After a long offseason, college football returns this week. There are always things to watch every week of the season. Here are 5 things to watch in college football week 0.
1. Scott Frost’s Hot Seat
It is no secret that Scott Frost needs to have success at Nebraska. They played plenty of teams close last season, but didn’t finish games and had a 3-9 record. Frost is entering his fifth season at Nebraska and has a 15-29 record. They have not made a bowl game during his tenure. None of that is good enough for a program with as much history as Nebraska.
In week 0, Nebraska travels to Dublin, Ireland to take on Northwestern. Nebraska is favored by 13 points, but they’ll have to prove it on the field after winning just three games last season. The Wildcats also went 3-9 last season, but are not expected to take as big of a step forward as Nebraska. It is tough to say that a game in week 0 is a must-win, but starting off on the wrong foot would make Scott Frost’s seat scathing hot.
2. Western Kentucky’s Austin Reed
Western Kentucky had a great season last year with Bailey Zappe at quarterback. He was a transfer from FCS-level Houston Baptist who passed for 5,967 yards, 62 touchdowns and 11 interceptions for the Hilltoppers in 2021. His production resulted in the Hilltoppers winning nine games.
This season, Western Kentucky had two transfer quarterbacks competing for the starting spots. Jarrett Doege had starting experience at Bowling Green and West Virginia. Austin Reed was a Division II transfer from West Florida. Reed won the job and has people wondering if he can replicate Zappe’s success. Doege transferred out after Reed was named the starter, which means Reed won’t be looking over his shoulder. The Hilltoppers open the season in week 0 against the Austin Peay Governors of the FCS level. Western Kentucky is expected to win big, but all eyes will be on how Reed performs after making the jump up from Division II to the FBS.
3. Drake Maye
For the last three seasons, North Carolina has had Sam Howell at quarterback. Now, they need someone else to step up. Drake Maye and Jacolby Criswell battled it out in the spring and fall. Maye was named the starter by Mack Brown. He is a redshirt freshman who passed for 89 yards and a touchdown in relief of Howell last season.
The Tar Heels play the Florida A&M Rattlers of the FCS in week 0. North Carolina is projected to win fairly easily, so this game gives Maye a chance to get into a rhythm before the competition gets tougher. If Maye plays well in this game, he will likely keep the starting job when the Tar Heels take on Appalachian State in week 1.
One of the more competitive matchups of week 0 features two C-USA teams: North Texas and UTEP. The Mean Green will be the visitors and enter the season after qualifying for a bowl game following the 2021 season. They ranked 77th in scoring offense and 79th in scoring defense as a well-balanced team. Returning starter Austin Aune could be running the offense again, while KD Davis gives the Mean Green some star power at linebacker. They will be competing for bowl eligibility once again.
UTEP made their first bowl game since 2014 last season. They have 13 returning starters from a team that ranked 89th on offense and 53rd on defense. Losing star receiver Jacob Cowing to transfer is tough, but Gavin Hardison being back at quarterback and having two solid running backs back in Ronald Awatt and Deion Hankins will be huge for the Miners. They have plenty of inexperience in the secondary, but they too have the talent to compete for a bowl game. This game is projected to be close as the line is even. By the end of the season this could be the difference between a good season and a bad one.
5. Florida State’s Running Back Situation
Florida State has their quarterback situation figured out. Jordan Travis will be the starter after playing last year. The running back situation is a different story. Jashaun Corbin was the starter last year and is now in the NFL. There are a few running backs that will likely get work in week 0 against Duquesne.
Treshaun Ward rushed for 515 yards and four touchdowns in 2021. Lawrance Toafili also contributed in 2021 with 163 rushing yards and one touchdown. The Seminoles also have Oregon-transfer Trey Benson, who impressed in the spring game. Benson is maybe the most talented, but is still new to the team. Florida State will want to find their best running back, or combination of running backs, before they play LSU in week 1.
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