Finally, College Football is BACK!!!
This Saturday, “Week 0” kicks off the 2022-2023 college football season. Most of the country opens their season next week, so this week there’s only a few games that might hold any interest to Canes fans. Still, college football is better than no college football!
Game of the Week
Nebraska Cornhuskers (0-0) v. Northwestern Wildcats (0-0)
Location: Dublin, Ireland
Date/Time: Saturday, August 27th at 12:30 p.m. ET
Line: Nebraska (-13)
Story Lines: Coach Scott Frost might have the hottest seat in the country. Four years after being plucked away from UCF, Nebraska’s native son has yet to post a winning season for his alma mater. This off season Frost brought in Mark Whipple - yes, the former Canes OC - from the ACC Champion Pittsburgh Panthers to revitalize Nebraska’s anemic offense. Frost named Texas transfer Casey Thompson as its QB1 to replace Adrian Martinez, the gutsy but underperforming super senior who transferred to Kansas State for his final season. Last year the Huskers finished 3-9 but were competitive in every game they played, including one possession losses to ranked Oklahoma, Michigan, Iowa, and Wisconsin teams plus an overtime loss to Michigan State. Because Nebraska kept pace with its ranked opponents, Nebraska is considered a dark horse to come out of the B1G Ten West division.
Northwestern is coming off its own 3-9 season that included a blowout 56-7 loss to Nebraska in Lincoln. Unlike Nebraska, critics aren’t particularly bullish on Pat Fitzgerald’s squad after last year’s dreadful showing. The Wildcats, only two years removed from the B1G Ten Conference Championship Game, were picked to finish dead last in the B1G Ten West by the media. Youth and inexperience is Coach Fitzgerald’s biggest issue - the majority of last year’s starters were underclassmen. To add insult to injury, the Wildcats lost safety Brandon Joseph, their only All-American caliber player, to Notre Dame via the transfer portal. Unsurprisingly, Northwestern itself brought in 7 transfers, 6 on defense, to fill in some gaping holes.
Why Canes Fans Should Care: To be honest, it’s tough to muster a reason why Canes fans should care about a matchup between two 3 win B1G Ten schools. Miami isn’t in any major recruiting battles with either of them, though Frost occasionally leverages his UCF history to recruit in Florida. Miami doesn’t face either school in the near future. The best Miami connection we’ve got is a check-in on how Whipple Ball is fairing these days. But, this is the only matchup this week between major conference opponents, so this showdown in Ireland is the average college football fan’s best game to warmup the season.
Canes Fan Interest Factor (1-10): 5
Canes Opponents Opening Their Seasons
Florida State Seminoles (0-0) v. Duquesne Dukes (0-0)
Location: Tallahassee, Florida
Date/Time: Saturday, August 27th at 5:00 p.m. ET
Story Lines: Miami’s chief rival opens it season this weekend against FCS Duquesne. While this should be a warm up game, the Seminoles lost to FCS Jacksonville State last year. The 2021 FSU team was one of the most befuddling in all the nation - taking Notre Dame to overtime one week and beating Miami another, while other weeks losing to an FCS team and getting blown out at Wake Forest.
Coach Mike Norvell is entering his third season. Last year’s rollercoaster of a campaign was still an overall improvement on his 3-6 record from 2020. The FSU defense improved markedly last year, and FSU’s success this year will depend heavily on how much progress is made by the offense.
As for Duquense, this is a fairly competitive FCS program that beat FBS Ohio University last year 28-26 in Athens, Ohio. They’re certainly better than the Jacksonville St squad who upset FSU last season. JSU finished last year at 5-6 and missed the FCS playoffs.
Why Canes Fans Should Care: It’s tough to learn anything from an FCS matchup, unless of course FSU somehow manages to post a second straight loss to an FCS school. How many years did Al Golden or Randy Shannon blowout an FCS opponent only to produce a stinker of a season? Lots. Last year FSU had more challenges on offense than defense, so it might be worthwhile to tune in and check if QB Jordan Travis, Jr has improved upon last year’s mediocrity.
Canes Fan Interest Factor (1-10): 4
UNC Tarheels (0-0) v. Florida A&M Rattlers (0-0)
Location: Chapel Hill, North Carolina
Date/Time: Saturday, August 27th at 8:15 p.m. ET
Story Lines: The second matchup of an ACC Network double header is UNC’s opening game against FCS Florida A&M. UNC started 2021 with high aspirations and a Top 10 preseason ranking, but muddled its way to a 6-7 record absolutely wasting NFL bound Sam Howell’s final season with the Tarheels. Both potential replacements for Howell, sophomore Jacolby Criswell and redshirt freshman Drake Maye, are expected to receive playing time this Saturday.
Meanwhile, Canes fans should be well familiar with Florida A&M. The Rattlers have frequently visited Miami as the Hurricanes’ annual FCS opponent, though never really putting up much of a challenge even against Miami’s weaker teams. Last year Florida A&M finished 9-3 and made the FCS playoffs before getting bounced in the first round. Although this should be an easy matchup for UNC, the Rattlers are one of the better FCS teams playing this weekend. With UNC breaking in two new QBs, this could be a surprisingly competitive contest if Florida A&M can force a few turnovers.
Why Canes Fans Should Care: UNC, particularly a Mack Brown coached UNC, has been a thorn in Miami’s side. This team and Pittsburgh are arguably the highest hurdles between Miami and a birth in the ACC Championship. Canes fans might be interested in catching our first glimpse of UNC’s life after Sam Howell, even if the game is a blowout.
Canes Fan Interest Factor (1-10): 2
Unfortunately, that’s the highlight of “Week 0” offerings. No other ACC school or Miami opponent is in action. Wyoming at Illinois (4:00 p.m. ET, BTN), Charlotte at Florida Atlantic (7:00 p.m. ET, CBSN) and Vanderbilt at Hawaii (10:30 p.m. ET, CBSN) are examples of the other games this weekend. Bleh.
Some football is better than no football. Enjoy the start of the season Canes fans!