We’ve been given the appetizer with week 0, now we’re on to the main course. The biggest and the best weekend of the season is here as week one commences. Please feel free to use this as your sick days, as the couch should get plenty of attention with wall-to-wall action that begins this evening and doesn’t finish until the late hours of Monday night. Dig in as we have great college football action spread out through these next five days Now, let’s get into it as we look at the best matchups in college football with our 2022 week 1 college football watch guide.
Note: All game times are in central standard time
2022 Week One College Football Watch Guide
We get the week one college football watch guide kicked off with the backyard brawl. This is a very interesting matchup at the quarterback position as two former USC signal callers face off. Kedon Slovis will get the nod for Pitt and JT Daniels will be his counterpart on the other side for the Mountaineers. Perhaps the biggest question for both of these teams will be the supporting cast at the skill positions for both teams. For a full preview of the backyard brawl, take a look at the in-depth breakdown here.
If not for the miracle that Central Michigan pulled off a few years ago, the Cowboys would be on real upset alert this evening in Stillwater. The key matchup here pits strength against strength with the Chippewas running game led by last years rushing leader, Lew Nicholls against the strength of a top 20 overall defense a year ago on the front four. Both teams have legitimate aspirations of winning a conference championship so this might be a sneaky good matchup.
Our last game today gives us a huge game in the Big 10. It’s difficult to talk about a must-win in week one. However, that might just be the case in this matchup for both teams. Penn State is staring at a matchup at Auburn in week three so a loss here could set up a possible 1-3 start. For Purdue, they are a dark horse pick to potentially get to the Big 10 title game with one of the best quarterbacks in the conference in Aiden O’Connell. Don’t miss a second of this big-impact game in week one.
Virginia Tech at Old Dominion
The Hokies welcome in new head coach Brent Pry to a program that’s come down a little bit with three losing seasons out of the last four years. Last season the defense was much improved, but the offense took a step back. That should change this year with Marshall transfer Grant Wells as the Hokies’ new quarterback. Conversely, the Monarchs had a huge bounce-back year after only winning once in 2019 and not playing in 2020 they won six games last year. They averaged over 27 points a game and overall they return 10 of 11 starters on offense.
PAC 12 after dark makes a Friday night appearance as the Big 12 travels to the PAC 12. There’s a lot of newness in Fort Worth as Sonny Dykes takes over for Gary Patterson at the helm. With Dykes being an offensive coach he has a lot to like with Chandler Morris at quarterback and Quentin Johnston at wide receiver. Comparatively, outside of maybe Arizona, the Buffaloes probably have the least talented team in the PAC 12. Most notably, the offense must be much improved over last year’s 19 points per game average. With trips to Air Force and Minnesota upcoming, this feels like a big momentum game at home to start the season.
North Carolina at Appalachian State
The Mountaineers have been a pillar of consistency over the last five years with three 10-win seasons over that span. Nothing has changed this year as they are a trendy pick to get back to the SBC Championship game. The offense should be fine with Chase Brice at quarterback and a deep stable of running backs. However, the defense must retool a bit with only five returning starters. North Carolina had an uneven performance in giving up 24 points through three quarters against a depleted Florida A&M team in week one. However, the debut of Drake Maye at quarterback was successful with five touchdown passes. The Tar Heels are definitely on upset alert.
The Wolfpack come into the season with a ton of hype that’s well deserved. After a 9-3 season that was four points away from 11-1 with 17 starters back is a big reason for the optimism. It doesn’t hurt to have one of the best quarterbacks in the country in Devin Leary off of a 35 touchdown and five interception campaign. For East Carolina, they finally got over the hump to make a bowl for the first time since 2014 only to have it canceled. But, they are led by one of the best quarterbacks in school history in Holton Ahlers who is just under 1,800 yards away from becoming the career passing leader in program history.
Maybe the most intriguing part of this game is the quarterback decision-making from Jim Harbaugh. In an announcement that seems to be the first of its kind, Cade McNamara will start this game and JJ McCarthy will start game two against Hawaii. There are all sorts of intrigue surrounding that, but it will interesting to see how it unfolds for a team that has National Championship aspirations. For Colorado State, Jay Norvell comes over from Nevada and brings a host of transfers with him including redshirt freshman Clay Millen. But, with the talent gap here against Michigan, we’re not sure how competitive they will be.
Our first ranked versus ranked matchup in the week one college football watch guide comes to us from Atlanta. In what is being dubbed as a neutral site matchup will have a heavy fan lean in favor of Georgia. Be that as it may, there are plenty of unanswered questions for both teams. For Georgia, they lost a ton of talent on the defensive side of the ball and although they are littered with five-star talent replacing eight starters could be interesting to watch in game one. Comparatively, all things are new for Oregon with new head coach Dan Lanning in Eugene. They lose some firepower on offense but Bo Nix should hopefully provide some stability. But, expect the defense to improve off of giving up 27 point per game las season.
