With 11 FBS games on tap this Saturday in what’s Week 0 of the 2022 season, college football is officially back.
Before Week 1 gets underway next Thursday – a smorgasbord featuring a delicious 84 contests over five days – here’s a look at some of the wacky and wild caveats of the larger 2022 schedule.
It’s 26 facts pulled from the 1,574 regular-season games that will ultimately define the season – a tasty appetizer for a 13-week meal that will leave us all patting our collective bellies.
1A. (8) MICHIGAN won’t play a Power 5 opponent outside of Big Ten play for the first time in 78 years
The Wolverines’ non-conference schedule consists of consecutive home games vs. Colorado State, Hawaii, and UConn, making it the first time since 1944 that they’ve failed to schedule an opponent that is currently a Power 5 member (or Notre Dame) outside of Big Ten action. Those long-ago Wolverines faced a trio of independents in Iowa Pre-Flight, Marquette, and Pennsylvania (not State). As of now, Michigan is set to become repeat offenders next season with a non-conference line-up vs. East Carolina, UNLV, and Bowling Green.
Indiana: FCS Idaho, Western Kentucky, at (23) Cincinnati (although Cincinnati does count as a P5 under the Big Ten’s strength of schedule requirement)
Maryland: Buffalo, at Charlotte, SMU
Oregon State: Boise State, at Fresno State, FCS Montana State
2. JAMES MADISON will play its first ever season in the FBS
James Madison’s move from the FCS Colonial Athletic Association to the Sun Belt expands the FBS ranks to 131 members. The Dukes first fielded a football team in 1972 and have won two national titles capturing NCAA Division I-AA (FCS) crowns in 2004 and 2016. They finished 12-2 last season losing to North Dakota State in the semifinals of the FCS playoffs.
JMU is 44-61-1 all-time vs. the current FBS and 2-19 vs. Power 5 members, the only-ever wins coming in 2010 at Virginia Tech (21-16) and in 1982 at Virginia (21-17). The Dukes’ 2022 slate is the only FBS schedule with just 11 opponents.
Auburn: at (1) Alabama, at (3) Georgia, (6) Texas A&M
Florida: vs. (3) Georgia (at Jacksonville, Fla.), at (6) Texas A&M, (7) Utah
Mississippi State: at (1) Alabama, (3) Georgia, (6) Texas A&M
South Carolina: (3) Georgia, at (4) Clemson, (6) Texas A&M
Texas: (1) Alabama, vs. (9) Oklahoma (at Dallas, Texas), (10) Baylor
3B. MISSISSIPPI STATE is the only team scheduled to play SIX members of the preseason AP Top 25
The Bulldogs add games vs. (19) Arkansas, at (20) Kentucky, and at (21) Ole Miss to their contests at (1) Alabama and vs. (3) Georgia and (6) Texas A&M giving them the MOST preseason ranked opponents in the nation. It amounts to MSU playing a full half of their schedule against Top 25 foes.
The Rainbow Warriors and Hilltoppers are the only FBS clubs to play more than a dozen games in 2022 due to what’s known as the Hawaii Exemption.
The Hawaii Exemption allows Hawaii and teams that play in Hawaii the opportunity to schedule a 13th game. This helps those schools earn an extra paycheck, gate revenue, etc. to offset the larger cost of traveling to and from the islands.
Marshall had been a C-USA member since 2005 and is 16-21 all-time vs. last year’s version of the Sun Belt. Old Dominion moved up to the FBS as a C-USA member in 2014 and is 4-4 vs. the Belt. That leaves Southern Miss which began calling C-USA its home conference in 1996 and owns a 64-21-1 advantage vs. its’ new league (the bulk of which is via a 39-11-1 mark vs. Louisiana).
While 15 Power programs have dates booked at a Group of 5 venue in 2022, this trio doubles down with a pair of such trips.
