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    In a sense, the madness surrounding conference realignment makes it feel like college football is in full swing, but in reality, we haven’t even witnessed the inaugural kick-off. Later this month, that will change, and Saturdays will take on a new meaning for hundreds of college towns across America.

    Not all college football games are created equal – conference realignment is proof enough of that. Great teams, big-name programs, rivalries, and other factors can widely affect the intrigue of a given matchup. You’re a busy person, and you need to know in advance what will be appointment television and what you can check the score of later. So, I’ve devised for you a handy guide that you can carry with you throughout the entirety of the 2023 season. Every single game I list will undoubtedly be gigantic, with no way that any of these teams could do something between now and then to make me wrong, like losing a lot or experience a hurricane.

    Okay, fine, so I can’t guarantee that. But I can try my hardest to give you the best guide possible while still weeks out from the season’s start. Worst case scenario, you accidentally end up watching two near-.500 teams struggle it out in a relatively-meaningless affair. Hey, it’s still college football.

    Week 0: Navy at Notre Dame

    Per usual, there’s not a ton to pick from here. The Irish will probably pummel the Midshipmen like in most meetings of this long-standing series. But there isn’t a better choice – at least there are heaps of history between Notre Dame and Navy. That’s more than Hawaii at Vanderbilt or San Jose State at USC has to offer.

    Week 1: LSU at Florida State (in Orlando)

    These two played on Sunday night of Week 1 last season in what was a phenomenally-dramatic game, and I expect a compelling rematch in the same time slot this season. Both programs won 10 games last season, and both programs would like to take a step forward this go around. They’ll each feature in the preseason AP Top 25, and their combined fan bases will turn Orlando into something akin to a war zone, but with jambalaya. There won’t be a bigger kickoff in the true first week of college football’s 2023.

    Week 2: Texas at Alabama

    There are other interesting matchups set for Week 2, but this preview of what will soon be a conference contest has to be my answer.

    Last year, the Crimson Tide narrowly escaped Austin with a one-point win. This time around, the game will come to Tuscaloosa, and the Longhorns will get a taste of what’s right around the corner. Like every year, Alabama is a contender for the national championship, and Week 2 is early enough in the season for the annual Texas hype train to still be chugging hard. No matter how this finishes, there will be some delicious schadenfreude for neutrals to enjoy.

    Week 3: Pittsburgh at West Virginia

    I don’t care what their preseason expectations are. I don’t care what their records are come Week 3. I don’t care what other games are happening this week. There will not be a more significant, memorable affair than the one set to take place in Morgantown, the next chapter of one of the sport’s most historic rivalries.

    It’s also one of the nastiest, most mean-spirited rivalries around, but since the joys of conference realignment separated these schools in 2012, they spent a decade apart. They renewed their relationship in 2022 in a wonderful contest befitting such an occasion. Now in 2023, West Virginia has a shot at revenge on its home turf.

    Week 4: Ohio State at Notre Dame

    Two of the biggest programs in the sport, located relatively close to one another, that don’t play as often as intuition might suggest, are meeting in South Bend in Week 4. Both will be very high in the preseason rankings. Ohio State should be 3-0 when it waltzes into this one, while Notre Dame’s only realistic shot at a loss prior to this contest will be its trip to NC State two weeks earlier. The point is, there will almost definitely be one or zero losses shared between these teams when they kick off.

    I will mention: Florida State at Clemson is also this week, and it might decide the ACC title. But I can only pick one. Sorry.

    Week 5: Louisville at North Carolina State

    This might sound crazy, but hear me out.

    Louisville and North Carolina State both look like secondary contenders for the ACC crown this season behind Florida State and Clemson, but nothing is nailed on. There is reason to believe the Cardinals and Wolfpack will be two of the best in the league in 2023, and it’s possible both will be undefeated heading into this one. For that to be the case, NC State would need to have knocked off Notre Dame in Week 2 when the Irish came to Raleigh. If that does happen, then we’re looking at two 4-0 teams, probably both ranked, coming together for an important taste-maker in the conference.

    Truthfully, this week doesn’t have a lot that jumps out as an obvious pick. LSU at Ole Miss was also on my radar, but something about this one feels like it’ll be very fun.

    Week 6: Oklahoma vs. Texas (in Dallas)

    The Red River Rivalry is an annual celebration between two of the sport’s most successful programs that also hate each other very much. Unless Texas and Oklahoma both reach the Big 12 Championship Game, this will be their final meeting as Big 12 members before shipping off for the SEC. Both are viewed as serious contenders for the league’s title, and the outcome of this one will severely impact the success the loser can expect the rest of the way. The Sooners have a very realistic shot at being undefeated coming into this one – the Longhorns are more likely to have a loss or two, but assuming they survive in Waco two weeks before, they should be undefeated in conference play. Besides, this rivalry usually produces something special (ignoring last year’s 49-0 final – they can’t all be great games).

