College Football Picks: Week 1 Predictions for Every Game and FCS Upsets

Morgan MoriartyAugust 31, 2022

College Football Picks: Week 1 Predictions for Every Game and FCS Upsets

0 of 8

    TreVeyon Henderson (32) and C.J. Stroud (Brian Rothmuller/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

    Last week, the long wait for the 2022 college football season ended. This week, the sport is back in full force with a complete slate of games.

    And lucky for us, there are huge matchups. On Saturday afternoon, No. 3 Georgia will open the season in Atlanta against No. 11 Oregon. That night, No. 5 Notre Dame will visit No. 2 Ohio State.

    There are plenty more heavyweight tilts, and we've got you covered with predictions for each and every game.

    We'll start with the Associated Press Top 25 teams and then explore the best games between unranked teams, FBS vs. FCS games and the rest of the slate.

    The AP Top 25 games are listed in ascending order of ranking. The others are presented in chronological order by kickoff time.


    Odds via DraftKings.

    Gambling problem? Call (877-8-HOPENY) or text HOPENY (467369).

    If you or someone you know has a gambling problem, crisis counseling and referral services can be accessed by calling 1-800-GAMBLER (1-800-426-2537) (IL/IN/MI/NJ/PA/WV/WY), 1-800-NEXT STEP (AZ), 1-800-522-4700 (CO/NH), 888-789-7777/visiting ccpg.org/chat (CT), 1-800-BETS OFF (IA), 1-877-770-STOP (7867) (LA), visiting OPGR.org (OR), or calling/texting TN REDLINE 1-800-889-9789 (TN) or 1-888-532-3500 (VA).

    Odds and lines subject to change. 21+ (18+ NH/WY). AZ/CO/CT/IL/IN/IA/LA/MI/NH/NJ/NY/OR/PA/TN/VA/WV/WY only. Eligibility restrictions apply. See draftkings.com/sportsbook for full terms and conditions.

AP Nos. 25-21

1 of 8

    Lane Kiffin (Kevin Langley/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

    No. 25 BYU at South Florida, 4 p.m. ET Saturday

    These teams played last season in Provo. Down 28-6 at halftime, the Bulls outscored the Cougars 21-7 in the second half but never got the ball back after a touchdown with 5:41 left.

    BYU finished 10-3, while USF went 2-10.

    The Cougars are a potential dark-horse College Football Playoff contender in 2022. They return eight starters on offense and 11 on defense and will face Baylor, Oregon, Notre Dame and Arkansas.

    USF head coach Jeff Scott is in his third season and has 10 starters back on offense plus a big get in the transfer portal, former Baylor quarterback Gerry Bohanon. Bohanon started 12 games for the Bears last season, helping them reach the Big 12 title game and win the Sugar Bowl. He missed the regular-season finale and conference championship game with a hamstring injury.

    BYU is a 12-point favorite, which sounds about right. The Bulls should be improved, but BYU has a much more experienced group.

    Prediction: BYU 38, USF 24


    No. 24 Houston at UTSA, 3:30 p.m. ET Saturday

    Speaking of dark-horse playoff teams, Houston has a chance to be what Cincinnati was last season. The Cougars went 12-2 last year, losing 35-20 to the Bearcats in the AAC title game.

    Houston returns starting quarterback Clayton Tune, who threw for 3,544 yards and 30 touchdowns with . Running back Alton McCaskill IV is out for the year with an ACL injury, but senior Ta'Zhawn Henry should fill in ably.

    UTSA had the same record as Houston last season. The Roadrunners were undefeated until they lost at North Texas on Nov. 27. UTSA then beat Western Kentucky 49-41 in the C-USA title game. The Roadrunners return quarterback Frank Harris and senior receivers Zakhari Franklin, Joshua Cephus and De'Corian Clark.

    This game should be entertaining, and it might come down to the wire. Houston can pull it out, but I wouldn't be surprised if UTSA pulls off the upset.

    Prediction: Houston 45, UTSA 38


    No. 23 Cincinnati at No. 19 Arkansas, 3:30 p.m. ET Saturday

    See No. 19 Arkansas for prediction.


    VMI at No. 22 Wake Forest, 7:30 p.m. ET Thursday

    Wake Forest had quite the successful year in 2021. The Demon Deacons finished 11-3 and won the ACC Atlantic Division for the second time in program history.

