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When does college football start: Q&A for 2023 season schedule

CFB-HQ on FanNation 3/8/2023 James Parks

When does college football start? What you need to know for the 2023 schedule

Looking ahead to the 2023 college football schedule © Provided by CFB-HQ on FanNation Looking ahead to the 2023 college football schedule

"Week 0" kicks off the season on Saturday, Aug. 26 with seven games on the schedule. 

The rest of the country will begin their season in traditional Week 1 action the following weekend.

Week 0 College Football Schedule

  • FIU at Louisiana Tech
  • Hawaii at Vanderbilt
  • Idaho State at San Diego State
  • Navy vs. Notre Dame (Dublin)
  • San Jose State at USC
  • UMass at New Mexico State
  • UTEP at Jacksonville State

Week 0 is typically when a lot of smaller schools start things out, but two major programs are in on the early action as both Notre Dame and USC play their openers on Sat., Aug. 26.

Both are expected to be in the College Football Playoff chase this coming season, especially after quarterback Sam Hartman transferred to Notre Dame and USC has defending Heisman Trophy winner Caleb Williams returning.

Week 1 College Football Schedule

Your look at the best early games on the 2023 college football schedule © Provided by CFB-HQ on FanNation Your look at the best early games on the 2023 college football schedule

Saturday, Sept. 2

West Virginia at Penn State. This was a fun rivalry dating back to 1904, but the schools haven't played since 1992. Penn State won a 45-point game against the Mountaineers back in '91 and in 2023, the Nittany Lions look like the better, more well-rounded team, coming off an impressive Rose Bowl victory, against a WVU squad whose coach, Neal Brown, is decidedly on the hot seat.

North Carolina vs. South Carolina. Drake Maye is back for the Tar Heels as a consensus top 10 quarterback in college football, if not top five, and Spencer Rattler returns for the Gamecocks. But UNC has questions defensively and after losing OC Phil Longo, while USC saw some prominent transfers depart, including tight end Jaheim Bell and edge rusher Jordan Burch.

Colorado at TCU. Our first look at the Buffaloes under the guidance of Deion Sanders, who made the biggest splash of the offseason by leaving Jackson State for the Pac-12 to rebuild the Colorado program. And a worthy opponent in the national title runner-up Horned Frogs who, while they gained some prominent transfers, also lost a ton of talent, including their top quarterback, receiver, running back, and offensive coordinator.

Florida at Utah. The first matchup went to the Gators to open 2022, but the teams went in opposite directions after that: Florida went 6-7 and lost its quarterback to the NFL, while Utah went on to win the Pac-12 and returns some vital pieces, including star quarterback Cameron Rising. Utah looks to be in position to avenge that loss and take a big step towards what would be its third-straight Pac-12 title.

Coastal Carolina at UCLA. Grayson McCall entered the transfer portal but then came back to the Chanticleers for another run to build on his 8,000-yard passing career against a Bruins team trending up but that lost its top two playmakers, but gained notable transfers in quarterback Collin Schlee, running back Carson Steele, and receiver J. Michael Sturdivant.

Keep up: College football transfer portal tracker for 2023's top players

Sunday, Sept. 3

LSU vs. Florida State. These teams played a crazy back-and-forth game that FSU won by a single point and both sides went on to have excellent seasons, the Seminoles winning 10 games for the first time since 2016 and LSU winning the SEC West and taking down Alabama. 

Both quarterbacks return to this game — FSU's Jordan Travis and LSU's Jayden Daniels — in addition to defensive stars — the Noles' Jared Verse and the Tigers' Maason Smith and Harold Perkins. Moreover, each school signed an elite transfer portal class of contributors on both sides of the ball.

Who is college football's defending national champion?

Georgia did it again © Provided by CFB-HQ on FanNation Georgia did it again

Georgia Bulldogs. The mailman delivered again and another elite defense helped bring the Dawgs their second-straight national championship behind a historic 65-7 destruction of challenger TCU for the College Football Playoff. 

The 58-point margin of victory is an all-time record for the worst beatdown in any postseason game in college football history, ever. 

And it also gives the SEC its 13th national championship in the last 17 years. The super-conference's dominance continues.

2022 College Football Playoff rewind

  1. Georgia
  2. Michigan
  3. TCU
  4. Ohio State

Fiesta Bowl. TCU opened up a big lead on Michigan early in the first semifinal, but the Wolverines stormed back in an offensive explosion to make it close. Ultimately, TCU held off the Big Ten champs, 51-45.

Peach Bowl. Despite the usual talk that the SEC would roll over the Big Ten, Ohio State, which had one loss and didn't play for its league title, went toe-to-toe with the Bulldogs and had a 14-point lead going into the fourth quarter. But Georgia came back and OSU's last-ditch field goal went wide left as the clock struck midnight on New Year's Eve, beating the Buckeyes, 42-41.

National Championship. Touchdown after touchdown piled up as Georgia harangued TCU in a historic rout that definitively puts the Bulldogs in the driver's seat as the top program in college football and on the cusp of dynasty territory. College football hasn't seen an official three peat since Minnesota in the 1930s. Could the Bulldogs change that this year?

Who are the defending conference champions?

College football's reigning conference champs © Provided by CFB-HQ on FanNation College football's reigning conference champs

SEC: Georgia. The Bulldogs put 50 on surprise West champion LSU to win the SEC championship and stay undefeated.

Big Ten: Michigan. Make it two straight for the Wolverines, who took down Purdue convincingly in Indy ahead of its second-straight CFP bid.

ACC: Clemson. A final change at quarterback, from DJ Uiagalelei to Cade Klubnik, pushed the Tigers over North Carolina.

Big 12: Kansas State. A tight game in Arlington went the Wildcats' way, handing TCU its first loss of the season and putting K-State in the Sugar Bowl.

Pac-12: Utah. Two in a row for the Utes, who skirted past USC's clumsy defense and got another superb game from Cam Rising, dumping the Trojans from College Football Playoff contention in the process.

AAC: Tulane. A statement for the Green Wave, who took down challenger UCF and moved into the Cotton Bowl, where they eventually upset USC.

2023 College Football Playoff schedule

Looking ahead to the College Football Playoff © Provided by CFB-HQ on FanNation Looking ahead to the College Football Playoff

Jan. 1, 2024 Rose Bowl

Jan. 1, 2024 Sugar Bowl

Jan. 8, 2024 National Championship

This is the 10th year that college football has a playoff system, which replaced the former Bowl Championship Series (BCS) ahead of the 2014 season, and the last year before the playoff expands to 12 teams in 2024.

Ohio State won the first championship under the current system.

Alabama (2015, ’17, ’20), Clemson (2016 and ’18), and Georgia (2021, '22) are the only programs to win multiple titles in the playoff era.

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