Week zero is now a weird appetizer to start the college football season There are only a handful of games now, and to play in one you have to have one of the following qualifications:
- The game is played internationally (This is why Northwestern and Nebraska got to play.
- One of the teams involved has a game at Hawaii, thus they get an extra bye week for travel purposes later.
- The NCAA usually likes to shift an FCS game or two to week 0 as a showcase.
- Conference realignment screws things up.
Vanderbilt, Western Kentucky, Duquesne, Nevada, Wyoming, Utah State, and UNLV all go to the islands this year, so they got to shift a game to week 0. Florida Atlantic and Charlotte had to shift to week 0 because three teams left Conference USA for the Sun Belt, so that messed everything up.
Overall, we had 11 games yesterday as a nice opener. Strangely, four of Purdue’s 12 opponents were able to get in a game, including three Big Ten West opponents. That’s why we get an early Whistlestop Tour today.
Northwestern 31, Nebraska 28
The Wildcats have already matched last season’s Big Ten win total and looked pretty decent doing it. They twice came back from down double digits and ran all day on the Cornhuskers:
After a slow start, Northwestern caught fire while Nebraska looked totally flat. Although NU trailed 28-17 at one point, the team never looked back, utilizing turnovers from the Huskers and sensational offensive line play to eke out a victory. Ryan Hilinski impressed as the starting QB, finishing with 313 yards on 27 completions — he was well supported by Evan Hull and Cam Porter, who combined for just over 200 rushing yards.
On the other side, another Scott Frost Day has come and gone, and it was more of the same as Nebraska’s last 12 losses dating back to 2020 have been by single digits:
It’s 6 am on Groundhog Day. Again. Like the movie “Groundhog Day,” every day was different, but Phil Connors ended up right back in the same spot he was before. For Connors, it’s waking up to Sonny and Cher.
For Frost, it’s yet another single digit loss, bringing his critics back and even louder than before. This game only reinforced their arguments, but it doesn’t really matter. Nothing is going to happen this week or next month. Probably not the month after either. Let’s let the season play itself out, unless we’re really looking to make ourselves miserable.
Illinois 38, Wyoming 6
It took a while for the Illinois offense to get going, but the defense was solid all night long:
Most Illini fans probably weren’t awfully surprised by Chase Brown’s dominance on Saturday. This is a guy that rushed for 1,005 yards in basically 9 games in 2021, with 2 games of more than 200 yards on the season.
But he was truly spectacular against Wyoming. The senior running back had 19 carries for 151 yards (7.9 YPC) and added 16 receiving yards on 3 catches, tallying 3 total touchdowns on the afternoon. The entire stadium saw exactly what he was capable of on the very first play from scrimmage as he burst through a hole for 38 yards on a drive he’d finish himself on the very next play.
Florida Atlantic 43, Charlotte 13 - The Owls looked feisty as N’Kosi Perry both ran for a score and threw for one, plus they got a pick-six in an easy win.