It's back and it's going to be a dandy!
The 2022 college football season kicks off in a big way with 11 games scheduled for Week 0. One thing we can assure you, these games won't be just warmups for Week 1. Here are three games we believe you should schedule your time to watch.
Nebraska vs. Northwestern (in Dublin, Ireland)
There are few college football coaches with as much pressure on them to succeed as Nebraska's Scott Frost. One thing is for certain, he will have his Cornhuskers at their best when they take on the Northwestern Wildcats at Aviva Stadium in Dublin, Ireland.
With former quarterback Adrian Martinez transferring to Kansas State, the Cornhuskers will be led by former Texas quarterback Casey Thompson, who registered 2,113 passing yards and 24 touchdowns in 12 games with the Longhorns in 2021. Alongside him will be former LSU receiver Trey Palmer and senior Omar Manning to provide offensive support. The true strength of this team will likely be their defense, featuring former TCU pass rusher Ochaun Mathis. The linebacker duo of Luke Reimer and Garrett Nelson may prove to be one of the more productive tandems in the Big Ten this season.
For Northwestern, their strength is arguably at the quarterback position with Ryan Hilinski and Brendan Sullivan. Both of them will have the privilege of playing behind one of the top offensive line units in the conference, led by First-Team All-Big Ten tackle Peter Skoronski. One thing is certain: senior running back Evan Hull is the heart and soul of the offense. Last season, Hull accumulated 1,009 yards and seven touchdowns on the ground. What will he do for an encore in 2022? Senior defensive lineman Adetomiwa Adebawore will be back to help elevate a defensive unit that regressed last season. To help in their revival are junior linebacker Bryce Gallagher and senior defensive back A.J. Hampton.
Duquesne at Florida State
For Florida State head coach Mike Norvell, his first year was one filled with peaks and valleys. Finishing with a 8-13 record last season, he looks to see his team grow into a potential playoff contender this season. For them to achieve this goal, it begins with dual-threat quarterback Jordan Travis, who registered 1,539 passing yards, 530 rushing yards, and 22 total touchdowns in just 10 games last season. Travis' favorite target will likely be former Oregon receiver Mycah Pittman. On defense, the Seminoles will be led by the trio of safety Jammie Robertson, defensive tackle Robert Cooper, and cornerback Omarion Cooper.
The Duquesne Dukes should prove to be no stepping stone for the Seminoles, as they have finished first or second in the Northeast Conference eight times since 2008. Returning will be their starting quarterback, Joe Mischler, whose 2021 season was cut short due to injury. Alongside him will be talented running back Billy Lucas, receiver Joey Isabella, and a stout offensive line led by All-NEC tackle Vincent Lumia. On defense, All-NEC linebacker Todd Hill will lead the way along with cornerback Jeramiah Joseph and All-NEC defensive lineman Maxi Hradecny.
Florida A&M at North Carolina
For North Carolina, success starts with star receiver Josh Downs, who has been pegged as one of the top NFL wide receiver prospects heading into this season. Last season, he collected 101 receptions for 1,335 and eight touchdowns. Newly-named starting quarterback redshirt freshman Drake Maye has a chance to take over the mantle from Sam Howell and help lead the Tar Heels to success going forward. Their true strength, however, will be on defense, which will feature cornerback Tony Grimes, who finished tied for fifth in the ACC with nine pass breakups in 2021; edge rusher Noah Taylor, who transferred from Virginia; and All-ACC defensive tackle Myles Murphy.
For the Florida A&M Rattlers, their most important move of the offseason was keeping Buck Buchanan Award winner Isaiah Land, who led the nation with 19 sacks in 2021. However, their biggest splash this offseason came from the transfer portal, where they landed four Power 5 players: former Pittsburgh running back AJ Davis, Louisville offensive lineman Toryque Bateman, Florida State offensive lineman Christopher Williams, and Florida receiver Fenley Graham. With a wealth of talent on their team, fans should expect the outcome to be a close one.