    Wake gets back 12 starters from last season, but quarterback Sam Hartman will be out for "an extended period of time" with a non-football-related medical issue. Backup Mitch Griffis will take the reins.

    Running back Justice Ellison should get even more touches this season because of Hartman's absence. He rushed for 541 yards and seven touchdowns last season behind Christian Beal-Smith, who transferred to South Carolina.

    VMI is 23-52 under head coach Scott Wachenheim over seven seasons but is coming off back-to-back winning campaigns for the first time since 1962. Wake should extend its nine-game home winning streak.

    Prediction: Wake Forest 28, VMI 3


    Troy at No. 21 Ole Miss, 4 p.m. ET Saturday

    Ole Miss has gone 15-8 over two seasons under Lane Kiffin. But the Rebels have to replace a lot of talent from last year's 10-3 team. Ole Miss gets back just five starters on offense.

    Kiffin did make big moves in the transfer portal, including landing USC quarterback Jaxson Dart, TCU running back Zach Evans and linebackers Troy Brown and Khari Coleman. Whether the Rebels can make noise in the SEC West is the biggest question heading into this season.

    Troy has a new head coach in Jon Sumrall. A longtime assistant, he spent the last three seasons with Kentucky under Mark Stoops. The Trojans return nine starters on each side of the ball.

    Against current SEC teams, Troy is 3-23. We'll see if the newcomers on the Ole Miss offense can put up some points.

    Prediction: Ole Miss 48, Troy 10

AP Nos. 20-16

2 of 8

    Tyler Van Dyke (Doug Murray/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

    Miami (Ohio) at No. 20 Kentucky, 7 p.m. ET Saturday

    Speaking of Mark Stoops, he has pushed Kentucky into rarefied air. The Wildcats went 10-3 last season, which marked their second 10-win season since 2018. Their only other 10-plus-win seasons came in 1950 and 1977.

    Returning quarterback Will Levis was a big part of that success. The Penn State transfer threw for 2,826 yards and 24 touchdowns with 13 interceptions. He also became the seventh player in program history to put up over 3,000 yards of total offense.

    Miami (Ohio) has found consistency under head coach Chuck Martin, who is entering his ninth season. Since 2018, the Redhawks have finished .500 or better, including a 7-6 mark last year.

    Kentucky is 21-1 in home openers against non-Power Five opponents. Levis and the Wildcats should have a big day.

    Prediction: Kentucky 45, Miami (Ohio) 13


    No. 23 Cincinnati at No. 19 Arkansas, 3:30 p.m. ET Saturday

    This game is quite the intriguing out-of-conference matchup for Week 1. The Bearcats are coming off a historic season as the first Group of Five team to make the CFP. Cincy's 13-1 record was the best finish in program history.

    Arkansas finished 9-4, a drastic improvement from its 3-7 mark in 2020.

    Cincinnati has to replace a lot of talent, including quarterback Desmond Ridder. The Bearcats also lost six starters on defense.

    Their biggest question is if head coach Luke Fickell can keep them nationally relevant. Upsetting Arkansas on the road would be a good start.

    I think it will be entertaining for three quarters. But expect quarterback KJ Jefferson and the Razorbacks to put this one away late.

    Prediction: Arkansas 38, Cincinnati 28


    Illinois State at No. 18 Wisconsin, 7 p.m. ET Saturday

    Wisconsin finished 9-4 last season but missed out on the Big Ten title game. The Badgers return just eight starters from last season, including only three on defense. Luckily, star running back Braelon Allen and three offensive linemen are back.

    Illinois State went 4-7 last season under longtime head coach Brock Spack. The offense struggled, averaging just 252.4 yards and 18.4 points per game.

    Wisconsin is 9-0 against FCS teams since 2006. We likely won't get too many takeaways about how the Badgers can compete in the Big Ten West, but Wisconsin should win big. Allen should have a strong day, as well.

    Prediction: Wisconsin 35, Illinois State 6


    West Virginia at No. 17 Pitt, 7 p.m. ET Thursday

    College football fans are in for a treat. The rivalry coined the "Backyard Brawl" will be renewed, as West Virginia takes on Pitt for the first time since 2011. These rivals have played 104 games since their first meeting in 1895, and the Mountaineers have won the last three meetings.

