What to watch in college football's Week One

What to watch in college football's Week One

Get your snacks ready and plan your bathroom breaks accordingly

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Get your college football gear and getups out of that box in your closet — it’s almost time!
Get your college football gear and getups out of that box in your closet — it’s almost time!
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Anyone else so excited that we’ll have college football in less than two weeks that they could throw up? No? Just me? Well, maybe you’ll be excited enough to read our Week One previews for the 2022 season (that starts in 10 days! AAHHHH!). Labor Day weekend is going to be one of those Saturdays where you’re glued to the TV for twelve straight hours. Bathroom breaks are for the weak, meals are for losers, and single-screen watchers are going to be missing out. Let’s see what we can expect.

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No. 11 Oregon vs No. 3 Georgia

No. 11 Oregon vs No. 3 Georgia

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Oregon will be falling from that No. 11 spot after this week. Were the Ducks able to shock Ohio State in last year’s opener? Sure. Is this year’s Georgia team last year’s Ohio State team? No. Fresh off a championship, the absence of the guys they lost to the draft will obviously be felt, but they have big names returning, too — Stetson Bennett, Ladd McConkey, and Nolan Smith, to name a few — and while Dan Lanning and Bo Nix are undoubtedly heralding a new era for the Ducks, it’s just realistically not going to start with a W for them. They’ll hold their own in the first half, but a Kirby Smart defense is a Kirby Smart defense, even without last season’s stars, and Nix hasn’t exactly been historically successful against those. My pick is the reigning champs.

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No. 7 Utah vs Florida

No. 7 Utah vs Florida

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After a standout year from the Utes, this opener deep in SEC territory against a Gators team with a brand-new coach in Billy Napier should prove to be a real challenge. Utah opened at No. 7 in the preseason AP Poll, its highest preseason ranking ever, and hopefully the collapsing Pac-12 won’t affect on-field play this season. Unranked or not, though, the Swamp is not an easy environment to come into, and with the energy that the Gators team and fans will be bringing into this game, I wouldn’t be surprised to see Florida pull off the upset after a close game. I love, love, love a good cross-conference opener like this — it’ll be a fun one.

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No. 5 Notre Dame vs No. 2 Ohio State

No. 5 Notre Dame vs No. 2 Ohio State

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Realistically, this is either a blowout or an instant classic. We’re going in with a lot of knowns about OSU at the quarterback and wide receiver positions, and a lot of unknowns about Notre Dame at the same positions, with a new starting QB, new head coach, and the Irish’s top receiver out for the season with an ACL tear. Opening against the Buckeyes at home with all of those question marks is going to be an enormous test from the Irish, but strong returning offensive and defensive lines may be cause for hope still. With all love to my Irish, I think I have to pick OSU for this one (come on — their returning lineup includes CJ Stroud, TreVeyon Henderson, Jaxon Smith-Njigba, and the list goes on), but I’ll be praying for a great game at the very least.

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No. 23 Cincinnati vs No. 19 Arkansas

No. 23 Cincinnati vs No. 19 Arkansas

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I’m, like, weirdly thrilled about this game. Three years ago, this would’ve been a check-when-its-over matchup, but it’s honestly kind of a headliner for me on Labor Day weekend. Cincy is coming off an ass-whooping in the playoff (the case for at least two teams every year, to be fair), but they’ve proved themselves on the big stage after beating Notre Dame at home last season, changing the game for G5 schools everywhere. And Arkansas isn’t to be ruled out here. The Razorbacks were a fun team to watch last year, clawing themselves out of the bottom-tier of the SEC — more evident in their very close losses to Alabama and Ole Miss than their win record might tell you. These are two very different programs, but both on the come-up — without Desmond Ridder, I’m taking the Hogs for this one.

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West Virginia vs No. 17 Pittsburgh

West Virginia vs No. 17 Pittsburgh

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Two big quarterback transfers will be the storyline for this game — JT Daniels to the Mountaineers from Georgia (working under a new offensive coordinator), and Kedon Slovis to the Panthers from USC (the school where WVU’s new OC actually came from, where he worked with Slovis as a quarterbacks coach, which could give them an advantage here). Missing Heisman finalist and huge threat in new Steelers QB Kenny Pickett as well as transfer Jordan Addison, Pitt might be in a rebuilding year. This one’s hard to read because of how major the changes in both programs were this offseason — it’s a real toss-up. I’m picking Pitt, but I don’t feel sure about it.

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