Things to watch during Week 1 of play in the Big Ten Conference:
GAME OF THE WEEK
West Virginia at No. 7 Penn State, Saturday, 7:30 p.m. ET (NBC)
This will be the 60th football game between the schools but first since 1992. The Nittany Lions have won 48 of the previous 59 meetings and are 20 1/2-point favorites in this one, according to FanDuel Sportsbook.
The national spotlight will shine on quarterback Drew Allar, who is the key to Penn State's hopes of challenging Michigan and Ohio State in the Big Ten East and earning a College Football Playoff spot.
West Virginia's Neal Brown got a reprieve from new athletic director Wren Baker after last year's five-win season, but no coach's seat is hotter entering 2023.
Nebraska at Minnesota, Thursday, 8 p.m. ET (Fox)
Matt Rhule becomes the fifth Nebraska coach in 20 years tasked with bringing the tradition-rich Cornhuskers back to prominence. Right now the program sits near the bottom of the Big Ten West, and opening with a division game is a tough draw.
P.J. Fleck's Gophers have won four straight against Nebraska and five of the last six. QB Athan Kaliakmanis begins his first full season as the starter, and he should be confident. Last year he took over for an injured Tanner Morgan against Nebraska and led the Gophers to scores on four of his first five series in a 20-13 come-from-behind win.
INSIDE THE NUMBERS
No. 2 Michigan hosts East Carolina and begins its 144th football season with an NCAA-record 989 wins. ... Kirk Ferentz enters his 25th season at Iowa when the No. 25 Hawkeyes host Utah State. He needs two wins to reach 200 as a Division I coach. ... Michigan State, which opens against Central Michigan, is 10-0 in Friday night games since 2011. ... When No. 19 Wisconsin hosts Buffalo, RB Braelon Allen will begin his bid for a third straight 1,000-yard season. ... Fourth-year Maryland QB Taulia Tagovailoa already owns school records for passing yards (7,879), passing touchdowns (51), total touchdowns (59), completions (665), completion percentage (67.4), 300-yard passing games (12) and total offense (8,067). ... Northwestern heads to Rutgers with the most combined quarterback starts (50) in the Big Ten. Wildcats starter Ben Bryant has 22.
Illinois should be on upset alert when 2022 Mid-American Conference champion Toledo visits. The Rockets are 9 1/2-point underdogs, according to FanDuel Sportsbook, and going for their first win over a Big Ten team since 2010. Bret Bielema's Illini enter the season riding momentum and they received votes in the AP poll. The Rockets are picked to repeat as MAC champs. They return 16 starters, including QB Dequan Finn, and are expected to have the league's best defense again.
Kyle McCord beat out Devin Brown for Ohio State's starting quarterback's job, and the successor to C.J. Stroud opens with a Big Ten East road game against Indiana. McCord started a game in 2021 when Ohio State rested the banged-up Stroud, and he has completed 58 passes for 606 yards and three touchdowns in his career. There's no shortage of talent around McCord, with Marvin Harrison Jr., Emeka Egbuka and Julian Fleming among his receivers and TreVeyon Henderson and Miyan Williams returning at running back.
AP college football: https://apnews.com/hub/college-football and https://apnews.com/hub/ap-top-25-college-football-poll