Cue up the band, ice down your beverages, gird your loins…Friends! College Football is back!
Week 1 of the 2022 college football schedule is a lot like the buffet at Golden Corral, the sheer expanse of offerings, the miles of steaming goodness leave the hungry you – who hasn’t eaten since last January – thinking…Whoa! But, as is the natural order of things, all that quantity comes with a logical and understood dip in quality.
Of the whopping 83 games on tap for Week 1, 37 – or 45 percent – feature an FBS team taking on an FCS foe. Of the 46 FBS vs. FBS matchups that remain, a mere ten are between two Power 5 members, three of which are conference games. So, while, yes, there’s lots to see here – it’s not an Apples vs. Apples comparison when it comes down to choosing what to watch.
And that’s where we come in, with the first installment of a 13-week guide of recommended viewing and fascinating facts. It’s our great hope that it will serve as a tool, and a constant companion, as you go week-to-week through a season that offers enthusiasts 1,574 matchups to choose from.
Here’s your mental checklist going into Week 1:
(1). The action starts on Thursday night, which is jam-packed with 16 games, ten of which include an FCS program.
(2). Friday night is home to eight games, three of which feature an FBS vs. FCS matchup.
(3). Saturday’s must-see action is spread over two consecutive timeslots: at 3:30pm ET – (11) Oregon vs. (3) Georgia (ABC) and (23) Cincinnati at (19) Arkansas (ESPN) and at 7:30pm ET – (5) Notre Dame at (2) Ohio State (ABC).
(4). With the kickoff of the NFL regular season still a week away, don’t forget to tune in to Florida State vs. LSU on Sunday night (ABC) and (4) Clemson at Georgia Tech on Monday evening (ESPN).
Thursday, Sept. 1
7pm ET – ESPN – West Virginia at (17) Pitt
The return of the Backyard Brawl, these two old rivals haven’t clashed since 2011 when West Virginia left the Big East for the Big 12. Prior to the move the two programs – located only 75 miles apart – met consecutively since 1943 and from 1919-39. Renewing their vow to hate, the pair have dates booked from 2023-25 and again from 2029-32.
7pm ET – FS1 – Central Michigan at (12) Oklahoma State
Even though the Cowboys are three-touchdown favorites in this one, don’t miss the boat on seeing one of the top running backs in the nation – CMU sophomore Lew Nichols III (#7) – who finished 2021 ranked No. 1 in the FBS in rushing yards per game (142.15). Oklahoma State was uber successful stopping the run last season (No. 5 in the nation) but returns a mere four starters and only two of their top eight tacklers this year.
8pm ET – FOX – Penn State at Purdue
Tune in to this one to see senior Purdue QB Aidan O’Connell (#16) take on a Penn State secondary anchored by junior CB Joey Porter Jr. (#9). Where the Boilermakers wrapped up 2021 by hanging up 534 air yards on Tennessee in a victory in the Music City Bowl, the Nittany Lions held then (21) Arkansas to a mere 98 passing yards in the Outback Bowl.
Friday, Sept. 2
7pm ET – ESPN – Western Michigan at (15) Michigan State
7pm ET – ESPNU – Virginia Tech at Old Dominion
7:30pm ET – ACC Network – Temple at Duke
8pm ET – FS1 – Illinois at Indiana
10pm ET – ESPN – TCU at Colorado
Saturday, Sept. 3
Noon ET – ABC – Colorado State at (8) Michigan
Noon ET – ESPN – (13) NC State at East Carolina
Noon ET – ESPNU – North Carolina at Appalachian State
Appalachian State returns its top four backs and four of its five starting offensive linemen to a rushing attack that finished last year ranked No. 34 in the nation in yards per game. Cue up North Carolina, which finished last year ranked No. 98 in the FBS vs. the run and could this be a Week 1 upset? Vegas seems to be nodding its head in agreement with the Tar Heels favored by a mere 1.5 points.
Noon ET – ACC Network – Rutgers at Boston College
3:30pm ET – ABC – (11) Oregon vs. (3) Georgia – at Atlanta Ga.
