The best bets third week of College Football 2022
Oklahoma at Nebraska, noon ET Sept. 17 (Fox)
Of course, these two used to be bitter Big 12 rivals. Both will have new starting quarterbacks this season. For Oklahoma, it should be Central Florida transfer Dillon Gabriel for new coach Brent Venables. Gabriel actually first planned to go to UCLA but changed his mind. A fractured left clavicle sustained against Louisville on Sept. 17 caused him to miss nine games of the 2021 season. In three contests, Gabriel threw for 814 yards, nine touchdowns and three interceptions.
Gabriel threw for 8,041 yards, 70 touchdowns and 14 interceptions in 26 games for UCF overall. The move reconnects Gabriel with new OU offensive coordinator Jeff Lebby, who was Gabriel’s position coach and offensive coordinator during Gabriel’s breakout freshman season in 2019. Lebby spent the last two years at Ole Miss before joining Brent Venables’ staff.
Nebraska coach Scott Frost enters on a very hot seat and will go with Texas transfer Casey Thompson at QB. Thompson threw for 2,113 yards, 24 touchdowns (first in the Big 12) and nine interceptions in the 2021 season. He also recorded a program-record six touchdowns in a loss to Kansas and the most five-plus touchdowns in Texas history.
These teams played last year for the first time in more than a decade and Oklahoma won 23-16 at home. Spencer Rattler passed for a touchdown and ran for another. It was their first meeting since 2010 — right before Nebraska left the Big 12 for the Big Ten. The programs had a fierce, yet respectful rivalry in the Big Eight and Big 12, with Nebraska winning five national titles and Oklahoma claiming four between 1970 and 2000.
Penn State at Auburn, 3:30 PM ET Sept. 17 (CBS)
This completes a home-and-home between the schools as last year, Auburn lost 28-20 at Penn State. Jaquan Brisker broke up a desperation pass toward the end zone by Auburn’s Bo Nix as time expired. Sean Clifford completed 28 of 32 passes for 280 yards and two touchdowns to lead the Nittany Lions.
Clifford is back this year and has been named to several preseason national award lists. The senior has played in 38 career games, making 33 starts. He is one of three Penn State players to reach 8,000 yards of total offense and one of three PSU quarterbacks to eclipse 7,500 career passing yards and sits as the current all-time leader at Penn State in completion percentage (.603).
Clifford ranks second at PSU in career passing touchdowns (62), third in passing yardage (7,839), completions (607) and passing efficiency (141.2), fourth in attempts (1,006), tied for seventh in yards per passing attempt (7.8), eighth in lowest interception percentage (2.49), and 10th in touchdown pass percentage (6.16) and wins as a starting quarterback (21). He is third in school history in 300-yard passing games (7) and 200-yard games (19). Among Penn State quarterbacks, is third all-time at PSU in rushing yardage (897) and tied for sixth in rushing touchdowns (10).
Auburn’s starting QB this year likely will be Texas A&M transfer Zach Calzada. He tallied 2,185 yards, 17 touchdowns and nine interceptions in 10 games as a sophomore in 2021. He led Texas A&M to an upset win over Alabama in October, throwing for 285 yards and three touchdowns in the Aggies’ 41–38 victory.
Auburn will likely have a quarterback battle between Calzada and former LSU transfer TJ Finley for the starting spot in 2022. Finley started three games this season with Nix out of the lineup due to injury. Nix transferred to Oregon in December.
Miami Fla. at Texas A&M, 9 PM ET Sept. 17 (ESPN)
Both these schools should be ranked when they meet and a good chance ESPN College GameDay will be on hand. Miami and Texas A&M last played in 2008.
As a freshman last year, Canes QB Tyler Van Dyke threw for 2,931 yards, 25 touchdowns and six interceptions, while completing 62.3% of his passes. On top of that, Mario Cristobal is now the team’s head coach, and he has been busy filling holes, via the NCAA Transfer Portal.
Haynes King should be the Aggies’ QB. Last season King beat out Zach Calzada and earned the starting job before suffering a season ending leg injury in the second game of the season. This year King will battle LSU transfer Max Johnson and true freshman Connor Weigman.
A&M’s Devon Achane was selected as a member of the Maxwell Award Preseason Watch List. Achane, a junior, led the Aggies with 11 touchdowns in 2021, including scores as a rusher, receiver and returner. Appearing almost exclusively off the bench, Achane rushed for 910 yards with a team-best nine touchdowns while averaging 7.0 yards per carry, which led the SEC and was No. 2 in the FBS among players with 100-or-more carries. Achane led the team with 1,472 all-purpose yards, chipping in 301 on kickoff return and 261 receiving yards.
The Aggies will have an improved roster as a whole. They signed the highest-rated recruiting class in modern college football history. Many of the players from this elite class will make an immediate impact as true freshmen.
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