North Carolina: at Appalachian State, at Georgia State
Vanderbilt: at Hawaii, at Northern Illinois
Virginia Tech: at Old Dominion, at Liberty
7. CENTRAL MICHIGAN finishes the regular season with consecutive games vs. its instate rivals for the first time in 30 years
The Chippewas wrap up 2022 with a Wednesday night visit from Western Michigan (Nov. 16) followed by a Friday night roadie at Eastern Michigan (Nov. 25). The last time they closed out a season with back-to-back games vs. their fellow in-state MAC programs was in 1992 when they scored a home win over EMU on Nov. 7 and suffered a loss at WMU on Nov. 14. That was 13 seasons before the introduction of the Michigan MAC trophy which CMU currently holds for the first time since 2017.
The Tigers and Buckeyes will both have the benefit of sleeping in their own beds until Week 6. Auburn hosts FCS Mercer, San Jose State, Penn State, Mizzou, and LSU before finally hitting the road to visit (3) Georgia on Saturday, Oct. 8. Ohio State kicks off with a visit from (5) Notre Dame and then welcomes Arkansas State, Toledo, (18) Wisconsin, and Rutgers before finally taking a road trip to (15) Michigan State, also on Saturday, Oct. 8.
9. Only THREE of the 22 MAC games scheduled in November will be played on a Saturday
The only MAC-tion scheduled for one of the four Saturdays in November consists of: Akron at Buffalo (Nov. 19), Akron at Northern Illinois (Nov. 26), and Kent State at Buffalo (Nov. 26). The balance of the MAC’s November slate will be played on Tuesday nights (nine games), Wednesday nights (eight games) and Friday nights (two games).
The Bulldogs are enjoying a 46-game win streak vs. their 11 FBS foes this season while the Bearcats are on a 41-game run and the Mountaineers own a 27-win streak. Georgia’s most recent loss to one of its scheduled foes came in 2020, a 44-28 decision vs. then (8) Florida. For Cincinnati it was in 2018, a 38-13 loss at then (11) UCF. That leaves App State, which last fell to a 2022 foe in 2020, a 34-23 defeat at (15) Coastal Carolina.
11. KENT STATE is scheduled to play TWO members of the preseason AP Top TEN
While 26 Power 5 members, plus both Notre Dame and BYU, are scheduled to face two members of the preseason AP Top Ten in 2022, only one Group of 5 member can claim such an uphill battle. The Golden Flashes are slated to make a Week Two visit to (9) Oklahoma and then pack their bags again for a Week 4 date at the defending champs (3) Georgia.
PS Kent State opens the season with a roadie at Washington.
PSS The Flashes only win over a ranked opponent – ever – came in 2012, a 35-23 victory at (18) Rutgers.
12A. FIVE teams will play EIGHT games at home
While the lions’ share of the FBS is set to play six or seven home games this season, these clubs will host eight – or 66 percent – of their opponents at home. It also means these lucky winners have just four true road trips booked.
12B. SEVEN teams will play SEVEN road games
The anti-thesis of the winners listed above, not only do these clubs have seven true away dates booked, but they’ll also only appear in front of their home fans five times this season.
The two FBS programs hailing from The Natural State will play the most first-ever foes from the Power 5 and Group of 5 ranks respectively. Arkansas has first-ever meetings vs. (23) Cincinnati, at (25) BYU, and vs. Liberty while Arkansas State has never-seen-before action at (2) Ohio State, at Old Dominion, vs. James Madison, and vs. UMass.
As a note: Coastal Carolina ties Arkansas State with four first-time foes: vs. Army, at Marshall, vs. Southern Miss and at Virginia.
14. AUBURN opens with an FCS opponent for the first time in 23 years
The Tigers’ kickoff game vs. FCS Mercer marks the first time since 1999 that they’ve began a season vs. a non-FBS opponent. The ’99 squad opened with a 22-15 win over Appalachian State which was still a member of the FCS Southern Conference at the time. Those Tigers went 5-6 in what was the first of the ten seasons of the Tommy Tuberville era.
There are 54 never-before-seen on a football field, first-ever matchups in the FBS ranks in 2022. Of these, only the Bulldogs vs. the Cats and the Hogs vs. the Buffs feature two teams hailing from Power 5 leagues.
16. NAVY won’t play a game at home after October
After hosting five of its first eight games in Annapolis, the Midshipmen will hit the road for their final four contests. November begins with a roadie at (23) Cincinnati on the 5th, continues with a neutrally sited meeting with (5) Notre Dame in Baltimore on the 12th followed by a visit to UCF on the 19th. After two weeks off (unless they ascend to the AAC title game on Dec. 3), the season wraps with Army in Philadelphia on Dec. 10.