    Pitt won the ACC last season and finished 11-3. The Panthers, though, have to replace two of their biggest stars in quarterback Kenny Pickett and receiver Jordan Addison, who transferred to USC. Head coach Pat Narduzzi landed quarterback Kedon Slovis from USC, so we'll see how he fits in the new system.

    West Virginia has been mediocre under head coach Neal Brown, who is 17-18 in three seasons. The Mountaineers will start Georgia transfer JT Daniels behind center.

    This one might come down to which quarterback performs best. I like Slovis, who played 27 games for the Trojans over three seasons, and his experience in a tight, fun game.

    Prediction: Pitt 24, West Virginia 21


    Bethune-Cookman at No. 16 Miami, 3:30 p.m. ET Saturday

    There's been plenty of hype surrounding Miami since Mario Cristobal was hired in December. It's no secret that the Hurricanes are looking to become nationally relevant again. A former Miami offensive lineman, Cristobal went 35-13 over five seasons at Oregon and might be the answer. He's likely a big reason why the Canes are the favorites to win the ACC Coastal Division this year.

    Another reason is returning starting quarterback Tyler Van Dyke. He threw for 2,931 yards and 25 touchdowns with just six interceptions in 10 games after starting the season behind D'Eriq King, who underwent season-ending shoulder surgery.

    Hailing from the MEAC, Bethune-Cookman went 2-9 last season. These programs have met five times, and Miami has won all five by an average of 39 points. Expect Van Dyke and the Canes to have a big day against the Wildcats.

    Prediction: Miami 52, Bethune-Cookman 14

AP Nos. 15-11

3 of 8

    Caleb Williams (Brian Rothmuller/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

    Western Michigan at No. 15 Michigan State, 7 p.m. ET Friday

    These teams have played 16 times, and the Spartans have won the last 12 meetings, dating back to 1921. The last time they met, in 2019, MSU won 51-17 in East Lansing.

    Michigan State is a 23-point favorite after finishing 11-2 last season and winning the Peach Bowl over Pitt. MSU gets back nine starters on defense, including all four of its leading tacklers.

    Without Kenneth Walker III, the running game will likely take a step back. But starting quarterback Payton Thorne, who threw for 3,232 yards and 27 touchdowns with 10 interceptions, returns.

    Western Michigan returns just four players on offense from last season's 8-5 team. The Broncos' two wins against Sparty came in 1917 and 1919, so Michigan State should extend its streak easily.

    Prediction: Michigan State 35, Western Michigan 10


    Rice at No. 14 USC, 6 p.m. ET Saturday

    Perhaps the team with the most hype entering 2022 is USC, thanks to the hiring of Lincoln Riley from Oklahoma. He brought along with him quarterback Caleb Williams, who threw for 1,912 yards and 21 touchdowns with four interceptions in 11 games, including just seven starts, last season. Riley also added Pitt receiver Jordan Addison and Oregon running back Travis Dye.

    Still, the Trojans have a tough schedule ahead. USC plays Fresno State in Week 3 and visits Utah, Arizona and UCLA before finishing with Notre Dame at home.

    Rice hasn't had a winning season since 2014 and went 4-8 last year. This marks its last season in C-USA before it heads to the AAC.

    Williams and the Trojans are 32.5-point favorites over the Owls. USC has what it takes to win by even more than that.

    Prediction: USC 48, Rice 3


    No. 13 NC State at East Carolina, Noon ET Saturday

    Clemson is the favorite to win the ACC Atlantic Division, but NC State is expected to finish right behind the Tigers. The Wolfpack went 9-3 last season and had a chance to reach 10 wins until the Holiday Bowl against UCLA was canceled because of an outbreak of COVID-19 among the Bruins.

    Quarterback Devin Leary is expected to do big things this season. Last season, he had his best year yet, throwing for 3,433 yards and 35 touchdowns with just five interceptions. He had a five-game stretch in which he threw for over 300 yards against ACC opponents. NC State returns 10 starters on defense, too, including leading tackler Drake Thomas.

    East Carolina is a tricky opponent. Quarterback Holton Ahlers and running back Keaton Mitchell return from last season's 7-5 squad.

    ECU has lost the last two games in this series, in 2018 and 2019, but won the last home matchup, in 2016. In fact, NC State has lost four of the five matchups played in Greenville. This one will be entertaining throughout, and the Wolfpack will pull away late.

