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Five storylines to follow in College Football Week 1

Labor Day weekend is the traditional kickoff for the college football season. Although a handful of games will be played a week earlier, Labor Day will once again set up four months of heated rivalries, passionate fan bases and titillating matchups. 

Here are a few of the key storylines from the exciting opening weekend of college football action:

LSU and Florida State go head-to-head again

WhatFlorida State vs. LSU
WhereCamping World Stadium, Orlando, Florida
When19:30, Sunday September 3rd, 2023
How to watchABC
OddsLSU -140, Florida State +120

LSU fans are champing at the bit for this rematch. 

Last year, in coach Brian Kelly’s LSU debut, the Bayou Bengals battled back from a two-touchdown, fourth-quarter deficit. 

A two-yard touchdown pass to Jaray Jenkins from Jayden Daniels got LSU within one at 24-23 with no time remaining, but the Seminoles blocked the extra point for the win.

Doubters stayed on Kelly at LSU despite winning the SEC West, as the team was blown out by Tennessee, Georgia and Texas A&M before throttling Purdue in the Citrus Bowl, 63-7. 

They finished the season 10-4. 

Florida State, which won its final six games, including a 35-32 nail-biter over Oklahoma in the Cheez-It Bowl, finished 10-3. 

Buffaloes now squarely in Prime-time

WhatTCU vs. Colorado
WhereAmon G. Carter Stadium, Fort Worth, Texas
When17:00, Saturday September 2nd, 2023
How to watchABC
OddsColorado +575, TCU -850

When a 13-2 defending national runner-up hosts a dismal 1-11 side to open the season, the storylines should naturally veer toward the power. 

But Deion Sanders changed that when he turned a couple of successful seasons at FCS Jackson State into the Buffaloes’ head coaching job. 

Anyone who passionately follows Colorado will still need to hold on to a roster sheet thanks to the bevy of transfers Prime Time brought into the program.

Meanwhile, TCU plays its first game since a humbling defeat to Georgia in last year’s national championship without quarterback and Heisman Trophy runner-up Max Duggan, as well as offensive coordinator Garrett Riley, who took the same position at Clemson.

Can Penn State Challenge Wolverines, Buckeyes?

WhatPenn State vs. West Virginia
WhereBeaver Stadium, University Park, Pennsylvania
When19:30, Saturday September 2nd, 2023
How to watchNBC
OddsWest Virginia +750, Penn State -1200

The Nittany Lions surged all the way from unranked at the beginning of the season to No. 7 overall after closing their 2022 campaign on a five-game win streak, including a 35-21 defeat of Utah in the Rose Bowl.

However, Penn State’s 11-2 record and strong finish were overshadowed by a 13-point defeat to the Buckeyes and a three-touchdown setback against the Wolverines. 

Penn State has not beaten Michigan since 2020 and Ohio State since 2016. 

Until the Nittany Lions can post W’s against those two BIg Ten East roadblocks, they will continue to linger in the shadows.

They start this season ranked seventh, hosting a West Virginia side whose coach, Neil Brown, has one of the hottest seats in the country. 

The Mountaineers have posted just one winning season and a 22-25 overall record in Brown’s four seasons in Morgantown.  

Is Tennessee for Real?

WhatTennessee vs. Virginia
WhereNissan Stadium, Nashville, Tennessee
When12:00, Saturday September 2nd, 2023
How to watchABC
OddsVirginia +1650, Tennessee -6600

Third-year coach Josh Heupel has brought the magic back to Rocky Top. 

The Volunteers recorded their first 11-win season in more than 20 years. 

Along the way, they knocked off ranked sides Pittsburgh, Florida, LSU, Kentucky, as well as ended a 15-year losing streak to nemesis Alabama, before handling Clemson in the Orange Bowl, 31-14.

Tennessee finished last season ranked sixth and open this one as the No. 10 team in the country. 

Heupel needs to replace quarterback Hendon Hooker and receivers Cedric Tillman and the speedy Jalin Hyatt, who are all in the NFL. 

The Volunteers should handle Virginia and Austin Peay the following week before opening the SEC gauntlet at Florida. 

Virginia finished 3-7 last season. 

The Cavaliers are playing their first contest since last season was cut short following an on-campus shooting in Charlottesville last November that resulted in the deaths of three Virginia football players.

Can Penix Jr, Huskies Emerge Out West in Pac-12 Swan Song?

WhatWashington vs. Boise State
WhereHusky Stadium, Seattle, Washington
When15:30, Saturday September 2nd, 2023
How to watchABC
OddsBoise State +500, Washington -700

Michael Penix Jr had a tremendous debut with Washington last fall, throwing for 4,641 yards and 31 touchdowns and finishing eighth in the Heisman Trophy voting. 

He led the Huskies to an 11-2 record that featured seven straight wins to close the season, including a 27-20 victory over Texas in the Alamo Bowl in coach Kalen DeBoer’s successful debut campaign in Seattle.

Penix Jr has dual 1,000-yard receivers Rome Odunze and Jalen McMillan returning to help him assault Pac-12 defenses in the conference’s final season with its current schools.

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