Games we can’t wait to see, bold predictions and early CFP picks for 2023

It’s never too early to start thinking about everything we’re excited about for the 2023 college football season.

From the games we’ve already marked on our calendars, to the players and teams we’re expecting breakthrough seasons, to early playoff picks, this is all we’re looking forward to in 2023.

The game that will be most excited in 2023

Alex Scarborough: Colorado at TCU, September 2nd.

All eyes were already on TCU after Cinderella ran into the college football playoff national championship game. But opening the 2023 season against Colorado and freshman coach Deion Sanders makes the game even more interesting. Not only did we see Coach Prime in Power 5 for the first time, but we also saw what the Horned Frogs would look like without Heisman Trophy finalist quarterback Max Duggan and standout wide receiver Quentin Johnston.

Chris Lowe: State of Florida vs. LSU, Sept. 3 (Orlando, FL)

Get ready for some serious buzz around Florida State and LSU heading into next season as they open the season against each other in what should be a top 10 matchup on Sept. 3 in Orlando, a Sunday game that will get a ton of contact. The Seminole have not won an ACC championship since 2014, and this may be their best chance to end this drought, especially with the return of quarterback Jordan Travis and defenseman Jared Vers, one of the nation’s top pass rushers. LSU played in the SEC Championship in Brian Kelly’s first season in Baton Rouge. The Tigers are bringing back starting quarterback Jayden Daniels and a ton of young talent, including dynamic outside linebacker Harold Perkins Jr., and they’ll be looking for even more in 2023. extra score. Let’s hope the encore is just as exciting.

David M. Hale: Miami (Ohio) in Miami, September 1st.

The great minds of football will offer a long list of big games here, and for good reason. But what if instead we look at the game that has the most at stake: Miami vs. Miami. Oh, the first week has its fair share of standout matches, but none quite as significant as the one that will once and for all determine which Miami reigns supreme. And before you assume the Florida version of Miami is winning in a breakaway, remember that just last year, Middle Tennessee wiped the floor with the Reeds on their home turf. Think Miami (Ohio) can’t do the same? And of course, this isn’t the traditional rivalry between neighborhood schools, but consider that census data shows that more than 70% of Florida’s population is just people who moved from Ohio to escape the cold. And while no trophy is awarded to the winner, we think it’s only fair that the winner claims ultimate authority over the Miami name, forcing the loser to change their nickname so we no longer have to use parentheses to clarify which team we’re talking about. Just imagine the sight when The U announces its official rebrand to Coral Gables University, when Pitbull moves to Akron and Will Smith re-releases a new version of “Welcome to Miami” in which he mentions the names of Benjamin Harrison and Wally Shcherbiak. Good luck finding something that rhymes with Roethlisberger. From this point of view, there is no bigger game this season.

Tom Van Haaren: Ohio State Michigan Nov. 25

It won’t be until the end of the season, but the game between Michigan and Ohio State has brought the rivalry back into the spotlight over the past two years. Buckeyes coach Ryan Day has come under fire for two losses to Michigan in the last two seasons, and there’s no doubt they’ll be in the spotlight in 2023. Day said he could change who calls attacking plays to give himself more opportunities to coach the whole team. so that the team does not suffer another defeat at the end of the season. Michigan is bringing back running back Blake Corum and several big offensive players for 2023, which should bring them back to the attention of one of the best teams entering the season. The focus and emphasis on this game, given the ramifications and past performance, will be at an all-time high, making it a must-watch game.

Blake Baumgartner: USC in Colorado, September 30th.

A two-week stretch in September could show what Sanders is capable of in Colorado. A week after traveling to Oregon for their first conference road game, Buffalo hosts Lincoln Riley and USC in Boulder on September 30th. Just as Riley transformed his team through the portal – reigning Heisman winner Caleb Williams led a group that includes wide receiver Dorian Singer (AZ), running back MarShon Lloyd (SC) and linebacker Mason Cobb (Oklahoma State), among others – Sanders did the same, bringing on his son Scheder as quarterback and Travis Hunter as defenseman from Jackson State. As USC prepares to say goodbye to the Pac-12, it will have the opportunity to introduce Sanders to West Coast football.

Heather Dinich: Utah, USC, October 21st.

