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It isn’t December quite yet, but Saturday should feel just like Christmas morning as we unwrap the 2022 college football season with some massive Week 1 matchups involving several national title contenders.
No. 2 Ohio State will host No. 5 Notre Dame in the full-season debut for Fighting Irish coach Marcus Freeman. Notre Dame quarterback Tyler Buchner will be making his first start under center, but he has the unenviable task of going throw for throw with Heisman Trophy favorite C.J. Stroud for the Buckeyes.
Elsewhere, No. 3 Georgia will take an hour-long trip west and kick off its national title defense against No. 11 Oregon in Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta; No. 7 Utah will take on Florida in coach Billy Napier’s debut in The Swamp; and No. 23 Cincinnati will go on the road to face No. 19 Arkansas.
It’s going to be a busy day between the white lines. Here’s a handy viewer’s guide to help you navigate through the action.
All times Eastern
No. 11 Oregon vs. No. 3 Georgia — 3:30 p.m. on ABC, fuboTV (Try for free): Georgia’s defense lost five first-round picks to the NFL Draft and its defensive coordinator to, coincidentally, Oregon. Dan Lanning has taken over a Ducks program with College Football Playoff aspirations, and the team is led by former Auburn quarterback Bo Nix, who is 0-3 in his career against the Bulldogs. If the Ducks can hang, it’ll be a huge statement for not only Lanning’s squad, but the Pac-12 as a whole.
No. 23 Cincinnati at No. 19 Arkansas — 3:30 p.m. on ESPN, fuboTV (Try for free): The Bearcats became the first Group of Five team to make the playoff last season, but lost a small village of stars on both sides of the ball, including quarterback Desmond Ridder, to the draft. Luke Fickell’s squad has CFP hopes yet again, but it will have to go through a tough Razorbacks team to make those a possibility. If you like smash-mouth football, this one’s for you.
UTEP at No. 9 Oklahoma — 3:30 p.m. on Fox, fuboTV (Try for free): Ex-Clemson defensive coordinator Brent Venables got his first shot leading a big-time program when he was hired by the Sooners, and Job No. 1 is to get his defense to play at an elite level. The offense shouldn’t take a huge step back based on the firepower available, including ex-UCF signal caller Dillon Gabriel, and a decent defense could vault the Sooners back into “contender” status.
Rice at No. 14 USC — 6 p.m. on Pac-12 Networks, fuboTV (Try for free): The game itself should be a cakewalk, but Trojans coach Lincoln Riley’s decision to leave Oklahoma for the most storied Pac-12 program of all time was one of the most surprising moves of the coaching silly season. He brought star quarterback Caleb Williams with him and opened his doors to several other studs in the transfer portal. Is USC a contender or pretender? We will get a glimpse on Saturday afternoon.
No. 7 Utah at Florida — 7 p.m. on ESPN, fuboTV (Try for free): The Utes are a trendy pick to make the College Football Playoff, and a win in The Swamp would go a long way toward impressing the CFP selection committee. Napier has a potential star under center in Gators QB Anthony Richardson, and it’ll be fascinating to see how he incorporates a running game alongside Richardson against a tough Utes defense.
No. 5 Notre Dame at No. 2 Ohio State — 7:30 p.m. on ABC, fuboTV (Try for free): The Horseshoe should be rocking on Saturday night as the high-flying Buckeye offense — led by Stroud and stud wide receiver Jaxon Smith-Njigba — will be heading up against a Fighting Irish team that is a 17.5-point underdog. Freeman made sure to note that spread this week, and it’s rare to see a national title contender garnering such little respect heading into a big game on opening weekend.
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