Continuing in the ranked versus ranked matchups, we have an intriguing matchup in Fayetteville. Cincinnati is coming off of a playoff berth in 2021 but loses a lot. Ben Bryant comes over from Eastern Michigan to help lessen the blow at quarterback. But, if Cincinnati can get through this game the schedule opens very nicely for them. For Arkansas, there seems to be a ton of optimism after their turnaround from three wins to nine wins last year. The offense should be fine with an infusion of talent at wide receiver. However, they must replace seven starters on defense. This should be an exciting contest that comes down to the fourth quarter.
(24) Houston at UTSA
This is a matchup between two of the best G5 teams in 2021 that went a combined 24-4. UTSA should be dynamic on offense with the return of Frank Harris at quarterback, the addition of Trelon Smith at running back from Arkansas, as well as Zakhari Franklin and Joshua Cephus at wide receiver. In replacing six starters on defense, what does that production look like? Similarly for Houston, they have a 3,000-yard passer in Clayton Tune and a 1,000-yard receiver in Tank Dell. Get ready, folks, this one is going to be a track meet.
What a way to start the season for the defending PAC 12 Champs as they invade Gainesville. Utah is the favorite to repeat as conference champions and many have them as a potential playoff team this season. Cameron Rising solidified the quarterback position and they return a punishing runner in Tavion Thomas. For the Gators, preseason expectations have been as low as they have been in quite some time on the national scene. First-year head coach Billy Napier looks to change the culture at Florida. But, with only 13 returning starters can the Gator home crowd will them to a win?
Army at Coastal Carolina
A couple of teams that could not be much different when Army collides with Coastal Carolina in week one. The Black Knights have won at least nine games in four of the last five seasons under Jeff Monken. They do lose 28 seniors and don’t have the luxury of the portal as most teams. However, they still have plenty of kids with experience and should be a typical Army team. For Coastal, they do return big-time dual-threat quarterback Grayson McCall. But, they only return a total of seven starters on both sides of the ball. This could end up being the most competitive game of the weekend.
The game of the week and our first top-five matchup of the year brings us a critical game in week one. The Fighting Irish invade Columbus to take on the Buckeyes. Ohio State has arguably the best players in the country at quarterback, running back, and wide receiver. CJ Stroud, Traveyon Henderson, and Jaxson Smith-Njigba are bigtime talents. Meanwhile, Notre Dame is in its first full year under head coach Marcus Freeman. The Irish might be positioned to slow down Ohio State’s offense more than most on their schedule. However, the key to the game will be how Tyler Buchner performs in his first start in a very hostile environment.
Memphis at Mississippi State
The ball will be flying around the yard in Davis Wade Stadium on Saturday night when Mississippi State entertains Memphis. Will Rogers and Seth Hennigan are both outstanding quarterbacks who will put up touchdowns in bunches. However, the Bulldogs are the more experienced team with nine returning starters on defense to note. The Tigers upset the Bulldogs last year, can they make it two for two?
We end our Saturday night in the 2022 week one college football watch guide by going out to the PAC 12. Boise State fell back a little bit at 7-5 in Andy Avalos’ first season in Boise. However, the defense was much improved and now has nine returning starters. If Hank Bachmeier can make a jump in his junior season the Broncos could get back to a double-digit winning season. This should be Oregon State’s best team since Jonathan Smith joined as the head coach five years ago. They, like Boise, return nine starters on a defense that was very improved. However, they must replace some key contributors at running back and wide receiver.
There’s not a lot that you can take away from an opening win against FCS Duquesne. However, the offense looked very good, especially the running game that churned out over 400 yards. However, the competition will get much tougher this week in another neutral site game that isn’t really one in New Orleans. For LSU, Brian Kelly begins his first year in Baton Rouge. It appears they will go with Jayden Daniels at quarterback along with John Emery and Noah Cain at running back with Kayshon Boutte at receiver they appear to be solid at the skill positions. Defensively, they gave up 27 points per game and only return five starters.
As we conclude our 2022 week one College Football watch guide with a game that could be tricky for a top-five team on the road. Even though they were a top-five defense, the offense took a big step back last year. There will be a much shorter leash on DJ Uiagalelei with true freshman Cade Klubnik waiting in the wings. Conversely, Georgia Tech hung tough in this matchup last year only losing by six. The Yellow Jackets have not won more than three games in a season since Geoff Collins arrived so there’s a certain degree of pressure on him this season. There’s a big roster turnover with only eight returning starters on both sides of the ball. Could an infusion of young talent be the recipe for success to pull off a gigantic upset?