Led by superstar Sam Hartman and his four touchdown passes, Notre Dame started Week 0 of the 2023 college football season by dismantling Navy.
And the race for the national championship has officially begun.
Dramatic aside, Notre Dame opened the seven-game schedule Saturday with a painless win in Dublin, Ireland. In the evening, Caleb Williams began his defense of the Heisman Trophy when USC hosted San Jose State.
Each week throughout the season, Bleacher Report will feature some of the winners and losers on the list.
Let’s start with the most notable news of week 0.
The moment Sam Hartman committed to Notre Dame, the Wake Forest transfer took over the college football prospects.
So far, so good.
Hartman dominated his first contest with the Fighting Irish, leading them to a 42-3 victory over Navy. With the exception of one high, he completed 14 of 16 passes for 196 yards and two touchdowns in the first half. Hartman finished 19 of 23 for 251 yards and four scores.
“He did a really good job,” ND coach Marcus Freeman told NBC. “More than making plays, receiving the ball and throwing the ball, he managed to get the offense to the right defenses and the right shots.”
Notre Dame has a long season ahead, but Hartman gives the Irish a real chance to be a national threat.
Since ND was a huge favourite, whether Navy lost by 15 points or 45 points didn’t matter much. But at least get off the swings, please?
Late in the second quarter, Notre Dame took a 21-0 lead. Navy staged an eight-minute drive inside the red zone, as the Midshipmen faced fourth and fourth. Instead of being aggressive, new head coach Brian Newberry decided to kick a field goal.
The Navy is absent, but that is not important. The process is obscene.
Sure enough, the Mids could have made it 21-3 and were ready to welcome the start of the second half. However, up to that point, Notre Dame had scored touchdowns, touchdowns, and touchdowns on its three drives.
Field goals won’t do here, Brian.
This particular check did not determine this outcome. But since the Midshipmen are aiming for four wins for the first season since 2019, they’ll have to be more conservative about playing time. This was not the day.
That’s what you’d expect from a Heisman winner, right?
USC rolled to a 56-28 victory over San Jose State, leaning on Caleb Williams for 285 yards and four scores. He directed the Trojans to touchdowns on six of their eight possessions.
And also did this.
We’re not kidding.
Williams has a long way to go to a second Heisman—something only Archie Griffin accomplished in 1974 and 1975 with Ohio State—but he put up the numbers needed on Saturday.
And he looked cool doing it.
Welcome to Gig, Jacksonville.
In their first ever contest as a member of the Football Bowl Subdivision, the Gamecocks also captured a Conference USA win. The top-level newcomers cut UTEP 17-14 in a thrilling finish.
Malik Jackson rushed for 76 yards, Ron Wiggins added 63 yards and both scored touchdowns for JSU. Most importantly, the defense forced three turnovers – including a game-sealing pick by seventh-year defender Jeremiah Harris with only 1:15 to play.
Jacksonville State is not eligible for postseason play, but each victory is valuable to the program’s future.
Perhaps this is a personal disappointment. I was hoping Ohio State would put together a great offensive year.
However, that possibility depends on the health of midfielder Curtis Roarke. Although an ACL injury ended his 2022 season in November, he recovered in time for the San Diego State opener.
But the 2023 campaign may have started in disaster.
Rourke left the contest with an unspecified injury and the Bobcats struggled without him. CJ Harris threw three interceptions, and a missed 31-yard field goal early in the third quarter didn’t help matters.
As long as Rourke is available by the time conference play against Bowling Green begins on Sept. 23, Ohio State still has the potential to win the league. But this upside depends entirely on Roarke’s health.
If you’re not familiar with Massachusetts football, here’s a quick and easy tip on its recent history.
- 2019: 1-11
- 2020: 0-4
- 2021: 1-11
- 2022: 1-11
So, when you start the season off with a win, it’s worth every bit of the celebration that follows. UMass caught three takeaways and racked up 468 yards—just seven yards short of a team high in 2022—while upsetting New Mexico State 41-30.
The value of winning cannot be underestimated; Since UMass joined FBS in 2012, the number of wins has not exceeded four.
Let’s be serious: Week 0 may be the last time I write about the Minutemen in this space in 2023. But on this particular night, they deserve this moment in the spotlight.