    Prediction: NC State 28, East Carolina 21


    Central Michigan at No. 12 Oklahoma State, 7 p.m. ET Thursday

    Oklahoma State just missed the playoff last season. A narrow loss to Baylor in the Big 12 title game cost it a shot at the postseason. Still, finishing 12-2 with a Fiesta Bowl win over Notre Dame isn't too shabby.

    The Cowboys get back seven starters on offense, including quarterback Spencer Sanders. The redshirt senior threw for 2,839 yards and 20 touchdowns with 12 interceptions last season. He was named the Fiesta Bowl Offensive MVP after he threw for 371 yards and four touchdowns. If Sanders has an even better year in 2022, his NFL draft stock could rise even higher.

    Central Michigan finished 9-4 last season under third-year head coach Jim McElwain. It marked the Chippewas' best finish since 2009. CMU gets back seven starters on offense, including quarterback Daniel Richardson and running back Lew Nichols III.

    These teams have played twice, in 2015 and 2016. The series is split, with the visitor winning both matchups. The Chippewas can keep this one entertaining early on, but Sanders' talent will take over eventually.

    Prediction: Oklahoma State 35, Central Michigan 17


    No. 11 Oregon vs. No. 3 Georgia in Atlanta, 3:30 p.m. ET Saturday

    See No. 3 Georgia for prediction.

AP Nos. 10-6

4 of 8

    Haynes King (13) (Michael Ciaglo/Getty Images)

    Albany at No. 10 Baylor, 7 p.m. ET Saturday

    Head coach Dave Aranda found success in Year 2 at Baylor last season. After going 2-7 in 2020, the Bears won the Big 12 and finished 12-2. Their two losses, to Oklahoma State and TCU, kept them out of the playoff.

    The Bears are expected to be in the mix for the Big 12 again. But standing in the way is a tough schedule featuring road games against BYU, Iowa State, West Virginia, Oklahoma and Texas. Quarterback Blake Shapen, who led Baylor in the Big 12 title game, could have a breakout season.

    The Bears shouldn't have a problem against Albany. The Great Danes finished 2-9 last season and might be one of the few opponents Baylor can easily beat by at least a couple of scores this season.

    Prediction: Baylor 45, Albany 13


    UTEP at No. 9 Oklahoma, 3:30 p.m. ET Saturday

    The Brent Venables era will begin against UTEP. The longtime Clemson defensive coordinator brought a lot of talent with him via the transfer portal, including UCF quarterback Dillon Gabriel. Over three seasons with the Knights, Gabriel threw for 8,037 yards and 70 touchdowns against 14 interceptions. Under former Ole Miss offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach Jeff Lebby, Gabriel should put up big numbers.

    UTEP finished 7-6 last season and is off to a 0-1 start with a 31-13 loss against North Texas.

    The Miners have lost 10 straight games against ranked opponents by an average of 35.7 points.

    Prediction: Oklahoma 52, UTEP 12


    Colorado State at No. 8 Michigan, Noon ET Saturday

    Michigan defeated Ohio State for the first time since 2011 last year, and it finally got a playoff berth. It was about as great a season as fans could ask for even after the Wolverines fell flat against Georgia in the semifinal.

    They return nine starters on offense, including quarterback Cade McNamara and star running back Blake Corum.

    Colorado State has struggled in recent years. The Rams haven't finished above .500 since 2017 and went 3-9 last season.

    The Wolverines are 12-1 in home openers since 2009.

    Jim Harbaugh's team shouldn't have a problem. McNamara will start, and sophomore J.J. McCarthy will get the nod in Week 2 against Hawai'i. If McNamara has a big day, it might be enough to win him the job.

    Prediction: Michigan 47, CSU 14


    No. 7 Utah at Florida, 7 p.m. ET Saturday

    This game looks like a potential upset with Utah having to go on the road to face Florida in a primetime matchup. It's tough to open the season like that, but the Utes look like they have what it takes to get the job done.

    They won the Pac-12 last year and finished 10-4, and they return eight starters on offense, including Heisman Trophy hopeful quarterback Cameron Rising. Leading rusher Tavion Thomas is also back.

    Florida, meanwhile, has yet another new head coach in Billy Napier. He inherited a roster with 13 returning starters, but the Gators will be out-matched talent-wise.

