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2023 College Football Game Draft: August/September

We’re making our picks for the best college football games from the first month of the 2023 season.

NCAA Football: Notre Dame at Ohio State Adam Cairns-USA TODAY Sports

With an abundance of excitement for the 2023 season, Tim, Patrick and Jared sat down to hold a draft to pick the best games of the upcoming college football season. Each person would draft five games per month, divided into August/September, October, and November/December. Here are the ground rules:

  • A randomly-generated draft order was Tim with the first pick, Patrick second and Jared third. Picks were done in a ‘snake order’ - 1,2,3,3,2,1, until each member selected 5 games.
  • Penn State games were limited to one per person.
  • Nov./Dec. did not include conference championships or bowl games. Only scheduled games were eligible to be drafted.

Now to our results!


TIM AYDIN

  1. Ohio State at Notre Dame
  2. Colorado at TCU
  3. Texas A&M at Miami
  4. Washington at Michigan State
  5. Navy vs Notre Dame

Having the first pick overall and being that I write for a Big Ten team blog, I naturally had to take Ohio State at Notre Dame. This primetime road contest will be the Buckeyes’ first big test of the season, and I’m curious to see how the Kyle McCord/Devin Brown vs. Sam Hartman quarterback battle plays out. Don’t forget the Irish led at halftime in Columbus last year and really gave OSU all they could handle, but just didn’t have the offensive firepower to pull the upset. Perhaps we see a different story play out in South Bend this year? If that happens, then hooo boy does that Penn State-Ohio State game in October become a do-or-die for the Buckeyes’ playoff hopes...

I knew Texas-Alabama and Florida-Utah would be gone by the time my next pick came up, so I decided to go with Deion Sanders’ FBS head coaching debut with Colorado at TCU. There’s a pretty good chance the Buffaloes will get waxed, but there’s no doubt anyone who loves college football will tune in to catch Coach Prime. Since I had back-to-back picks, I also went with Texas A&M at Miami, as that will be a game the ‘Canes will want to exact some revenge in after losing in a defensive slugfest last season.

For my last two picks, I went with Washington at Michigan State, which is a game that could very well end with the Huskies smashing Sparty on their home turf, but if Mel Tucker has managed to find his next Kenneth Walker via the transfer portal, then we may have a wildly entertaining one on our hands. I was somewhat surprised Navy at Notre Dame was still available, but since the best game from Week Zero was there for the taking, I pounced on it. Yes, ND should destroy Navy, but come on, it’s the very first college football game of the 2023 season and it’s in Ireland!

PATRICK KOERBLER

  1. Texas at Alabama
  2. LSU vs Florida State
  3. Florida at Utah
  4. Michigan at Nebraska
  5. North Carolina vs South Carolina

At least in my view, August/September was the weakest month in terms of marquee matchups. With so many schools opting for “safer” out-of-conference games, there’s a dearth of top-tier games when compared to later in the fall. Of course, that doesn’t mean there weren’t plenty of good options available, and with my first pick, I wanted what I thought was one of the strongest games of the college football season: Texas at Alabama. “Texas Is Back” is in full swing, and given Alabama’s uncertainty at quarterback, this is a game with a whole lot of intrigue.

LSU vs Florida State and Florida at Utah were obvious second and third choices in my mind. I think LSU/Florida State is the best game of the opening weekend, while Utah might be the most underrated toughest place to play in the country. That stadium gets rocking no matter whether the Utes are good, bad, or in between. Given that they are in the midst of maybe their best run in school history and will have revenge on their mind against an SEC opponent, well, that’s going to be a spectacle.

Speaking of good atmospheres, I think Michigan at Nebraska could have a lot more hype by the time September closes. There’s a decent chance that the Cornhuskers are 4-0 when they welcome the Wolverines to Lincoln on September 30, and if that ends up being the case, it figures to be one of the premier games of that weekend and potentially all of September.

With my last pick, I went with North Carolina vs South Carolina during opening weekend. The Gamecocks have some strong momentum after an 8-5 season last year, while Drake Maye very well might be the best quarterback in the country. It’s likely a game that won’t mean a ton on the national stage, but for a Week 1 matchup, sign me up.

JARED SLANINA

  1. Florida State at Clemson
  2. Iowa at Penn State
  3. Florida at Tennessee
  4. Ole Miss at Alabama
  5. Notre Dame at NC State

So leave it to the guy from Cleveland to both things in the first round. I initially had LSU-Florida State as my top game for the first month of the season, but put it out of my head once I discovered I’d have the third pick. So much so, that I completely overlooked it on my list and settled for Florida State at Clemson instead. While I goofed, this should still be the premeire game of the ACC slate and an early season treat with plenty of playoff implications. In the end, I’m quite happy with a late September game that will have more of a November feel with everyone’s season on the line.

The draft day jitters were still alive when I made my second pick. I initially happily scooped up the Penn State-Iowa game, before realizing it would disqaulify me from picking Penn State-Ohio State or Penn State-Michigan in later months. However, i won’t call it a mistake. Why? BECAUSE THE WHITE OUT MAKES NO MISTAKES. I’ll happily take the White Out, as well as the game where Kirk Ferentz encounters a swarm of angry rats.

There was a bit of a dropoff following the second round, and I am probably showing my age my jumping on the Florida-Tennessee game. The Vols are certainly trending in the right direction under Josh Heupel, and an early season test in The Swamp should make for excellent viewing.

Alabama-Ole Miss is one of those sneaky rivalries that have offered some thrill rides as of late. Lane Kiffin and Co. should have enough tricks up their sleeves to make things entertaining at least. Ole Miss took the Tide to the very end last season, and should have the firepower to make things interesting.

I’m quite high on the Notre Dame-NC State being one of the best match-ups of the first month. First, they are both teams that often play to the level of their opponent. Secondly, it should offer a fascinating match-up as the Irish should have a much more potent offense this fall with Wake Forest transfer Sam Hartman under center. The Wolfpack always field a stingy defense, and will slow down the Notre Dame offense enough to make things interesting at the end.