Week Zero college football: Nebraska-Northwestern is one to watch – The Washington Post

Week Zero college football: Nebraska-Northwestern is one to watch - The Washington Post


College football season kicks off Saturday with one of the weirder traditions that has taken root in recent years: Week 0, when a bunch of teams open their seasons the weekend before the generally accepted weekday weekend kickoff date.

There are two ways for Football Bowl Subdivision teams to play in Week 0: by applying for a waiver to the NCAA or by being a team that must travel to face Hawaii at some point in the season (the NCAA allows such teams to reimburse the costs of travel to Hawaii by scheduling 13 match). Vanderbilt, Western Kentucky, Duquesne, Nevada, Wyoming, Utah State and UNLV will travel to face the Rainbow Warriors this season, and all play Saturday.

So while there aren’t many marquee teams in action Saturday, Week 0 will still serve to whet our appetites for next season.

Western Kentucky vs. Austin Peay

Northwestern vs. Nebraska

Stephen F. Austin vs. Jacksonville State

Utah State vs. Connecticut

Florida State vs. Duquesne

Florida Atlantic vs. Charlotte

North Carolina vs. Florida A&M

New Mexico State vs. Nevada

Nebraska and Northwestern travel all the way to Dublin for the first game of the season (and the only game of Week 0) featuring two powerhouse conference teams. The Cornhuskers won just three games for a second straight season in 2021, nearly costing coach Scott Frost his job — he was forced to take a pay cut and fire four offensive assistants — but the underlying statistics tell the story of a team that may have just been unlucky: Nebraska scored 63 more points than its opponents on the season but was 0-8 in games decided by one score. Frost brought in a new offensive coordinator, Mark Whipple, who did wonders for Pittsburgh’s offense. That, plus a slew of transfers, could lead to brighter days in Lincoln (or at least Frost hopes). The Wildcats, meanwhile, posted a 3-9 record for the second time in three seasons, their season undone by a lead offense (they had just 124 plays gaining at least 10 yards, which ranked. 124th out of 130 teams). …

Illinois hosting Wyomingshowed progress as coach Bret Bielema’s first Champaign campaign continued, winning four of his final seven games in 2021, including that ridiculous nine-overtime road upset since then-No. 7 Penn State. But the Illini lost a lot of production from that team and are more or less starting from scratch. The Cowboys are dealing with a similar problem, especially on offense: They must replace their top two quarterbacks, a leading rusher, top two receivers and two all-conference linemen. But considering how bad Wyoming’s offense was last season — the Cowboys didn’t reach 20 points in six games last season — that may be a blessing in disguise. …

Hawaii Vanderbilt is about as “Week 0 Nightcap” as a game can get, especially considering it will be played at the Rainbow Warriors’ 9,300-seat practice facility after Aloha Stadium was declared unusable after last season. Allegations of abuse by former coach Todd Graham have sent many of Hawaii’s top players to the transfer portal, meaning there is little left of last year’s 6-7 team for new coach Timmy Chang, who put up eye-popping numbers as the quarterback of the Rainbow Warriors at the beginning of this century. . Vanderbilt’s brief moment of excellence — the Commodores went to five bowl games during an eight-season stretch from 2011 to 2018 — appears to be over: Vanderbilt has gone 5-28 over the past three seasons.

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