College Football returns: Nebraska, Northwestern highlight Week Zero with Ireland game

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College football fans have been pining patiently for the past seven months waiting for the return to the roster as the sports fix was fed with the NBA and always exciting regular season baseball.

The waiting has come to an end. Kind of.

FILE – Northwestern head coach Pat Fitzgerald talks to reporters during an NCAA college football press conference at the Big Ten Conference Media Days at Lucas Oil Stadium, Tuesday, July 26, 2022, in Indianapolis. Northwestern will begin its season on August 27, 2022 against Nebraska.
(AP Photo/Darron Cummings, File)

Week Zero of the college football season has arrived with 11 games scheduled for Saturday, August 27. No ranked team will compete, but no one should be picky this weekend.

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Let’s take a look at a handful of games on the Week Zero list.

Nebraska Cornhuskers vs Northwestern Wildcats – 12:30 p.m. ET

Nebraska head coach Scott Frost is entering his fifth year at Lincoln with the heat ramping up as his Cornhuskers have failed to finish a season over .500 since he took the job in 2018. After finishing 3-9 last season and losing their opening game to Illinois, Nebraska heads to Dublin, Ireland, for a fun game against Northwestern.

The Cornhuskers gets a new quarterback below center as the Texas transfer Casey Thompson gets the first snap for Nebraska. Thompson started 10 games for Texas last season, throwing for 2,113 yards with 24 touchdowns and 24 interceptions.

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“I really like what we have in that position,” Frost said on “Husker Sports Nightly” when he announced the news. “I wouldn’t be surprised if more than one is playing, but Casey is going to take the first rep.”

Northwestern is coming off a disappointing season, finishing 3-9 in 2021 after finishing above .500 in five of the past six seasons. The Wildcats were blown out in their game against Nebraska last season, losing 56-7 to Lincoln.

Wyoming Cowboys at Illinois Fighting Illini – 4:00 PM ET

Head coach Bret Bielema made the most of his first Week Zero game as head coach in Illinois, beating Nebraska to kick off the 2021 season. Can he go 2-0?

The Being a Fighting Illini hoping to take another step after a fairly successful first season under their new head coach, finishing the 2021 season 5-7 but beating two ranked opponents in the process.

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“Really excited for our players, our coaches, but just Illinois football in general, which obviously includes the University of Illinois, the Champaign-Urbana community, all of our fans and alumni,” Bielema said Monday, according to 247 Sports. “There’s a really good buzz with our players. Buzz doesn’t really equate to wins, but I do like the excitement, the energy, just the general feel of what our guys are doing.”

Illinois Fighting Illini head coach Bret Bielema speaks during the 2022 Big Ten Conference Football Media Days at Lucas Oil Stadium on July 27, 2022 in Indianapolis, Indiana.

Illinois Fighting Illini head coach Bret Bielema speaks during the 2022 Big Ten Conference Football Media Days at Lucas Oil Stadium on July 27, 2022 in Indianapolis, Indiana.
(Photo by Michael Hickey/Getty Images)

Wyoming went 7-6 in 2021, but the Cowboys lost 14 appetizer from last year’s team. Head coach Craig Bohl is entering his ninth season with Laramie, getting his Cowboys to four bowl games during his tenure.

UConn Huskies at Utah State Aggies – 4:00 PM ET

Welcome at the Jim Mora era at UConn. The Huskies, who have had a 1-11 season in 2021, including a loss to FCS Holy Cross, are hoping Mora can bring some life to the program.

Mora has not coached since the 2017 season, when he was fired after six seasons at UCLA. For the last three years he lived in Idaho and worked for ESPN.

Connecticut head football coach Jim Mora speaks with reporters during the opening day of the NCAA college football training camp on July 29, 2022 in Storrs, Conn.  Mora tries to rebuild the football program as an independent in an era of mega conference mergers.

Connecticut head football coach Jim Mora speaks with reporters during the opening day of the NCAA college football training camp on July 29, 2022 in Storrs, Conn. Mora tries to rebuild the football program as an independent in an era of mega conference mergers.
(AP Photo/Pat Eaton-Robb)

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“I wanted another chance. I was on point, if it didn’t happen I was okay with it. I was happy in Sun Valley,” Mora said of his stay in Idaho, according to ESPN. “It tickled me that I really felt I needed this opportunity. It’s what I love to do, it’s what I’m passionate about. I love being able to influence these kids. I’m at the point in my living life where it really, really isn’t about me.”

Utah State is the defending champion of Mountain West, going 11-3 last year, beating Oregon State in their bowl game.

The Aggies goes to Tuscaloosa to beat No. 1 Alabama in its first week.

Vanderbilt Commodores at Hawaii Rainbow Warriors – 10:30 p.m. ET

For those who want to stay up into the wee hours, the Week Zero slate ends with a trip to Honolulu.

Vanderbilt is coming off a record of 2-10 in head coach Clark Lea’s first year at the helm and is aiming for his first opening season win since 2018. Regardless of Vanderbilt’s record for 2021, Lea has set high hopes for the Commodores.

Vanderbilt Commodores head coach Clark Lea during the Vanderbilt Commodores Black and Gold Spring Game, April 16, 2022, at Vanderbilt Stadium in Nashville, Tennessee.

Vanderbilt Commodores head coach Clark Lea during the Vanderbilt Commodores Black and Gold Spring Game, April 16, 2022, at Vanderbilt Stadium in Nashville, Tennessee.
(Photo by Matthew Maxey/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

“We’ll know in time Vanderbilt football will be the best program in the country,” Lea said on SEC Media Days.

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Vanderbilt has not had a winning season since 2013, never won 10 games in a season or appeared in the SEC Championship Game.

Hawaii is going into the first season under former record-setting quarterback Timmy Chang, who spent the past few seasons as an assistant coach in Nevada.

Nebraska Cornhuskers head coach Scott Frost discusses a second-half phone call with an official against the Iowa Hawkeyes at Memorial Stadium on Nov. 26, 2021 in Lincoln, Nebraska.

Nebraska Cornhuskers head coach Scott Frost discusses a second-half phone call with an official against the Iowa Hawkeyes at Memorial Stadium on Nov. 26, 2021 in Lincoln, Nebraska.
(Photo by Steven Branscombe/Getty Images)

“When I played it felt like I put a state on my back and now I say to the kids, ‘The state needs you to make that block. This state relies on you.’ They understand,” Chang said, according to ESPN. “It’s bigger than me. It’s for this whole community, all eight islands. That’s kinda what makes [coaching here] very special, especially if you were born and raised here.”

Hawaii has won its last seven home openers.

The Valley Voice
The Valley Voicehttp://thevalleyvoice.org
Christopher Brito is a social media producer and trending writer for The Valley Voice, with a focus on sports and stories related to race and culture.

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