17. (10) BAYLOR is playing the same 11 FBS opponents it played last year
If the Bears’ 2022 schedule looks familiar, well, it is. The only opponent Baylor will square off with this year that it didn’t face last season is the FCS UAlbany Great Danes, which replaces FCS Texas Southern from the 2021 schedule. Other than that, Baylor plays the exact same 11 teams, only they flip the venue in each pairing, playing last year’s home games away and last year’s away games at home.
18. EAST CAROLINA has more opponents ranked in the preseason AP than any other G5 program
The Pirates open their 2022 campaign with a visit from (13) NC State and then wait until the end of October to travel across the country to play at (25) BYU. After a week off they’ll make the trek to Cincinnati to clash with the (23) Bearcats and then return home to host (24) Houston.
19. UCLA will play its first ever game vs. a MAC team
In its 103-year football history the Bruins have never played one of the 12 teams that currently field the MAC. All that changes on Saturday, Sept. 3 when Bowling Green visits the Rose Bowl for only its third-ever meeting with a Pac-12 club. The Falcons are 0-3 vs. the West Coast P5ers, falling at Oregon in 2018, at Arizona in 1987, and at Washington in 1986. If this time they don’t succeed they’ll have another whack at the Pac in 2026 when they visit Arizona State.
Appalachian State: The Citadel, Robert Morris
Army: Villanova, Colgate
Marshall: Norfolk State, Gardner-Webb
The longest streak among matchups on the 2022 schedule, the Hoosiers haven’t toppled the Buckeyes since 1988, dropping 26 straight since then. The nearest miss came 32 years ago, in 1990, when they managed a 27-27 tie in Bloomington.
22. (5) NOTRE DAME will play its first ever game vs. a Sun Belt member
Marshall joined the Sun Belt just in time to become Notre Dame’s first ever such opponent. The Thundering Herd beat a ranked foe as recently as 2020, scoring a 17-7 home victory over (23) Appalachian State. It hasn’t downed a Top 25 opponent on the road since upsetting (6) Kansas State 27-20 in 2003.
The Cajuns and Warhawks have battled for the Wooden Boot 25 times over the last three decades with 18 of the meetings – or 72 percent – falling in November or December. That leaves six contests that were played in October and only one, in 2017, that kicked-off in September. It makes this year’s fixture – slated for Saturday, Sept. 24th in Monroe – a rare opportunity for the in-state rivals to clash early in the season.
Army: Air Force (Globe Life Field, Arlington, Texas), Navy (Lincoln Financial Field, Philadelphia, Pa.)
Georgia: (11) Oregon (Mercedes-Benz Stadium, Atlanta, Ga.), Florida (TIAA Bank Field, Jacksonville, Fla.)
Navy: (5) Notre Dame (M&T Bank Stadium, Baltimore, Md.), Army (Lincoln Financial Field, Philadelphia, Pa.)
Notre Dame: (25) BYU (Allegiant Stadium, Las Vegas, Nev.), Navy (M&T Bank Stadium, Baltimore, Md.)
The most long-awaited reunion in 2022, the Zips and Spartans’ only previous football action came via two games in East Lansing in 1913-14, both blowout wins for Michigan State. For Akron, 1914 was the first year that the school when from being called Buchtel College (the name used since its inception in 1870) to the Municipal University of Akron (it dropped the “Municipal” in 1926). It was during his two seasons as the head coach at Buchtel (1893-94) that John Heisman is thought to have helped invent the center snap.
26. WESTERN KENTUCKY is the only team to play 11 straight games without a break
The Hilltoppers kickoff the 2022 season early with a Week Zero (Saturday, Aug. 27) visit from FCS Austin-Peay and then travel to Hawaii in Week 1. After a bye in Week 2, WKU will play 11-straight opponents – at Indiana, FIU, Troy, at UTSA, at Middle Tennessee, UAB, North Texas, at Charlotte, Rice, at Auburn, and at FAU – with no opportunity to pause, regroup, or recharge.