Labor Day Weekend College Football Preview and Picks

September 1, 2022 by Staff

Eighteen FBS teams opened their 2022 campaign in "Week Zero", affecting some of the picks for the Labor Day weekend games. Click on Weekly Picks to see the sportsbook spread, and the projected margin of every game from the Congrove Computer Rankings at

This marks a time of celebration for every football fan as the holiday weekend also signals that the start of the NFL season is just around the corner, so take time now to learn how to bet on NFL games, and check out our Feature Picks for this weekend's college clashes.

129 of the 131 FBS schools will see action this week as 37 face a FCS member, and 92 tackle another FBS program. That leaves 2 members who are idle this week - Northwestern and UNLV - who both opened their respective 2022 campaigns with a win in 'Week Zero'.

There are just 11 games all weekend that match Power 5 programs against each other this week.

Two of those are on Thursday when Penn State visits Purdue in a Big Ten opener, and West Virginia visits Pitt in a rivalry game.

There are two more Power 5 matchups on Friday with TCU at Colorado, and Illinois at Indiana in another Big Ten affair.

There are five Power 5 battles on Saturday when Rutgers treks to Boston College, Utah travels to Florida, Georgia and Oregon square off in the first of two Chick-fil-A kickoff games in Atlanta, Louisville heads to Syracuse for an ACC opener, and Notre Dame visits Ohio State.

The single games on Sunday and Monday are each Power 5 matchups with LSU and Florida State butting heads in New Orleans on Sunday, and Clemson facing Georgia Tech in an ACC opener in the weekend's second Chick-fil-A kickoff game.

Top Games

The top marquee matchup sends Notre Dame to Columbus to face Ohio State with the Congrove Computer Rankings favoring the home team Buckeyes by 14.07 against a 15.5-point spread after the line opened at 13.5. By Thursday morning, it was 17.  Notre Dame is 2-4 vs. Ohio State with the wins occurring in 1935 and '36. The Buckeyes prevailed in a home-and-home trade-off in 1995 and '96, and more recently in the 2006 and 2016 editions of the Fiesta Bowl. The latter of those meetings was a semifinal round of the College Football Playoff.

Saturday's contest is a tough way for Marcus Freeman to begin his tenure as the head man in South Bend, but it's also the only Notre Dame loss in the computer's season projections. Ohio State is the computer's preseason No. 1 team and its selection to win the national title. The contest is in prime time at 7:30 eastern.

Notre Dame is riding a 9-game winning streak in true road games (at the other team's common venue). The last Irish road loss came at Georgia on September 21, 2019. Ohio State has won 6 straight at home since losing last year's home opener to Oregon.

Speaking of Oregon, another big game this week has Georgia squaring off with the Ducks in one of the two Chick-fil-A Kick-off games in Atlanta. Those two meet on Saturday afternoon at 3:30 EDT with the 'Dawgs drawing a 4.33-point computer edge that is well under the17.5-point line. This game pits Oregon's new head coach Dan Lanning against his former boss, Kirby Smart. Lanning was Smart's outside linebackers coach in 2018 and was elevated to defensive coordinator for the 2019 through 2021 seasons. Lanning replaces Mario Cristobal who left on December 6 to take the same position with the Miami Hurricanes after Miami fired Manny Diaz that same day.  The only previous meeting between these teams took place 45  years ago (1977) with Georgia winning 27-16 in Athens.

The second Chick-fil-A kickoff is an ACC tussle between Georgia Tech and Clemson on Labor Day evening at 8 p.m. eastern.  The computer takes the Tigers by a massive 33.84 points which is well over the 21-point spread.

The Allstate Louisiana Kickoff takes place on Sunday night at 7:30 eastern in New Orleans for the debut of Brian Kelly as head coach of LSU. The Tigers will face Florida State as a 3.0 to 3.5-point Vegas favorite while the computer takes FSU as an opposite pick and favors the 'Noles by a whopping 10.03 points. The Bayou Bengals are 2-7 all-time vs. Florida State which has taken four straight in the series since LSU's 55-21 romp in Baton Rouge in 1982.

