Of the approximate 1,572 matchups slated at the FBS level this season, a precious 54 – or three percent – feature two programs that have never, ever, met on the gridiron.
It’s a rare opportunity to bear witness to something that no other human has seen before, and, even better, it’s taking part in the history of the greatest team sport on the planet.
Is anyone else so excited that they could run through a wall?
The first of only two first-ever matchups between Power 5 members in 2022, TCU and Colorado just missed clashing in the Big 12, the Buffs fleeing the league after the 2010 season and the Horned Frogs joining up in 2012.
TCU played a Pac-12 member as recently as last season, hosting Cal and squeezing out a 34-32 win. It hasn’t visited a Pac-12 destination since 2007 when, as Mountain West members, it scored a 38-36 victory at Stanford. Though Colorado did suffer a pair of losses in Alamo Bowl appearances to (20) Texas in 2020 (55-23) and (13) Oklahoma State in 2016 (38-8), this is the first time it’s played a Big 12 opponent during the regular season since abandoning the conference 11 years ago.
The Frogs and Buffs are slated to meet again in next season’s opener, this time in Fort Worth.
One of three first-ever matchups for Arkansas in 2022, this game ought to be every bit as good as any Power 5 vs. Power 5 combo in Week 1. In one corner, it’s a Cincinnati program, which as a G5 team, beat all the odds and earned its way into the CFP bracket last season while in the other it’s an Arkansas club that posted its best record in a decade last year with a head coach that was initially advertised as a laughable hire. This is a delicious battle between two scrappy teams.
Cincinnati hasn’t beaten a current SEC member during the regular season since vanquishing Kentucky 24-3 at home in 1996. It hasn’t won such a game on the road since a 1971 visit to Texas A&M that resulted in a 17-0 shutout victory.
Though the trajectory of Marshall and Notre Dame’s football history are worlds apart, both offer a narrative that has global appeal. This matchup marks the intersection of the two stories – the program that struggled through an unthinkable tragedy to even field a team visiting the most storied powerhouse in college football. Regardless of how it plays out from a competitive standpoint, it’s a great moment for a sport in need of a great moment that has nothing to do with money.
Adding to the allure is that Marshall visits South Bend just after the Irish return from their blockbuster roadie at Ohio State. Though an unlikely upset, the Herd have posted five-straight winning seasons and Notre Dame, win or lose, could be suffering a hangover from its foray against the Buckeyes.
Marshall hasn’t played a Power 5 grade opponent since 2018 when it suffered losses vs. NC State and at Virginia Tech. It hasn’t beaten a P5 foe since the 2015 season opener, a 41-31 home victory vs. Purdue. This is Notre Dame’s first-ever matchup vs. a program that is a Sun Belt member at gametime.
Though this one hardly screams “blockbuster” it will be a great litmus test for the Aggies who open by hosting FCS powerhouse Sam Houston and then further their warm-up exercises vs. App State before welcoming Miami Fla. in Week 3.
The Mountaineers are 80-24 since moving up to the FBS ranks in 2014 and have posted double-digit wins in five of the eight seasons. Since 2018, they’re 2-2 vs. Power 5 opponents, losing by two points at (22) Miami Fla. last season (25-23), scoring wins at North Carolina (34-31) and at South Carolina (20-15) in 2019 and coming up just short at (10) Penn State (45-38) in 2018. They open this season with a home date vs. the Tar Heels, which should have them ramped up for their first-ever trip to College Station. A&M can’t afford to take this game for granted.
The second of the only two Power 5 vs. Power 5 first-ever matchups in 2022, this game also marks Mississippi State’s first football game in the state of Arizona. The Bulldogs are technically 1-2 all-time vs. the Pac-12, most recently falling twice to Oregon in a home-and-home series in 2002 and 2003. The only-ever win came in a 1977 regular season game at Washington, a 27-18 victory that was eventually one of 19 wins forfeited due to the use of an ineligible player.
Arizona is 1-9-1 all-time vs. the SEC, most recently falling 45-3 at (8) LSU in Week 2 of the 2006 regular season. The only-ever win came 46 years ago, in 1976, a 31-19 home victory over Auburn in the season opener.
The Bulldogs and Wildcats have plans to meet again next year, this time in Starkville.
Not only is this the first time that the Hogs and Cougars have met on the gridiron, it’s also the first time in history that Arkansas has made a stop at one of the three FBS football destinations in the state of Utah. The Razorbacks have never lost to an opponent that is currently classified as an independent, their entire body of work coming via a 6-0 mark vs. New Mexico State.
BYU is 7-7 all-time against the current SEC, most recently visiting Tennessee in Week 2 of the 2019 season and scoring a 29-26 win.
The two schools will meet again next season, this time in Fayetteville.
This under-the-radar matchup features the up-and-coming Cajuns at a blueblood P5 program that’s in the throes of an epic identity crisis. Where Louisiana has posted a 34-5 record since 2019, the Seminoles are 19-27 since 2018. What adds to the intrigue is that this first-ever is placed late in the season, when it will be more than just a meaningless non-conference fixture.
FSU is 11-1 all-time against the current Sun Belt membership, the only-ever loss coming 75 years ago, in 1947, a 36-6 home defeat vs. Troy. For the Cajuns, it’s only the fifth time they’ve ever squared off with an ACC club. The most recent action came in 1997 (a 45-13 loss at Pitt) and 1996 (a 47-16 loss at Virginia Tech). Prior to that it was a home-and-home that occurred 92 years ago vs. Miami Fla. – a 6-0 loss on the road in 1930 and a 14-0 victory in 1929 in Lafayette, also the only-ever win over an ACC club in program history.
Bonus: The New SUN BELT
With Marshall, Old Dominion, and Southern Miss joining from C-USA and James Madison moving up from the FCS, 2022 marks the beginning of a new era for the Sun Belt Conference. From a scheduling standpoint the expansion offers up eight first-ever matchups this season. Rather than being one-and-done non-conference affairs, each of these combinations mark the very beginning of what could be, if each participant sticks around, a long-term relationship that becomes a heated rivalry.
Saturday, Sept. 24
Saturday, Oct. 1
Saturday, Oct. 8
Saturday, Oct. 29
Saturday, Nov. 5
Saturday, Nov. 12
Saturday, Nov. 26