Week 0 was just a small appetizer to a full slate of games to come in Week 1. As always, the first week for almost all FBS teams is a barometer week to get their feet wet. Many of the top teams in the land are facing FCS opponents. But that’s certainly not a case for all. It’s also a great time for NFL Draft fans get their notebooks out and dig through 70 more matchups through Labor Day weekend. Of course, you can’t watch them all. But we’re here to break down what’s most important as you enjoy some football on your holiday weekend.
There are a few prospect matchups we’re keeping tabs on this weekend that includes a super game on Sunday and a very intriguing ACC matchup to put a cherry on top for Week 1. Reach out in the comments below to give your takes on Labor Day weekend’s college football weekend.
Duke QB Riley Leonard vs. Loaded Clemson Defense -
You’ll have to wait for Monday night to get this game on your television, but it’s one you’re surely going to want to note. Leonard is a quarterback who isn’t talked often enough about because of the fact he plays for Duke. But Leonard is squarely in the Round 1 quarterback conversation for the 2024 NFL Draft.
Leonard is about as well-rounded of a quarterback you’re going to find in the college game. He’s not gifted with the most tools from an arm-talent perspective, but it’s certainly an NFL-caliber arm.
Duke also has a very talented left tackle in Graham Barton to keep tabs on in this game against the Clemson defense.
Speaking of the Clemson defense, let’s talk about what Leonard’s up against on Monday. For starters, Clemson is extremely strong up the spine of their defensive unit. They might have the best linebacker duo in the country with Barrett Carter manning a Will/Nickel role in the Tigers’ defense and NFL legacy Jeremiah Trotter Jr. in the middle.
Lol alright there Barrett Carter pic.twitter.com/2R9sUGD4Vf— Ben Fennell (@BenFennell_NFL) March 14, 2023
Defensive tackles Tyler Davis and Ruke Orhorhoro are legit and will give interior offensive lines fits all season in 2023.
Manning the back end is safety Andrew Mukuba at the safety position. He’s not a big dude but he’s got some position versatility between the nickel and capping the defense.
At corner, Nate Wiggins burst onto the scene towards the end of the 2022 season after a slow start riddled with penalties in the beginning. As Wiggins learned, he showed off all of his athletic gifts and the high upside he possesses at the position. Wiggins needs to prove he can keep that level of play up going into year two as a starter.
Florida State QB Jordan Travis vs. LSU QB Jayden Daniels
Two senior quarterbacks face off in what is an early game-of-the-year candidate between a pair of College Football Playoff-minded teams. Both teams are loaded at the skill position groups with future blue-chip talent in the NFL Draft. Both signal callers are amongst the best scramblers in the country and have vastly improved their games year over year. Travis has become a risk taker who never shies away from the big play while Daniels has proven a more conservative passer who isn’t necessarily as willing to let the ball go in high-danger positions.
It will be fascinating to see what a possible next step looks like for both veteran QBs who are on draft radars as potentially the best senior passers in the country.
Florida State wideouts Keon Coleman and Johnny Wilson versus LSU pass catchers Malik Nabers and Kyren Lacy is popcorn-level television. Add that to the quarterback dynamic and this could be a high-scoring shootout in Orlando.
The Colorado Experiment — Is Shedeur Sanders a Real Thing?
Deion Sanders takes the helm at Colorado for a Big Noon Kickoff game against a TCU team that’s coming off a CFP birth. The Buffaloes took 51 transfers this offseason while another 56 departed the program. One of the most fascinating case studies in college football history is about to take place with a former college football and NFL star about to take the sidelines as head coach at a Power 5 program with a 100-player turnover in the offseason.
To add to the madness, Sanders’ son — Shedeur — is the starting quarterback for the team and he’s looking to make a move as an NFL prospect this season playing a higher level of competition in the soon-to-depart PAC-12. The junior has already erupted for 70 passing touchdowns to just 14 interceptions in his college career. But there’s sure to be a bit of shock when they take the field against a ranked TCU team.
It’s one of the more fascinating things to key in on in 2023, and it all starts Saturday at noon.
Game of the Week
No. 5 LSU @ No. 8 FSU
Sunday, 7:30 p. m. EDT
Game-of-the-year potential lives in this top-10 matchup on Sunday between a pair of star-studded rosters. Jordan Travis and Florida State march down to Orlando to play a neutral-site game against top-five ranked Jayden Daniels and LSU.
This game has two studs at quarterback in addition to a massive wealth of offensive skill talent on both sides that includes the likes of aforementioned Coleman, Wilson, Nabers, and Lacy.
LSU has one of the best underclassmen in the nation, with linebacker/edge player Harold Perkins looking to cause havoc all game. Star Tigers defensive tackle Maason Smith tore his ACL in a matchup between the two teams a year ago, and he’ll remain out of this game due to an NCAA one-game suspension.
Other Tigers to note on defense are defensive lineman Mekhi Wingo, linebacker Omar Speights, and defensive backs Zy Alexander — a transfer from Southeastern Louisiana — and Major Burns.
On offense for the ‘Noles, it’s running back Trey Benson who’s one of the best tackle breakers in the country. New transfer tight end Jaheim Bell from South Carolina is also looking to add to an already loaded offensive unit.
On offense for the Tigers, underclassman Will Campbell is a name to note for future reference as a 2025-draft eligible player. Tight end Mason Taylor falls in line with that label as well. The Tigers are loaded on the interior with center Charles Turner and guards Miles Frazier and Garrett Dellinger all being NFL Draft worthy.
The Seminoles have some talent up front to challenge led by top edge rusher Jared Verse who decided to run it back for another year of college despite heavy first-round rumors in the pre-draft process. Across from him, redshirt sophomore Patrick Payton surged onto the scene as a super number two who could also hear his name called next April. Fabien Lovett is just one who mans the middle of the defensive line for the Seminoles.
On the back end, Fentrell “Deuce” Cypress is an All-ACC transfer from Virginia who’s looking to be the Seminoles’ top cover man.
If you didn’t believe us before, you surely do now. This game is a loaded one with plenty of fun matchups to keep an eye on.