College football’s first big weekend of the 2023 season is upon us and it promises to be another compelling slate of games.
There have already been some great games, stunning upsets and an overwhelming storyline emerging from Boulder, Colorado.
But this weekend, the big games are coming thick and fast.
There are six games between ranked opponents on Saturday, and that doesn’t even include No. 4 Florida State at Clemson, Auburn at Texas A&M, BYU at Kansas or Arkansas at No. 12 LSU.
From the Noon ET tilt between the Seminoles and Tigers to 10:30 PM ET kickoffs for No. 5 USC (at Arizona State) and No. 8 Washington (hosting Cal), Saturday is chock full of exciting college football contests.
Below are the weekend’s biggest games.
It’s only a five-game losing streak, but the last time Notre Dame defeated Ohio State was 1936.
Lou Holtz’ Notre Dame squads lost twice to the Buckeyes in the 1990s, Brian Kelly’s Irish lost the 2006 and 2016 Fiesta Bowls handily to Ohio State, and Marcus Freeman lost his regular season head coaching debut to his alma mater in Columbus last year, 21-10. Now, Freeman and his ninth-ranked Irish host No. 6 Ohio State under the lights in South Bend.
If the Irish are to break the streak, this may be their best chance. Wake Forest transfer quarterback Sam Hartman has completed 71% of his passes for 1,061 yards, 13 touchdowns and no interceptions.
Nine different receivers have touchdowns and running back Audric Estime has rushed for 521 yards - the most in the nation - and five touchdowns.
However, Navy, Tennessee State, N.C. State and Central Michigan - the teams Notre Dame beat - aren’t Ohio State, which finally started rounding into form with a 63-10 thumping of Western Kentucky last week.
Kyle McCord has grabbed hold of the starting quarterback job, completing 70% of his passes for 815 yards and six touchdowns. His top target Marvin Harrison Jr. has 14 catches for 304 yards and three touchdowns.
The key battle will be Notre Dame’s offensive line versus Ohio State’s defensive line. Both units may have multiple future first-rounders.
Notre Dame has lacked a difference maker at quarterback for years. Will Hartman be the guy Saturday night?
Ohio State is favored by -3 and Notre Dame is +135 on the ML.
In a tumultuous offseason for the Pac-12, Oregon State and Washington State were left behind while the rest of the conference’s schools bolted for future ACC, Big 10 and Big 12 residences. Now, both teams are undefeated and ranked and face each other as two of college football’s most pleasant surprises.
No. 21 Washington State already knocked off 19th-ranked Wisconsin. The Cougars are led by Cameron Ward, who has completed 72% of his passes for 986 yards and nine touchdowns. Lincoln Victor has been the primary target, catching 24 passes for 342 yards and three touchdowns.
The 14th-ranked Beavers travel to Pullman led by Clemson transfer quarterback DJ Uiagalelei, who has thrown for 630 yards and six touchdowns, adding four more on the ground. Damien Martinez is averaging nearly nine yards a carry while piling up 351 yards rushing for the Beavers.
Uiagalelei will be chased by Ron Stone Jr., who is tied for 12th in the nation with three sacks this season.
Big conference tests await for both teams, with ranked squads UCLA and Colorado, as well as Top-10 rivals Oregon and Washington, still on the slate for both teams, and No. 11 Utah comes to Corvallis to face the Beavers next week.
But, for now, it will be fun to enjoy the last Pac-12 teams standing face off Saturday night.
Oregon State is favored by -3 and Washington State is +125 on the ML.
No. 24 Iowa takes on No. 7 Penn State. No. 22 UCLA faces No. 11 Utah. And No. 15 OIe Miss plays No. 11 Alabama, ranked outside the Top 10 in the AP poll for the first time in eight years.
But even those great contests pale to the great shadow that has emerged in college football this September. Coach Prime and his undefeated, 19th-ranked Buffaloes travel to Eugene to face No. 10 Oregon.
The Ducks are favored by three touchdowns, so the Colorado hype train might finally come to a stop in Oregon on Saturday.
However, if Shadeur Sanders (1,251 yards passing, 10 touchdowns) and company can pull off the upset, especially without phenom Travis Hunter, over Bo Nix (893 yards passing, eight touchdowns) and Oregon, next week’s matchup with No. 5 USC could have playoff implications.
Sanders still has his top target Xavier Weaver, who is fourth in the nation with 386 receiving yards and has added two touchdowns.
Oregon, on the other hand, is third in the nation in yards per game with 587.
Colorado's no slouch either with 479 yards per game, putting them in the top 25 in the country in that stat.
Put simply, expect a shootout in Eugene on Saturday.
Oregon is favored by -21 and Colorado is +625 on the ML.