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The greatest kickoff week games each of the past 5 years

Kickoff Week has always been a special part of football season.

Syndication: Gator Sports Doug Engle/Gainesville Sun / USA TODAY NETWORK

Kickoff Week. The first Saturday of September. Every year in a 130+ team bonanza of games from noon to midnight, the new season bumbles in with all its chaos we know and love so much.

After every season, people talk about what was “the best week of the season,” and it’s usually not the first one, as most teams like to ease into things, and conference play typically starts later.

Still, there’s always a small handful of high-profile matchups that get us glued to the television, or there’s such a crazy upset out of the blue that nobody saw coming.

Let’s take a look back on the greatest kickoff week games of each of the past five seasons (except 2020, since everybody started their years on different weeks).

2022: Florida 29, #7 Utah 26

Last year’s beginning of the two-year Utah & Florida season-opening home-and-home was a fun and intriguing game for all kinds of college fans. Florida, unranked to start the year, shot up in the polls to 12th after the game and was massively hyped up, especially after the huge performance turned in that night by QB Anthony Richardson, who was selected 4th in the April NFL Draft.

Utah came into the game ranked 7th and a dark horse CFP contender but had to recover from this early loss to take the Pac-12 crown and make the Rose Bowl. Florida, on the other hand, came down from that high point and ended the year with a thud at 6-7, never really doing much else. One of the most fun results of the packed Saturday.

2021: #9 Notre Dame 41, Florida State 38 (OT)

Florida State has finally returned to the top tier of college football, but the journey began when the Seminoles took top-10 Notre Dame to overtime in front of a packed and rocking Doak Campbell Stadium that finally had something to cheer for and a team to be excited about. While they lost, that positive momentum from the opener went a long way, even though 2022 was the year of their big breakthrough.

2019: #16 Auburn 27, #11 Oregon 21

Bo Nix has been known for heroics throughout his QB career, and all the way back in 2019, he was still slinging game-winning touchdowns and, on this opening week, upset a highly ranked Oregon squad, throwing a 26-yard touchdown pass with 9 seconds left at AT&T Stadium. Now he’ll be the starting QB for the Ducks this year. It’s all coming full circle.

2018: #10 Penn State 45, Appalachian State 38 (OT)

11 years to the day after App State knocked off Michigan in the Big House in one of college football’s biggest upsets ever, they almost did it again in Happy Valley in a very high-scoring, entertaining game that they trailed 31-17 in with under 8 minutes to go. They even led 38-31 in the final minute before Penn State knotted it up and held on in OT.

Would’ve been pretty awesome if the Mountaineers had not just upset another Big Ten team but another top-10 Big Ten team. App State is a prowling predator, just waiting to catch you off your guard—UNC and Miami have only just barely escaped them in the years since, and last season Texas A&M lost to them in College Station!

About one kickoff game every year sticks as the “Did you see the Florida and Utah game?” game that got talked about all that next week, and some of us can vaguely remember past just that season. I wonder which game that’ll be this year? Maybe North and South Carolina, or perhaps Utah and Florida’s rematch proves an epic sequel. Or maybe Ohio State will suffer a completely out-of-the-blue road upset in Bloomington.

You never know what’ll happen any given week in this wild sport.