2022 College Football Games We Can't Wait to Watch

Morgan MoriartyFeatured Columnist IJanuary 14, 2022

2022 College Football Games We Can't Wait to Watch

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    The 2021 college football season may have just ended Monday night, but the 2022 campaign will be here before we know it.

    As we look ahead toward some of the best matchups of the 2022 season, intriguing games litter the slate. From nonconference matchups to neutral-site games to rivalry tilts, let's run through some of 2022's most anticipated. 

The Best Neutral-Site Games

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    Nebraska vs. Northwestern (Aug. 27 in Dublin) 

    OK sure, this isn't the most intriguing matchup—these two teams went a combined 6-18 in 2021. But college football in Ireland is pretty cool and fun! At the very least, seeing another game being played in Aviva Stadium, where the Irish rugby union team and Republic of Ireland football (soccer) team play is neat.  

               

    Oregon vs. Georgia (Sept. 3 in Atlanta)

    Talk about a fun matchup for the defending national champions in Week 1. This one should feature new Ducks quarterback Bo Nix going up against a Dawgs defense that will likely be rebuilding from 2021. Not to mention Oregon's new head coach, Dan Lanning, was Georgia's defensive coordinator from 2019 to 2021.

         

    Florida State vs. LSU (Sept. 4 in New Orleans)  

    New LSU head coach Brian Kelly (that still will take some getting used to, to be honest) will make his Tigers debut against Florida State. Kelly is familiar with the Seminoles—he's faced FSU five times since 2010 and won the last three in 2018, 2020 and 2021. FSU head coach Mike Norvell, meanwhile, will look to have a much better start after beginning last year 0-4 en route to a 5-7 record. This one being in the Superdome means plenty of Tiger fans will be able to make the trip. 

           

    Clemson vs. Georgia Tech (Sept. 5 in Atlanta) 

    Clemson opens 2021 with a cross-divisional ACC opponent in Georgia Tech. Although the Yellow Jackets haven't defeated the Tigers since 2014, Clemson's staff has seen a lot of turnover this offseason. Longtime Clemson defensive coordinator Brent Venables became Oklahoma's head coach, and Tigers offensive coordinator Tony Elliott is now the head coach at Virginia. 

Most Intriguing Nonconference Games, Part I

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    Utah at Florida (Sept. 3) 

    First-year Gators head coach Billy Napier gets a big test right out of the gate. Florida has gotten more aggressive with its non-SEC scheduling, and Utah is no exception. The Utes have finished with double-digit wins in two out of the last three years. Still, Gainesville's Ben Hill Griffin is one of the loudest places to play, so this will be a big road trial for the Pac-12 team.   

           

    Cincinnati at Arkansas (Sept. 3) 

    The Bearcats had a historic season in 2021, becoming the first Group of Five team to make it into the College Football Playoff. Their 2022 season begins with a matchup that could count as a signature win if they mount a CFP case. Arkansas finished 9-4 and will get star QB KJ Jefferson back.

                 

    Notre Dame at Ohio State (Sept. 3) 

    If either of these teams want to make it into the playoff, getting a win in Week 1 would certainly help. New Fighting Irish head coach Marcus Freeman lost his first game on the job in the Fiesta Bowl vs. Oklahoma State, so he'll look to start his first full season on a high note. Ohio State is always in the playoff conversation, and QB C.J. Stroud will attempt to mount his Heisman Trophy case. 

          

    Alabama at Texas (Sept. 10) 

    Once again, Texas will look to prove it is finally back. Unfortunately for the Longhorns, that means facing Nick Saban and the Crimson Tide in Week 2. Longhorns head coach Steve Sarkisian will try to become Saban's third former assistant to beat him, joining Jimbo Fisher and Kirby Smart.  

           

    Baylor at BYU (Sept. 10) 

    This should be an interesting matchup for both teams. BYU finished 10-3, and Baylor went 12-2, a record it capped off with a Sugar Bowl victory over Ole Miss. If the Bears want to be in the playoff conversation, getting a road win over the Cougars would certainly be a start. 