Thursday's Backyard Brawl which will mark the 105th meeting between West Virginia and Pitt. Last year's ACC champs no longer have Kenny Pickett (NFL) slinging passes or Biletnikoff winner Jordan Addison catching them. Pickett is with the NFL's Steelers and Addison transferred to USC while, somewhat ironically, Pitt plucked USC transfer QB Kedon Slovis from the portal.

Welcome to the FBS

James Madison makes its FBS debut at home against Middle Tennessee on Saturday. The sportsbooks like the Dukes by 6-1/2, but the computer takes the Blue Raiders by less than a point (0.90).


Last year, 2 teams played 2 FCS teams (UConn and UMass), and 115 teams played 1 FCS school for a total of 117 such matchups. FBS teams finished the 2021 season 105-12 vs. the FCS,

This year, there will be 118 FBS vs. FCS matchups with App State, Army and Marshall each playing two such games, and 115 other FBS schools playing one apiece.

Jacksonville State has victories at Florida State (2021) and FIU (2020) over the last two seasons and visits Tulsa this season on September 17. The Gamecocks will move up to the FBS next season and join Conference USA, along with Stephen F. Austin. Jacksonville State hired former West Virginia/Michigan/Arizona head coach Rich Rodriguez steer the move.

Another traditional FCS heavyweight, James Madison, has made that switch for this season as a new member of the Sun Belt.

There were 4 FBS-FCS games this past Saturday with Western Kentucky downing Austin Peay 38-27, UNLV dumping Idaho State 52-21, Florida State routing Duquesne 47-7, and UNC wearing down Florida A&M 56-24.

That made FBS schools 4-0 vs. FCS teams for the week, and 1,578-140 (.919) since we began tracking this in 2003.

This week, there 37 FBS-FCS matchups out of the 83 games involving at least one FBS school.

These were the FCS wins in 2021:
September 2: UC Davis 19, Tulsa 17
September 2: Eastern Washington 35, UNLV 33 (2 OT)
September 3: South Dakota State 42, Colorado State 23
September 4: Holy Cross 38, UConn 28
September 4: Montana 13, Washington 7
September 4: ETSU 23, Vanderbilt 3
September 11: Duquesne 28, Ohio 26
September 11: Jacksonville State 20, Florida State 17.
September 18: Incarnate Word 42, Texas State 34.
September 18: Northern Arizona 21, Arizona 19
November 6: Rhode Island 35, Massachusetts 22
November 13: Maine 35, Massachusetts 10

This was the only FCS win vs. the FBS in 2020:
October 23: Jacksonville State 19, FIU 10
Note: in the 2020 Covid season, 30 FBS teams played a total of just 34 games against FCS schools and the FCS won just 1 game (1-33).

2019, FBS teams were 111-3 (.974) in such games. These were the only FCS wins that season:
August 29: Central Arkansas 35, Western Kentucky 28
September 7: Southern Illinois 45, Massachusetts 20
September 14: The Citadel 27, Georgia Tech 24 (OT)


LOUISIANA - Won 13 straight over-all (tied FBS longest).
Last: Won 36-21 over Marshall in the New Orleans Bowl on Saturday, Dec. 18.
Next: Hosts FCS member SE Louisiana on Saturday, September 3.

NOTRE DAME - Won 9 straight true road games (FBS longest).
Last: Lost 37-35 to Oklahoma State in the Fiesta Bowl on Jan. 1.
Next: Visits Ohio State on Saturday, September 3.

CLEMSON - Won 34 straight home games (FBS longest).
Last: Won 20-13 over Iowa State in the Cheez-It Bowl on Dec. 29.
Next: Plays Georgia Tech in a Chick-fil-A Kickoff Game on Monday, September 5.

FIU - Lost 11 straight over-all (FBS longest).
Last: Lost 37-17 at Southern Miss on Saturday, Nov. 27.
Next: Hosts FCS member Bryant on Thursday, September 3.

VANDERBILT - Lost 21 straight conference games (FBS longest).
Last: Won 63-10 at Hawaii on Saturday, August 27.
Next: Hosts FCS member Elon on Saturday, September 3.

NEW MEXICO STATE - Lost 18 straight road games (FBS longest).
Last: Lost 23-12 at home to Nevada on Saturday, Nov. 27
Next: Visits Minnesota on Thursday, September 1.