College football is BACK! And week 1 is all about getting together with old friends and enemies.
Week 1 features 7 games that involve some type of coaching reunion or storyline.
Notre Dame vs Ohio State
Marcus Freeman’s first regular season game as Notre Dame head coach will come against the school he spent 4 years playing linebacker for from 2004-2008. Freeman was a 5th round NFL Draft pick in 2009.
He played 39 games (all 13 a season) from 2006-2008. In 2007, Freeman was second on the team in tackles (109) behind only James Laurinaitis. In 2008, he was third on the team in sacks (3.5). In both 2007 and 2008, he was named All-Big Ten Second Team. Freeman had a very successful career at Ohio State.
Freeman worked as defensive coordinator at Cincinnati from 2017-2020, before moving on to Notre Dame. Ironically, he worked under Luke Fickell, who was the OSU DC while Freeman played there. He was ND defensive coordinator in 2021 and made his official coaching debut in the Fiesta Bowl, a 37-35 loss to Oklahoma State on New Year’s Day.
It’s a little ironic that Freeman’s first game at Notre Dame was the Fiesta Bowl, and that’s how he begins his full-time career. The last two times Ohio State and Notre Dame faced each other, the Buckeyes won the Fiesta Bowl – 44-28 in 2016 and 34-20 in 2006.
Georgia vs Oregon
Oregon’s first year head coach Dan Lanning coordinated the highly touted Georgia Bulldogs defense during their historic run to the 2022 National Championship victory. Now, Lanning’s first game as head coach of the Ducks comes against those Bulldogs.
He was part of Kirby Smart’s coaching staff from 2018-2021, serving as DC the last 3 years.
New Mexico State vs Minnesota
New Mexico State has very little football history, but they made a really exciting coaching hire this past off-season by bringing in veteran Jerry Kill. Kill will make his coaching debut against Minnesota, with whom he previously coached for and went 29-29 between 2011-2015, including an 0-3 bowl record.
New Mexico State would love to go 0-3 in bowl games, considering they have only been to 1 bowl game since 1960.
Old Dominion vs Virginia Tech
This is the “Penn State Coordinators Bowl”, between two coaches with a lot of familiarity with each other.
In 2019, Penn State finished 11-2 with a win in the Cotton Bowl. They were led by Offensive Coordinator Ricky Rahne, who enters his second season as Old Dominion head coach and their defensive coordinator was Brent Pry, who will be entering his first season as Virginia Tech head coach.
Rahne led ODU to the school’s first ever bowl game in 2021, and finished 6-7. Pry takes over a Hokies team that is used to success, but hasn’t won 10 games since 2016 and is coming off of back-to-back losing records for the first time since 1991-1992.
Georgia State vs South Carolina
Georgia State head coach Shawn Elliot has a shot at revenge.
In 2015, South Carolina finished 3-9 and Hall of Fame coach Steve Spurrier resigned after 6 games. He was replaced mid-season by co-OC/OL coach Shawn Elliott, who went 1-5 as interim head coach. Elliott stayed on with the Gamecocks in 2016, serving as OL coach, before being hired by Georgia State in 2017. He has compiled a 30-30 record in 5 seasons, reaching 4 bowl games (3-1 record).
Liberty vs Southern Miss
Liberty head coach Hugh Freeze has never coached at Southern Miss, but he did graduate from there in 1992.
Utah vs Florida
There is no direct connection between Utah coach Whittingham and new Florida head coach Billy Napier, but the cloud of Urban Meyer hovers over both schools.
Meyer went 22-2 in two seasons at Utah, going 12-0 and winning the Fiesta Bowl in 2004. He left after that season for Florida, where he went 65-15 and won 2 BCS National Championship Games.
Backyard Brawl Reunions
For the first time since 2011, West Virginia and Pittsburgh will play each other in football. Let’s go!
Big East Reunion
This is a legendary rivalry, known as the Backyard Brawl, which dates back to 1895. Conference expansion/realignment ruined this, when both left the Big East – West Virginia for the Big 12 in 2013 and Pittsburgh for the ACC in 2012.
Pitt leads the all-time series 61-40-3. Mountaineers won the last 3 meetings and 5 of 7 overall.
USC QBs Reunite
This game is also a reunion of USC quarterbacks – JT Daniels and Kedon Slovis.
In 2019, JT Daniels, then a sophomore, entered the season at USC expecting to be the starting QB. He started the Trojans’ week 1 win against Fresno State, but left early with a knee injury. Kedon Slovis replaced him, and would start the next 12 games. Two years later, Slovis has transferred to Pittsburgh and Daniels, after a brief stop at Georgia, is now at West Virginia, where he reunites with offensive coordinator Graham Harrell, who coached both QBs at USC.
Colorado St vs Michigan
This isn’t that exciting of a football game, but it is a rematch of the first round of the 2022 NCAA Tournament, where 11th seeded Michigan “upset” 6th seeded Colorado State, 75-63.
If there was an upset in this game, it would rank pretty high on the list of all-timers.
Illinois vs Indiana
Two schools who had a rough 2021 football season, but some success in 2022 basketball season. In the 2022 Big Ten Tournament, #9 Indiana upset #1 Illinois, a win that essentially secured their spot in the field of 68.
Temple vs Duke
Another not very exciting football game in 2022, but there is some football history, in addition to the basketball history. They met once in football back in 2018 when Duke won the Walk-On’s Independence Bowl 56-27.
More notably, there are two NCAA Tournament matchups between the schools. Duke beat Temple in the 1988 Final Four and won again in 1999 in the Elite 8, to advance to the Final Four.
Referee Screw Ups
When Mississippi State plays Memphis and Oklahoma State plays Central Michigan, let’s hope these teams are the only constant from their last meetings and that the same referees are not part of these games.
Memphis vs Mississippi State
This is a rematch of the “fake fair catch” game in 2021.
But not only did they score in controversial fashion, they also committed another penalty…
Oklahoma State vs Central Michigan
In 2016, Central Michigan upset Oklahoma State on a WILD Hail Mary to end the game. However, that play never should have happened, as admitted by the officials post-game…
Here is the final few seconds, where Oklahoma State got called for intentional grounding, giving the Chippewas one more shot.