Brads’ Breakdown: zooming into college football’s opening weekend

By: Alan Brads

On Tuesday morning, I stepped outside and was met by the crispest cool breeze that southwest Ohio has felt this year. I smiled, not because the breeze felt good, or the air smelled fresh, but because I knew what that feeling perennially means in my life.

College football is back.

No more conference realignment chatter, NIL debates or transfer portal mayhem, just 14 straight glorious weeks of football for our viewing pleasure.

Yes, I know what all you USC and Notre Dame fans are thinking, but sorry, week 0 doesn’t count here at Cedars. It’s just not the same, and deep down we all know it.

With so much to follow every week, (there are 87 games involving FBS schools this week) maybe you feel overwhelmed. Maybe between 18 credit hours and keeping Chick-fil-A up and running on the weekends you’re too busy to follow every game and every moment.

That’s why I’ll be here for you all season. Each week I will break down three storylines to watch for, and tell you three must-see games to schedule your group project meetings around. Enough about me, let’s get to the stories.

#3- Coach Prime debuts at TCU

If I were coaching an FBS team for the first time, I would rather not open on the road against a team that just played for a national title. But then again, Coach Deion “Prime” Sanders has been around the block once or twice. The NFL Hall of Famer’s name alone makes Colorado more newsworthy than they’ve been since the dawn of the iPod, but expectations may be overinflated. Colorado won a single game last year, and they travel to Fort Worth as three-touchdown underdogs, so even if the Buffaloes can just keep the game close for a few quarters, we should be impressed.

#2- QB questions in Columbus and Tuscaloosa

A week before kickoff, we didn’t know who would start under center for the nation’s two preeminent college football brands, and it seems their coaches didn’t either. Ryan Day has since named Kyle McCord as the Buckeyes’ week 1 starter but promised Devin Brown playing time as well. Nick Saban still hasn’t named a starter for Alabama. Both teams have doormat opponents in week 1, but the QB situations are well worth keeping an eye on.

#1- LSU and Florida St. play do-or-die in week one

It’s not an exaggeration to say these schools’ seasons, both of which have been highly touted as playoff candidates all summer, are hinging on a week 1 win. They each have playoff aspirations but LSU plays Bama, Ole Miss, and Texas A&M, and potentially Georgia in the SEC championship game. Also, Florida State will face Clemson in week 4, and possibly a second time if the Seminoles reach the ACC Championship game. Out of 36 college football playoff teams, none have qualified for the playoff with two losses. Given their schedules, the stakes couldn’t be higher in Tallahassee in week 1.

Opening week typically has a lackluster lineup of games, and 2023 is no grand exception. I just tipped my hand as to the top game of the week, which far outranks all other games in entertainment value this weekend, but there are a couple of others that are still worth tuning into.

#3- Boise State @ #10 Washington

Boise State is like that obnoxious little cousin at Thanksgiving, if they can’t have fun they’ll make sure that their older cousins, the Power 5, are miserable too. Just ask the 2006 Oklahoma Sooners. Washington better be on their A-game when the Broncos come to town. The Pac-12 is a gauntlet, and a loss to Boise State would derail their season before it even started down the tracks. On the flip side, Michael Penix Jr., a dark horse Heisman candidate, could get that ball rolling with a dominant win.

#2- #21 North Carolina @ South Carolina

The first rivalry of the season (Sorry Notre Dame and Navy, week 0 games still don’t count) has bountiful intrigue. Drake Maye, the signal caller for North Carolina sits firmly in second place in Heisman odds, while Spencer Rattler, a former Heisman candidate at Oklahoma, seeks to pick up where the Gamecocks left off, knocking off Tennessee and Clemson at the end of the 2022 season. I dislike neutral site games, but the Carolina Panthers’ Bank of America Stadium, located less than 100 miles from both campuses, just makes sense for this one. It will be a sight worth seeing. You can expect points in bunches if you tune in to this one on Saturday night.

 #1- #5 LSU @ #8 Florida State

The rankings speak for themselves. If you only catch one game this weekend, make it this one. It’s not unlikely this game will hold weight come December when the college football playoff committee selects the four playoff teams. The Seminoles knocked off LSU in Death Valley last year, spoiling Brian Kelly’s debut, but this Tigers team is supposed to be the biggest challenger to the back-to-back champion Georgia Bulldogs. This one kicks off on Sunday night and will draw a massive audience stretching far beyond the schools’ southeastern roots. 

From the Chanticleer faithful of Coastal Carolina to the Rainbow Warriors in Hawaii, the whole country knows it. College football is back.

Alan Brads is a senior journalism student and sports editor for Cedars. He enjoys playing the drums, speaking Spanish and watching Buckeye football like his life depends on it.

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