    Florida fans are expecting big things from quarterback Anthony Richardson, but the sophomore started just one game last season, throwing for 82 yards and two interceptions against Georgia.

    Utah is a 2.5-point favorite, and Florida has a 32-game winning streak in home openers. I think the crowd will keep the Gators in this game for a while, but the Utes' talent will make the difference.

    Prediction: Utah 35, Florida 28


    Sam Houston State at No. 6 Texas A&M, Noon ET Saturday

    Texas A&M was one of two teams to knock off Alabama last season. That makes for a pretty successful season despite an 8-4 finish.

    It's worth watching whether the Aggies can compete in the SEC West. They return 11 starters, and fifth-year head coach Jimbo Fisher is expected to go with Haynes King behind center. King started Texas A&M's first two games last season before suffering a broken tibia.

    The Aggies made some noise with their No. 1-ranked recruiting class, but it'll take time before Fisher gets results from that group.

    Sam Houston State has had a lot of success in recent years in the FCS. The Bearkats won the national championship in 2020 and went 11-1 last season. This one seems like it could be a potential upset, but Texas A&M has beaten its last three FCS opponents by a combined score of 173-13. The Aggies should open the season on a high note at home.

    Prediction: Texas A&M 38, Sam Houston State 10

AP Nos. 5-1

5 of 8

    Marcus Freeman (Robin Alam/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

    No. 5 Notre Dame at No. 2 Ohio State, 7:30 p.m. ET Saturday

    See No. 2 Ohio State for prediction.


    No. 4 Clemson vs. Georgia Tech in Atlanta, 8 p.m. ET Monday

    It's no secret that Clemson had a down year in 2021. Although the Tigers finished 10-3, they missed out on the ACC Championship Game and playoff.

    But as long as Dabo Swinney is the head coach, Clemson should be in the playoff hunt. Swinney lost longtime coordinators Tony Elliott and Brent Venables to head coaching jobs this offseason. We'll see how both units adjust with the respective coordinator changes.

    The biggest question mark entering 2022 for Clemson is quarterback DJ Uiagalelei. The junior struggled significantly last season, throwing just nine touchdowns and 10 interceptions. If Uiagalelei struggles how he did last season, I expect Swinney to give true freshman Cade Klubnik a shot under center. The Tigers get back nine starters on offense and six on defense.

    It's unusual to open the season against a conference opponent, but the Tigers shouldn't have a problem against a struggling Yellow Jackets program. GT has gone just 9-25 over three seasons under Geoff Collins. Clemson has a seven-game winning streak against Tech. The Tigers should win big.

    Prediction: Clemson 35, Georgia Tech 7


    No. 3 Georgia vs. No. 11 Oregon in Atlanta, 3:30 p.m. ET Saturday

    Georgia opens with one of its toughest 2022 opponents. The Oregon Ducks have former Bulldogs defensive coordinator Dan Lanning as their new head coach. Lanning added Auburn transfer quarterback Bo Nix this offseason, who is expected to start Saturday.

    The Dawgs lose eight starters on defense from last season, but linebacker Nolan Smith returning is big. The Bulldogs will be loaded on offense in 2022, featuring quarterback Stetson Bennett. Targets like Brock Bowers, Ladd McConkey and Arik Gilbert should give Bennett the opportunity to improve in the passing game in 2022.

    The biggest question surrounding Georgia this season is if the offense can win games if it has to. Last season, Georgia virtually never had to play from behind because its defense was keeping opponents off the board.

    This game has a lot of hype surrounding it, with Georgia being the defending national champions and Lanning's obvious familiarity with the Dawgs. This should be one of the best games of the weekend.

    I'd love to see a 2019 version of Bo Nix, when he threw for 2,542 yards and 16 touchdowns under new Ducks OC Kenny Dillingham. I don't think this is the game that tests Georgia's offense the most, but it should be a fun one at least.

    Prediction: Georgia 38, Oregon 24


    No. 5 Notre Dame at No. 2 Ohio State, 7:30 p.m. ET Saturday

    This is the best matchup of the weekend. Ohio State missed out on the playoff last season but still finished 11-2 and won the Rose Bowl. The Buckeyes return 14 starters, including Heisman candidate quarterback C.J. Stroud. Also back is receiver Jaxson Smith-Njigba and leading rusher TreVeyon Henderson.

