We’re just a few days out from the 2022 college football season, so it’s time to break out the calendar and get ready for the most anticipated games.
Choosing the best games well ahead of the first snap of the year can be difficult. But with new contenders and old rivalries renewed, there is a slew of matchups any self-respecting college football fan wouldn’t want to miss. From heavyweight non-conference matchups to neutral-site games to end-of-the-season clashes, here are the games to mark on your calendar right now.
Notre Dame at Ohio State
Saturday, September 3 at 4:30 p.m. PT
What to watch for: Week 1 starts with a bang with two likely playoff contenders meeting in Columbus, Ohio. Both teams boast plenty of returning talent, with Notre Dame putting together what might be the best offensive line in the country and OSU aiming to, once again, field the No. 1 offense in the nation. The Buckeyes are led by Heisman Trophy finalist C.J. Stroud, while the Fighting Irish will see their new head coach (and former Ohio State linebacker) Marcus Freeman coach his first regular-season game in familiar territory.
Alabama at Texas
Saturday, September 10 at 9 a.m. PT
What to watch for: Nick Saban’s former offensive coordinator, Steve Sarkisian, starts Week 2 against his mentor — and the first meeting for Alabama and Texas in the regular season since 1922. While Texas is still rebuilding its program, stealing a win from the Crimson Tide (who’ve won six championships since 2009) would be quite the way to kick off the 2022 season.
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Oklahoma at Nebraska
Saturday, September 17 at 9 a.m. PT
What to watch for: An old-school rivalry returns to Lincoln, Neb.when Scott Frost’s team takes on Oklahoma. Though they lost to the Sooners on the road last year (going on to lose nine games in total), the Cornhuskers have a retooled lineup with quarterback Casey Thompson transferring from Texas and a new offensive coordinator in Mark Whipple.
N.C. State at Clemson
Saturday, October 1
What to watch for: This ACC matchup might be the best conference game of October. N.C. State’s quarterback Devin Leary will be looking to repeat last year’s performance after passing for four touchdowns against Clemson in an overtime victory over their ACC rivals. No easy feat with Clemson boasting the longest active home winning streak at 34 games, the Tigers are looking to revive their ACC dominance after missing the playoffs in 2021.
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Texas A&M at Alabama
Saturday, October 8
What to watch for: Nick Saban and Jimbo Fisher’s offseason beef turned this heated SEC matchup into, quite possibly, the league’s most-anticipated game of the year. Another of Saban’s former apprentices, Fisher’s Aggies, took a 41-38 victory from Alabama last year. And if the stakes for this year’s matchup weren’t already high enough, the game will likely determine who wins the SEC West — vaulting the winner into a playoff berth and possibly even predicting who hoists the national championship in January.
USC at Utah
Saturday, October 15
What to watch for: Lincoln Riley’s Trojans are stacked with transfers, with Caleb Williams, Mario Williams, Jordan Addison and Travis Dye making the trek out to Los Angeles for the 2022 season. But they’ll need all the help they can get, coming off one of their worst defensive seasons in recent memory and facing Utah’s fierce offensive tandem in quarterback Cameron Rising and tailback Tavion Thomas.
Clemson at Notre Dame
Saturday, November 5
What to watch for: Two of football’s most storied programs meet head to head in South Bend, Ind. as Clemson and Notre Dame continue their recent rivalry. Clemson will be looking to shake off their heartbreaking 47-40 road loss in 2020 (though they won the rematch later that year in the ACC title game). Even with Notre Dame still trying to prove their playoff potential, winning under Touchdown Jesus is never easy.
Michigan at Ohio State
Saturday, November 26
What to watch for: You can’t put together a list of the must-watch games of the year and not include Michigan v. Ohio State. Last year the Wolverines snapped their eight-year losing streak against the Buckeyes, claiming the Big Ten title and their first College Football Playoff berth in program history. But while Michigan lost some pivotal pieces this year, OSU is returning many of their offensive weapons, setting up a season-ending matchup for the ages.
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