Oregon returns just one starter to a secondary that finished 2021 ranked No. 89 in the FBS vs. the pass. This weakness may be exposed (especially with no time to ramp up) against a Bulldog offense that has three of its top four receivers from last year healthy and ready to play. While the passing game is far from Georgia’s superpower, senior QB Stetson Bennett (#13) might look more promising than advertised vs. a top-ranked club with a new head coach – neither of which may have had enough time to find their footing.
3:30pm ET – ESPN – (23) Cincinnati at (19) Arkansas
3:30pm ET – CBSSN – (24) Houston at UTSA
Despite their mention in the preseason AP Top 25, the Cougars are only four-point favorites vs. a UTSA squad that returns 13 starters to its 12-2 product from a year ago. Did you know that third-year Roadrunner head coach Jeff Traylor is a perfect 7-0 in September? The Alamodome ought to be rocking for this in-state love affair.
3:30pm ET – CBS – Arizona at San Diego State
Arizona has won just one game since 2020 and is a six-point underdog at SDSU. With 15 starters returning and a new QB (Washington State transfer sophomore Jayden De Laura #7) a potential win over the Aztecs may not look like a big deal on the surface, but it would be monumental for a program desperately in need of an injection of hope.
3:30pm ET – FS1 – Tulsa at Wyoming
6pm ET – Pac-12 Network – Rice at (14) USC
One of the biggest mismatches in Week 1, tune in to this one to watch USC’s passing offense – forecasted to be one of the top three units in the FBS – have its way with a Rice defense that finished No. 123 vs. the pass last season. Brace yourself for a passionate, coast-to-coast declaration that Lincoln Riley’s shocking move from Norman to L.A. was the greatest coup in college football coaching.
6pm ET – ESPN+ – Middle Tennessee State at James Madison
This matchup marks James Madison’s first-ever game as an FBS program. The Dukes – 44-61-1 all-time vs. the current FBS and 2-19 vs. Power 5 opponents – are newly christened Sun Belt members. It’s also the first time in 88 years that a U.S. President’s name is so directly associated with the top level of college football. In 2022, it’s JMU’s namesake – the 4th president of our United States – and in 1934 it was Gerald Ford – eventually our 38th president – who played center for Michigan from 1932-34. Ford was a member of the back-to-back national championship teams in 1932-33 and was named the Wolverine’s MVP in 1934.
7pm ET – ESPN – (7) Utah at Florida
7:30pm ET – ABC – (5) Notre Dame at (2) Ohio State
The good news is that Ohio State returns virtually its entire secondary from last season. The bad news is that it’s a unit that finished No. 96 nationally and No. 12 in the Big Ten vs. the pass. Though solid improvement is expected, will the matchup with Notre Dame’s receiving corps – ranked No. 11 in the nation by Phil Steele – arrive too early for the progress to come to full fruition?
7:30pm ET – SEC Network – Utah State at (1) Alabama
As 42-point favorites, Alabama seems like the least likely candidate to fall victim to a Week 1 shocker to little Utah State. But wait! Isn’t this the same program that went 11-3 last season, won the Mountain West conference, and downed Oregon State 24-13 in the LA Bowl? It seems like a high level of on-field achievement for virtually zero respect from the oddsmakers. Here’s to hoping the Aggies play their big hearts out in Tuscaloosa.
7:30pm ET – ESPNU – Memphis at Mississippi State
While it’s no surprise that Mike Leach’s third product at Mississippi State is predicted to go nuts through the air, things may explode early vs. a Memphis team that returns just six starters to a defense that finished 2021 ranked No. 104 in the FBS vs. the pass. Bulldog junior QB Will Rogers (#2) was the fourth most productive passer in the land last season and returns three of his top four targets this year.
7:30pm ET – CBSSN – SMU at North Texas
This little hidden rivalry gem is also known as the “Safeway Bowl” a name that refers to a quip made by Matt Simon, who posted a 18-26-1 mark as the head coach at North Texas from 1994-97. Simon’s tenure came during a 14-year hiatus when the Mustangs and Mean Green, located 37 miles apart in the DFW metroplex, didn’t meet.