    Notre Dame, meanwhile, will begin a new era under head coach Marcus Freeman. The Fighting Irish return eight starters on defense, the unit Freeman oversaw as defensive coordinator before being elevated to head coach last December. Notre Dame, per usual, has playoff hopes as an independent. But a tough schedule featuring BYU, Clemson and USC might make a playoff path more difficult.

    I'll be interested to see how new Irish quarterback Tyler Buchner plays in a hostile environment. This should be a good game, but the Buckeyes d it at home gives them a big edge.

    Prediction: Ohio State 28, Notre Dame 17


    Utah State at No. 1 Alabama, 7:30 p.m. ET Saturday

    Alabama is the national title favorite once again heading into 2022. The Tide return seven starters on defense, including linebacker Will Anderson Jr. Anderson, who finished fifth in Heisman voting last season, is one of the best players in the country. The linebacker had 102 total tackles and 17.5 sacks last season. Anderson and fellow returning linebacker Henry To'oTo'o make Alabama's defense one of the best in the country for 2022.

    Offensively, Heisman winner Bryce Young is back this season. I think losing receivers John Metchie III and Jameson Williams will cause Young to take a step back this season. But Bama landing Georgia Tech running back Jahmyr Gibbs should be huge for the run game.

    Utah State went 11-3 last season and returns 12 starters. The Aggies are already 1-0, defeating UConn at home in Week 0. Utah State is 1-18 vs. current SEC teams. Alabama should win big.

    Prediction: Alabama 42, Utah State 17

Best Unranked Games

6 of 8

    Josh Downs (David Jensen/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

    Penn State at Purdue, 8 p.m. ET Thursday

    This Thursday night #B1G matchup looks like the best game of the evening. Penn State finished 7-6 last season following a 4-5 year in 2020. Head coach James Franklin appears to be sticking around Happy Valley, though. In November, Franklin signed a new 10-year contract with the school amidst a wild coaching carousel season.

    Purdue, meanwhile, under Jeff Brohm, went 9-4 last season. It marked the first nine-win season for the Boilermakers since 2003. Purdue returns seven starters on both sides of the ball, including quarterback Aidan O'Connell and running back King Doerue.

    Penn State gets seven starters back offensively, including longtime Nittany Lions quarterback Sean Clifford. PSU returns just four starters on defense.

    Franklin is the head man in Happy Valley, for now. If Penn State can upset Ohio State at home on Oct. 29, the move to extend him will look good. If Penn State drops the opener on the road against Purdue, expect chatter surrounding Franklin's future to start up again. The Nittany Lions have won nine straight against Purdue, but I like the Boilermakers to get this win at home in a close one.

    Prediction: Purdue 28, Penn State 25


    North Carolina at Appalachian State, Noon ET Saturday

    Speaking of upsets, North Carolina needs to be careful. The Tar Heels face a true road game against App State.

    These two teams met in 2019, and the Mountaineers knocked off the Tar Heels in Chapel Hill 34-31. App State is 5-0 against the spread in its last five games against Power Five opponents.

    One thing that might help North Carolina is the fact that the Tar Heels already have a game under their belt. In Week 0, UNC defeated a depleted Florida A&M team 56-24. New UNC quarterback Drake Maye finished with five passing touchdowns, and running back Omarion Hampton added another two scores.

    App State went 10-4 last season, and the Mountaineers have gone an impressive 43-10 over the last four years. App State returns 12 total starters from last season, including veteran quarterback Chase Brice. I like the Mountaineers to pull off the upset.

    Prediction: App State 35, UNC 32


    Army at Coastal Carolina, 7 p.m. ET Saturday

    This matchup should be fun, folks. Coastal Carolina is coming off an 11-2 season. It marked the second straight 11-win year for the Chanticleers under head coach Jamey Chadwell. Army head coach Jeff Monken has led the Black Knights to two consecutive nine-win seasons.

    The Chanticleers will be in a bit of a rebuilding year in 2022, however. Coastal returns just seven starters from last season. But quarterback Grayson McCall, who threw for 2,873 yards and 27 touchdowns last year, is returning. His 73 percent completion rate was No. 2 in the country last season.

    Army, meanwhile, returns eight starters on offense and six on defense. The run game should be led by Tyrell Robinson, who had 609 yards last season. Robinson added another 340 yards receiving, too.