    Week 7: USC at Notre Dame

    Despite the distance between them, it’s one of the biggest rivalries in college football, and the 2023 edition should be a big one.

    Both programs will enter the season with the College Football Playoff on their minds, and the Trojans are the odds-on favorites to win the Pac-12 in their final season in the conference. For the Irish to be undefeated by this point, they would need to have taken out Ohio State at home and North Carolina State and Louisville both on the road, which is a tall ask. Meanwhile, USC will be a comfortable favorite in every contest leading up to the battle for the Jeweled Shillelagh. Even if Notre Dame has two losses by Week 7, an unblemished USC coming to South Bend is cause for national attention.

    Week 8: Tennessee at Alabama

    This was a very difficult choice, with Penn State at Ohio State and TCU at Kansas State both scheduled this week, too. But with how Alabama’s trip to Knoxville went in 2022, the rematch in Tuscaloosa in 2023 has to be the one to circle in Week 8.

    These two played one of the games of the decade last year, with the Volunteers narrowly coming away with their first victory in this bitter rivalry since 2006. The Crimson Tide figure to be in the national conversation yet again, while Tennessee is also projected as a serious contender for the SEC East and conference as a whole. There’s a reasonable chance both teams will be undefeated heading into this game, too – Alabama will need to traverse Texas in Week 2 and a trip to College Station in Week 6, while Tennessee has to manage Texas A&M at home in Week 7 and Florida at The Swamp in Week 3.

    I expect the outcome of this one to have massive ramifications on who represents the SEC’s divisions in Atlanta in December.

    Week 9: Ohio State at Wisconsin

    Ohio State is Ohio State – there is little reason to believe the Buckeyes won’t be in the Big Ten title conversation, let alone playoff talk, by Week 9. But in that week, they’ll have to travel to Madison for the first time since 2016 to go against a Badgers team led by Luke Fickell, the former Ohio State head coach and a long-time assistant in Columbus. After spending six seasons as the head man at Cincinnati, Fickell is back in the Big Ten and will have his sights set on his former employer on Oct. 28.

    Wisconsin has played spoiler to Ohio State at Camp Randall before, notably in 2010 when the Badgers upset the No. 1 ranked Buckeyes. That was the last time Wisconsin overcame Ohio State, so you know the home team will be motivated to finally end the nine-game losing streak to OSU. Wisconsin figures to be in the mix for the Big Ten West title, and a conquest in this contest would make achieving that goal significantly simpler. Meanwhile, you know the goal in Columbus is an undefeated national championship, as it is every year. That can’t be accomplished with a misstep in Madison.

    Week 10: Oklahoma at Oklahoma State

    LSU at Alabama and Notre Dame at Clemson also happen this week, and while those games might involve higher-ranked teams, neither will carry the emotional and sentimental significance that this one will.

    Oklahoma leaves Oklahoma State behind after this season for the SEC, and that means an end to Bedlam, one of the many special rivalries that have fallen victim to conference realignment. Anger, bitterness, and flat-out disrespectful hatred will flow even more than usual when the Sooners saunter into Stillwater this fall. I don’t care what their records are or what the Big 12 standings say: something memorable will happen at Boone Pickens Stadium.

    Week 11: Michigan at Penn State

    There are several good candidates for Week 11, but I’m going with a game whose outcome will almost definitely impact the Big Ten title race.

    One of Ohio State, Michigan, or Penn State has represented the East in Indianapolis in all but one season since the division was formed. Odds are, 2023 will be no exception. Whenever these teams play one another, national attention is warranted.

    What appear to be the two most difficult games on Michigan’s schedule don’t come until now and beyond. It’s reasonable to imagine the Wolverines bringing a 9-0 record with them to Happy Valley. Penn State is less likely to be undefeated, but one or two losses wouldn’t diminish the stakes in what’s been tapped as this year’s Stripe Out game. If the Nittany Lions are undefeated, or at least managed to beat Ohio State in Columbus in the weeks prior, then this Beaver Stadium brawl becomes larger than life.

    Week 12: Georgia at Tennessee

    In 2022, No. 1 Tennessee traveled to Athens in early November to take on No. 3 Georgia while both sported zeroes in the loss column. The Bulldogs came away victorious, 27-13, and it paved the way for their SEC East title and eventual triumphs in the SEC Championship Game and College Football Playoff.

    In 2023, these two are scheduled to meet even later in the season, and the conditions look like they could be similar again when the series switches to Knoxville. No one else in the East appears to have caught up with the Vols and Dawgs, so my presumption that this remains the de facto divisional championship game feels safe enough, especially given it’ll be Georgia’s final conference contest of the campaign.

