4-Down Territory: Opening Weekend from Buckeyes to a Backyard Brawl and Everything In Between
In “Week Zero” there was essentially zero drama in the games played in North America. But across the pond on the old sod of Ireland, Northwestern opened the season with a come from behind win over Nebraska 31-28. Looking ahead to week one, there appears to be plenty of drama in games from Thursday through Monday.
First Down: Thursday Night Lights: West Virginia at (17) Pitt: The Backyard Brawl returns and all eyes for defending ACC Champion Pitt will be on QB Kedon Slovis, a transfer from USC. The offensive line returns intact to give him time to throw and a running game to lean on. On defense, expect the pass rush and secondary to remain strong. For WVU their QB JT Daniel is also a USC transfer (by way of Georgia). The Mountaineers were solid on defense last year but lost most of the back seven……..Penn State at Purdue: This will be an indicator game for both programs. Penn State finished 2021 on 2-6 run, while Purdue finished 5-1 down the stretch. Purdue also had two wins over top-5 opponents. Offensively in 2021 both teams struggled to run the ball, leaned heavily on the pass and gave up too many sacks. The 2022 question marks for both teams start up front. When given time both QBs, Penn State’s Sean Clifford and Purdue’s Aidan O’Connell, were effective. On defense both teams also struggled to stop the run game. This game could come down to which team's offense can find their run game.
Second Down: Appetizers: Friday: Western Michigan at (15) Michigan State: Don’t sleep on Western Michigan. This is a team that upset Pitt last year……Illinois at Indiana: Illinois cranked up the running game against Wyoming last Saturday. If they can continue that, this trip should be a good one for them….Saturday: Colorado State at (8) Michigan: The great QB experiment begins with Cade McNamara starting in week one. Having two good QBs is not a problem. The real intrigue will be on the defensive side of the ball. How will the Wolverines replace not one but two dynamic pass rushers that went to the NFL?......Rutgers at Boston College: This is an important game for Rutgers if they hope to return to a bowl game again this year. Getting a 3-0 non-conference mark will be critical……(23) Cincinnati at (19) Arkansas: Cincinnati is 44-7 the past 4 years with a 5-3 against Power-5 teams (all 3 losses to top 10 teams). But key players are gone from last year (notably at quarterback and both CBs). Arkansas loves to run the ball. They racked up over 350 yards rushing in their bowl win. Their leading rusher was QB KJ Jefferson--a threat running and passing.
Third Down: Big Openers: (11) Oregon vs (3) Georgia (Atlanta): This is the first of two big games fo