Week 1 of the 2023 college football season is here. And what better way to start the season than with some predictions?
Here are the conference champion and College Football Playoff predictions from our Yahoo Sports college football staff with insight from Nick Bromberg and Sam Cooper on their playoff picks below.
Which four teams will reach the College Football Playoff?
Nick Bromberg: My two easy selections for the playoff were Georgia and Michigan. The Bulldogs are still the deepest team in college football and I think the offense won’t skip a beat despite the losses of QB Stetson Bennett and OC Todd Monken. Throw in an incredibly easy schedule and Georgia will be in the playoff at either 13-0 or 12-1.
Michigan looks to be the most complete team in the Big Ten and has Ohio State at home this season. I trust J.J. McCarthy more than I do whoever starts at quarterback for the Buckeyes despite Ohio State’s talent at wide receiver.
I feel less comfortable about my other two picks thanks to a big question about each team. Alabama is one of the few teams that can go toe-to-toe down the whole roster with Georgia but the Tide need solid quarterback play from whomever wins the starting job. And USC has to get the defense figured out. The Trojans need to take a significant step forward defensively to win the Pac-12. I think that happens, but Week 0 wasn’t comforting for that assumption.
Sam Cooper: Georgia’s schedule is probably a bit trickier than it’s been given credit for over the course of the offseason, but I still think the Bulldogs will likely enter the postseason without a loss. I think Michigan can get through its regular season slate unscathed, too. As for Penn State, I think the Nittany Lions legitimately have a top five defense in the country — maybe even better. I have PSU going 11-1 and Ohio State going 10-2, so PSU gets the No. 4 spot in the CFP.
I waffled with the No. 3 seed. I think both the ACC and Big 12 champions could end up with two losses, so I ended up going with USC. The Pac-12 has too many good teams, so the Trojans will lose a game somewhere along the way — but just one. A one-loss regular season coupled with a win over a top-10 or top-15 level team in the conference championship game should be good enough to get the Trojans into the field. The level of talent on that offense is ridiculous and the personnel on defense has improved enough for USC to make the field of four.
Who is your pick to win the national championship?
Nick Bromberg: I’m going with Georgia to win a third consecutive national title because I believe Carson Beck will be one of the best quarterbacks in the SEC and the Bulldogs have an incredibly talented group of receivers with the addition of Dominic Lovett and RaRa Thomas. The defense is still extremely talented and Jamon Dumas-Johnson and Smael Mondon are the best linebacking duo in the country. I think Michigan finally gets to a national title game after two straight semifinal losses, but the Wolverines lose to the Bulldogs.
Sam Cooper: It’s boring but I’m also on Georgia to three-peat. There are just no obvious weaknesses on this team, and there are enough easy early-season games for some of the new players to acclimate to bigger roles and for some of the banged up players — particularly at running back — to return to health. This is arguably the deepest skill position group Georgia has had during this recent run under Kirby Smart. Carson Beck is in a position to play at an incredibly high level right away.