    Week 13: Ohio State at Michigan

    Rivalry week is impossible to whittle down to one game. If you can catch more than just one matchup from Week 13, I encourage you to, especially with conference realignment robbing us of some of these highly historic and massively meaningful rivalries. That said, if you can only choose one, it’s got to be The Game.

    For six years running, the winner of this matchup has punched its ticket to the Big Ten Championship Game. Maybe Penn State plays spoiler in 2023 like it did in 2016, but it’s more likely that the streak will go on for a seventh-straight season. This means giant implications for the College Football Playoff and the pursuit of a national championship, the goal set by both programs every go around.

    It’s also one of the most heated, fiercest, and storied rivalries in American athletics, let alone college football. It is rare for Ohio State-Michigan to produce something uninteresting. It’s one of the greatest spectacles in the sport, and no sport does spectacles like college football.

    CFB FAQs

    How are college football bowl games determined?

    Only bowl-eligible teams are selected for College Football Bowls. At the NCAA Division I FBS level, the standard by which teams become available for selection in bowl games varies. For example, in 2018-19 season, the team had to have at least as many wins as overall losses. Wins against non-Division I teams do not count toward the number of wins.

    How do you play college football pick'em pools?

    Simply pick winners from the games each week selected by the Pool Commissioner, either straight up or against the spread. Whichever member has the most points at the end of the season wins

    What is a football pool?

    "Football Pool" is a broad term for a group of people competitively guessing the outcome of one or more football games. There are many types of formats, each assigning winners differently. They can be played informally between friends or through a more formalized system. They are often considered a great alternative to fantasy football given the ease of playing, although there are fantasy football pools as well.

    How to run a football pool?

    How you decide to run a football pool varies greatly depending on the game type. In each case, however, you'll want to determine the rules and settings before you begin inviting members to join you. You'll want to clearly establish how score will be kept, how tiebreakers work, and how winners are decided before anything else.

    How to play squares football pools?

    Football squares are played by creating a grid, in which Team 1 takes the column and Team 2 the rows. In some cases, participants may claim as many squares as they like. In others, commissioners limit them to one. At the quarter times and end of the game, the winner is decided at the point the scores final digit intersect.

    How do you setup a college football bowl pool?

    To set up a college football bowl pool, you'll need to first choose if you will include all the games or specific ones. Then, you'll need to set the ground rules. As commissioner, you'll implement rules to ensure everything runs smoothly during the bowl games. Many use pool sites like RunYourPool to make the process easier.

    What is a college football squares pool?

    In a college football squares pool, a commissioner starts with a 10x10 grid of 100 squares (though commissioners decide to use smaller 5x5 pools). Members pick one or more squares in that grid. Winners are determined based on the score of each team after each quarter and at the end of the game.

    How many squares in a football pool?

    In a traditional football squares pool, a grid is sectioned off into 100 squares with 10 columns and 10 rows. This accounts for a direct relationship between each possible digit from 0 to 9 on both the X and Y axis. For smaller square grids like 5x5, multiple numbers can be assigned to each column and row.

    How to read a football squares pool sheet?

    In Squares formats, football pool sheets include a grid, where one team is the column and one is the row. Winners are determined at the end of each quarter when the last number in the team’s score (on each side) is matched to the numbers on the grid, and the intersecting square wins.

    How do you setup a college football bowl pool?

    To set up a college football bowl pool, you'll need to first choose if you will include all the games or specific ones. Then, you'll need to set the ground rules. As commissioner, you'll implement rules to ensure everything runs smoothly during the bowl games. Many use pool sites like RunYourPool to make the process easier.

    How do you win college football confidence bowl pool?

    The winner of a college bowl confidence pool is the member with the most points after all games have ended. Members rank each game based on how confident they are in their pick (44 points = most confident, 1 point = least confident). For each game picked correctly, members receive the number of points they assigned.

    What is a college football bowl confidence pool?

    Players try to pick the winner of every bowl game, assigning a point value to each game. Picks are made "straight up," not using a point spread system. Members rank each game based on how confident they are (44 points = most confident, 1 point = least confident). A winner is determined by totalling the point values assigned to correctly picked games.

    How do you setup a college football bowl pool?

    To set up a college football bowl pool, you'll need to first choose if you will include all the games or specific ones. Then, you'll need to set the ground rules. As commissioner, you'll implement rules to ensure everything runs smoothly during the bowl games. Many use pool sites like RunYourPool to make the process easier.

    How do you win college football bowl pick'em pool?

    As you might expect, the player who selects the most bowl winners will win their pick'em pool. You can win your college football bowl pick'em pool by choosing winners wisely, based on past performance, player starting status and other "intangibles."

    What is a college football bowl pick'em pool?

    In a College Bowl Pick'em pool members attempt to pick the winner of every College Bowl game (or a subset of games determined by the Pool Commissioner). Picks are made using the point spread system or "straight up", as assigned by the Pool Commissioner.


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