By Jordan Merritt

Week 0 was a tasty starter but it’s time for the main course. Week 1 is when College Football gets into full swing. Jordan Merritt highlights the burning questions set to be answered.

Are Deion Sanders and Colorado ready to be competitive?

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The Deion Sanders era at Colorado gets underway for real on Saturday, and it won’t be the “cupcake” game most teams schedule in week 1. The Buffaloes head to Texas to take on last season’s college football playoff runners-up TCU. With a 5-19 record in the last two seasons, has coach Sanders got them “primed” to be more competitive in 2023?

Colorado has had more eyes on their football team than usual, especially with all the ins and outs via the transfer portal. Most of the roster is now players that have transferred in or are 2023 freshmen. The question is, what are Colorado’s expectations this season? The team was so far away from competing, with the last four games of the season having a combined score of 221-55. It seems quite easy to improve from that, but at the same time, Sanders will expect more as the brassy, confident coach he is.

As mentioned, the team is in full transition, but with that expectations are still high. With 4 star transfer QB Shedeur Sanders (Deion’s son) and 5-star WR/CB Travis Hunter amongst other talented players, the team should perform better, especially on offense. Despite this, Colorado could still lose the majority of their games. However, it will be the performances that will be key in year 1. TCU in week 1 will be a big test in seeing where Colorado is at. Very few will be expecting a Colorado win. Most will just want to see signs that there are sparks within the team, that could set alight further down the line. 

New Quarterback starters at powerhouse teams

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Georgia, Alabama and Ohio State start the season with new signal callers manning their offense. All three teams have not needed to worry about the quarterback position for the last two seasons. Despite being able to recruit top talent, it’s never certain what you will get from players at the collegiate level. It might take a while for them to bed in. It can also be a disaster. All 3 of the starters do not have the same buzz around them as previous starting quarterbacks for these college powerhouses. However, the hope will be that they can help take the teams to the college football playoffs.

The current champions Georgia named Carson Beck the starter on Saturday against UT Martin from the FCS. A 2020 recruit, Beck beat out Brock Vandagriff during camp, with reports suggesting it was not a close-run battle. A pocket passer who can make plays with his legs if needed, Beck looked to be more confident in the pocket during practices. Beck could be a solid replacement for the departed Stetson Bennett IV and the pursuit of a three-peat for the Bulldogs.

This week Ohio State named Kyle McCord as the starter going forward. He beat out Devin Brown in a close battle, according to HC Ryan Day. First up for McCord will be a road game against a fellow Big Ten team in Indiana. One of the easier games from the conference. A solid start for McCord Saturday could be a confidence boost going forward.

Nick Saban is yet to announce the starting QB for Alabama, with reports out of camp pointing in the favour of Jalen Milroe. His main competition was redshirt freshman Ty Simpson and Notre Dame transfer Tyler Buchner. If it is Milroe who wins the starting role, he will be a very different option to the departed Bryce Young. Milroe has the more prototypical QB size at 6 ‘2” and 220 lbs and has high end rushing ability as a dual-threat QB. Whoever Saban selects will be up against Middle Tennessee, with the bigger test coming week 2 against Texas.

Will Drake Maye continue his ascent in year 2?

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When Drake Maye won the starting job last season, few would have predicted the impact he would have. Of course fans and media were hoping the 2021 5-star recruit would be special. However, they didn’t know if the lack of experience would cause some teething problems early. Maye started hot and got even hotter, until he was extinguished somewhat by some of the better defenses later on.

In his potential final season before entering the NFL draft, Maye will be looking to keep up that early 2022 season pace and continue his devolpment. He will have a few changes to overcome this season, including losing his top 2 receivers. On top of that, offensive coordinator Phil Longo left for Wisconsin, with Chip Lindsay taking over the role. Maye will be hoping the offensive line improves, with last season being even more impressive on his part with the top lineman having a PFF rating of 66. 

With all the above changes as well as the expectation on his shoulders, can Maye carry it all and impress NFL scouts again? He won’t have a week 1 game to get warm as a trip to Columbia to face South Carolina will need him to be on point.

How will the Nebraska offense look under Matt Rhule?

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Nebraska football has been sleeping for a while now. 2016 was the last time they had a winning record and you’d have to go a bit further back to 2012 for an AP top 25 finish. The Cornhuskers are investing a lot of their chips in Matt Rhule, 8 years of them potentially. Will he awaken this great college team?

Before his stint in the NFL, Rhule saw success as a college head coach with Temple and more recently Baylor. He is teaming up with his OC from Temple, Marcus Satterfield again who has been the OC at South Carolina. During his spells in college, Rhule has used different schemes dependent on conferences and opponents. From heavily utilizing 2 back out of the backfield to run/pass option plays.

It seems likely Rhule could lean on the run/pass option, having an explosive player like dual-threat QB Jeff Sims will work well. Also, we could see some of those two back formations that Rhule ran at Temple with Satterfield. 

The Cornhuskers have a tough week 1 match-up against conference rivals Minnesota. We will get a good look at how this offense will operate.

Who will lay down an early marker in the LSU-FSU game?

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One of the big games over the weekend is on Sunday between LSU and Florida State at the neutral venue, The Camping World Stadium. Both teams are coming off positive 2022 seasons, where the sides met early on, in a thrilling game. FSU came out on top 24-23, with a blocked extra point attempt winning the game with no time on the clock. After the loss, LSU came on leaps and bounds, making it to the SEC Championship game over Alabama.

Experienced QBs can take you a long way, with both having battle-hardened guys as their leaders. The Tigers have Jayden Daniels, while FSU has Jordan Travis, both having 5+ seasons in college. Travis had the better of their matchup last season, but this time both guys come into the game with a little swagger. It will always help you win games if the QB play is solid, but this feels like more hangs on both guys to drag their team to victory. Also, watch out for LSU WR Malik Nabers and FSU RB Trey Benson, who can create something in the blink of an eye.

Both teams have legitimate chances of getting to the college football playoffs. This week 1 game is an opportunity to set them up with a good showing against ranked opponents. A win would be huge; however, a loss would not end either team’s goals; just put a little dent in them very early on.


College Football Analyst

Ever since he entered Husky Stadium in 2017, Jordan has been a huge fan of College Football. Over the past 3 years he has covered the PAC-12 at 5 Yard College, While recently becoming a contributor at FanSided for The Husky Haul. Follow Jordan @jordm87!