4-Down Territory: Forget The Future of College Football & Focus on the Here and Now
It’s Week One for College football, in what many are calling the last season of college football as we know it. By this time next year the Big Ten will have 18 (Maybe 20?) teams, The ACC will have who knows how many teams, and the PAC 12 may be no more.
So in a moment of yoga-like zen it is best to live in the moment, don't fret about what will be a year from now. Join us on our yoga mats, start in child’s pose and breathe in the first full weekend of college football and 2023's first Pigskin Stew edition of 4-Down Territory.
First Down: The Nooners: Everyone loves a good nooner. East Carolina at #2 Michigan 12:00 Peacock: This is the hole in the Big Ten’s new TV swing, games on a streaming service. The new clock rules to speed up the game play into the hands of ball control teams like Michigan. Expect them to win time of possession and the game……Virginia at #12 Tennessee in Nashville 12:00 ABC: Expect UVA to play with a ton of emotion here after the tragic loss of three of their teammates last year. UVA will be much improved from last year. But even with the emotions of the moment, Tennessee is probably just too good for UVA at this point in the season……Arkansas State at #20 Oklahoma 12:00 ESPN: The Sooners have a lot to prove after a decidedly unsettling downturn last year……..Utah State at #25 Iowa 12:00 FS1: Iowa is one of the teams to watch in the Big Ten West.…Colorado at #17 TCU 12:00 FOX: Coach Prime makes his debut for the Buffs who have completely overhauled their roster. TCU is coming off a surprising appearance in the playoff. To make a big turnaround with so many new players, Coach Prime will need to summon Walter White-esque chemistry. Fox Sports has bought into the Coach Prime hype having sent the Coach Prime promo kit to all their local affiliates.
Second Down: Afternoon Delight: Portland State at #15 Oregon 3:00 Pac 12 Network: The next time Oregon plays PSU it will likely be Penn State and not Portland State……#3 Ohio State at Indiana 3:30 CBS: And so begins the Big Ten’s new venture with CBS Sports. All eyes will be on new Ohio State QB Kyle McCord. The good news is that he’ll have a great running game as well as Marvin Harrison to throw the ball to. Not only is Harrison perhaps the best college WR in the last several years, but he was also McCord’s teammate in high school at St Joe’s Prep in Philly…..Boise State at #10 Washington 3:30 ABC: The Pac 12 is loaded with experienced and talented quarterbacks and Washington’s Michael Penix is the driving force for the Huskies in 2023. He is always worth watching……Rice at #11 Texas 3:30 Fox: Once again there is a lot of hype around the Longhorns. Beating Rice is probably not going to be a great indicator of whether or not that hype is warranted…….Tennessee State at #13 Notre Dame 3:30 NBC: Notre Dame looked sharp in pretty much every phase of the game last week against Navy. Tennessee State’s best hope is that the Irish are jetlagged from their trip to Ireland last week……..Buffalo at #19 Wisconsin 3:30 FS1: Luke Fickell has been a success at every coaching stop on his way to Wisconsin. If he can replicate the transformation he created at Cincinnati the Badgers will be a formidable force in the Big Ten West race in 2023.
Third Down: Nightcaps: UT Martin at #1 Georgia 6:00 ESPN+: The Bulldogs’ quest for a three-peat should start smoothly……..Nevada at #6 USC 6:30 Pac 12 Network: For the second week in a row USC QB Caleb Williams will be playing on a network that most of the country does not get. As a quarterback he’s a top 5 pick. He also has running ability that would make him a Top-5 pick as a running back. USC’s run defense was gouged at times last week and that may be the only way to keep Williams off the field……New Mexico at #23 Texas A&M 7:00 ESPN: Texas A&M really underachieved last year. To settle the fanbase the Aggies will need to get off to a fast start and look impressive against the Lobos……Middle Tennessee State at #4 Alabama 7:30 SEC Network: Alabama Coach Nick Saban’s strength has consistently been as a defensive mind which is why he has turned his emphasis there to get Alabama back to the promised land. This year Alabama’s defense has talked about their goal to “make the other team quit.” That could spell trouble for MTSU……#21 UNC at South Carolina in Charlotte 7:30 ABC: UNC’s Drake Maye and South Carolina’s Spencer Rattler are two dynamic quarterbacks that should make this a fun game to watch. For UNC to make a big step forward in 2023 they will need to improve on defense…….West Virginia at #7 Penn State 7:30 NBC: On defense Penn State has great players upfront, at linebacker and in the secondary. WVU QB Garrett Greene is a legit run threat averaging over 6 yards per carry last year. He has a veteran o-line coming back to help. That probably won't be enough. Penn State has a new QB in Drew Allar and he also has a veteran o-line returning. WVU had trouble stopping the run last year and went to the transfer portal to shore up their defense upfront. To have a chance WVU will have to get turnovers which was a problem for them in 2022 when they only netted 10 all season.
Fourth Down: A Long Weekend: Sunday: #5 LSU at #8 Florida State in Orlando 7:30 ABC: Florida State believes they are a playoff contender. We’ll know for sure after this weekend. LSU believes they are a playoff contender too. LSU QB Jayden Daniels put up gaudy numbers last year, including almost 900 yards rushing. That run threat impacts your defensive gameplan and forces you into more one-on-one matchups outside. Can FSU’s secondary hold up? As for LSU’s defense, they face the same threat from FSU QB Jordan Travis who has some nifty running moves to go with his aerial attack as well. Both of these guys will put a lot of pressure on the opposing defenses. Of note: these two teams engaged in one of the biggest college football brawls of all time in 1990…….Monday: #9 Clemson at Duke 8:00 ESPN: Duke is not the kind of team that we’d usually expect to see in primetime on ESPN, but the Blue Devils won 9 games last year. Duke QB Riley Leonard was quietly productive last year and ran for 13 TDs. The test will be for Clemson to generate pass rush and not allow Duke to get into a rhythm on offense. On offense Clemson looks to continue the consistently upward arc in performance from last year.