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!
- Ohio State at Michigan
- Kansas State at Kansas
- Alabama at Auburn
- Florida State at Pitt
- Air Force at Hawaii
It didn’t dawn upon me until this point that I would be taking an Ohio State game with my first pick in each month, but come on, I’m not about to pass up on The Game, especially not when it will (once again) have major B1G title and CFP implications! Depending on the result of this game and also whether Penn State gets a split between OSU/Michigan beforehand, we may see ourselves head to some crazy tiebreaker scenario between the Nittany Lions, Buckeyes, and Wolverines.
I wanted to be a little more outside the box with my second pick, since I knew the Iron Bowl (Alabama at Auburn) would still be available with my next pick, so I went with Kansas State at Kansas, in what I think could be a fun intrastate rivalry with the Jayhawks now becoming a semi-respectable program under Lance Leipold. Can you believe this November will mark the ten-year anniversary of “Kick Six” between Bama and Auburn? Yeah, me either. I doubt the implications or the actual on-field dramatics will be like the 2013 edition, but it’ll still be worth checking on.
With my fourth pick, I took an ACC showdown that could have major conference title (and perhaps even CFP) consequences in Florida State at Pitt. We all talk about how Florida State has to face LSU and Clemson in the month of September, but a road trip to Pitt in November will also prove to be a major test for a ‘Noles squad that is seeking to become nationally relevant again.
I realized I had yet to select a Group of Five game and given how slim the pickings had become amongst Power 5 games, I figured I should have a little fun and pick Air Force at Hawaii. Does it get more entertaining in terms of contrasting styles than Troy Calhoun’s triple-option vs. Timmy Chang’s run-and-shoot offense with the game being played on the islands? I think not.
- Georgia at Tennessee
- USC at Oregon
- Oklahoma vs Oklahoma State
- Oregon State at Oregon
- Michigan at Penn State
So being that Jared used his Penn State selection for September and Tim used his for October, that left me with Michigan at Penn State for November. Thanks, fellas. It’s a Big Noon Kickoff which is lame, but as always, it’s a big game when the Wolverines come to town. Hopefully, it’ll be a de facto Big Ten East Championship game.
With my first pick since Penn State-Michigan was locked in, I went with Georgia at Tennessee. It’ll likely be the Bulldogs’ biggest test of the season, and as we saw last year when the Volunteers upended Alabama, Neyland Stadium is an insanely difficult place to play when those fans believe in the Vols.
Pick number three was a bit outside the box considering Oklahoma at Oklahoma State could very well be a battle between unranked teams. But with this being the last year that Oklahoma is in the Big 12, it will be the last Bedlam for the foreseeable future. I am stoked for the lead up to that game — which has already started — and the atmosphere around T. Boone Pickens Stadium.
For my last pick, I had to give some love to my Oregon State Beavers. Yes, my Oregon State Beavers. I love, love, love what Jonathan Smith is building up in Corvallis, so I made sure going into the draft that I would pick at least one Oregon State game. With how the chips fell, I had to go with the Civil War — especially with the Beavers having won two of the last three against the Ducks.
- LSU at Alabama
- Notre Dame at Clemson
- Washington at USC
- Army vs. Navy
- Texas A&M at LSU
LSU-Alabama was a no-brainer with the third pick. The Tigers stunned the Tide at home last season. Can they take down ‘Bama in back-to-back years? LSU and faaaaaaaamily should be better in year two under Brian Kelly, but will be walking into a hornets nest in Tuscaloosa as the Tide seek revenge for knocking them out of the playoff picture last season.
I’m high on Notre Dame this season after they plucked Sam Hartman from the portal to lead the offense. The Irish boasted a strong defense and running game, but the quarterback situation quickly doomed their 2022 campaign. Things should be much different this year, and they will be ready for another showdown with Clemson, which has turned into a fun rivalry since the Irish partnered with the ACC.
I’ll be firmly in my seat for kickoff of USC-Washington, which may have the best quarterback duel of the season. Last year’s Heisman winner, Caleb Williams, will be in a shootout against Michael Penix, who I can’t believe I’m actually typing this, could very well take home the Heisman in December. It will be a high-octane event that should help determine the PAC-12 champ and possibly a playoff participant.
The Army-Navy game needs no explanation. I’m getting full body tingles just thinking about the sloberknocker in the wintry conditions that rightly gets its own Saturday.
Picking my final game was no easy task as there were some great options left on the table. There’s the Egg Bowl, the Apple Cup, and the two I nearly picked - Clemson at South Carolina and North Carolina-NC State, which has offered one of the most wildly entertaining games of the season in each of the last two years. I ultimately went with a longstanding but oft-forgotten rivalry of LSU-Texas A&M. These two almost never fail to bring the fireworks, and their pairing for the last game of the season could even offer closeups of Brian Kelly after being knocked out of the playoff picture again, or Jimbo Fisher when he realizes his time with A&M might be up.