    Coastal's last two seasons have been quite impressive, and they have put the Chanticleers on the map nationally. How Chadwell's team looks while having to replace a lot of talent remains to be seen. Coastal is 7-1 against the spread against nonconference opponents in the last two years, including wins over BYU and Kansas. I like the Chanticleers at home to get another program-building win.

    Prediction: Coastal 28, Army 25


    Florida State vs. LSU in New Orleans, 7:30 p.m. ET Sunday

    Two programs looking to get back to national relevancy will meet in the Bayou on Sunday night of the holiday weekend. Ten years ago, a game like this would have had national title game implications. But the downturn of both these programs makes this matchup a bit less exciting.

    Still, this game will be a good measuring stick for new LSU head coach Brian Kelly. The former longtime Notre Dame head coach went 3-2 against the 'Noles when he was in South Bend.

    But Florida State has the advantage in the experience department. The 'Noles return 16 starters, including quarterback Jordan Travis. LSU gets just six guys back on offense and five on defense. FSU also already has a game under its belt, defeating FCS Duquesne 47-7 in Week 0. Five different guys scored rushing touchdowns for the 'Noles, including Travis.

    It'll be interesting to see who Kelly starts at quarterback. The head coach told reporters he has picked a starting QB but is keeping it a secret until Sunday. It will either be sophomore Garrett Nussmeier or Arizona State transfer Jayden Daniels.

    There's a lot of hype surrounding LSU thanks to the hiring of Kelly. But I don't think he has the talent just yet to win a game against an experienced team like Florida State. I like Florida State to start 2-0 for the first time under Mike Norvell.

    Prediction: Florida State 24, LSU 17

Unranked FBS vs. FCS Games That Could Be Upsets

7 of 8

    Spencer Petras (Joe Petro/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

    Smaller FCS schools rarely beat FBS opponents. But there are a few games on the slate Saturday that have the potential to be interesting.


    South Dakota State at Iowa, Noon ET

    Iowa is expected to be a contender in the Big Ten West again in 2022. The reigning division champs went 10-4 last season and return 14 starters.

    But the Hawkeyes open with a very good opponent in South Dakota State. The Jackrabbits finished 11-4 last season. South Dakota State had wins over FBS Colorado State and reigning FCS champion North Dakota State. The Jackrabbits ended up losing in the FCS semifinals against Montana State.

    Beating Iowa at Kinnick Stadium is unlikely, but the Jackrabbits can give the Hawkeyes a scare on Saturday.

    Prediction: Iowa 17, South Dakota State 14


    Richmond at Virginia, 12:30 p.m. ET Saturday

    Virginia has the edge in this in-state series between the Spiders and Cavaliers, leading 29-3-2. In fact, UVA is 5-1 since 2008.

    UVA looks to improve under first-year head coach Tony Elliott. The longtime Clemson offensive coordinator gets a pretty inexperienced group heading into 2022, with just four returning starters on offense.

    Richmond finished 6-5 last season and would love to spoil Elliott's debut. This in-state matchup should go UVA's way, but it would be fun for Richmond to make this a game.

    Prediction: UVA 35, Richmond 17


    North Dakota at Nebraska, 3:30 p.m. ET Saturday

    Normally this game wouldn't be on here at all. But since Scott Frost's team was upset by Northwestern 31-28 last weekend in Dublin, Ireland, it makes the list. The Cornhuskers' biggest gaffe in the loss was attempting an onside kick in the third quarter up 11 points. The Wildcats took advantage of the great field position with a touchdown, and they seized the momentum from there to pull off the comeback win.

    New Nebraska quarterback Casey Thompson had a mixed debut. He threw for 355 yards and a touchdown but had two costly interceptions in the fourth quarter.

    North Dakota finished 5-6 last season, with a 48-24 loss to Utah State. I'm not picking the Hawks to upset Nebraska, but Frost's seat will get hotter if this one is close.

    Prediction: Nebraska 40, North Dakota 17


    UC Davis at Cal, 4 p.m. ET Saturday

    Cal has struggled significantly under head coach Justin Wilcox, who is 26-28 over five seasons. The Golden Bears went 5-7 last year.

