College football is all the way back! For the first time since late November of last year, every conference at the FBS level will have games, and there is plenty of action to start us off in 2022. The Michigan Wolverines will take on the Colorado State Rams of the Mountain West Conference to kickoff the season at the Big House. But there are plenty of other intriguing matchups across the board. Here’s the perfect viewing guide for all of Saturday’s action.
Also, don’t forget to head over to DraftKings SportsBook to make all your bets for this weekend!
No. 8 Michigan Wolverines vs Colorado State Rams
- TV: ABC
- Time: Noon ET
- Location: Ann Arbor, Mich.
- Weather: 77 degrees, partly cloudy
- DraftKings Odds: MICH -30.5, O/U: 61.5, ML: MICH -8000, CSU +2000
- Best Bet: Over 61.5
It should be a beautiful day for football on Saturday when the Rams come to Ann Arbor to face the Wolverines. Quarterback Cade McNamara will get the start this week and J.J. McCarthy, who will start Week 2 against Hawaii, should get some playing time as well. Both quarterbacks fighting for stats in a position battle means they probably won’t let their foot off the gas.
Michigan’s offense this season may be even more talented than that of last season with a revamped offensive line and wide receiver Ronnie Bell returning to the offense. In 2021, the Wolverines put up 47 points against Western Michigan and 63 against Northern Illinois in two of their first three games. I would not be surprised if we saw similar totals in this contest.
If that would be the case, gamblers would only need the Rams to put up 14-17 points to hit the over, and the Rams have a new head coach who loves a passing offense. Jay Norvell, who was at Nevada last season, had Carson Strong at quarterback, who finished eighth in the country in passing yards last year with 4,175. He will bring that same logic to CSU with Clay Millen getting the starting nod, a big-armed redshirt freshman who moved with his head coach from Nevada to CSU. Even if it is in garbage time, it would be realistic to think Colorado State could put up enough points to help reach the over.
Michigan should win this game by a landslide and with a ton of offense on both sides, I think the over hits here with a big Michigan win.
No. 11 Oregon Ducks vs No. 3 Georgia Bulldogs
- TV: ABC
- Time: 3:30 p.m. ET
- Location: Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta, Georgia
- Weather: 85 degrees and sunny (but the game is in a dome)
- DraftKings Odds: UGA -17, O/U: 52.5, ML: UGA -850, DUCKS +600
- Best Bet: Under 52.5
Former Georgia defensive coordinator Dan Lanning has taken over for Mario Cristobal in Eugene, and his focus will be revamping that side of the ball. Playing against his old team in Week 1 is going to be one of the storylines to start the season.
Former Auburn quarterback Bo Nix is likely to be the starter for Oregon. Kirby Smart, the head coach at Georgia, called him one of the best athletes he’s ever seen. The Ducks will likely try and move the ball on the ground in a pro-style offense with new offensive coordinator Kenny Dillingham, who averaged about 37.5 rushing attempts per game at Florida State last season.
That is going to be a recipe for disaster against a Georgia defense that allowed just 2.6 yards per carry last season. Even though the Bulldogs lost eight starters from their championship-winning defense in 2021, they still have quite a bit of firepower on that side of the ball. Jalen Carter, one of the best defensive lineman in the country, will be a big help in transitioning this defense.
Offensively, Georgia returns Stetson Bennett at quarterback, who is good, but not great. They lost both starters at running back to the NFL in Zamir White and James Cook. And George Pickens, their top receiver, and the left side of the offensive line, have also moved on. I expect them to come out and not be quite as explosive on this side of the ball to start the season. Plus, Lanning is going to know exactly how to attack Bennett and this offense.
A defensive battle should be underway, but expectation should be Georgia pulls away, pretty handily, to a win basically at home. However, that 52.5 mark seems reasonably high for two good defenses and a few offenses with some question marks.
No. 5 Notre Dame Fighting Irish vs No. 2 Ohio State Buckeyes
- TV: ABC
- Time: 7:30 p.m. ET
- Location: Columbus, Ohio
- Weather: 79 degrees and sunny
- DraftKings Odds: OSU -17, O/U: 59.5, ML: OSU -800, ND +575
- Best Bet: ND +17 (and maybe higher closer to game time)
Believe it or not, the Buckeyes have a history of close games or losses to top-ranked opponents early in the season. Ohio State lost to Oklahoma in a similar No. 5 vs No. 2 matchup in 2017. No. 15 TCU hung with the Buckeyes a year later, before Ohio State pulled away late to a 40-28 win in Columbus. Last season, they lost to a mediocre Oregon squad at home.
Everyone is wondering what this Ohio State defense will look like in 2022. If they are among the top in the country, the Buckeyes could be favorites for a National Championship with their high-powered offense. However, it was their downfall against Oregon and Michigan last season, specifically in the run game. There replacements on defensive this year will likely be several younger players.
Notre Dame will focus on running the football under new offensive coordinator Tommy Rees. The team has one of the biggest offensive lines in the country that touts experience as well. They should be much improved in 2022 with a couple running backs fighting for the No. 1 gig. Leading the way should be Chris Tyree, who averaged 6.8 yards per carry behind a strong offensive line in 2020. He was hurt last year and his numbers dipped for it, but if he is healthy and the line improves like it should, he and others could be in for a big season.
Defensively, the Irish are looking strong. One of the best safeties in the country, Brandon Joseph, transferred from Northwestern to add to an already impressive secondary that should matchup well against C.J. Stroud and the his top receivers, like Jaxon Smith-Njigba. Under new head coach Marcus Freeman, the defense has a chance to shine right away in Week 1.
I like Ohio State to win the game, partly because it is in Columbus and Notre Dame hasn’t beaten Ohio State since 1936. But I expect the Fighting Irish to cover the spread, especially because this could be the second-highest spread between top-5 opponents in college football history. The first? No. 1 Alabama vs No. 4 Notre Dame in the 2020 Rose Bowl with Bama -18.5. The final score was 31-14, with the Irish narrowly covering.
- West Virginia Mountaineers (+7.5) vs No. 17 Pittsburgh Panthers on ESPN at 7:00 PM ET (Thursday)
- No. 23 Cincinnati Bearcats (+6.5) vs No. 19 Arkansas Razorbacks on ESPN at 3:30 PM ET
- No. 7 Utah Utes (-2.5) vs Florida Gators on ESPN at 7 PM ET
- Florida State Seminoles (+3) vs LSU Tigers on ABC at 7:30 PM ET (Sunday)
All odds courtesy of DraftKings Sportsbook.