Top Week 1 matchups to watch
Numbers show Oklahoma State's young secondary can slow down Jameis
The first Saturday of college football is finally upon us. Kick back, relax and get ready for some Week 1 action. The day's games showcase both in-conference and out-of-conference matchups with potential to shape the inaugural College Football Playoff race.
It's easy to get caught up in the excitement of college football's return -- but we've got you covered. Here's a look at the most important matchups to pay attention to as you tune into the top games of the day.
Oklahoma State's young secondary can slow Winston
Matchup to watch: FSU's pass offense vs. Oklahoma State's pass defense
Oklahoma State vs Florida State (8 ET, ABC)
Jameis Winston had the highest Total QBR in the nation last season en route to winning the BCS National Championship and Heisman Trophy.
Winston excels in just about every facet of the game, but he relies heavily on his deep ball; Winston had the fifth-highest average pass distance among Power 5 quarterbacks, and no Power 5 player threw for more yards on passes that traveled at least 15 yards downfield than Winston.
This season, Winston will be without his top two deep threats, Kelvin Benjamin and Kenny Shaw, who caught 13 of his 18 touchdowns on passes traveling 15 or more yards. His top returning receiver, Rashad Greene, was more of an intermediate target than a downfield threat, which means that Winston will have to rely on inexperience at wide receiver to match his downfield production.
Similarly, Oklahoma State is inexperienced on defense, returning only four starters from a unit that excelled at defending the pass last season. The Cowboys ranked second in the FBS in opponent Total QBR, and only Michigan State allowed a lower completion percentage on deep balls.
While most will point to Oklahoma State's youth, there is reason to believe that the system is set up for the Cowboys' young defense to bounce back. In the last three seasons, only Alabama, Michigan State and Florida State ranked higher in ESPN's defensive efficiency ratings.
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