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2023 College Football Week 1 Odds, Overview & Picks

By Hank Blaine

It’s not the best Week 1 in college football history with only one game featuring a pair of ranked schools and that’s a Sunday game because there’s no NFL this week. Here are three key games in Week 1 and our picks.

Top 2023 College Football Week 1 Games to Bet

Virginia Cavaliers vs. Tennessee Volunteers

Technically a neutral-site game in Nashville on Saturday. Coach Tony Elliott’s first season at Virginia last year was pretty awful as the Wahoos disappointed with a 3-7 record. Why only 10 games? Players Lavel Davis Jr., D’Sean Perry and Devin Chandler were shot and killed Nov. 13, 2022, after returning to campus from a class trip to Washington so the Cavs opted to cancel their final two games. Running back Mike Hollins, who was shot and wounded, returned to school, earned his degree and is set to play this season. Elliott said Virginia has plans to honor and acknowledge the families of Chandler, Perry and Davis throughout the season. UVA will be without a key defender as starting defensive end Chico Bennett Jr. will miss it with a knee injury, coach Tony Elliott said Tuesday. He had seven sacks last year. Elliott also said starting safety Antonio Clary is a game-time decision with a high ankle sprain.

Tennessee was an offensive dynamo last year but has to replace record-setting QB Hendon Hooker, now in the NFL. That job will go to Joe Milton, his backup last year. In two seasons with the Vols, Milton has completed 85-of-144 (.590) passes for 1,346 yards and 12 touchdowns with zero interceptions and a 3-1 record as a starter. It’s the first meeting between the two teams since UT put up 20 points in a fourth-quarter rally to win the 1991 Sugar Bowl by a score of 23-22. The Vols are opening a season in Nissan Stadium for the third time and won the previous two. Dating to his UCF days, Coach Josh Heupel is 5-0 in season openers as a head coach, outscoring opponents 264-54.

2023 College Football Week 1 Pick: Virginia

Colorado Buffaloes vs. TCU Horned Frogs

Saturday game at noon ET on FOX from Fort Worth. These two will be Big 12 rivals next year when Colorado leaves the Pac-12. No one has any idea what the Buffs will be this year under first-year coach Deion Sanders as he completely overhauled the roster from last year. Colorado features 87 newcomers on its 2023 roster, including 68 scholarship newcomers. Nine scholarship players and 25 overall players return from last season. Deion’s new starting QB will be his son Shedeur, who was spectacular the past two seasons playing for Sanders at Jackson State. CU’s incoming transfers amassed 29 more touchdowns, 30 more sacks and seven more interceptions in 2022 than the Buffs did as a team. Coach Prime is 27-6 as a collegiate head coach, including a 23-3 record in his final two seasons at Jackson State with two SWAC Championships and two appearances in the Celebration Bowl.

TCU lost in the Big 12 title game last year but still reached the College Football Playoff. There, the Frogs upset Michigan in the semifinals but were slaughtered by Georgia in the title game. Star QB Max Duggan, a Heisman finalist, is among those gone from that team. TCU’s eight-game home winning streak is the sixth-longest among Power 5 programs. Dating back to 2003, TCU has a nine-game winning streak against Pac-12 opponents. TCU is opening its season against Colorado for the second straight fall and one year to the day of last year’s meeting. The Horned Frogs won 38-13 in Boulder in 2022 in the first-ever gridiron meeting between the schools, giving Sonny Dykes his first win as TCU’s head coach.

2023 College Football Week 1 Pick: Colorado

LSU Tigers vs. Florida States Seminoles

  • When: Sunday, September 3rd, 2023. 5:30pm EST.
  • Where: Camping World Stadium, Orlando, FL
  • College Football Odds: LSU (-2.5) // FSU (+2.5)

Sunday night game at 7:30 ET because there’s no NFL action. It’s technically at a neutral site in Orlando. The teams played a thriller in Week 1 last year in New Orleans with the Seminoles winning 24-23 when LSU missed a PAT try with no time remaining. Both teams won double-digit games last year as big surprises. The Tigers are coming off a 10-4 record and the SEC Western Division title. LSU closed out the 2022 season with a 63-7 win over Purdue in the Citrus Bowl. Florida State won its final six games to finish 10-3. Sunday’s contest marks the 11th meeting between LSU and Florida State with the Seminoles leading the series, 8-2.. LSU returns its top passer (Jayden Daniels: 2,913 yards, 17 TDs), top rusher (Daniels: 885 yards, 11 TDs), top receiver (Malik Nabers: 72 rec., 1,017 yards, 3 TDs) and 5 starters on the offensive line.

Florida State enters year four under Mike Norvell ranked No. 8 in the preseason polls, the program’s highest preseason rank since 2017, after doubling its win total from the previous year. FSU is playing in a top-10 season opener for the fourth time in program history and first time since 2017 when it lost to Alabama in Atlanta. Florida State is 10-0-2 all-time in Orlando and has won nine straight contests in Orlando since a 17-17 tie with Georgia in the 1984 Citrus Bowl. FSU scored at least 35 points in its final six games of 2022, the longest active streak in the nation entering 2023 and the program’s longest 35-point stretch points since the 2013 national championship season. Led by QB Jordan Travis, the Seminoles return 77 players from the 2022 squad, including 11 all-conference selections and the ACC’s Defensive Rookie of the Year in Jared Verse. Those players combined to account for 89.2 percent of FSU’s total offense, including 99.5 percent of passing yards and 76.4 percent of rushing yards, and 68.7 percent of its defensive production, including 80.0 percent of tackles for loss, last season.

2023 College Football Week 1 Pick: FSU

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READ MORE: 2023 College Football Week 1 Sleeper Picks