Most Intriguing Nonconference Games, Part II

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    Washington State at Wisconsin (Sept. 10)  

    Wisconsin finished the 2021 season with one of the best defenses in the nation, ranking first in total D over Georgia. Washington State will travel to Madison led by new head coach Jake Dickert, who was promoted from the interim gig at the end of last season. 

                 

    Oklahoma at Nebraska (Sept. 17)

    These two used to be heated Big 12 rivals before Nebraska moved to the Big Ten in 2011, and the Sooners have a 46-38-3 edge in the all-time series. They played last year in Norman, and Oklahoma won a close one 23-16. 

           

    Miami (Fla.) at Texas A&M (Sept. 17)

    Week 3 will feature a pretty big ACC-SEC matchup, as Mario Cristobal will be in his first season as the Canes' coach. Texas A&M is 21-4 at home under Jimbo Fisher, who will enter year five in College Station with a heralded class of recruits.   

            

    Penn State at Auburn (Sept. 17) 

    This one was played in Happy Valley a year ago, and it was a thriller. Trailing 28-20 with less than five minutes left in the game, Auburn had a chance to score a touchdown from Penn State's 2-yard line. But QB Bo Nix's fourth-down pass fell incomplete. Auburn got the ball back with 33 seconds left and drove down to the PSU 26, but the Nittany Lions defense stopped the Tigers again on fourth down. Hopefully Round 2 will be just as good.

Georgia's Challengers

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    The Bulldogs will attempt to defend their national title, and Georgia's schedule sets up pretty nicely on paper.

    The biggest challenge for the Dawgs will be opening the season against Oregon, a matchup we mentioned above. Other than that, let's take a look at which teams might give Georgia trouble in returning to the playoff:

    • at South Carolina, Sept. 17: Georgia has won the last two games against South Carolina by a combined score of 85-29. The last time the Dawgs lost to the Gamecocks in Columbia, South Carolina, was in 2014, when Mark Richt and Steve Spurrier were the head coaches. Georgia's defense will likely face new Gamecock QB Spencer Rattler, who transferred to South Carolina from Oklahoma earlier last month.  
    • vs. Auburn, Oct. 8: Georgia-Auburn is one of the biggest cross-divisional rivalries in the SEC. The Dawgs have won the last five meetings against the Tigers.  
    • vs. Florida, Oct. 29 (in Jacksonville, Fla.): This one will likely decide the SEC East, per usual. Georgia has won four out of the last five meetings against the Gators. 
    • at Mississippi State, Nov. 12: These two don't play each other often. In fact, they've met just six times dating back to 2005. Mississippi State has won just one of those matchups, in 2010.  

Rivalry Games That Are Always Good

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    Oklahoma vs. Texas (Oct. 8 in Dallas) 

    Last year's meeting resulted in a 55-48 come-from-behind victory by Oklahoma. How will Brent Venables do in his first-ever Red River Rivalry game?

           

    Alabama at LSU, Nov. 5

    Alabama has won 10 out of the last 11 matchups in this series, but this one being in Baton Rouge certainly helps the Tigers. New LSU head coach Brian Kelly is 0-2 all-time against Nick Saban.  

          

    Oklahoma State at Oklahoma, Nov. 19

    This one will be played the week before rivalry weekend, which will be weird. Still, last year's matchup was a great game. Oklahoma State scored two fourth-quarter touchdowns to overcome a 33-24 third-quarter deficit and win 37-33. 

         

    Michigan at Ohio State, Nov. 26

    Last year's edition of The Game marked the first Michigan victory in the rivalry since 2011. It knocked Ohio State out of playoff contention, so there's no doubt that revenge will be on the Buckeyes' minds.  

          

    Auburn at Alabama, Nov. 26

    The Iron Bowl always seems to be a great matchup. Last year's game went into overtime for the first time in the rivalry's history, and Alabama needed four overtimes to defeat the Tigers.

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