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Week 1 - Colorado Tears Up The Script, The Carolinas Battle and Mixed Fortunes in Florida...

Updated: Sep 7, 2023

Shedeur Sanders made an impressive debut for Colorado (Image credit: Andy Cross/The Denver Post)

Colorado are coming.

The headline-grabbing result of Week 1, and potentially the season, emerged from Fort Worth. Last season's national runners-up, TCU, hosted a Colorado team that posted a 1-11 record and had recruited almost an entirely new team, 50 players in all, during the transfer portal. They won a thriller, 45-42. Four of the new recruits, all with a connection to Buffaloes head coach, "Coach Prime", Deion Sanders, made an instant impact. Two could be in the Heisman conversation in December if they maintain this level of play.

Travis Hunter, the No.1 recruit in the 2022 recruiting class, played both offense and defense, standing out on both sides. Hunter caught 11 passes for 119 yards and hauled in a highlight-reel interception. He had been flipped from Florida State to second-tier Jackson State by Sanders when he took the helm at the HBCU school. Running back Dylan Edwards, first coached by Sanders when he was four years old, recorded 159 total yards and four touchdowns.

Sanders' two sons, quarterback Shedeur and safety Shilo both excelled. Shedeur Sanders passed for 510 yards and four touchdowns, completing 38 of 47 passes. For a player making his FBS debut, it was an astonishing performance. Shilo Sanders made 10 overall tackles. With the greatest of respect to TCU, who played their part in a real back-and-forth thriller, the headlines belonged to Colorado. Coach Prime had warned they might.

"We told you we coming. You thought we was joking. And guess what? We keep receipts." - Colorado head coach Deion Sanders.

North beats South in battle of the Carolinas

On paper, this should have been a battle between two emerging quarterback talents. Nobody told No.21 North Carolina's defense. They smothered, harried and harassed South Carolina quarterback Spencer Rattler, sacking him nine times in a 31-17 win. To his credit, the Gamecocks' signal caller retained his composure in the face of relentless pressure and an insipid offensive line, completing 77% of his passes for 353 yards.

Tar Heels' quarterback Drake Maye, afforded much more time, showed an impressive range of passing, but threw two interceptions in addition to two passing touchdowns and 269 yards. British Brooks ran for 103 yards as North Carolina started their campaign 1-0. South Carolina desperately needs help with its front line if they are going to make any impression in the SEC.

A tough week for football in South Carolina was exacerbated by North Carolina-based Duke's shocking 28-7 upset of No.9 Clemson on Monday night. This was the Blue Devils' first win over the Tigers in 19 years. The arrival of Garrett Riley as offensive coordinator saw Clemson stack up 422 yards of offense but they lacked the finish and face an uphill struggle to challenge for the ACC title.

Mixed Fortunes in Florida

Two rematches on opening weekend could define the season ahead for Florida and Florida State. Florida opened up on Friday night away at No.11 Utah who were without mercurial quarterback Cameron Rising and suffered a frustrating 24-11 loss. The Gators committed nine penalties and quarterback Graham Mertz, making his debut after transferring from Wisconsin, struggled behind a weak offensive line and threw for 333 yards and a touchdown. He was sacked six times and threw an interception. Florida coach Billy Napier looks under pressure already.

Jordan Travis led Florida State past LSU (Image credit: Melina Myers/USA Today)

Happier times at Orlando's Camping World Stadium where No.8 Florida State knocked off No.5 LSU, 45-24. In a week where quarterbacks dazzled, Seminoles passer Jordan Travis was no exception. Travis completed 23 of 31 passes for 341 yards and four touchdowns, three to Michigan State transfer Keon Coleman. LSU coach Brian Kelly promised, before the game, that his team would "beat the heck" out of the Seminoles. Unfortunately, first-half turnovers and an inability to complete drives cost the Tigers, who returned to Louisiana with their tails between their legs. Florida State jumped into the top four in this week's AP Top 25 rankings as a result.


The Top Four

Carson Beck started as No.1 Georgia rolled past UT-Martin (Image credit: AP/John Bazemore)

No.1 Georgia opened up their campaign with a 48-7 win over UT-Martin. Newly anointed starting quarterback Carson Beck completed 21 of 31 passes for 294 yards and a touchdown. Backup Brock Vandagriff saw some action too, throwing for a touchdown, while highly touted tight end Brock Bowers, one of this season's players to watch, lined up all over the field, catching five passes for 78 yards and adding a rushing touchdown.

