We can do it, guys. Just a few more months until a new season of college football begins. To fill the void in our hearts and make time go by quicker, let's look at the upcoming schedule.
In a very particular chronological order, I have narrowed down the top five non-conference college football games you must mark on your calendar.
best Non-conference college football games in 2023
Without realizing it, the top five matchups I hand-picked all fall in September. Now that I think about it, that makes plenty of sense. The opening weeks set the tone for the season and show whether a group is a CFP or national championship contender.
week 1: Colorado vs tCU (September 2nd)
I know we're anxiously awaiting Deion Sanders' head coaching debut with the Buffaloes. Primetime era has reconstructed the program, with 52 scholarship players entering the transfer portal within the months after his arrival. Some are skeptical of Coach Prime's ways, while others are praying it's worth it, including people like me who hammered the OVER on his 3.5-win total.
Deion Sanders first team meeting at Colorado is must watch.— Emmanuel Acho (@EmmanuelAcho) December 4, 2022
Favorite quote: “We got a few positions already taken care of because I’m bringing my luggage with me… And it’s Louis”
Meanwhile, it'll be interesting to see how TCU responds to its national championship defeat by those darn Dawgs. The Horned Frogs didn't even have early odds to make the playoffs on most sportsbooks last season, who also listed them as +20000 to win the title.
Quarterback Max Duggan, a Heisman Trophy finalist, wrapped up his Cinderella season with 3,698 passing yards and 32 touchdowns. He was picked up by the Chargers, alongside old teammate WR Quentin Johnston, in the 2023 NFL draft.
Both of these teams are in transitional stages. I can't wait to watch Sonny Dykes and Sanders go head-to-head.
Congrats to #SonnyDykes getting Coach of Year honors, but let's not forget that SEC juggernaut Georgia steamrolled the Frogs in the title game, 65-7. pic.twitter.com/CKE8T2Dcqj— Ray Gaskin (@FRayGaskin) May 18, 2023
Week 1: North Carolina vs South Carolina (September 2nd)
You gotta love a good ol' neighbor rivalry. With notable quarterbacks like Bryce Young, C.J. Stroud and Anthony Richardson graduating from their college careers, there's a new group of signal-callers who take a leap into the spotlight. Two of the top to watch will be tossing in this meeting: Tar Heels' Drake Maye and Gamecocks' Spencer Rattler.
Maye (+1000) and Rattler (+4000) will both be eager to kick-start their reputation for the new season. Maye led the best offense in the ACC by recording 309.3 passing yards last year, enough to rank North Carolina 11th in the nation. Rattler refused his draft eligibility to return to the field with the Gamecocks, saying he has "unfinished business." What better job to complete than beating a rival team and overshadowing a top QB?
Potential 2024 QB Draft Class:— NFL Rookie Watch (@NFLRookieWatxh) January 12, 2023
• Caleb Williams (USC)
• Drake Maye (UNC)
• Shedeur Sanders (Colorado)
• Spencer Rattler (South Carolina)
• Quinn Ewers (Texas)
• Jayden Daniels (LSU)
• Bo Nix (Oregon)
This class could be SPECIAL 🔥 pic.twitter.com/hq6zirb8pn
Week 1: Florida State vs lSU (September 3rd)
After the cliff they left us hanging off of last season, with an insane 24-23 FSU upset in Week 1, we are all dying for a rematch between these two programs. The Seminoles and Tigers are on a tightrope, balancing between being playoff contenders.
Florida State's Jordan Travis (+800) falls just behind USC's Caleb Williams (+400) in the early Heisman Trophy odds. Travis finished last year with an 85.8 QBR (ranked 7th) and over 3,200 passing yards. The junior turned it into high-gear mid-season in 2022, pocketing 12 touchdowns in six appearances. LSU is looking for back-to-back winning seasons in Brian Kelly's second year. This rematch will be a fun one. Draw a little confetti popper next to it on your calendar.
Brian Kelly thinking about this Florida State offense he's got to face in just over 100 days... pic.twitter.com/3Bw8rR1iXr— TJ Pittinger (@TJ_Pittinger) May 17, 2023
Week 2: texas vs Alabama (September 9th)
Another one-point outcome that left us on the edge of our seats. The Crimson Tide's field goal edged them in the 20-19 victory over the Longhorns. But I still believe if Texas' Quinn Ewers stayed healthy to play the full game, the scoreboard would've tilted in the other direction.
Regardless, this will be a good one. Alabama could miss the playoffs for the second-straight season, which would be a first in the CFP era. Word on the street is Nick Saban ain't what he used to be. But, you didn't hear it from me.
Even with the Longhorns' exciting new tandem of Ewers and Arch Manning, defeating the Tide at Bryant-Denny Stadium is never easy.
Best home record since 2014— CFB Home (@CFBHome) July 31, 2022
Ohio State 48-4
App State 42-7
Notre Dame 43-8
Boise State 40-9
Air Force 36-9
Week 4: Notre dame vs Ohio state (September 23rd)
Pushing on to Week 4, there's a promising meeting between two of the most established programs in college football. The Irish haven't seen the playoffs since 2012 when they couldn't out-jig Alabama in a 42-14 beating.
Marcus Freeman's first year leading Notre Dame was... bland. The group finished 9-4, its first losing record since 2016. But, I'm sensing a new chapter and the main character is Sam Hartman.
The Wake Forest transfer is a certified veteran. He stayed steady completing over 63 percent of his tosses and pocketed 38 touchdowns, which gave him bragging rights to hold the ACC record in passing touchdowns (110).
Wake Forest slow mesh. #25 Jayln Phillips steps down to stop run so Sam Hartman goes deep to #80 Jahmal Banks for the TD. pic.twitter.com/uZkh0Zftnh— NIL Ponzi Scheme (@NilPonziScheme) May 24, 2023
This game will prove whether Notre Dame is back to being able to keep up with the best. If not, put a note next to this day saying "the day Josie switches loyalty."