It’s finally time. Bust out the grills, fire pits, cornhole boards, pop-up tents, and coolers. Dust off your lucky hats and never-washed jerseys. College football is here! Week 0 gave us a nice appetizer of games, but the main course starts Thursday and will go through January for your viewing pleasure. Week 1 isn’t all cupcakes and there’s some bigtime matchups to look forward to. Here’s our top five for week 1:
#5. MTSU at Alabama
6:30 CT, September 2nd, 2023, on SEC Network
Nick Saban and Alabama will start 2023 by hosting a team Middle Tennesseans will be very familiar with. MTSU is traveling to Tuscaloosa to take on the Crimson Tide. Alabama fans will be eager for this one to kick off to get their first look at Alabama’s new coordinators as well as find out who will take point as the new QB for Bama following the Bryce Young era. Middle Head Coach, Rick Stockstill, was commented on preparing for the new coordinators in T-Town saying, “We’ve got enough tape. We’ve watched a little bit of Notre Dame. We’ve watched a little bit of Miami. We’ve watched a lot of Alabama.”
#4. Tennessee 12 vs Virginia (Tennessee -28)
11:00am CT, September 2nd, 2023, on ABC
This game will be the most popular in the Middle Tennessee area, especially considering it’s being played there at Nissan Stadium. On the outside looking in, Tennessee is a massive favorite at 28 points in their first game post-Hendon Hooker and Jalin Hyatt. However, the guys stepping in to take their place are experienced, proven, and talented. Tennessee finished last season with a win over ACC champion Clemson with a roster that will look very similar to the one that takes the field Saturday in Nashville. Add a splash of drama with Virginia Head Coach, Tony Elliot, claiming he was offered the Tennessee job before Heupel and Tennessee AD, Danny White, publicly calling out and denying that claim and you may just have a recipe for a cover here by the Vols. The biggest question for the 2023 season on Rocky Top, is “What Joe Milton will we get?” The team will go as far as he can take them and he has the talent to go far. Now, it’s down to execution.
#3. Florida at Utah 14 (Utah -4.5)
7:00 CT, August 31st, 2023, on ESPN
This game (thankfully) will be played on campus. It’s what college football is all about. Utah will be looking for revenge on their home turf after a last second interception sealed the opening night win for Florida in The Swamp last season. They’re favored by a little less than a touchdown but they can’t let the Gators establish any kind of rhythm as they integrate their new QB, Graham Mertz, the transfer from Wisconsin, or they may get a fight they don’t want especially with their own Quarterback’s availability hovering at questionable and Wednesday reports saying he’s a no-go causing the line to drop from -6.5 to -4.5
#2. South Carolina vs North Carolina 21 (UNC -2.5)
6:30 CT, September 2nd, 2023, on ABC
This boarder battle should be electric. College Gameday will be on hand as two talented QBs, Drake Maye and Spencer Rattler, will square off in the Carolina Panthers NFL stadium. North Carolina comes in as a 2.5-point favorite, which, in a game like this means absolutely nothing. This game has all the makings of a three-hour long war with these two going blow-for-blow.
#1. LSU 5 vs Florida State 8 (LSU -2.5)
6:30 CT, September 3rd, 2023, on ABC
This is the biggest game of the weekend by far. Two teams ranked in the top eight squaring off in the very first week in what is sure to be a classic between two teams that played one another to the wire to begin last season. This is the ultimate jump start or pothole to begin the season and both teams are talented enough to be able to take a loss here and still make the playoff, but it’s a guarantee both these teams aren’t thinking that way and are ready for war in Orlando. If only this home-and-home was played on Florida State and LSU’s campuses.