"I was very proud of Carson in his first start. I thought he had great composure. Really that was the epitome of every scrimmage he had." - Georgia head coach Kirby Smart

Many people are backing No.2 Michigan to win it all this year. The Wolverines eased to a 30-3 win over East Carolina in Ann Arbor. J.J. McCarthy threw to eight different receivers, completing an impressive 86% of his passes for 280 yards and three touchdowns. Blake Corum opened his campaign with 73 rushing yards against the Pirates.

Kyle McCord was given the keys to No.3 Ohio State's offense and delivered three touchdowns and 239 passing yards. Cade Stover was impressive out wide and Miyan Williams ran in two scores as the Buckeyes beat Indiana 23-3.

Jalen Milroe won the starting quarterback job at No.4 Alabama, beating Notre Dame transfer Tyler Buchner. The dual-threat passer impressed, throwing three touchdown passes and running in another two scores. New offensive coordinator Tommy Rees likes the run game and the Crimson Tide pounded Middle Tennessee with 205 rushing yards in a 56-7 win.

Caleb. Williams.

With LSU tripping up, there was an opportunity to sneak into the fifth spot in the Top 25. No.6 USC staked their claim with a 66-14 destruction of Nevada. The Trojans were up 35-7 at half-time and didn't take their foot off the gas. Tahj Washington caught two touchdown passes and freshman Zachariah Branch impressed again. Star of the show? Caleb Williams. USC's quarterback completed 18 of 24 passes for 319 yards and 5 touchdowns. He and backup Miller Moss threw to fourteen different receivers. USC's offense looks frightening. Here's our weekly highlight clip of the USC quarterback...

Best of the rest

In the race for the Pac-12 title, No.10 Washington made their presence felt with a 56-10 hiding of Boise State. Michael Penix, Jr also put Heisman voters on notice with a performance consisting of 450 passing yards and five touchdowns on 29-of-40 passes. The Huskies' quarterback also rushed for 75 yards. Receivers Rome Odunze and Ja'lynn Polk had 132 and 101 receiving yards respectively.

Bo Nix and Oregon thumped Portland State 81-7 in Eugene (Image credit: Troy Wayrynen/USA Today)

Pac-12 rivals No.15 Oregon romped to an 81-7 thrashing of Portland State. Bo Nix completed 85% of his passes, adding three touchdowns and 287 yards in the air. The Ducks amassed 729 yards of total offense, 348 of which were on the ground.

No.7 Penn State impressed in a 38-15 win over West Virginia in a competent start for new quarterback Drew Allar who assumed the reins from Sean Clifford, now backup quarterback for the NFL's Green Bay Packers.

In Austin, a mullet-less Quinn Ewers led No.11 Texas to a 37-10 win over Rice. Ewers passed for 260 yards and three touchdowns, one to the impressive Adonai Mitchell. Maalik Murphy got some game time as backup, could this mean top recruit Arch Manning could be redshirted this year?

No.12 Tennessee and No.13 Notre Dame remain in contention with impressive wins. The Volunteers beat Virginia 49-13 while the Fighting Irish moved to 2-0 with a 56-3 drubbing of Tennessee State. No.20 Oklahoma annihilated Arkansas State 73-0, while No.22 Ole Miss got off the mark with a 73-7 thumping of Mercer. The Rebels racked up 524 passing yards vs. 143 on the ground as Jaxson Dart threw for four touchdowns, winning the starting job over Spencer Sanders who came on later in the game and threw an additional two scores. Mississippi's running back sensation Quinshon Judkins added two touchdowns.

College football games to watch in Week 2

(Image credit: FoxCFB)

No.11 Texas @ No.3 Alabama - rematch of the 20-19 Crimson Tide's win in Austin a year ago. Quinn Ewers and co. travel to Tuscaloosa looking for revenge.

Nebraska @ No.24 Colorado - Matt Rhule's Cornhuskers are coming off an opening week loss to Minnesota and take on Deion Sanders' re-energised Colorado in Boulder.

No.23 Texas A&M @ Miami - the rematch of last year's 19-7 Aggies win in College Station. Hurrincanes QB Tyler van Dyke will hope to put in a better performance in front of his home fans.

No.20 Ole Miss @ No.24 Tulane - this will be fun! Lane Kiffin's free-scoring offense travel to New Orleans to take on a Tulane team that claimed the scalps of Kansas State and USC last year.

Across The Pond College Football Podcast

Rebecca Mardikian and I talked through Week 1 and look forward to Week 2 in the latest edition of our Across The Pond College Football podcast, and talked to Across The Pond NFL's Nick Cosgrove about his experience covering the Notre Dame-Navy game in Dublin. Please have a listen...

1 Comment

Sep 06, 2023

Great seasons starting blog… really good coverage… with your new Across the Pond podcast we’re expecting super things from the English College football writer… Go Gareth!

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