The beginning of the college football season is always very revealing. Teams rise and fall in and out of the rankings as the tumultuous road down the opening stretch continues. Some of the teams who have been rising early in this 2023 season have leaned heavily on the transfer portal to bolster their rosters and compete for a title.
Teams such as Texas, Washington, USC, and Florida State have all gotten major contributions from star transfers early in the year, allowing them to pick up signature wins to start the season.
Is Texas finally back? The Longhorns got the signature road win that they have been waiting so long for, defeating perennial powerhouse Alabama in Bryant Denny Stadium. They could not have done it without their star QB Quinn Ewers. One of the most highly touted recruits ever, Ewers is one of only six players to receive a perfect recruiting grade. The Texas native originally committed to Ohio State and backed up CJ Stroud in 2021. However, after that season Ewers transferred back home and after a tough 2022 season, he looks poised to lead the Horns back to the promised land.
Assisting him in Texas’s defeat over the Tide was former UGA WR Adonai Mitchell. Mitchell was huge in the game for the Longhorns, hauling in three receptions for 78 yards with two of those being touchdowns, one gave them the lead for good, and one was the dagger. With Ewers leading the charge along with a talented group of weapons, Texas has risen to No.3 in the AP poll and will look to keep pushing for their first ever CFP appearance.
THE PAC 12 IS BACK! FOR NOW…
The Pac-12 is having its best season in its last. With eight of twelve teams ranked in the AP poll, the Pac-12 is loaded with brilliant QB play and high-powered offenses. When Washington and USC are mentioned, those descriptions are precisely what comes to mind. Caleb Williams and Michael Penix Jr, both transfer QBs, have lit up the college football world ever since their transfers. Penix Jr struggled after a solid shortened 2020 season at IU, but since his arrival in Seattle, he has thrown for 4,641 yards and 38 touchdowns in 2022 and has already piled up 859 yards and eight touchdowns through just two games this season. He has been able to find four-star WR from MSU Germie Bernard for 90 yards and a touchdown this year as well, with the 6’1 sophomore adding yet another dangerous target on the outside for Penix. Washington’s offense has not skipped a beat from their prolific passing attack last season, and the same can be said for the Trojans of USC.
Led by reigning Heisman trophy winner Caleb Williams, the Trojans once again have one of the best offenses in college football. Where Lincoln Riley goes offense seems to follow, and after Riley took the job at USC, Williams made the decision to transfer with his Coach shortly after. Following a Heisman season, the offense only got better, with the addition of electric freshmen, as well as transfer from Arizona Dorian Singer. One of the top WRs in the 2023 transfer window, Singer was a huge get for Riley and co, and he has already had a big impact with eight receptions for 119 and 2 touchdowns. These teams will meet for a showdown on November 4th in the Coliseum.
BELIEVE THE HYPE IN TALLAHASSEE
Finally, the Seminoles of Florida State. The preseason hype for the Seminoles was real, and the Noles have proven that it was deserved. After a thrashing of No.5 LSU week one, they rocketed up to No.4 in the rankings, and clobbered Southern Miss 66-13. QB Jordan Travis is one of the most dynamic players in the nation, and WR Keon Coleman and TE Jaheim Bell have only added more firepower to an already explosive offense. Coleman exploded against LSU with 122 yards and three touchdowns. The 6’4 MSU transfer looked unstoppable in his first game and his connection with Travis will only grow as the year goes on. Jaheim Bell is an ultra-utility player who adds a great piece to the creative offense that Mike Norvell runs. Bell is often used as a runner and tallied his first touchdown with the Noles against LSU to contribute to the big win. A showdown at home against a very improved Miami team on November 11th will be a huge game for the Noles and they will need big contributions from both Bell and Coleman with the depth the Canes have in the secondary.
The CFB season is a roller coaster, and with upsets happening weekly, it is tough to predict anything beyond the current week. However, these teams have shown that with the help of the transfer portal, a team can start to look like a serious contender even this early in the year.