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2023 College Football Kickoff – What to Watch

August 9, 2023
college football where to watch

On August 26, the 2023 college football season gets underway with Week 0 action starting with Navy and Notre Dame playing in Dublin, Ireland. From there, we’ll run the whole way through the end of the year and into January. The now 133 FBS teams are preparing for the upcoming season. College football bettors should begin doing the same. Here’s what to watch to get started.


What’s Up with Conference Realignment

It won’t necessarily affect play on the field this year, but it might. USC and UCLA will be in the Big Ten next year. Oregon and Washington might be joining them. Arizona looks like its headed to the Big 12. The Pac-12 may be falling apart. 

Speaking of the Big 12, BYU, Cincinnati, Houston, and UCF have all joined in 2023 giving the conference 14 teams. That will last until the end of this season. Next year, Oklahoma and Texas will leave to join the SEC

The American Athletic Conference added six new teams. Conference USA, which lost a number of teams to the AAC, adds the two newest FBS members – Jacksonville State and Sam Houston. Later in the season as the bowl picture becomes clearer, there may be some issues with motivation as teams look to leave their current conference. And that motivation can go both ways. 


Favorites to Win This Year’s CFP

This is the final season before the College Football Playoff expands to 12 teams. There are the usual suspects, the teams that have dominated the CFP since its inception. Alabama, Georgia, Ohio State, and Clemson are all favorites to capture this year’s national title.

Georgia has won the past two national championships in a row. No team in the modern wire service era has ever won three consecutive national titles. Bulldogs head coach Kirby Smart will have to replace QB Stetson Bennett, but he will have a team full of four- and five-star talent once again. 

The Bulldogs are the overwhelming +225 favorite to win a third straight title. Alabama, which has captured three of the nine CFP championships, is given +600 odds to win it all. Ohio State is listed at +700 and rival Michigan (+900) is the only other program given better than +1000 odds at top rated sportsbooks.

It should be noted that of the last 16 college football national champions, 12 of them have hailed from the SEC.


New Coaches in 2023 Make an Impact

There are 23 FBS programs with new head coaches. A few of them will make a pretty big splash this season. The biggest is likely to be Luke Fickell at Wisconsin. Fickell inherits a team that went 7-6 last season but is primed to win the Big Ten West. Wisconsin is given +6000 odds to win the CFP and +700 odds to win the Big Ten at online sportsbooks.

The other big splash could be Hugh Freeze at Auburn. There was some major roster turnover, but it’s still Auburn. Freeze has worked wonders everywhere he has been. In 12 years as a head coach, he’s had one losing season. Auburn is a +15000 longshot to win a national title and a +8000 longshot to win the SEC. Freeze’s worst first season was at Ole Miss in 2012. The Rebels went 7-6 and just three years later were ranked in the AP Top-5.

Jamey Chadwell takes over for Freeze at Liberty. Chadwell’s Flames will play in Conference USA for the first time this season. The Flames are given +250 odds to win, just behind favorite Western Kentucky (+130) at the best BTC sportsbooks

Matt Rhule takes over at Nebraska and Deion Sanders is now at Colorado. Both are looking to restore broken programs and likely won’t impact the CFP this season.


Sleepers to win 2023 CFP

TCU was the surprise team last year, coming out of nowhere to play for a Big 12 title. The Horned Frogs lost the title game to Kansas State but still earned a shot at the CFP. They pulled an upset over Michigan in the national semifinals before getting crushed by Georgia in the title game.

USC footballWho will it be this year? Right now, USC isn’t a huge sleeper at +1400, but the Trojans could make some noise. Lincoln Riley went 11-3 in his first season as head coach last year. He has the Heisman Trophy winner, QB Caleb Williams, back along with a ton of talent. 

The other “sleeper” that’s not so much a sleeper is LSU. Brian Kelly took over that program last year and the Tigers went 10-4 last season. He’ll return QB Jayden Daniels, a load of skill players, and a quality defense in 2023. LSU is listed at +1200 to win the CFP in 2023.

Texas (+2000), Florida State (+2000), and Washington (+4000) are all true sleepers in 2023. The Longhorns will ride or die with QB Quinn Ewers. Florida State returns the guy that many think is the best quarterback in the country – Jordan Travis, who threw for 3,214 yards and 24 TDs and ran for 417 yards and seven more scores. 

If Travis isn’t the best quarterback in the nation, then maybe it’s Washington’s Michael Penix Jr. He led the Huskies to an 11-2 record last season. Washington, Oregon (+4000), and USC all play each in the regular season.