Only one game matches ranked teams, but it’s a really big one and easily the most intriguing of Labor Day weekend: No. 5 LSU faces No. 8 Florida State in Orlando, Florida, on Sunday night.
The Seminoles won a wild Week 1 game last year in New Orleans against the Tigers. Neither was ranked at the time, but they both went on to have big seasons to set up this top-10 matchup.
Quarterbacks Jayden Daniels for LSU and Jordan Travis for Florida State are two of the most exciting players in the country, both getting Heisman Trophy buzz. Each side has a preseason All-America game-wrecker on defense: linebacker Harold Perkins for LSU and defensive end Jared Verse for LSU.
The Labor Day weekend Sunday night game has a history of being highly entertaining and everything sets up for this to be a good one. The line, according to FanDuel Sportsbook, is LSU by 2 1/2. Our pick: Florida State, 28-24.
Florida at No. 14 Utah, Thursday
The Utes lost to Anthony Richardson and the Gators in a Gainesville thriller last year. It turned out to be the highlight of the season for Florida and its future first-round NFL draft pick.
Utah seems primed for payback, but injury questions hang over the two-time defending Pac-12 champion. QB Cam Rising’s status after a knee injury is uncertain and his back-up is banged up, too. It is also unclear whether star TE Brant Kuithe (knee) will play.
For Florida, Wisconsin transfer Graham Mertz takes over at quarterback.
QB Michael Penix Jr. and the Huskies have big expectations after a turnaround in 2022. They face a real test in the opener against a Broncos team that is favored to win the Mountain West, but hasn’t in recent years had many of those upsets against Power Five teams they used to be famous for.
LINE: Washington by 14 1/2. PICK: Washington, 35-27.
South Alabama at No. 24 Tulane, Saturday
A matchup of teams that had double-digit wins last year that could turn out to be pivotal in the race to determine which Group of Five champion earns a New Year’s Six bowl bid.