Week 1 preview: Irish-Buckeyes matchup tops juicy slate

Aug 31, 2022, 11:18 AM | Updated: 11:21 pm

FILE - Notre Dame defensive lineman Isaiah Foskey (7) plays during the second half of the Fiesta Bo...

FILE - Notre Dame defensive lineman Isaiah Foskey (7) plays during the second half of the Fiesta Bowl NCAA college football game against Oklahoma State, Saturday, Jan. 1, 2022, in Glendale, Ariz. If Notre Dame is going to beat Ohio State for the first time since 1936, everyone in South Bend knows the defense must ace its test. (AP Photo/Rick Scuteri, File)

(AP Photo/Rick Scuteri, File)

The first big weekend of college football is bursting with storylines and intrigue.

Dan Lanning’s opener as No. 11 Oregon’s coach is against his former boss, Kirby Smart of defending national champion and third-ranked Georgia. Second-ranked Ohio State’s C.J. Stroud and the Buckeyes’ rebuilt defense hosts No. 5 Notre Dame in a juicy Week 1, top-10 matchup.

Pac-12 defending champion and seventh-ranked Utah goes to “The Swamp” for Billy Napier’s first game as Florida’s coach. No. 23 Cincinnati, coming off its historic College Football Playoff appearance, is an underdog in its opener at No. 19 Arkansas.

The “Backyard Brawl” returns for the first time since 2011 when No. 17 Pittsburgh hosts West Virginia on Thursday night. And there’s also the Brian Kelly era at LSU opening on Sunday against Florida State in New Orleans, a matchup of two storied programs looking to return to the upper echelon of the sport.

It is an absolute smorgasbord for The Associated Press weekly What to Watch rundown, presented by Regions Bank.

Oregon-Georgia would be intriguing even without the Lanning-Smart connection. The Ducks are bidding to return to the top of the Pac-12 after Utah ended their two-year run as champion. Georgia is trying to stay on top of the Southeastern Conference, and nation, after supplanting Alabama.

The 36-year-old Lanning was Smart’s defensive coordinator the past three seasons. Oregon hired him Dec. 11 after Mario Cristobal left for Miami. Lanning stayed on for Georgia’s national championship run.

Lanning led a grieving Oregon team through preseason practices following the July death of tight end Spencer Webb and now takes his Ducks to Atlanta for their second opener in four years against a ranked SEC opponent at a neutral site. The 2019 Ducks lost to an Auburn team quarterbacked by Bo Nix, who transferred to Oregon after last season and is expected to start against Georgia.

Georgia will unveil a new-look defense. The favored Bulldogs, who had five defensive players taken in the first round of the NFL draft, will break in seven new starters on that side of the ball.


No. 5 Notre Dame at No. 2 Ohio State

Ryan Day’s offseason mission was to put Ohio State back in position to contend for a national title. The Buckeyes slipped last year, losing to Michigan for the first time since 2011 and seeing their four-year run as Big Ten champion end.

The most important move was hiring Jim Knowles away from Oklahoma State to shore up an underperforming defense, and the preseason reviews are good. Offense should be no problem with C.J. Stroud surrounded by many of the playmakers who helped the Buckeyes average better than 45 points per game.

Marcus Freeman, a linebacker for the Buckeyes from 2004-08, begins his first full season as Notre Dame coach, and quarterback Tyler Buchner will make his first start against the favored Buckeyes.

There’s no better stage for an opener: two bluebloods meeting at night in Ohio Stadium.


Alabama’s Bryce Young begins his bid to win a second Heisman Trophy, a feat accomplished only by Ohio State’s Archie Griffin in 1974-75.

The opener against Mountain West champion Utah State is a good test for Young and an offense fitting together some new pieces.

Young was sacked 39 times last season — only four teams attempted more passes than Alabama — and his line will be breaking in two new starting tackles. Young also will have to find his go-to receivers following the departures of stars Jameson Williams and John Metchie.


7 — Nebraska’s consecutive losses by single digits, the most by a team since 1936, according to ESPN Stats & Info.

11 — Florida International’s current losing streak, longest in the nation.

13 — Louisiana-Lafayette’s current winning streak, longest in the nation.

14 — Alabama’s consecutive seasons with at least 10 wins.

24 — Nation-high number of transfers on Southern California’s roster.

34 — Clemson’s FBS-best home winning streak.

