Opening Week Preview

August 25, 2022 by Staff

To borrow a phrase from a classic Three Dog Night song from 1969, "Celebrate, celebrate. Dance to the music." The 2022 college football season is upon us after an offseason of bone-jarring realignment news, and the seeming desire by everyone on the inside to implode FBS football.

Fourteen games are on-tap for this Saturday with 7 games between FBS teams, 4 games pitting the FBS against the FCS, and 3 FCS vs. FCS affairs.

The far-reaching footprint of the popularity of college football will be on full display as the season opens in Bowling Green, Kentucky, followed a half-hour later by a Big Ten matchup 3,846 miles to the east in the North Atlantic country of Ireland. The day concludes 7,000 miles away from Dublin with a contest on the Pacific island of Hawaii.

Labor Day weekend features the first full slate of games which is why this weekend is always stupidly referred to as "Week Zero" - as if it doesn't exist.

Aer Lingus College Football Classic

This week's biggest game from a 'marquee' perspective is Nebraska facing Northwestern in a Big Ten opener at Dublin, Ireland. Games that were scheduled to be played in 2020 and 2021 as The Aer Lingus College Football Classic were both scrapped due to the covid pandemic. Notre Dame and Navy wound up playing at Navy in 2020, while Nebraska and Illinois had their 2021 game moved to Illinois instead.

An Ireland Navy/Notre Dame game has been rescheduled for week zero in 2023.

This week's 4,000-mile trip for Nebraska marks the beginning of what Scott Frost hopes will be his salvation season. It's no secret that the Nebraska head coach need to show significant improvement on last year's abysmal 3-9 mark and his 15-29 record in Lincoln. One might think a game against the Wildcats provides an easy opportunity to begin the season successfully, especially in light of last year's 56-7 Nebraska romp over Northwestern in Lincoln on October 2. But, the Huskers only return 12 starters from a 3-9 team a year ago while Northwestern has 14 starters back from its 3-9 performance in 2021.

In order to keep his job, Frost apparently cut a deal to revamp some of his staff. The new OC is Mark Whipple who spent the last three seasons at Pitt grooming Heisman finalist Kenny Pickett and Biletnikoff winner Jordan Addison. To assist Whipple, the school went to the transfer portal and won the services of QB Casey Thompson who started 10 games for Texas last year.

Frost also has a new passing game coordinator and associate head coach (head coach in waiting?) in former Nebraska player Mickey Joseph who will also coach wide receivers. He spent the past 5 years at LSU where his receivers helped the Tigers set an FBS record with 60 touchdown receptions, which in turn aided Joe Burrow in ranking third in FBS history in season passing yards (5,671) and winning the 2019 Heisman Trophy. Joseph returns to his alma mater where he played QB and a broken leg at the end of the 1990 season effectively ended his career.

Bryant Applewhite comes over from TCU to continue his specialty of coaching running backs, and Donovan Raiola was hired away from the Chicago Bears to coach the O-line. Raiola and Frost recently came under scrutiny when Frost revealed in a Tweet that the offensive lineman were puking 15-20 times per practice.

Meanwhile, Erik Chinander returns for his fifth season as Nebraska’s defensive coordinator and seventh under Frost  as a DC. Chinander  was a Broyles Award finalist for top assistant last year, as well as in 2016.

Northwestern's offseason has been rather unremarkable, if not negative. All-American safety Brandon Joseph transferred to Notre Dame and the 2022 recruiting class ranked 13th out of 14 Big Ten teams. But, the good news is the program returns a lot of offensive talent - the starting QB, the top three rushers, and 6 of the top 7 receivers.

Head coach Pat Fitzgerald has a history of rebounding from horrible seasons with exceptional campaigns, including an improvement from 3-9 in 2019 to 7-2 in 2020.

The line on this game has been sitting around 12.5 in favor of the 'Huskers, but the Congrove Computer Rankings at put the line at just 1.39 points.

Nebraska is 9-6 all-time vs. Northwestern, but just 3-4 since 2015.

Also See: Weekly Picks, Feature Picks.

New FBS Head Coaches Debut This Week

Ken Wilson and Jerry Kill each have their inaugural game as the respective head coaches of Nevada and New Mexico State this Saturday. Wilson's Wolf Pack travel to face Kill's New Mexico State team as a 9.5-point road favorite, but the Congrove Computer Rankings have this as an opposite pick with NMSU favored by 0.29.

Hometown boy Timmy Chang begins his career as the head coach of Hawaii as a 7-point home underdog to mighty Vanderbilt, and the computer raises that number to 11.95.


2 teams played 2 FCS teams last fall (UConn and UMass), and 115 teams played 1 FCS school for a total of 117 such matchups.

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

FBS teams finished the 2021 season 105-12 vs. the FCS and are 1,574-140 (.918) since we began tracking this in 2003.

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).

Jacksonville State has victories at Florida State (2021) and FIU (020) over the last two seasons and visits Tulsa this season. 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 to steer the move.

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

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

In 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: Lost 45-21 at Tennessee on Saturday, Nov. 27.
Next: Visits Hawaii on Saturday, August 27.

NEW MEXICO STATE - Lost 18 straight road games (FBS longest).
Last: Won 44-27 at home versus Massachusetts on Saturday, Nov. 27
Next: Hosts Nevada on Saturday, August 27.