College football returns: Nebraska and North West highlight Week Zero with Ireland game

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College football fans have spent the last seven months pining away, patiently waiting for the return to the grill while the sports dose was fueled by the NBA and the ever-exciting regular season baseball.

The wait is coming to an end. Kind of.

FILE - Northwestern head coach Pat Fitzgerald speaks to reporters during an NCAA college football news conference during Big Ten Conference Media Days at Lucas Oil Stadium, Tuesday, July 26, 2022 , in Indianapolis.  Northwestern is scheduled to kick off its season on August 27, 2022 against Nebraska.

FILE – Northwestern head coach Pat Fitzgerald speaks to reporters during an NCAA college football news conference during Big Ten Conference Media Days at Lucas Oil Stadium, Tuesday, July 26, 2022 , in Indianapolis. Northwestern is scheduled to kick off its season on August 27, 2022 against Nebraska.
(AP Photo/Darron Cummings, File)

Week zero of the college football season has come with 11 matches scheduled for Saturday, August 27. There won’t be a single ranked team competing, but no one should be picky this weekend.

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Let’s take a look at a handful of games on the Week Zero slate.

Nebraska Cornhuskers vs. Northwestern Wildcats – 12:30 p.m. ET

Nebraska head coach Scott Frost enters his fifth year at Lincoln with the Heat on full blast as his Cornhuskers have failed to finish a season above .500 since taking the job in 2018 After finishing last season at 3-9 and losing their opener to Illinois, Nebraska travels to Dublin, Ireland for a fun game against Northwestern.

The The Cornhuskers will have a new quarterback under center as Texas transfer Casey Thompson will get the first shot for Nebraska. Thompson started 10 games for Texas last season, throwing for 2,113 yards with 24 touchdowns and 24 interceptions.

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“I really like what we have in this position,” Frost said on “Husker Sports Nightly” when the news broke. “I wouldn’t be surprised if more than one plays, but Casey will take first rep.”

Northwestern is coming off a disappointing season, finishing 3-9 in 2021 after finishing above .500 in five of the past six seasons. The The wild cats were blown away in their game against Nebraska last season, losing 56-7 to Lincoln.

Wyoming Cowboys at Illinois Fighting Illini – 4:00 p.m. ET

Head coach Bret Bielema enjoyed his first game of week zero as Illinois head coach, beating Nebraska to kick off the 2021 season. Can he make it 2-0?

The Illini fighter are hoping to take another step after a decently successful first season under their new head coach, finishing the 2021 season 5-7 but beating two ranked opponents in the process.

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“Really excited for our players, our coaches, but just Illinois football in general, which obviously includes the University of Illinois, the Champaign-Urbana community, all of our fans and alumni,” Bielema said Monday. , according to 247 Sports. “There’s a really good buzz with our players. The buzz doesn’t really mean wins, but I like the excitement, the energy, just the general feel of what our guys are doing.”

Head Coach Bret Bielema of Illinois Fighting Illini speaks during the 2022 Big Ten Conference football media days at Lucas Oil Stadium on July 27, 2022 in Indianapolis, Indiana.

Head Coach Bret Bielema of Illinois Fighting Illini speaks during the 2022 Big Ten Conference football media days at Lucas Oil Stadium on July 27, 2022 in Indianapolis, Indiana.
(Photo by Michael Hickey/Getty Images)

Wyoming went 7-6 in 2021 but the The Cowboys lost 14 entries of last year’s team. Head coach Craig Bohl is entering his ninth season at Laramie, leading his Cowboys to four bowl games during his tenure.

UConn Huskies at Utah State Aggies – 4:00 p.m. ET

Welcome to the The Jim Mora era at UConn. The Huskies, who are coming off a 1-11 season in 2021, including a loss to FCS Holy Cross, are hoping Mora can breathe some life into the program.

Mora hasn’t coached since the 2017 season when he was fired after six seasons at UCLA, spending the last three years living in Idaho and working for ESPN.

Connecticut head football coach Jim Mora speaks to reporters during the opening day of NCAA college football training camp July 29, 2022, in Storrs, Connecticut.  Mora is trying to rebuild the football program as an independent in an era of conference mega-mergers.

Connecticut head football coach Jim Mora speaks to reporters during the opening day of NCAA college football training camp July 29, 2022, in Storrs, Connecticut. Mora is trying to rebuild the football program as an independent in an era of conference mega-mergers.
(AP Photo/Pat Eaton-Robb)

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“I wanted another chance. I was on point, if it didn’t happen I was okay. I was happy in Sun Valley,” Mora said of his Idaho residency, according to ESPN. “I had an itch that I really felt like I needed this opportunity. It’s what I love to do, it’s what I’m passionate about. I love being able to affect these kids. I’m to the point in my life where it’s really, really not about me.”

Utah State is the defending champion in Mountain West, going 11-3 last year and losing Oregon State in their bowl game.

The Aggies will travel to Tuscaloosa to face No. 1 Alabama in Week 1.

Vanderbilt Commodores at Hawaii Rainbow Warriors – 10:30 p.m. ET

For those willing to stay up until the wee hours of the morning, the week zero slate concludes with a trip to Honolulu.

Vanderbilt is coming off a 2-10 record in head coach Clark Lea’s first year at the helm and is looking for his first season-opening win since 2018. Regardless of Vanderbilt’s record in 2021, Lea has set some high expectations for the Commodores.

Vanderbilt Commodores head coach Clark Lea during the Vanderbilt Commodores Black and Gold Spring Game April 16, 2022 at Vanderbilt Stadium in Nashville, Tennessee.

Vanderbilt Commodores head coach Clark Lea during the Vanderbilt Commodores Black and Gold Spring Game April 16, 2022 at Vanderbilt Stadium in Nashville, Tennessee.
(Photo by Matthew Maxey/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

“We know over time Vanderbilt football will be the best program in the country,” Lea told SEC Media Days.

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Vanderbilt hasn’t had a winning season since 2013, won 10 games in a season, or made it to the SEC Championship Game.

east hawaii enters its first season under former record-breaking quarterback Timmy Chang, who spent the last few seasons as an assistant coach at Nevada.

Nebraska Cornhuskers head coach Scott Frost discusses a call with an official against the Iowa Hawkeyes in the second half at Memorial Stadium on November 26, 2021 in Lincoln, Nebraska.

Nebraska Cornhuskers head coach Scott Frost discusses a call with an official against the Iowa Hawkeyes in the second half at Memorial Stadium on November 26, 2021 in Lincoln, Nebraska.
(Photo by Steven Branscombe/Getty Images)

“When I was playing, I felt like I was putting a state on my back and now I tell the kids, ‘The state needs you to do this block. This state is counting on you.’ They understand,” Chang said, according to ESPN. “It’s bigger than me. It’s for this whole community, the eight islands. It’s kind of what makes [coaching here] really special, especially when you were born and raised here.”

Hawaii has won its last seven home openers.

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