54 — Illinois offensive lineman Alex Palczewski’s number of games played, making him the FBS’ active career leader. He has made 53 starts.


Penn State at Purdue, Thursday.

Purdue is a slight underdog for its first Blackout Game at Ross-Ade Stadium since 2018. The Boilermakers blew out a third-ranked Ohio State as a two-touchdown underdog that night.

Purdue is getting a lot of love following a nine-win season that included two wins over top-five opponents and ended with an overtime bowl victory over Tennessee. Aidan O’Connell is out to build on one of the best passing seasons in program history, and the Boilermakers bring back eight starters on defense.

Penn State was ranked No. 4 following a 5-0 start last year and lost six of its last eight. QB Sean Clifford returns, but there are lots of questions about the Nittany Lions as they attempt to rise from middle of the pack in the Big Ten East.


Nebraska’s patience with fifth-year coach Scott Frost has just about run out. The only way he survives that Week Zero loss to Northwestern in Ireland is if he beats Oklahoma on Sept. 17 and makes real progress in the Big Ten West.

He has yet to show he has the chops to coach in the Big Ten, having gone 15-30 since returning to his alma mater after his fabulous Central Florida run.

The Huskers host North Dakota and Georgia Southern the next two weeks, then Oklahoma visits before an open date. Oct. 1 is a key date. That’s when Frost’s buyout drops from $15 million to $7.5 million.


More AP college football: https://apnews.com/hub/college-football and https://twitter.com/AP_Top25 Sign up for the AP’s college football newsletter: https://apnews.com/cfbtop25

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


Associated Press

Ex-Packer Guion gets 1 year for domestic violence assault

GREEN BAY, Wis. (AP) — Former Green Bay Packers defensive tackle Letroy Guion was sentenced to one year in jail after pleading no contest in a domestic violence assault at his home last fall. Brown County Circuit Court Judge Thomas Walsh also ordered Guion on Tuesday to serve three years’ probation and complete a domestic […]

1 year ago

Joe Jarzynka...

Associated Press

Durant eager for Suns debut vs. Hornets after knee injury

CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) — Kevin Durant has been through quite a bit during his 15-year NBA career — but joining a new team midway through the season is a new one for the 13-time All-Star. The 34-year-old Durant doesn’t seem all that worried. Durant makes his highly anticipated Phoenix Suns debut on Wednesday night against […]

1 year ago

FILE - Miami Dolphins head coach Brian Flores stands on the sideline during the second half of an N...

Associated Press

Judge: NFL coach can press discrimination claims in court

NEW YORK (AP) — NFL Coach Brian Flores can pursue some of his discrimination claims against the league and its teams in court rather than through arbitration, a judge ruled Wednesday. The written decision by Judge Valerie Caproni in Manhattan was issued months after lawyers for the league tried to get the lawsuit moved to […]

1 year ago

Chicago Blackhawks goaltender Alex Stalock cools off in the first period during an NHL hockey game ...

Associated Press

Kane trade reinforces hard reality of Blackhawks rebuild

CHICAGO (AP) — After days of speculation, the harsh reality of the Chicago Blackhawks’ situation was reinforced by one move in a flurry of transactions ahead of the NHL trade deadline. Showtime is over, at least in Chicago, and a seemingly bright future is, well, way off in the distance. The reverberations of Chicago’s decision […]

1 year ago

FILE -  Yves Jean-Bart, president of the Haitian Football Federation, wearing a protective face mas...

Associated Press

Disgraced ex-Haitian soccer president announces he’s back

PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti (AP) — Haiti’s former soccer federation president whose lifetime ban from sport over sexual abuse allegations was overturned last month announced Wednesday that he is reclaiming his position. Yves Jean-Bart’s defiant announcement could lead to a standoff with FIFA, which already has appointed an emergency management committee to lead the Haitian Football Association […]

1 year ago

FILE - Green Bay Packers' Aaron Rodgers walks off the field after an NFL football game against the ...

Associated Press

Rodgers says decision on future will come ‘soon enough’

GREEN BAY, Wis. (AP) — Aaron Rodgers says he will make a decision on his future “soon enough” as the four-time MVP quarterback ponders whether to play next season and if his future remains with the Green Bay Packers. Rodgers, 39, discussed his future while speaking on an episode of the “Aubrey Marcus Podcast” that […]

1 year ago

Week 1 preview: Irish-Buckeyes matchup tops juicy slate