Top-5 College Football Games: Week One

The 2022 College Football season has only just begun, but there hasn’t been a shortage of excitement. Week One provided fans with some absolutely wild, nerve-wracking, jaw-dropping and unforgettable moments. There were the usual big-time blowouts that come with early-season non-conference games, but those were overshadowed by some game of the year candidates.

Here is a look at the best games from Week One of the 2022 College Football season.

Honorable Mention: UNC def. Appalachian State 63-61

UNC vs App State
Jim Dedmon – USA TODAY Sports

It is not often two schools’ football teams outscore their basketball teams. However, that is exactly the case with UNC and Appalachian State. On December 21, 2021, these two schools matched up in Men’s Basketball where UNC won 70-50. That is a combined 120 points. 8.5 months later they faced off in football and combined for 124 points.

This was the definition of a wild game. Appalachian State led the game 21-7 after 16 minutes. They did not score over the next 32 minutes while UNC scored 34 points to take a 41-21 lead into the fourth quarter. The scoring completely ramped up in the fourth quarter as they combined for nine touchdowns.

Appalachian State had a chance to win the game with a two-point conversion down 56-55, but they failed despite throwing to a wide-open receiver. UNC returned the onside kick for a TD, but Appalachian State did not give up. They scored a TD with nine seconds remaining, but unfortunately, came up just short on the two-point attempt.

The two quarterbacks took advantage of some struggling defense. Drake Maye for UNC went 24/35 for 352 pass yards and four pass TDs. He also rushed for 76 yards and a TD. For Appalachian State, Chase Brice went 25/36 with 361 pass yards, six pass TDs and one interception.

This was an absolutely exhilarating game, but it did not land in the top five because it did not hold the kind of weight that the others did.

5) No. 24 Houston def. UTSA 37-35

Houston vs UTSA
Eric Gay – Associated Press

Both of these teams are coming off extremely impressive 2021 seasons. Houston went 11-2 which included 10 straight wins to complete the regular season. They won 11 regular season games for the first time since 2015. UTSA went 12-1 and won the Conference USA championship game. That was their most wins in a season since 2012, their second season, when they won eight. Both teams aimed to continue what they started last season.

UTSA took a 21-7 lead into the fourth quarter, but Houston tied it at 21 a piece with 12:19 remaining. It was a stalemate until Houston took the lead on a field goal with 23 seconds to go. With limited time UTSA’s QB Frank Harris completed two passes for 55 yards leading to a game-tying field goal at the buzzer.

The two teams matched each other with field goals in the first overtime and then TDs with two-point conversions in the second OT. Houston began the third OT with a successful two-point attempt and they finished the game with a great stop on UTSA’s attempt.

Despite the loss, UTSA QB Harris continued his success from last season. He went 28/43 for 337 pass yards, three pass TDs as well as eight carries for 63 rush yards and one rush TD. His 400 total yards tied his most with his 400-yard performance on October 9, 2021, against Western Kentucky. UTSA fans should be very excited to have him back.

After two incredible seasons for these teams, they came out in week one with an amazing battle. This was one of the first overtime games of the season and it should go down as one of the best of the season.

4) Penn State def. Purdue 35-31

Penn State vs Purdue
Trevor Ruszkowski – USA TODAY Sports

One of the first major matchups of the season came on Thursday, September 1st as Penn State went into a packed Purdue blackout. Both of these teams are coming off solid seasons and have returning starting senior QBs, Aiden O’Connell for Purdue and Sean Clifford for Penn State.

This was an exciting back-and-forth Big Ten matchup. Purdue led 10-7 with just under two minutes remaining before halftime. However, a very methodical drive put Penn State up 14-10 with 1:44 remaining. Purdue aimed to add more points prior to halftime, but they fumbled it away. Penn State only needed 28 seconds to score another TD to go up 21-10 at halftime.

Purdue was in complete control of the third quarter with two TDs to go up 24-21. For Penn State, their three drives resulted in a total of 37 yards for three punts. Penn State’s first drive of the fourth quarter featured a few big plays for a TD to take a 28-24 lead. Their next drive went much worse as Purdue intercepted a pass and returned it 72 yards for a Pick-6. Needing a score, Penn State waited until only 2:22 remaining in the game to put together a great 80-yard drive commencing in the game-winning TD.

Clifford did not play as well as fans may have hoped. Despite the struggles, when they went up-tempo and needed points he did incredible work. In the drives at the end of each half, he combined for 7/9 for 139 yards, outside of those two drives he went 13/28 for 143 yards.

Neither of these teams looked particularly great on either side of the ball, but it was a classic hard-fought week one Big Ten game.

3) No. 17 Pittsburgh def. West Virginia 38-31

Pittsburgh vs West Virginia
Keith Srakocic – AP Photo

Another week one Thursday night game deserves to be on this list for many reasons. Pittsburgh and West Virginia matched up in the classic Backyard Brawl which has been a staple for these two teams since October 26, 1895. It has been played 104 times and Pitt leads the series 61-40-3. However, this is the first time it has been played since November 25, 2011. It was certainly worth the wait.

