College football is back and better than ever! Week one just wrapped up, and we are looking forward to the rest of the season. The rivalry between West Virginia University and the University of Pittsburgh, also known as the ‘Backyard Brawl,’ commenced for the first time in 11 years. Pitt won the game with a score of 38-31. The University of Georgia Bulldogs cruised by the University of Oregon Ducks, beating them 49-3. The University of Oklahoma, ranked No. 9, has a very promising season ahead of them with new head coach Brent Venables. They beat the University of Texas at El Paso 45-13 in their season opener. The University of Florida also has a very promising season because of their quarterback, Anthony Richardson. In the Gators’ first week, they beat the University of Utah 29-26. The game that got the most press in the first week was Ohio State University, ranked No. 2, versus Notre Dame University, ranked No. 5. Ohio State flourished, winning 21-10. So, what does this first week of college football mean for the remainder of the season? There is a lot to unpack.
Let’s break it down by conferences, meaning the Southeastern Conference and the Big Ten. We can start with the college football conference powerhouse, the SEC. Out of the 14 teams in the SEC, eight of them are ranked in the top 25 after the first week: the University of Alabama, Georgia, the University of Mississippi, the University of Tennessee, the University of Kentucky, Florida, Texas A&M University, and the University of Arkansas. Alabama has been the No. 1 team in college football for as long as anyone can remember. In this season it looks like they are going to continue their normal dominance. Having quarterback Bryce Young back is crucial for the Crimson Tide. Young holds the record for most passing yards in a single game in Alabama history, and was the recipient for the 2021 Heisman Trophy. With Young’s experience and skill, Alabama has even more of an edge. The Tide’s schedule is pretty solid this year. They need to watch out for their games on the road against Ole Miss and Arkansas. Secondly, the University of Georgia is a hot team for this 2022-2023 season. Stetson Bennett is back for his sixth season at the University of Georgia, which is hard to believe. It is a crazy but fair statement that Bennett has really seen it all, which only puts him and his team at a greater advantage than most others. The team has a lot of returning players, along with lots of new talent. In regard to their schedule, the Bulldogs’ toughest games will be against Florida and Oregon, which will both take place at neutral sites. Another dangerous team in the SEC to look out for is the University of Florida. While the Gators lost a lot of talent through the transfer portal, they also gained a ton of new talent. Anthony Richardson is a promising quarterback for this UF team alongside new coach Billy Napier.
The second powerhouse conference of college football is the Big Ten. Out of the top 25, there are four teams from the Big Ten: Ohio State, the University of Michigan, Michigan State University, and the University of Wisconsin. Ohio State is ranked No. 2 this season and is very much expected to come out on top. When the Buckeyes have the ball, quarterback C.J. Stroud and wideout Jaxon Smith-Njigba will form one of the best pass-and-catch combos in the nation. Stroud is a pre-season Heisman favorite, while Smith-Njigba set school records in receptions (95) and receiving yardage (1,606) last season. Head coach Ryan Day has done a great job with the team since he first took over as head coach in 2018, allowing the Buckeyes to have a very promising season. The Michigan Wolverines always have a promising season because of legendary coach Jim Harbaugh. The team has a lot of returning players who have experience in the game and conference, like left tackle Ryan Hayes, who earned Big Ten honors in his previous years. Michigan State is ranked at No. 14 as of right now and they only have hopes to keep climbing up. While it is arguable that the Spartans have one of the tougher schedules in the conference, head coach Mel Tucker is the one who can get it done. Spartans quarterback Payton Thorne is filled with lots of promise for this year and is destined to perform. Finally: the Wisconsin Badgers. The Badgers have a good season ahead of them with a solid schedule where they have the potential to do well and succeed. Their two toughest games will be against Ohio State and Michigan State on the road, but that is nothing they aren’t prepared for. The Badgers running back, Braelon Allen, made All-Big Ten honors running for 1,109 yards and 12 scores—averaging over 100 yards per game—and caught six passes for 37 yards. He, along with others, are crucial for the coming season.