Week Zero college football: Nebraska-Northwestern is one to watch

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The college football season kicks off Saturday with one of the more quirky traditions that has taken root in recent years: Week 0, when a few teams open their seasons the weekend before the generally accepted Labor Day weekend start date.

There are two ways Football Bowl Subdivision teams can play in Week 0: by applying for a waiver from the NCAA or by being a team that must travel to Hawaii at some point in the season (the NCAA allows such teams to plan the travel expenses to Hawaii by a 13th game). Vanderbilt, Western Kentucky, Duquesne, Nevada, Wyoming, Utah State and UNLV will travel this season to take on the Rainbow Warriors, all playing Saturday.

So while there aren’t many squads in action on Saturday, Week 0 will still serve to whet our appetite for the upcoming season.

Western Kentucky vs Austin Peay

Northwest vs. Nebraska

Stephen F. Austin vs. Jacksonville State

Utah State vs. Connecticut

Florida State vs. Duquesne

Florida Atlantic vs. Charlotte

North Carolina vs. Florida A&M

State of New Mexico vs Nevada

Nebraska and Northwest travel all the way to Dublin for the first game of the season (and the only game in week 0) with two power conference teams. The Cornhuskers won just three games for the second straight season in 2021, which nearly cost coach Scott Frost his job – he was forced to take a pay cut and fire four offensive assistants – but the underlying stats tell the story of a team that was just unlucky. : Nebraska scored 63 points more than its opponents over the course of the season, but was 0-8 in games decided by one score. Frost brought in a new offensive coordinator, Mark Whipple, who worked wonders for the Pittsburgh attack. That, plus a wealth of transfers, could lead to better days in Lincoln (or at least Frost hopes). The Wildcats, meanwhile, set a 3-9 record for the second time in three seasons, their season undone by a lead attack (they had just 124 games gains from at least 10 yards, ranking 124th out of 130 teams). …

Illinois, where Wyoming is held, showed progress as coach Bret Bielema’s first Champaign campaign progressed, winning four of the last seven games in 2021, including that ridiculous nine-overtime roadblock from then-No. 7 Penn State. But the Illini have lost a lot of production from that team and are starting more or less from scratch. The Cowboys face a similar problem, especially on offense: They have to replace their top two quarterbacks, lead rusher, top two receivers, and two linemen for all conferences. But when you consider how bad Wyoming’s attack was last season—the Cowboys failed to get 20 points in six games last season—that can be a blessing in disguise. …

Hawaii-Vanderbilt is about as “Week 0 Nightcap” as a game can get, especially considering it will be played on the Rainbow Warriors’ 9,300-seat practice field after Aloha Stadium was declared unusable after last season. Accusations of assault by former coach Todd Graham sent many of Hawaii’s top players to the transfer portal, meaning little is left of last year’s 6-7 squad for new coach Timmy Chang, who had made garish figures earlier this century. as the quarterback for the Rainbow Warriors. Vanderbilt’s brief moment of prowess — the Commodores went to five bowling games over an eight-season span from 2011 to 2018 — seems over: Vanderbilt has gone 5-28 in the past three seasons.

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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