I’d like to play because I think we could beat them, and my players feel the same way. If they’d like to play on a Safeway parking lot … just give us a date and time.
SMU and North Texas first met in 1922 and played consecutively from then until 1942 and again from 1976-82 and from 2014 until the present. The Mustangs lead the all-time series 34-6-1 and have won three-straight. The two don’t currently have any future dates booked.
8pm ET – Longhorn Network – ULM at Texas
If you’ve missed people heartily claiming “Texas is back” then this one is for you. Tune in to see the Longhorns’ offense, which returns seven starters plus injects a bunch of new top-tier talent, take on a Warhawk D that returns a mere four starters to a defense that finished 2021 ranked No. 101 nationally in scoring and No. 125 vs. the pass. Holy Bevo!
8pm ET – ACC Network – Louisville at Syracuse
10:30pm ET – ESPN – Boise State at Oregon State
Sunday, Sept. 4
7:30pm ET – ABC – Florida State vs. LSU – at New Orleans, La.
It’s been 22 years since LSU kicked off a season as an unranked team. The year was 2000 and it was the first of Nick Saban’s five seasons in Baton Rouge. Saban took over for Gary DiNardo and promptly turned around a team that had gone 3-8 in 1999 to an 8-4 mark in a 2000 campaign that wrapped up with a win over (15) Georgia Tech in the Peach Bowl.
Monday, Sept. 5
8pm ET – ESPN – (4) Clemson at Georgia Tech
OFF THIS WEEK (1)
- Big Ten: Northwestern
FIRST-EVER MEETINGS (11)
- Army at Coastal Carolina
- Ball State at Tennessee
- Bowling Green at UCLA
- Buffalo at Maryland
- (23) Cincinnati at (19) Arkansas
- Florida Atlantic at Ohio
- Georgia State at South Carolina
- Kent State at Washington
- Louisiana Tech at Missouri
- TCU at Colorado
- Western Kentucky at Hawaii
REUNITED…And it feels so good
- Colorado State at (8) Michigan (only-ever game in 1994)
- Middle Tennessee at James Madison (only-ever game in 1994)
- Florida State vs. LSU – at New Orleans, La. (last played in 1991)
- (3) Georgia vs. (11) Oregon – at Atlanta, Ga. (only-ever game in 1977)
- (7) Utah at Florida (only-ever game in 1977)
- Rice at (14) USC (last played in 1971)
7: (4) Clemson has won 7-straight over Georgia Tech (last loss in 2014)
9: Penn State has won 9-straight over Purdue (last loss in 2004)
11: Boston College has won 11-straight over Rutgers (last loss in 1994)
12: (15) Michigan State has won 12-straight over Western Michigan (last loss in 1919)
- Ball State has NEVER beaten an SEC member (0-10)
- Bowling Green has NEVER beaten a Pac-12 member (0-3)
- (8) Michigan has NEVER lost to a MWC member (10-0)
- (9) Oklahoma has NEVER lost to a CUSA member (22-0)
- Rice has NEVER beaten (14) USC (0-2-1)
- Tennessee as NEVER lost to a MAC member (8-0)
- Texas has NEVER lost to a Sun Belt member (6-0)
- ULM has NEVER beaten a Big 12 member (0-12)
- (14) USC has NEVER lost to a CUSA member (3-0-1)
- UTEP has NEVER beaten (9) Oklahoma (0-4)
- Virginia Tech has NEVER lost to a Sun Belt member (9-0)
- Washington has NEVER lost to a MAC member (3-0)
Week 1 is host to a pair of first-ever events that are a combined 217 years in the making. First, UCLA has fielded a football team since 1919 and has yet to square off with a current MAC member. All that changes on Saturday when Bowling Green makes its first-ever visit to the Rose Bowl at 2:30pm ET on the Pac-12 Network.
Next up, in all its 114 years of football history Western Kentucky has never played a member of the Mountain West contingency, that is, until you guessed it, this Saturday, when the Hilltoppers visit Hawaii. Kickoff is scheduled for midnight Eastern time.
Cue up the palm trees swaying, it’s history being made in two of the most beautiful settings in college football.