Pitt has been the definition of mediocre for many years, but after an 11-2 season in 2021, they are looking to continue their success. For West Virginia, it has been a couple of seasons since they last made big headlines so they are looking to get back to the likes of their 10-2 season in 2016.

It was not the prettiest first half. There were five punts and two fumbles, but each team recorded a TD and field goal to make it 10-10 at halftime.

The second half started with a bang. After a three and out from Pitt, their punt was blocked and one play later West Virginia ran in the go-ahead TD. After both teams punted, Pitt recorded two clutch TDs to go up 24-17. The tides quickly changed as West Virginia scored a TD on each of their next two drives to jump up 31-24.

After a game-tying TD for Pitt with just under four minutes remaining, West Virginia made the biggest mistake of the game. JT Daniels threw an interception that was run back 56 yards for a Pick-6. West Virginia had a chance to tie it on their next drive. A fourth-down pass from Daniels came up just short of an incredible catch on the one-yard line.

It is only right that the Backyard Brawl came back with a game of the year candidate. Based on this game it appears both of these teams are going to be tough competitors this season.

2) Florida def. No. 7 Utah 29-26

Florida vs Utah
Kim Klement – USA TODAY Sports

Coming into this season Utah generated a lot of hype following their 9-3 regular season, Pac-12 title and Rose Bowl appearance. They brought back their star QB Cameron Rising, running back Tavion Thomas, and receivers Brant Kuithe and Micah Bernard. Florida however only went 6-6 last season and lost their starting QB who was also their leading rusher. The Swamp was packed with over 90,000 fans hoping for an incredible upset.

This week one game was Utah’s chance to prove they deserve to be in the AP Top-10 and Florida’s chance to prove they’re not last season’s team.

It was not a highly confident start for Florida who fumbled on their first drive leading to a Utah TD. Despite the early struggle, Florida scored two TDs compared to Utah’s additional two field goals. This sent the game into halftime with Florida leading 14-13.

It might be an understatement to say the second half was intense. It started with Utah driving 71 yards over 11 plays. With the ball at the one-yard line, they went for it on fourth and goal and came up short. Florida punted on their first drive, but it was all offense after that. Both teams recorded TDs in their next two drives. Florida held a 29-26 lead with only a minute and a half remaining.

Utah had the ball at the six-yard line with half a minute to go. On second and goal Florida’s senior Linebacker Amari Burney made one of the biggest plays of his career by intercepting Rising’s pass.

Florida was able to come out on top behind sophomore QB Anthony Richardson who went 17/24 for 168 pass yards and 106 rush yards for three rush TDs. This was quite the test for a Florida team that has not proved themselves much lately. The SEC better watch out for this explosive offense and tight defense.

For Utah, they did not get the result they hoped for. Nevertheless, they have a lot more opportunities to prove themselves against some not-so-great Pac-12 teams. This is an experienced team who knows how to persevere and win big games.

1) Florida State def. LSU 24-23

Florida State vs LSU
Melina Myers – USA TODAY Sports

The best game of week one belongs to two teams who have a lot of proving to do. Since winning the National Championship in 2019, LSU is 11-11 with some very poor efforts against the majority of their SEC opponents. They are now being led by new head coach Brian Kelly who is expected to turn this program around. It has been a much longer and rougher road for Florida State. Since their 9-3 regular season in 2016, they have gone 25-32.

Right now it feels like neither team can catch a break, but it is a new season with new possibilities.

It was a very poor first half from both offenses. Outside of the LSU field goal and Florida State TD, there was a punt, fumble, downs and two missed field goals. It was sloppy, but Florida State went into halftime with a 7-3 lead.

The second half began with all of the momentum going towards Florida State. In their first two drives, they put up a field goal and TD to extend their lead to 17-3. That is when the madness began. LSU finally put together a great drive where they went 89 yards and put a TD on the board. Florida State followed with a 79-yard drive ending with a TD. That was then followed by a 15-play, 75-yard drive by LSU for a TD. After all of these TDs, Florida State led 24-17.

The LSU defense did its job by forcing a three and out. Florida State punted it away and for the second time in the game Malik Nabers botched the fair catch and turned the ball over to Florida State. With the chance to put the game away Florida State fumbled the ball on the one-yard line.

LSU needed to go 99 yards in 1:20 to try and tie the game. They put together a highly methodical drive which allowed them to go 97 yards to reach the two-yard line with one second remaining. QB Jayden Daniels made a clutch throw to Jaray Jenkins for a TD. All that remained was the extra point that Florida State blocked to win the game.

What started as a pretty slow showing turned into one of the most incredible finishes in college football history. LSU hurt themselves in so many ways, but they kept on pushing and put themselves in an opportunity to tie the game up. The biggest statement of them all came from Florida State’s defense.

The College Football season has just begun, but it is already entertaining fans all across the country. Week One provided some game of the year candidates that will be tough to top, but Week Two is ready to add more to the list. Some of the games this weekend to look forward to include No. 1 Alabama vs Texas, South Carolina vs No. 16 Arkansas, No. 24 Tennesee vs No. 17 Pitt, No. 9 Baylor vs No. 21 BYU and so much more.

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