Games to Watch: Week 0

College Football is finally upon us this week! There are seven games this Saturday, making up the first weekend of college football, aka: Week 0. Here are two games that I feel are “must watch”:

Navy vs #13 Notre Dame
2:30PM Kickoff on NBC (Game played in Dublin, Ireland) Last Season Records:
Navy: 4-8
Notre Dame: 9-4 (Won Taxpayer Gator Bowl)
Why is this game a must watch you ask? Because the forward pass was a mistake thats why.
Truthfully Notre Dame has high aspirations this season after a strong finish last season and a rocky start to Marcus Freeman’s first season. Losing back to back games to OSU and Marshall. Notre Dame looks to continue its momentum with recent Transfer Portal QB from Wake Forest, Sam Hartman (who is also the ACC all time touchdown leader). Losing TE Michael Mayer to the NFL will hurt but The Irish return all of their running backs with experience: Audric Estime, Logan Diggs, Chris Tyree, and Gi’Bran Payne. All-American and current Pre-Season All American Tackle Joe Alt also returns to help shore up the Offensive Line.

On the Navy side its the dawn of a new era in Annapolis. Long time Head Coach Ken Niumatalolo was fired following a double overtime loss to Army last season (109-83 at the helm). Now enter Brian Newberry, promoted to Head Coach after 4 seasons as the Midshipman Defensive Coordinator. Don’t expect much change on the offensive side of the ball, Navy will still be running the triple option, the playbook they’ve been using since 2002 when Paul Johnson took over. QB Tai Lavatai should be the starter again this season after missing time last year with injuries. With Navy don’t expect lots of passing but new Offensive Coordinator Grant Chesnut might add some passing concepts to break up the option. He will have veteran receiver Jayden Umbarger to help stretch the field, who had a team leading 26 catches for 265 yards. (on the off chance they pass).
Notre Dame should pull out with a convincing win, but Navy tends to play Notre Dame close (Defeating the Irish in back to back seasons in 2009 and 2010). That being said, a Sam Hartman led Offensive will pick apart a Navy team in its first year under a new regime.

Navy: 13
Notre Dame: 52

Ohio @ San Diego State
7:00PM Kickoff on FS1
Last Season Records:
Ohio: 10-4 (Lost MAC Championship Game, Won Barstool Sports Arizona Bowl)
San Diego State: 7-6 (Lost Hawai’i Bowl)

The main event of Week 0. In one corner you have the favorites to win their first MAC Championship in 53 years and a solid choice for a New Year Six Bowl Game: The Ohio Bobcats. In the other corner you have a team that flirted with the PAC-12 only to watch it fall apart right before its eyes: The San Diego State Aztecs. (I would like to point out I’m an OU Alum and not biased at all)
Going into the Year 3 of the Tim Albin Era, Ohio is poised to erase the demons from last years MAC Championship loss with the return of (hopefully fully healthy) reigning MAC Offensive Player of the Year, QB Kurtis Rourke. Along with fellow All-MAC Receiver Sam Wiglus, Rourke’s go to player maker, and last years MAC Freshman of the year RB Sieh Bangura, the Offense should be right where it was last year, but it hinges on if Rourke is healthy (see MAC Championship Game for life with out Kurtis). In 2022 the OU Offense averaged 31.79 points per-game, 278.07 passing yards along with 143.4 rushing yards per-game. Like on Offense the Defensive side of the ball returns a good chunk of starters and players with experience. Opening up the season against a solid San Diego State is a good test for this Bobcat team (they have Iowa State in the future to look forward too.

Year 4 of Brady Hoke’s second stint at the helm of the Aztecs. After a solid 7-6 2023 campaign San Diego State, has aspirations of an Mountain West championship appearance (2021) and a Championship win (Last time in 2016) and a Bowl Game Victory. Last years converted Safety to QB Jalen Mayden returns as the starter for the Aztecs. He put up 2,030 yards and had a 12/10 TD to IN ratio after moving to the Offensive side of the ball. Former NFL QB and newly promoted Offensive Coordinator Ryan Lindley as plans to spread the ball out more this season compared to a more reserved run first O in previous Aztec Offenses. Defensively the Aztecs hope to continue the Defensive production they had in the final 7 games of the year compared to the first 5 (First 5: 4 TFL and 1.2 sacks per-game, Last 7: 8.5 TFL and 4 sacks per- game). Their secondary also hope to improve upon the 2022 season as well, after being ranked 39th in the NCAA, giving up an average of 208.85 yards a game and having a Red Zone defense of 69.08 which was 3rd in the nation in 2022.
Most betting sites have this as a 2.5 or 3 point game in San Diego State’s favor. This game will either be a down to the wire slug fest OR an absolute routing. I’m leaning towards the routing.

Ohio: 42
San Diego State: 17