Lincoln Riley would have had a playoff team in his first season as coach if the Trojans hadn’t lost 2-0 to the Utah, so the October 21 game between them is worth watching. If USC can win at Notre Dame on October 14, there is a good chance the Trojans will remain undefeated when Utah arrives in Los Angeles. This is USC’s last Pac-12 loss. Can Riley leave a lasting impression in the league by taking him up to the CFP before heading into the Big Ten? The home game against Utah will help answer that question.

Adam Rittenberg: Ohio State at Notre Dame, September 23rd.

There are some great options here and I always tend to play early in the season. Ohio State and Notre Dame no longer open the season against each other, but they meet on September 23 in South Bend for a match that has national implications for both sides. The Buckeyes should be 3-0 but get their first significant quarterback test in Wake Forest’s Sam Hartman, who holds the ACC career record for passing touchdowns. Hartman and Notre Dame’s yet-to-be-assigned offensive coordinator create a sense of mystery and excitement around the Fighting Irish, who need a shake-up in their passing game to make their next move. Notre Dame has a week 2 road test in North Carolina, but it should also be perfect. Last year, Marcus Freeman scored a home victory over Clemson. The upset of his alma mater did much to raise expectations in second grade, despite an overall tight schedule.

Bill Connelly: Michigan in Pennsylvania, November 11th.

I always love a team’s first home game in a new (and more prestigious) conference, and we have several of these in the Big 12: Houston hosts TCU in Week 3, Cincinnati hosts Oklahoma in Week 4, UCF hosts Baylor. in Week 5 (BYU hosts Cincinnati in their first conference home game, inconclusive). But to be honest, my thoughts are drifting to Happy Valley. Pennsylvania State could have a top 5 team in 2023, and while its trip to Ohio State in October may still be out of reach, the potentially busy team from Michigan is due to visit State College on Nov. 11. Can PSU win and create a potential three-way race in the Big Ten East?

Breakaway teams will…

Scarborough: For a moment, it looked like Notre Dame was about to fall off a cliff last season. Fighting Irishman Marcus Freeman, freshman coach, couldn’t have looked worse after losing at home to Marshall. And yes, the loss to Stanford a month later wasn’t that big either. But they have leveled the ship and now I’m buying shares in Notre Dame next season. Hartman was a huge pick-up from Portal and all three of the best guards are back. Also, the schedule is on with the Navy and Tennessee to start the season, with Ohio at home on September 23rd.

Short: Mike Locksley is entering his fifth season as Maryland coach, and every year the Terrapins get better, more talented, and more competitive. They continue to win back-to-back after six consecutive losing seasons from 2015 to 2020. In addition, Maryland has ended each of the last two seasons with cup victories. The biggest news of the off-season for the Terps was record-breaking quarterback Taulia Tagovailoa’s announcement that he would return for the 2023 season. Two of Maryland’s five Big Ten losses last season were for touchdowns or less. With the return of a quarterback of the caliber of Tagovailoa and a defense that needs to be improved, the Turps will be in a better position to finish some of those close games and make a run for their first nine-win or better season in over a decade.

VanHaaren: Florida State ended the season 10-3, so I don’t know if the Seminoles are really in contention here. But even with 10 wins in a season, it seems like the countries of the former Soviet Union haven’t received a ton of national recognition. Three consecutive losses came against Wake Forest, NC State and Clemson as they were all ranked teams. In 2023, the Seminoles get a defensive Vers end, returning quarterback Travis and the staff have one of the best transfer classes this offseason. Mike Norvell brought in Virginia cornerman Fentrell Cypress II, West Michigan guard Braden Fiske, Miami guard Darrell Jackson Jr., tight ends Jaheim Bell and Kyle Morlock, and some really good offensive linemen. These additions should help the state of Florida achieve an even better season than 2022.

Have lunch: Washington has already exceeded expectations under Kalen DeBoer, and this fall the Huskies will be even better. They have an exciting, explosive offense led by returning veteran quarterback Michael Penix Jr., and a defense that is bringing back their top pass rushers is already showing constant improvement. This is the team that should be fighting for the Pac-12 title and has the potential to win it. The schedule is really confusing. Washington kicks off November with back-to-back matches against USC and Utah, two top 25 teams he avoided last year. He’s on a non-conference trip to Michigan. It’s hard to call an 11-2 team a breakout season, but until the Huskies prove they can beat Utah and Utah under DeBoer…


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