Marcus Freeman, Anthony Richardson
Left: Photo by Robin Alam/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images, Right: Photo by Jonathan Bachman/Getty Images

What to Watch: The College Football Season Kicks Off with Some Serious Week 1 Action

Finally, Week 1 of the College Football season is upon us, all is right with the world again! After the MONSTER 13-game slate on Thursday night and an incredible Backyard Brawl, the first official Saturday of the season is set to bring even more thrillers than the early week special.

There's a lot that can be missed this week if you're not ready for it. Luckily for you, you're reading FanBuzz and we got you covered on this early season kickoff, including one we think you won't want to miss.

No. 7 Utah Travels to The Swamp

Utah Utes players celebrate a touchdown against the Oregon Ducks

Photo by Steve Dykes/Getty Images

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  • Location: Ben Hill Griffin Stadium, Gainesville, Florida
  • Kickoff: 7:00 p.m.
  • TV: ESPN

The Utah Utes were the surprise of the Pac-12 last year. Not only did they win the conference championship, but downed Oregon twice while the Ducks were ranked inside the top 10. That's no small feat.

Utah is the highest ranked team in the Pac-12, the odds-on favorite to repeat as Pac-12 champions, and a lot of people's trendy pick to crash the college football playoff this season. But they get no easy task in Week 1. The Ducks are traveling across the country to Gainesville, where the Florida Gators have not lost a season opener in the Swamp since 1989.

Gators head coach Billy Napier has all the confidence in the world that he is building Florida back up into an SEC powerhouse. He can prove that with a huge upset against a ranked opponent in his very first game as head coach.

The Utes have a tough defense and QB Cameron Rising was a 64-percent passer with 20 touchdowns last season. But Florida's QB Anthony Richardson is a dual-threat QB who threw for 529 yards and rushed for another 401 in just 8 starts last year. He is already getting high grades from NFL scouts.

Utah proved itself last season, but now has to step up again in Week 1. There may be an upset brewing in The Swamp.

Can Oregon Pull Off the Early Season Upset Again?

Bo Nix drops back to pass in the Oregon spring game.

Abbie Parr via Getty Images

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  • Location: Mercedes-Benz Stadium, Atlanta, Georgia
  • Kickoff: 3:30 p.m.
  • TV: ABC

Could it happen again? Last year, the No. 12 ranked Ducks traveled to Columbus and walked away with an early season upset of the then No. 3 Ohio State Buckeyes. Could the No. 11 ranked Ducks do the same when they take on the defending National Champion Georgia Bulldogs in the Chick-fil-a Kickoff game?

Oregon quarterback Bo Nix is no stranger to the SEC, having started 3 seasons for Auburn and graduating before transferring to Oregon. Nix, if he starts will get his fourth attempt for a win over the Bulldogs after going 0-3 while with Auburn. Head Coach Dan Lanning has yet to announce who his starting quarterback will be for this contest.

Georgia lost a lot of defensive production to the NFL draft, yet they still rank as one of the top FBS defenses this year. Entering the game as double-digit favorites, Georgia's defense outranks Oregon's offense despite all the contributors lost this offseason. That doesn't mean the Dawgs are invincible. If the Oregon defense can disrupt Georgia signal-caller Stetson Bennett, they might be able to hang close into the fourth quarter. Bennett did enough to get by last year, but was aided by a defense that only gave up 13 total TDs a season ago, and scoring four themselves. Without that cushion, it's possible "The Mailman" can't deliver. 

This game might be close in the first half with Georgia pulling away in the second and securing the victory. But remember last year, after a shaky win vs Fresno State, NO ONE thought the Ducks were going to go to Ohio and upset the #3 ranked Buckeyes. ESPN only gave them a 12 percent chance at that. Could we end up with the upset of the year in Week 1? 

The Irish Meet the Buckeyes in an Early College Football Playoff Preview

Treveyon Henderson looks to the Ohio State sideline during a stoppage in play.

Photo by Brian Rothmuller/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

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  • Location: Ohio Stadium, Columbus, Ohio
  • Kickoff: 7:30 p.m.
  • TV: ABC

It's great being the 5th seed starting the season on the doorstep of a playoff spot. What's not easy is opening the season by taking on the 2-seed on the road. The Irish come into Columbus as a massive 15.5-point underdog vs Ohio State. If Notre Dame can pull off the upset Saturday night, you can go ahead and pencil them into a playoff slot right then and there.

But let's say the No. 2 ranked Buckeyes hold serve on their home turf. Marcus Freeman and Notre Dame would need to avoid a blow-out loss to keep their playoff hopes alive. The rankings could forgive a battlefield loss to the No. 2 team, assuming they win out the rest of the way. But if the wheels were to fall off and Ohio State dominates from start to finish, that might give the selection committee pause. Who knows? It may even push them off that sweet 5-seed doorstep in favor of Texas A&M, Utah or Michigan down the line.

Defense is going to be key for the Irish, as OSU simply has too many weapons for Notre Dame to try to run with them. CJ Stroud, Jaxon Smith-Njigba, Marvin Harrison Jr. and TreVeyon Henderson are three of the best in the country at their respective positions. The battle for Notre Dame will be won in the trenches. If the defense can get pressure on Stroud early they can disrupt his rhythm and control the pace of the game. One only need look as far back as 2019, when Notre Dame was a heavy underdog against Georgia early in the season. The Irish would lose that game, 23-17. It was not the blowout everyone was expecting, and Notre Dame was able to save face in a defeat against a high ranking team on the road.

If they can score the upset or keep it close, Notre Dame will be in the playoff conversation all the way up until selection Sunday. One thing is for sure, this is a great game to start the season and it ends a slate of exciting Week 1 games.

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