    Unfortunately for Cal, it faces a formidable opponent in Week 1. The UC Davis Aggies went 8-4 last year and made it to the FCS playoffs, falling to South Dakota State in the first round. The Aggies offense is led by running back Ulonzo Gilliam Jr., who had seven touchdowns along with 1,179 yards from scrimmage. UC Davis is also no stranger to upsetting an FBS opponent. Last year the Aggies defeated Tulsa in Week 1, 19-17. I like the Aggies to pull off the upset once again.

    Prediction: UC Davis 21, Cal 14


    Full Slate of FBS vs. FCS Games

    Thursday

    • St. Francis at Akron, 6 p.m. ET
    • South Carolina State at UCF, 7 p.m. ET
    • Long Island University at Toledo, 7 p.m. ET
    • Eastern Illinois at NIU, 8 p.m. ET
    • Northern Arizona at Arizona State, 10 p.m. ET
    • Cal Poly at Fresno State, 10:30 p.m. ET
    • Portland State at San José State, 10:30 p.m. ET

    Friday

    • Eastern Kentucky at Eastern Michigan, 7 p.m. ET
    • William & Mary at Charlotte, 7 p.m. ET
    • Tennessee Tech at Kansas, 8 p.m. ET

    Saturday

    • Delaware at Navy, Noon ET
    • Northern Iowa at Air Force, 1 p.m. ET
    • Southeast Missouri State at Iowa State, 2 p.m. ET
    • Norfolk State at Marshall, 3:30 p.m. ET
    • Nicholls at South Alabama, 5 p.m. ET
    • Morgan State at Georgia Southern, 6 p.m. ET
    • Mercer at Auburn, 7 p.m. ET
    • Elon at Vanderbilt, 7 p.m. ET
    • South Dakota at Kansas State, 7 p.m. ET
    • Southeast Louisiana at Louisiana, 7 p.m. ET
    • Grambling at Arkansas State, 7 p.m. ET
    • Colgate at Stanford, 8 p.m. ET
    • Murray State at Texas Tech, 8 p.m. ET
    • Maine at New Mexico, 8 p.m. ET
    • Idaho at Washington State, 9:30 p.m. ET

The Rest of the Slate

8 of 8

    Hendon Hooker (Brett Carlsen/Getty Images)

    Thursday

    Ball State at Tennessee, 7 p.m. ET: Tennessee 42, Ball State 10

    Louisiana Tech at Missouri, 8 p.m. ET: Missouri 27, Louisiana Tech 14

    New Mexico State at Minnesota, 9 p.m. ET: Minnesota 23, NMSU 3


    Friday

    Temple at Duke, 7:30 p.m. ET: Duke 27, Temple 20

    Illinois at Indiana, 8 p.m. ET: lllinois 17, Indiana 14

    TCU at Colorado, 10 p.m. ET: TCU 31, Colorado 21


    Saturday

    Buffalo at Maryland, Noon ET: Maryland 45, Buffalo 14

    Rutgers at Boston College, Noon ET: Boston College 35, Rutgers 8

    Bowling Green at UCLA, 2:30 p.m. ET: UCLA 35, Bowling Green 17

    Arizona at San Diego State, 3:30 p.m. ET: San Diego State 47, Arizona 20

    Tulsa at Wyoming, 3:30 p.m. ET: Tulsa 21, Wyoming 13

    Texas State at Nevada, 5:30 p.m. ET: Nevada 21, Texas State 3

    Florida Atlantic at Ohio, 6 p.m. ET: FAU 35, Ohio 14

    Middle Tennessee at James Madison, 6 p.m. ET: JMU 21, Middle Tennessee 17

    Liberty at Southern Miss, 7 p.m. ET: Southern Miss 24, Liberty 21

    UMass at Tulane, 7 p.m. ET: Tulane 38, UMass 3

    Memphis at Mississippi State, 7:30 p.m. ET: Mississippi State 35, Memphis 14

    SMU at North Texas, 7:30 p.m. ET: SMU 37, North Texas 21

    UL Monroe at Texas, 8 p.m. ET: Texas 42, UL Monroe 7

    Kent State at Washington, 10:30 p.m. ET: Washington 33, Kent State 0

    Western Kentucky at Hawai'i, 11:59 p.m. ET: Western Kentucky 45, Hawai'i 10

🚨 SPORTS NEWS ➡️ YOUR INBOX

The latest in the sports world, emailed daily.


X