Why This Week is a Big One for the 2023 College Football Season

Last week was the biggest week in the college football season, with Georgia capping a perfect record by destroying TCU 65-7 in the national title game. And one of the biggest weeks for the upcoming season is this week.

Ohio State quarterback CJ Stroud scrambles to throw a pass in the Dec. 31 Peach Bowl against the Georgia Bulldogs. Stroud on Monday announced he was leaving the school to enter the 2023 NFL Draft. (Photo by Jason Parkhurst/Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl)

While there are no games being played this week, there are a couple of key deadlines that can shape the course of the 2023 season. One takes place Monday as eligible underclassmen have until then to enter this spring’s NFL Draft.

On Monday morning, one of the biggest questions about the draft was answered when Ohio State quarterback CJ Stroud announced he would enter the draft after his redshirt sophomore campaign.

Stroud finished third in voting last month for the Heisman Trophy after throwing for 3,688 yards and 41 touchdowns and completing 66.3% of his passes.

Because of all that, it wasn’t a shock that Stroud entered the draft. Draft analysts expect him to go early in the first round.

News of his announcement changed the Buckeyes’ title odds for next season. At DraftKings, they started Monday at +600 and by early afternoon, their odds were +750. Despite that, they still stand behind only two-time defending champion Georgia (+260) and Alabama (+500).

Several key contributors – such as 1,000-yard receivers Emeka Egbuka and Marvin Harrison Jr. – are expected to return to Columbus for next season, and while Stroud was a major part of the Buckeyes’ success in 2022, a program like Ohio State always has capable backups in waiting. Expect a battle between highly rated recruits Kyle McCord and Devin Brown in the spring and summer.

Transfer Portal Closing Soon

The other deadline comes Wednesday. That’s the final day players have to enter the transfer portal.

Players will not need to find a new school by then, but if a player is highly coveted, they won’t last in the portal for long, and the NCAA now allows transfers to play immediately – although there has been a recent change to curtail students transferring for a second time.

College teams are using the port to quickly revamp their rosters. An ESPN article in November noted that 20.9% of starters for teams in the Football Bowl Subdivision – the top tier of college football – were transfers. Teams have 22 starters – 11 each on offense and defense – so that works out to roughly 4.5 per team.

And many players are benefitting from transferring to new teams. USC quarterback Caleb Williams, who followed coach Lincoln Riley to the Trojans last offseason, served as the highest profile example. Williams led USC to the Pac-12 title game and won the Heisman Trophy.

The portal will open up again in May for a 15-day period.

Who Could Be The Next TCU?

TCU’s Cinderella run to the College Football Playoff caught the attention of fans everywhere. The Horned Frogs, who hadn’t even made a bowl game since 2018, was a 200-1 shot at winning the title as recently as October at BetMGM.

Is there another 200-1 team that could make a surprise run next season? BetMGM doesn’t have its futures board up yet, but let’s look at DraftKings at some intriguing longshots.

Colorado The Buffaloes made waves in the offseason by hiring Deion Sanders as their new head coach. “Coach Prime” said he was bringing his players with him to Boulder.

Colorado went 1-11 last season, and the Buffaloes have just two bowl bids since 2008. However, if Sanders can follow through on his promise to bring in high-level talent, he can turn CU around quickly.

Louisville The Cardinals bring back former QB Jeff Brohm to coach the squad after Scott Satterfield bolted for Cincinnati and Brohm led Purdue to a Big Ten West title. UofL also don’t have nearly the rebuilding project that Colorado has as the Cards won eight games this past season.

Louisville’s schedule is also friendly. The Cards get Notre Dame at home and would avoid either Clemson or Florida State until possibly the ACC Championship Game. Still, their chances took a hit after star linebacker Monty Montgomery announced he was entering the transfer portal Monday afternoon.

Texas Tech – The Red Raiders are expected to bring back 16 starters from an 8-5 team that finished with four straight wins. That includes a 42-25 victory over Ole Miss in the Texas Bowl. They also employ an explosive offense that could catch the eye of fans and pollsters next season.

Texas Tech could see their title odds shorten early. The second game of the season is a home contest against Pac-12 power Oregon.

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