It's so great to be back writing about college football and I hope everyone was able to enjoy some of the action from week 0 of the 2022 college football season. Unless you’re a die-hard college football fan, you may not have even realized the season kicked off yesterday but no worries I got you covered! While the more widely anticipated week 1 kicks off next weekend with some major top 25 matchups, there was plenty of action yesterday from around the college football world to keep us entertained.
Game of the Week
Northwestern 31 Nebraska 28
What better way to kick off the college football season than with a trip to Dublin, Ireland for a divisional game in the Big Ten West. So many questions surrounded both teams entering the 2022 season with much of the focus on Nebraska coach Scott Frost as he enters a critical year five, still searching for his first bowl appearance. Nebraska looked strong early and the offense was clicking as Casey Thompson and the Huskers jumped on the board first when Isaiah Garcia-Casteneda made a leaping grab in the back corner of the endzone to give Nebraska the early 7-0 lead. Northwestern would add a field goal to make the game 7-3 before the Huskers went on a 14 play 80-yard scoring drive capped off by a Casey Thompson TD run to stretch the lead to 14-3.
After a hot start to the game, Nebraska started to unravel, making many of the same mistakes we saw in 2021. The first big mistake for the Huskers came when the defense busted a coverage in the secondary allowing Northwestern QB Ryan Hilinski to find a wide-open Raymond Niro for a 41-yard touchdown strike making the score 14-10.
On the very next possession Nebraska made another costly mistake, turning the ball over back to Northwestern allowing them to own the second quarter. After trading punts late in the second quarter, Northwestern would go on a 13 play 82-yard drive which included a gutsy 4th down conversion from their own 39-yard line. The Wildcats would cap off this impressive drive with a touchdown when Cats QB Ryan Hilinski found Donny Navarro in the back of the end zone for a 6-yard TD, allowing Northwestern to take a 17-14 lead into the half.
Nebraska a team that was plagued with close losses and second half letdowns in 2021 looked to change the narrative in 2022 by coming out strong in the third quarter. The Huskers would get on the board in the third quarter with an impressive 8 play 88-yard touchdown drive capped off by an Anthony Grant 3-yard touchdown run. After the ensuing kick-off, the Huskers defense would come up big by forcing a Northwestern turnover on the first play as a Nebraska defender put a helmet on the ball knocking it loose and recovering it in Northwestern territory. Nebraska would capitalize two plays later when Anthony Grant ripped off a 46-yard touchdown run to give the Huskers a 28 -17 lead and seemingly all
the momentum but that’s when things took a strange turn.
The Call That Changed Everything
After scoring 14 straight points and with a 28-17 lead in the third quarter, Nebraska coach Scott Frost made the odd decision to attempt a surprise on-side kick. The only problem was that nobody was surprised, and the Wildcats easily recovered the ball giving Northwestern new life and great field position. The Wildcats would take that gift from Nebraska and go 44 yards on 5 plays and finish the drive with a 3-yard Cam Porter TD run. The failed onside kick and Northwestern touchdown seemed to take all the life out of the Huskers on both sides of the ball. Nebraska’s next three possessions on offense resulted in two 3 & out punts and a critical interception thrown by Casey Thompson. Northwestern would take advantage of the turnover with a 6 play 42-yard touchdown drive to give Northwestern a 31-28 lead with 11:34 left in the game.
Nebraska just could not get anything going on offense, as they would punt the ball back to Northwestern two more times in the 4th. Northwestern completely wore down the huskers defense over their last 3 possessions at one point running the ball 15 straight times and chewing off more than 7 minutes of clock. After a 9 play 53-yard drive that lasted 4 minutes and 13 seconds, Northwestern punter Luke Akers nailed a beautiful 37-yard punt that checked up inside the 4-yard line with just over 2 minutes left in the game.
With no time outs and needing a field goal to send the game into overtime, the Nebraska offense would once again come up short as Northwestern defender Xander Muller picked off Casey Thompson to seal the game for Northwestern. It was ultimately the same old story for Nebraska as all the issues from 2021 seemed to pop up again all at once in this opening game. Three turnovers, a failed onside kick and a defense that got worn out at the point of attack ultimately sealed the Huskers fate. While it’s a long season, Nebraska will have to do some soul searching on the long trip back to Lincoln.
For Northwestern, you couldn't have asked for a better start to 2022, as the Wildcats get a critical Big Ten West division win and seem to have found their identity early in 2022. With a solid QB, strong offensive line and opportunistic defense, the Wildcats should be much improved in 2022 and will find themselves competing deep into the 4th quarter of many games this season.
Vanderbilt has a Star at QB
Week 0 Player of the Week
Mike Wright QB Vanderbilt
309 Total Yards, 4 Total TDs (2 Rush & 2 Pass)
With a coaching change, culture issues and players fleeing the program in droves, Hawaii has probably had one of the toughest off seasons of any team in college football. With that being said, it’s never easy to fly to Honolulu for an opener, especially when your name is Vanderbilt. Many experts picked Vandy to struggle in its opener against Hawaii and most in the gambling world felt that Hawaii would at the very least cover in a close game. This game was anything but close as Vanderbilt cruised to a 63-10 victory behind Vandy QB Mike Wright. Wright finished the game with 163 yards rushing on 13 carries and 2 TDs on the ground. Wright would account for another 2 TDs through the air as he also completed
13 of 21 for 146 and two touchdowns. There were a few players across the country that put up numbers yesterday but with 4 total touchdowns including an electrifying 87-yard touchdown run vs. an FBS opponent, Mike Wright earns the “Player of the Week” award for week 0.
Doug Brumfield QB UNLV
Brumfield completed 21 of 25 passes for 356 yards and 4 TDs in UNLV's 52-21 rout of Idaho State.
Chase Brown RB Illinois
Brown averaged a whopping 7.9 yards per rush as he ran for 151 yards on 19 carries and scored two TDs as Illinois defeated Wyoming 38 - 6
ACC Takes Care of Business
Florida State 47 Duquesne 40
North Carolina 56 FAMU 24
There were a handful of teams with seemingly easy matchups in week 0 but that doesn’t mean we can’t take anything away from their performances. Two ACC teams coming off disappointing seasons in 2021 were Florida State & North Carolina. Both teams took advantage of overmatched FCS opponents in Duquesne & Florida A&M with the Seminoles handling Duquesne 47-7 after an hour and a half weather delay and UNC overcoming a slow start to defeat a FAMU team with over 20 ineligible players 56-24. A special nod to FAMU for showing a lot of heart during this one and a thank you for Duquesne covering the 42-point spread😊.
Other Notable Games
Utah State 31 UConn 20
UConn showed heart in Jim Mora’s coaching debut and looked much improved jumping out to a 14-0 lead as a 28-point road dog to Utah State but ultimately fell to the Aggies 31-20. UConn finished 2021 1-11 with their only win coming against Yale, so a solid road performance against a quality team in Utah State should give the Huskies some hope of a better 2022.
Big Matchups in Week 1
I hope you all enjoyed this recap of week 0 and are looking forward to next week as we have a few monster games comming up in week 1. Most notable games next week include:
#5 Notre Dame @ #2 Ohio State
#11 Oregon @ #3 Georgia
#23 Cincinnati @ #19 Arkansas
West Virginia @ #17 Pitt
#7 Utah @ Florida
Penn State @ Purdue
Florida State @ LSU
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