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NY Post
New York Post
2 Sep 2023


NextImg:College football Week 1 predictions: TCU vs. Colorado, more picks vs. spread

It is strange to love something that you know will never love you back. But we’ve all been 16. And we all follow college football.

We were fans when writers, coaches, and a president picked a national champion when college football irrationally allowed undefeated teams to share a crown instead of scheduling them to play each other.

We have stayed tuned when targeting reviews grind thrilling games to an interminable halt when power programs essentially waste everyone’s time scheduling games against feeble FCS foes.

And we will stick around when UCLA is in the Big Ten, and SMU is in the ACC, and Satan is cackling with delight.

We will keep watching. Because we know the alternative — and the truth. College football — in all its ugliness, greed, arrogance and disdain for its fans — still offers the greatest regular season in sports.

No other sport consistently offers as many high-stakes games. No other sport can place title hopes on life support after Week 1.

That is the fate awaiting No. 5 LSU or No. 8 Florida State this Sunday.

It is far different from the season-opener last year, when the Tigers and Seminoles were both unranked and Florida State won, 24-23, on a blocked extra point.

Both teams finished last season with 10 wins, and this year they bring back loaded rosters and are eyeing the College Football Playoff.

“It’s going to have a championship-type feel to it,” Florida State coach Mike Norvell said this week.

It is also going to be the third straight season-opening battle between Norvell and Brian Kelly, whose Fighting Irish defeated the Seminoles in overtime in 2021.

Kelly and LSU (-2.5) will take the rubber match, with Jayden Daniels’ scrambling (he had 114 yards rushing in the 2022 matchup) making the difference.

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Wolverines head coach Jim Harbaugh is suspended. So is offensive coordinator Sherrone Moore. “I’ve heard people comment it’s a slap on the wrist,” Harbaugh said this week of his school-imposed three-game ban.

“It’s more like a baseball bat to the kneecaps.”

Don’t let anyone ever tell you the man doesn’t have a sense of humor.

Last season, the Wolverines won their first three games by an average of nearly 50 points.

Hendon Hooker, now with the NFL’s Lions, went from being an underwhelming option at Virginia Tech to become a Heisman Trophy contender and leader of the nation’s top-ranked offense for the Volunteers.

Josh Heupel’s system will do the same for former Michigan quarterback Joe Milton, who provided a hint of what’s to come during the Orange Bowl win over Clemson.

Deion Sanders has the players he wants after his shameful dismantling of Colorado’s roster, so covering this massive number shouldn’t be an issue.

If the Hoosiers hold Marvin Harrison Jr. to fewer than five touchdowns, we’ll be in good shape.

The Huskies are legitimate playoff contenders, but the hype won’t help in a season opener against the Mountain West favorites.

Michael Penix Jr.’s Heisman campaign will get off to a rough start against the fourth-ranked pass defense from last season, while the Broncos’ backfield will keep Washington’s high-powered offense on the sideline for long stretches.

A game that will be over before halftime carries unique intrigue.

At the end of JT Daniels’ debut with his fourth(!) college team, Arch Manning could make his Longhorns bow in garbage time.

Arch Manning
Getty Images

Caleb Williams gets another chance to pad his stats in his repeat Heisman bid, as the Trojans’ atrocious defense pokes more holes in the team’s title hopes.

The Crimson Tide may cover, but the program’s reputation has inflated the line by at least a touchdown. It isn’t easy to replace the best offensive (Bryce Young) and defensive players (Will Anderson Jr.) in the country — even at Alabama.

The Nittany Lions return 16 starters from an 11-2 team, and their ceiling is even higher with five-star quarterback Drew Allar taking over.

In matchups with the four worst teams in the Big Ten East last season, Penn State won by an average of more than 31 points. The worst team in the Big 12 should fare the same.

Drew Allar

Drew Allar
Getty Images

Drake Maye is a stronger draft prospect than Spencer Rattler, but the Tar Heels’ quarterback will face a tougher test in this rivalry game.

North Carolina’s nonexistent pass rush and JV secondary, which contributed to the nation’s 111th-ranked pass defense last season, will tilt the edge to the Gamecocks.

It never feels good to lay points with the Scarlet Knights, but the Wildcats are already the Big Ten’s biggest embarrassment.

Northwestern’s 11-game losing streak, hazing scandal and termination of longtime coach Pat Fitzgerald makes Rutgers look like Georgia.

The Beavers’ addition of DJ Uiagalelei looks incredible on paper, but the inconsistent play of Clemson’s former top recruit will follow him west.

Oregon State’s road struggles will surface, too, against a Spartans team that went undefeated at home last season.

After six straight playoff appearances, the Tigers were spectators the past two years with Uiagalelei under center.

If Dabo Swinney had overcome his stubbornness earlier, Cade Klubnik could have led Clemson to more than an ACC title last season.

With the five-star quarterback, former TCU offensive coordinator Garrett Riley and another elite defense, the Tigers could be back in the final four again.

Best Bets: Tennessee, Boise State, Texas

2014-22 Record: 1,150-1,082-25