are the reigning Big 12 champions after defeating TCU in overtime. They began their title defense (if you can call it that) against the Southeast Missouri State Redhawks. The Bearcats did not even break a sweat in their 45-0 victory.
#18 Oregon State @ San Jose State
The number 18 ranked Oregon State Beavers are one of two teams from the Pac-12 to not move conferences. I think they will move soon, or it will be the Pac-2 next season with Washington State. The Beavers opened their season against the San Jose State Spartans. Former Clemson quarterback D. J Uiagelelei scored 5 touchdowns in their 42-17 victory to open their season.
Buffalo @ #19 Wisconsin
The number 19 ranked Wisconsin Badgers have a new coach in Luke Fickell. The former Cincinnati Bearcat coach started well, as the Badgers comfortably defeated the Buffalo Bulls 38-17.
Arkansas State @ #20 Oklahoma
This will be number 20 ranked Oklahoma Sooners’ last season in the Big 12 conference. From next year, they will follow the Texas Longhorns and join the SEC. They opened their season with a 73-0 demolition of the Arkansas State Red Wolves. This game disappointed me, not because of the score, but because we did not see Sooners’ third-string quarterback with one of the best names in football this year, General Booty (his real name) play.
Mercer @ #22 Ole Miss
The number 22 ranked Ole Miss Rebels faced little opposition in their game against the Mercer Bears. The Rebels would have nearly 700 yards on offense, as they won 73-7. These kinds of blowouts are very common in college football and show the massive gulf between the Power 5 conferences (ACC, Big 12, SEC, Big 10, and the Pac-12) and all the others.
New Mexico @ #23 Texas A&M
Texas A&M will next year resume its rivalry with the Texas Longhorns in conference play for the first time since the Aggies moved to the SEC. This year, the number 23 ranked side opened their season against the New Mexico Lobos. Surprising nobody, the Aggies defeated the Lobos 52-10, with quarterback Conner Weigman scoring 5 touchdowns in the victory.
South Alabama @ #24 Tulane
The number 24 ranked Tulane Green Wave is always around the low 20s in the ranking. For good reasons. They are one of the best groups of 5 schools (that’s the 5 next best conferences after the Power 5) in the country. They opened their season against the South Alabama Jaguars. Green Wave’s quarterback Michael Pratt went near perfect in Tulane’s 37-17 victory.
Utah State @ #25 Iowa
The former Michigan Wolverines quarterback Cade McNamara transferred to the number 25-ranked Iowa Hawkeyes in the college football off-season. He made his debut against the Utah State Aggies, in a game that the Hawkeyes would win 24-14.