College football is here! The 2023 season is already underway, and we've picked a few players to pay attention to with every team in action this weekend.
Now we can look ahead to "Week 1", which is the main course if last weekend's festivities were an appetizer.
A jam-packed schedule begins on Thursday (Florida at Utah) and goes all the way through Monday night (Clemson at Duke). North Carolina and South Carolina are squaring off on Saturday in Charlotte, while a rematch of last year’s wild affair between Florida State and LSU is set for Sunday.
Here are five players to watch in Week 1 of the 2023 college football season.
College football bettors will need to watch Cam Rising even before Thursday’s game between Utah and Florida kicks off.
Rising suffered a torn ACL during the Rose Bowl in January, so his status for the start of this season has obviously been in question.
The senior from Ventura, California is listed as QB1 on the Utes’ depth chart for Thursday’s showdown, but it remains to be seen if he will actually take the field.
Rising passed for 3,034 yards with 26 touchdowns and eight interceptions last year. He also rushed for 465 yards and six scores.
Utah is +550 to win the Pac-12 championship; Florida is +8000 to triumph in the SEC.
For obvious reasons, there will be a lot of eyeballs on Saturday’s battle between Colorado and TCU.
That isn’t normally the case for a matchup between one team coming off a 1-11 campaign and another team that advanced to the National Championship. But when Deion Sanders has taken over as head coach of the Buffaloes it’s a different story.
Shadeur Sanders, of course, is Deion’s son. The Dallas, Texas native played his first two college seasons at Jacksonville State, where he ran circles around overmatched defenses.
Sanders passed for 30 TDs with eight INTs as a freshman before delivering 40 touchdowns and six picks as a sophomore. He also ran for 173 yards and six scores last year. We are about to find out how Sanders fares against much tougher competition.
The college football season is wasting no time diving into some rivalry games. Sure, North Carolina and South Carolina aren’t in the same conference.
No matter. You know they want to beat the living daylights out of each other.
If the Tar Heels want to have the upper hand, Drake Maye has to step up.
Maye was in the Heisman Trophy mix for much of the 2022 campaign and he figures to be one of the leaders for it once again this season. As a freshman, the Charlotte, North Carolina native threw for 4,321 yards with 38 touchdowns and seven interceptions.
He also gained 698 yards and scored seven TDs on the ground. With a full year of college football under his belt now, Maye figures to be even better in 2023.
UNC is +2000 to make the College Football Playoff.
The most memorable Week 1 matchup in 2022 was none other than Florida State’s 24-23 win over LSU.
It came down to a blocked extra point on the final play of the game, which saved the Seminoles from what would have been an epic collapse in the final two minutes. Jared Verse was all over the place in that contest, recording two sacks and 2.5 tackles for loss.
Verse went on to have an outstanding season, compiling nine sacks and 17 tackles for loss. He could be the best defensive lineman not only in the ACC but also in the entire country, and a top-five selection in the 2024 NFL Draft is possible.
Florida State’s over/under win total in 2023 is set at 9.5, with the over priced at -140.
Week 1 wraps up with an ACC showdown between Clemson and Duke on Monday night at 9:00 pm ET on ESPN. After making the College Football Playoff six years in a row, the Tigers have missed it in each of the past two seasons. That is relative drought by their lofty standards, it could come to an end if Will Shipley has anything to say about it.
Although head coach Dabo Swinney’s program has been defined over the past decade by star quarterbacks like Deshaun Watson and Trevor Lawrence), it is a running back who is the headliner now.
Shipley has scored 26 total touchdowns over the past two seasons and last year he churned out more than 1,400 yards from scrimmage (1,182 rushing and 242 receiving).
Clemson is +1600 to win the National Championship.