While the No. 5 Notre Dame Irish and the No. 2 Ohio State Buckeyes might top any must-watch list this weekend, few top-tier teams actually play strong opponents to open the season. For that matter, many of them do what Notre Dame has never done — though it will in 2023 — face an FCS foe.
Four eventual Irish 2022 Irish opponents will open against FCS-level competition this weekend, while only Ohio State will face a ranked opponent, obviously the Irish.
No. 2 Ohio State: The Buckeyes remain favored by 17 points against No. 5 Notre Dame, per PointsBet as of early Wednesday morning with a combined points total Over/Under of 59. That rough math suggests a 38-21 result late Saturday (7:30 ET; ABC).
— Ohio State’s offense projects to match the best of the century
Marshall: The Thundering Herd’s season should start well against Norfolk State (3:30 ET; Watch ESPN), but it has already taken a notable hit.
— Marshall set for fun in the Sun Belt with advantageous debut schedule
Marshall junior RB Rasheen Ali led the country with 23 rushing touchdowns last year — 1,401 yards, 5.6 yards per carry. Losing him indefinitely is a huge blow to the offense of #NotreDame's week 2 opponent. https://t.co/8IMw3JOHBl
— Douglas Farmer (@D_Farmer) August 23, 2022
Cal: The Bears will host UC Davis (4 ET; Pac 12 Network) and not much else can be said about that as Cal head coach Justin Wilcox continues to look for a productive offense.
— Cal’s offensive struggles continue to undermine quality defense
North Carolina: Whatever past Tar Heels athletic director scheduled a trip to Appalachian State (12 ET; ESPNU) this weekend owes head coach Mack Brown an apology, though college football fans should be very grateful for this in-state rivalry game. North Carolina is only a 1.5-point favorite, coming off a lackluster 56-24 win against short-handed Florida A&M on Saturday. An argument can and should be made that it is an advantage for the Mountaineers to have recent Tar Heels film to study, more of an advantage than North Carolina getting in a game’s worth of reps.
— New QB Drake Maye not the only change for disappointing North Carolina, Mack Brown
No. 25 BYU: The Cougars head across the country to South Florida (4 ET; ESPNU) favored by 12 points. A points total Over/Under of 58 crafts a somewhat entertaining 35-23 thought.
— Veteran BYU will be anything but a trap game in Las Vegas for the Irish
Stanford: The Cardinal’s ugly season will begin with at least one enjoyable note, getting a visit from Colgate (8 ET; Pac 12 Network).
— Stanford’s woes may cut deeper than the current roster
UNLV: The Rebels beat Idaho State on Saturday, 52-21, and will now take a week off before heading to Cal on Sept. 10. While the Vandals did score 21 points, they averaged only 3.6 yards per play, suggesting the UNLV defense was tenable for at least one week.
— UNLV set to improve in 2022, not that that’s saying much
Syracuse: The Orange — this space’s bet on an ACC team to be better than expected — can dash one of the offseason’s most trendy storylines against Louisville (8 ET; ACCN), though the Cardinals are favored by 4.0. A points total Over/Under of 56.5 makes for an awkward football score of 30-26, but however this ACC tilt plays out, it should be one of the more entertaining games of the weekend.
— Syracuse star RB Sean Tucker keys Orange run to a bowl
No. 4 Clemson: The Tigers should have no trouble dispatching Georgia Tech (Monday, 8 ET; ESPN) as 22-point favorites in the first moment of DJ Uiagalelei’s reclamation tour.
— No. 4 Clemson needs more of everything from QB DJ Uiagalelei, except weight
Navy: Even the Midshipmen open against an FCS opponent, Delaware (12 ET; CBSSN).
— Navy’s rebound dependent on QB progress and OL health
Boston College: The Eagles meet the Big Ten via Rutgers (12 ET; ACCN). Quarterback Phil Jurkovec will begin what is likely his final collegiate season as a touchdown-favorite against the Knights, though the low points total Over/Under of 48 does not expect his 2022 debut to be highlight-heavy.
— Boston College’s trenches woes will waste Phil Jurkovec and dynamic playmakers
No. 14 USC: Of all the spreads available to date, it is a surprise to see the Trojans as the biggest favorite, even after their offseason of unprecedented transition. USC hosts Rice (6 ET; Pac 12 Network) as a 32.5-point favorite, and while the Owls may be the worst FBS team mentioned in this quick schedule synopsis, they are not so dreadful as to expect a five-touchdown rollover to most teams.
— New-look USC may be a test-case for rebuilding programs of the future
Fourteen point two four percent https://t.co/77XXBAaSBm
— Douglas Farmer (@D_Farmer) August 30, 2022
12 ET — North Carolina at Appalachian State (ESPNU); Navy vs. Delaware (CBSSN); Boston College vs. Rutgers (ACCN)
3:30 ET — Marshall vs. Norfolk State (Watch ESPN)
4:00 ET — Cal vs. UC Davis (Pac 12 Network); BYU at South Florida (ESPNU)
6:00 ET — USC vs. Rice (Pac 12 Network)
7:30 ET — Ohio State vs. Notre Dame (ABC)
8:00 ET — Stanford vs. Colgate (Pac 12 Network), Syracuse vs. Louisville (ACCN)
8:00 ET — Clemson vs. Georgia Tech (ESPN)
FAVORITES VS. FBS OPPONENTS: Ohio State (-17) vs. Notre Dame; North Carolina (-1.5) at Appalachian State; BYU (-12) at South Florida; Clemson (-22) vs. Georgia Tech; Boston College (-7) vs. Rutgers; USC (-32.5) vs. Rice
UNDERDOGS VS. FBS OPPONENTS: Syracuse (+4) vs. Louisville;