New guest writer Andy Normile previews some of Saturday’s biggest college football games available on UK TV.
You can check out the full College Football TV UK Guide here.
OREGON at GEORGIA
|20:30||OREGON at GEORGIA||BT Sport 4|
Repeating as National Champion is never easy in whatever sport. But, made even harder for a Georgia team that has lost a record 15 players to the 2022 NFL draft. Including 5 from the defensive side of the ball selected in the 1st round.
I’m sure Kirby Smart will have his team well prepared and is bound to find a few hidden gems from the recent excellent recruiting classes. Stetson Bennett a QB who always finds a way to win, will again be the play caller. His biggest weapon being the extraordinary athletic Brock Bowers. Last year’s SEC Freshman of the year and arguably the best TE in college football. Although it is ultimately through the defence that Georgia’s hope of repeating will lay, despite the loss of many standout players, they can still call on the likes of Jalen Carter and Robert Beal Jnr, both NFL 1st-round prospects.
Oregon will come into the game hoping to spring a surprise and be torchbearers for the maligned Pac-12. Without the impending departure of USC and UCLA, the Ducks look like the future of the Conference and will be keen to announce themselves on the national stage. They also bring a couple of familiar faces. Bo Nix, the ex-Auburn Tiger, will be the starting QB and head coach Dan Lanning is an ex-defensive assistant with the Bulldogs. Nix’s record against Georgia isn’t good. But, he is incredibly talented, if somewhat unpredictable and frustrating. So expect at least a couple of big plays from him, as well as interceptions and fumbles.
It might take a while for Georgia to find their identity and rhythm on offence, and Bo Nix may pull off some miracle plays, but overall, the Georgia defence will be too strong.
Georgia by 10 points
UTAH at FLORIDA
|00:00||UTAH at FLORIDA||BT Sport 2|
This is probably the most fascinating matchup up of an exciting opening weekend of college football (no pre-season friendlies at the college level).
Florida’s traditional position as an SEC powerhouse and East Conference perennial winner took a battering with last year’s 6-7 record (2-6 in conference) at the same time as their rivals Georgia won the National title. Dan Mullen has now been replaced as Head Coach by Billy Napier. Who is set to build a more disciplined and structured framework, which served him very successfully at Louisiana.
This will be a rebuilding season for Florida. Whose squad is lacking in talent compared to previous seasons. But, it does contain the incredible talent of Anthony Richardson, the 6ft 4in, 232lbs QB who has the dual threat of throwing both the long bomb and outrunning the defence for a 50-yard gain. Richardson will have to have a standout game and stay injury-free (something he struggled with in 2021) if Florida is to win this game.
Utah is a popular dark horse for the season. After winning the 2021 Pac-12 Championship and having a fantastic end to 2021, 9-2 once Cam Rising took over as QB, and including a ‘ game for the ages’ in the Rose Bowl, where they eventually lost 48-45 to a heavily favoured Ohio St. After that performance they won’t be phased by playing an SEC team or the hostile atmosphere of the Swamp. Kyle Whittingham has his squad well drilled, and always seems to find a playmaker or special play for Cam Rising, lookout out for RB Tavion Thomas and TE Brant Kuithe
Richardson may perform a few miracles, but Utah’s efficiency and greater depth will win out.
Utah by 7 points
NOTRE DAME at OHIO ST
|00:00||NOTRE DAME at OHIO ST||BT Sport 4|
Aside from Thanksgiving / Rivalry weekend, Opening week often produces the most exciting and intriguing matchups, as teams look to get that all-important Non-Conference signature win and this year is no exception, with No2 Ohio State hosting No.5 Notre Dame in the best game of the weekend
This has immediate National Title implications, more so for the Fighting Irish. As Notre Dame doesn’t have a conference to win, a loss on Saturday will mean their only hope of the playoffs will rest on Ohio St going unbeaten the rest of the season. A win however would be the signature win that the voters crave. Whilst the Buckeyes could lose this game, but still, go on to win the Conference and likely qualify.
Ohio State Buckeyes
Ohio State is strongly fancied to return to the Playoffs and even win the National title, and why not with a team that features the ‘Holy Trinity’ of QB C.J. Stroud, WR Jaxon Smith-Njigba and RB TreVeyon Henderson, probably the most explosive trio in College Football. Scoring points shouldn’t be a problem for the Buckeyes. But, attention will be focused on a defence which underperformed last year, new defensive coordinator Jim Knowles will be looking for immediate improvements.
Notre Dame Fighting Irish
Notre Dame has been a nearly team for the past couple of seasons, only a loss to Cincinnati in 2021 prevented them from reaching the playoffs.
However, this year to take that step up, they will have to do so with a new head coach 36-year-old Marcus Freeman (an ex-Buckeye player and assistant coach) and new QB Tyler Buchner. The Fighting Irish look strong on both the Defensive and Offensive lines, and this gives them their best hope of victory, and look out for their best offensive weapon TE Michael Mayer.
If Ohio State can neutralise Notre Dame in the trenches, then surely their superior and more experienced skill players will have a field day
Ohio State by 14 points
Thanks to Andy for producing the College Football Week 1 preview. You can see more of his work here in the Future!