Best College Football Games On Week 1 Schedule by CFB Watchability
Odds are available across the best college football betting sites as the 2023 season is now underway. Each week, I am going to preview the best college football games on the schedule, as measured by my “Watchability” game scores. Fans will be pleased to hear Week 1’s three best games are spread across primetime on Thursday, Saturday, and Sunday. We’ll reveal those games below and show the best available sports betting odds in your state.
Best College Football Games: Week 1 WATCHABILITY Scores
To summarize, Watchability is a weighted rating of projected quality (average KFord Ratings) and projected competitiveness (projected KFord spread) presented on a 0-100 scale. Which games are projecting to be the best in Week 1? Let’s discuss. Click on the odds to bet.
No. 8 Florida State vs. No. 5 LSU (96.6 Watchability Score)
One week before Sunday Night Football in the NFL, we get a top-10 showdown on Sunday night with a 7:30 pm ET kickoff on ABC at Camping World Stadium in Orlando, FL.
LSU was my No. 19 biggest overachiever of the 2022 season – winning 2.2 more games than my preseason realistic expectations projected – en route to a 9-3 regular season record. That included a marquee win in overtime against Alabama in Death Valley, a trip to Atlanta for the SEC Championship Game and a No. 9 year-end ranking in my power ratings in year one under Brian Kelly.
However, one of those three losses was a 24-23 nail bitter against Florida State at the Caesars Superdome in New Orleans to open the season. That was actually the second game of the year for the Seminoles and a catalyst to their 4-0 start to the 2022 season. Florida State hit a lull in October, though, dropping three straight to Wake Forest, NC State, and Clemson before rattling off five straight wins to close the regular season at 9-3.
That was 2.3 more wins than my preseason realistic expectations projected, placing the Seminoles No. 18 – one spot ahead of LSU – on my 2022 biggest overachievers list and a No. 11 finish in my year-end power ratings.
LSU enters the 2023 season No. 5 in my power ratings with the No. 10 projected offense and the No. 14 projected defense. Florida State is also projecting to be a top team – checking in at No. 11 nationally with the No. 17 projected offense and the No. 19 projected defense. So my numbers are expecting a very even matchup on both sides of the ball, with LSU having the slight edge in both.
My numbers project LSU to win by 4, which equates to a 61% win expectancy for the Tigers.
Florida at No. 14 Utah (88.6 Watchability Score)
The schedulers again took advantage of a slot usually reserved for Thursday Night Football to insert one of the best college football games of the week. This potential revenge game kicks off at 8 p.m. ET on ESPN. Similar to Florida State vs. LSU, Florida at Utah is a rematch of an exciting Week 1 game from the 2022 season. Last year, the Gators earned a hard-fought 29-26 victory in Gainesville to kick off the campaign.
Unlike Florida State and LSU, though, both Florida (6-6 regular season record; -0.9 regular season wins compared to preseason realistic expectations; No. 84 national rank in overachiever list) and Utah (9-3; -0.5; No. 73) underachieved in 2022.
Coming into this season, I have Florida power-rated No. 25 nationally and Utah power-rated No. 15 nationally, and the Utes are seeking revenge on the Gators. I project a very even matchup between the No. 22 Utah defense and the No. 23 Florida offense.
The difference for me in this game will be on the other side of the ball, as Utah’s No. 12 projected offense takes on Florida’s No. 46 projected defense. However, that assumes QB Cam Rising returns from his ACL recovery, which is very much in question.
Plus, this game is in Salt Lake City, so the travel and altitude could adversely affect the Gators. My numbers project Utah to win by 7.5, assuming Rising at QB, which equates to a 70% win expectancy for the Utes.
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No. 21 North Carolina vs. South Carolina (83.0 Watchability Score)
Similar to LSU and Florida State, both North Carolina (9-3; +1.6, No. 32) and South Carolina (8-4; +1.9, No. 27) overachieved relative to my preseason realistic expectations in 2022. Coming into 2023, I have North Carolina power-rated No. 23 and South Carolina power-rated No. 36.
These teams are very similar – they have a good, high-powered offense and an average defense. Very little separates these defenses, as I have South Carolina projected as the No. 64 defensive unit and North Carolina projected as the No. 68 defensive unit.
The difference for me in this game is North Carolina’s offense is projected to be slightly better – No. 14 nationally behind one of the favorites in Heisman Trophy odds, QB Drake Maye. That’s compared to South Carolina’s No. 24 unit.
In this massive rivalry game, my numbers project North Carolina to win by 3, which equates to a 58% win expectancy for the Tar Heels.