College football will kick off this Saturday with four games. This isn’t the big opening weekend of college football, that is reserved for Labor Day weekend. Nonetheless, football is back. Here are five things to watch for in week 0.
1. Andrew Wingard’s play
Wyoming and New Mexico will square off in what should be the highest quality football of the weekend. The Cowboys lost Josh Allen, their quarterback for the last couple seasons, to the NFL, but there is still great talent on this roster. Andrew Wingard was named AP Second Team All-American and a Second Team All-American by The Game Haus.
Over his three seasons at Wyoming, Wingard has 367 total tackles, eight tackles for loss, three sacks, eight interceptions, seven passes defended, five forced fumbles and one fumble recovery. He will be the leader of this Wyoming team this season. Wingard will have an opportunity to play at the next level, but this may be the only chance that he has the spotlight on him given that this is one of four games this weekend.
2. New Mexico State’s first game as an independent
New Mexico State played in the Sun Belt last season on a football-only basis. Their membership has since expired, meaning they are one of six FBS schools without a conference. This is a decent blow to a program that just last season broke the biggest bowl game drought in the country.
Being an independent offers schedule flexibility, but for a program of New Mexico State’s stature, leaves more to be desired. They have fewer bowl tie-ins and will have a tough time scheduling games. The Aggies play Liberty twice this season as a result of being independent. Their game against Wyoming will mark the start of a long journey for New Mexico State as an independent.
3. A possible FCS over FBS upset
This weekend two teams from the FCS level play FBS teams. Duquesne will square off with UMass, while Prairie View A&M will play Rice. While either game could result in an FCS win, Prairie View A&M will have a real shot to beat Rice for the first upset from the lower level over the higher level of Division 1 college football.
The Panthers went 6-5 last season and are a decent FCS team. They have a new coach in Eric Dooley who comes over from Grambling. It is likely that they will finish with roughly the same record as last season. Prairie View A&M has a chance because Rice has a lot of questions that are unanswered.
Rice won one game last season, over the winless UTEP Miners. They ranked near the bottom of the FBS in scoring and points allowed per game. They have nine total returning starters, which does not leave much room for optimism for the Owls. They are currently favored by 18.5 points, but Rice should not be seen as a lock.
4. Josh Watson’s quest for another 100 tackle season
Watson is the star linebacker for Colorado State. The Rams play Hawai’i in their season-opener on Saturday. Colorado State has had their fair share of issues on the defensive side of the ball in past years and with only four returning starters on that side of the ball, Watson needs to step up.
Last season Watson had 109 total tackles in a good junior campaign. He may be the best player on the field in the matchup against the Warriors. With another good season, he could find himself fighting for an NFL roster spot in a year’s time.
5. Andrew Ford’s play
UMass plays Duquesne to kickoff the college football season. This should not be a competitive game, but at least football is back. Andrew Ford will be the starting quarterback for the Minutemen, making it his third straight year behind center.
Ford should have a field day against Duquesne, which will get him and UMass off on the right foot. If he plays well and stays healthy this season, he can be the most decorated quarterback for UMass in the FBS (they joined in 2011). With just over 700 passing yards and 14 touchdowns, Ford can pass Blake Frohnapfel as the all-time leading passer for UMass in the FBS.