Preview Thursday: Week 1 

A full slate of college football games is on the horizon. 

Week 1 is set to kick off Thursday night, featuring a ranked matchup between Florida and No. 14 Utah in Salt Lake City. Ranked teams are already off to a 2-0 start this season

There are also head coaching debuts that will take center stage among the biggest talking points of this week. Luke Fickell will take over at Wisconsin, Matt Rhule will do so at Nebraska and Deion Sanders will take the reins at Colorado, to name a few. 

Each of the top-4 teams are set to play Saturday against unranked competition. This week the focus remains on a top-10 matchup between No. 5 LSU and No. 8 Florida State — a rematch of last season’s opener in which the Seminoles took victory. 

Here are several games to watch this week. 

Miami (OH) at Miami 

The battle to determine where “the real” Miami is set for center stage Friday. 

Miami (OH) quarterback Brett Gabbert, the younger brother of former No. 10 overall pick Blaine Gabbert, took his stance on where he believes the real Miami is. 

“Oxford, Ohio,” Brett Gabbert said. “I think we’ll show them Sept. 1.” 

The two programs have met only one time prior, according to Sports Reference, and the Hurricanes took the win in 1987. 

Gabbert appeared in four games a season ago and threw for 816 yards. His performance came a year removed from a season in which he tossed a career-high 2,648 yards and 26 touchdowns. 

Miami (OH) must improve offensively in order to keep the pace with Miami. The Redhawks averaged 305.6 yards per game last season and allowed an average of 371.6 yards per outing defensively. 

Miami ranked No. 97 in scoring offense and No. 67 in scoring defense a season ago. The Hurricanes return their starting quarterback in Tyler Van Dyke and the supporting cast around him, shaping up for a battle between two programs to settle naming bragging rights. 

Colorado at No. 17 TCU 

This game is full of possibilities when it comes to looking at the matchup between the Buffaloes and Horned Frogs. 

No. 17 TCU is entering the game after advancing to the College Football Playoff National Championship last season. It became the first program from the Big 12 Conference to advance to the CFP title game. 

Across the field will be Colorado and new head coach Deion Sanders. 

Sanders is coming off back-to-back Southwestern Athletic Conference championships and compiled a 27-6 record over three seasons at Jackson State of the Football Championship Subdivision level. 

He takes over a Colorado program with 87 newcomers and nine returning scholarship players. Sanders’ son Shedeur Sanders is set to take over duties at quarterback after throwing for 6,983 yards and 70 touchdowns to 14 interceptions in two seasons at Jackson State. 

Sanders said TCU has “great coaching” and “will be fundamentally sound” when the two teams take the field Saturday at noon on FOX. He said he’s proud of the strides his Colorado team has made, and he’s gearing up to guide them as they put it on the football field this week. 

“Practice-wise, man, these guys have been getting after it and I’m proud of them,” Sanders said. “They’ve been working their butts off, and they’ve kind of challenged one another to do so as such. Morning message (Tuesday) really wasn’t me talking at them. It was them telling me what they need to do to be dominant in this game, and everything they said we wrote on the board and we said, ‘OK, now go out there and practice and do it. Don’t wait until Saturday to do it. Do it now.’ So I’m happy with our young man, I really am.” 

Even with the number of new players that Colorado will have on its roster, Sanders said he and the Buffaloes are embracing all that comes with it. 

“They came here because they wanted it,” Sanders said. “They came here because they wanted the light. They wanted the smoke. They wanted the attention. They wanted the focus. They wanted the love, but also you got to understand there’s an opposite of that as well that you got to be willing to accept when you want and desire those things. These kids are ready. We’ve prepared them not just athletically; we’ve prepared them mentally for things and challenges that’s going to happen in life as well.” 

West Virginia at No. 7 Penn State 

The two programs in neighboring states will meet for the first time since 1992 in an interesting Week 1 matchup between Power 5 programs. 

The Nittany Lions enter the game under head coach James Franklin who is in his 10th year in his position. They went 11-2 last season and had a bounce-back year after going 7-6 in 2021. 

Franklin isn’t ready to name a starting quarterback just yet, but it appears Drew Allar will lead the Nittany Lions under center in his second season. 

Allar showed he has potential to be a threat in the air and on the ground last season. After splitting some duties and sitting behind veteran Sean Clifford, Allar went 35-for-60 and threw for 344 yards and four scores, all the while running for 52 yards on 18 carries. 

Franklin said Penn State’s coaching staff has “charted everything” during the preseason and compared the data to past quarterbacks such as Clifford and Trace McSorley. Franklin said Allar had “a good camp” and has given the coaching staff confidence entering the season-opener Saturday at 7:30 p.m. on NBC. 

“He’s been really, really good,” Franklin said. “His decision-making has been good. His completion percentage has been really good. And then the other thing that’s really cool is having all this data then you’re able to go back and compare to historical data.” 

No. 21 North Carolina at South Carolina 

The Battle of the Carolinas and the Duke’s Mayo Classic is set to take place during a Week 1 matchup among No. 21 North Carolina and South Carolina. 

Both teams last met in the Duke’s Mayo Bowl during the 2021 season when the Gamecocks prevailed 38-21. Both teams return their head coaches from that matchup in North Carolina’s Mack Brown and South Carolina’s Shane Beamer. 

The contest will get underway in Charlotte, North Carolina, featuring ESPN’s College GameDay and possible Heisman Trophy contenders Tar Heels quarterback Drake Maye and South Carolina’s Spencer Rattler. 

“Now it’s time to kick it off,” Brown said. “I’m very, very proud of our program that we’re a top-20 program in preseason understanding that postseason is what matters, not preseason. But at least people think we have a chance to be good. We’re on ABC primetime, and our opening game on Saturday night against a really good opponent and we’ve got College GameDay for the third time in the history of our program so a lot of positive things to kick off the season.” 

No. 5 LSU at No. 8 Florida State 

The first Top 10 matchup of the season is a big one during Week 1, and it has the feel as if it seems like a College Football Playoff game. 

A matchup between potential Heisman Trophy candidate quarterbacks in LSU’s Jayden Daniels and Florida State’s Jordan Travis is in line to be one of the leading headlines from this game. 

The Seminoles prevailed narrowly 24-23 a season ago, and head coach Mike Norvell and Florida State aim to repeat their success from last season. 

“We’re excited for the opportunity that’s ahead and the chance to go out with our first game and work to go put the best version of ourselves out on that field next Sunday night,” Norvell said. “We talk a lot about the identity of a team, and I see one that, like I said, has a great work ethic, really care about each other. They pushed and competed throughout, and we still need every rep and every minute leading up to kickoff to continue to get better.” 

The Tigers will enter their second season under the system that is guided by Brian Kelly. Kelly’s LSU team in 2022 went 10-4 and averaged 34.5 points per game which ranked No. 24 among qualifying programs. 

The two teams will meet under the lights Sunday at 7:30 p.m. on ABC, and one top-10 team is bound to suffer its first loss in the first full week of the season. 

“Look, I could talk for quite a long time about our football team and the development of our team,” Kelly said. “I think you look at some of the things that are really important, and that is where we’ve improved from last year it’s just overall. We’re a smarter football team. We understand the systems. We understand the process. We understand the things necessary to become more consistent and everything that we do to be a championship football team.”