Every summer since 2007 I have created an intricate set of college football predictions for each upcoming season. This year is no exception, as I will be using my blog over the next few daysto publish my 16th annual college football preview guide. Due to a trial backlog in the courthouse created by Covid-19, I am publishing this guide much later in the summer than I usually do. Nevertheless, it is here and this year I will be providing more team by team analysis than I ever have before.
Without further ado, let’s get things started with my fourth annual facts and tidbits article. This is a collection of various anecdotes and statistics that I have compiled while doing my college football research for the upcoming season. The past few seasons I have included 10 facts on this list. In 2022, I am expanding the list to 15. They are ordered from least astonishing to most astonishing.
15. The UNLV Rebels have not been favored in any college football game since week 2 of 2019 and they have not won as a favorite against an FBS opponent since week 2 of 2018– The first streak includes a home game against an FCS program I might add, as UNLV/Eastern Washington was a pick’em in week 1 last year. That streak will almost certainly come to an end this year as UNLV is assuredly going to open as a home favorite in their season opening contest against FCS foe Idaho State. Their best chance of ending their four year streak of not winning as a favorite against an FBS foe will likely come on October 1st when they the Rebs host the Lobos of New Mexico.
14. The Iowa State Cyclones have the longest power 5 conference championship drought and the Ohio Bobcats have the longest group of five conference title drought– This stat is somewhat complicated by the fact that so many teams have switched conferences in the past decade or so, but nevertheless, the Cyclones last won a conference title in 1912 and Ohio hasn’t won since 1968. Both of these programs have had lengthy periods of success in the past 50+ years but neither has been able to get over the hump. Also, as you might expect, Vandy has the second longest power 5 conference championship drought, as they haven’t won a conference title since 1923.
13. Only ten schools have won a college football and a college basketball national championship and four of them are from the same division of the same conference– The almighty Big Ten East can stick out its chest on this one. Arkansas and Florida are the only schools in the entire SEC to win championships in college’s two major sports, but the Big Ten East’s Ohio State, Michigan, Michigan State, and Maryland have all done it as well. The other four schools to achieve this feat, in case you were wondering, are: Syracuse, California, UCLA, and Stanford. Interestingly, three teams on this list (Syracuse, Cal, and Maryland) are among the final eight Power 5 teams to never to host ESPN’s College Gameday.
12. There are only two FBS teams never to make a bowl game: UMass and Texas State– Both programs are relatively new to FBS so not a huge surprise but its still interesting to try and keep tabs on teams searching for their first bowl bid. I don’t see either of these squads breaking through this year but keep in mind that Charlotte and Liberty earned their first bowl bids in 2019 and Coastal came out of nowhere to reach a bowl for the first time in 2020, so you never know.
11. Liberty and New Mexico State are only two teams that are unbeaten in college football bowl games- App State was the leader on this list with an impressive 6-0 mark but as result of their loss to Western Kentucky last year, Liberty (3-0) and New Mexico State (3-0-1) are now the only two teams that can say they have never lost a bowl game. Aside of course, from the forementioned UMass and Texas State programs who have never played in one.
10. Wake Forest has not beaten at Top 10 team since 1946– I include this factoid about my alma mater every year in hopes that this is the season this epic drought ends. Despite actually reaching the top 10 last season themselves, the Deacs never got a change to knock off a top ten team in 2021, as the highest ranked team they played was 15th ranked Pitt in the ACC title game. Nevertheless, I believe they will definitely have at least one shot at ending this streak in 2022, as Wake hosts a Clemson team currently ranked in the top 5 on September 24th.
9. Speaking of historical droughts…Indiana football is still full of them– Indiana has has dome recent gridiron success over the past couple of seasons, but they still have some major history to overcome. First of all, Indiana has by far the longest bowl victory drought in the Power 5 as the Hoosiers haven’t won a postseason game since 1991, which is 13 years longer than the next longest Power 5 postseason drought (Colorado- 2004). In addition, Indiana hasn’t beaten Michigan in Ann Arbor in 52 years and hasn’t beaten Ohio State anywhere since 1988.
8. Michigan State won a New Year’s Six Bowl game last year with the worst pass defense in entire country– I am sure many of you have heard this statistic before, but it bears repeating, as it is just astonishing that a team that gave up 324.8 yards passing per game was good enough to win 11 games, including the Peach Bowl. It certainly helped that they played in a league that doesn’t throw the ball much, as the Spartans only losses came against the only two Big 10 squads with prolific passing games (Purdue, Ohio State).
7. MAC Statistical Madness– I am including a couple of different statistics under the same title because of the overall strangeness that is the Mid-American conference. Western Michigan finished last in the MAC West last year despite finishing # 1 in the division in offense and # 2 in defense. You would think the only explanation for this would be they must have turned the ball over a lot, but no they actually had a net zero turnover margin. On the polar opposite extreme, we had Northern Illinois, who won on the MAC West (and the overall conference title) despite finishing # 4 in the division in offense, dead last in defense, and dead last in turnover margin (-6). Yes, you read that right, the last place team in the division averaged 38 more yards per game offensively, allowed a whopping 123 yards less defensively, and had a net gain of six more turnovers than the first place team in the same division.
6. MAC Scheduling Madness– I can always rely on the Mid-American Conference to occupy a couple of the spots on this list every year because this conference produces some of the wackiest anecdotes. This year I stumbled upon one of the weirdest scheduling anomalies you will ever see. Miami-OH and Toledo, two conference rivals located less than 200 miles apart, have not played each other since 2011. Like, how is this possible? And can the MAC administrators not figure out how scheduling rotations work? There are only 12 teams in this league, and every team plays three cross division games each year. That means theoretically you should play every team in the league at least every other season. Yet, somehow two such teams have not been matched up against one against in 11 seasons! They aren’t scheduled to play each other this year either but spoiler alert, I am predicting these two teams to meet in December in the MAC Championship Game. See an ancient picture of the last time these two teams played below.
5. Home is “where the heart is”/where the games are– A few of the sport’s bluebloods (both new and traditional) are cutting down on travel costs this year by keeping most, if not, all of their games local. Texas and UCF do not have to travel outside their home state for a game until October 22nd! Meanwhile, Auburn only has to leave their home state three times all season, and all three of those games are in the states that directly border Alabama (Mississippi and Georgia).
4. North Dakota State is a perfect 6-0 against FBS teams since 2010– The Bison have not only dominated their FCS opposition over the past decade-plus, but they are undefeated against FBS opponents during that time frame as well. This statistic is particularly impressive when you consider that all but one of those 6 wins were against Power 5 schools: Iowa (2016), Iowa State (2014), Kansas State (2013), Colorado State (2012), Minnesota (2011), and Kansas (2010). This is all very bad news for the rebuilding Arizona Wildcats who host the Bison on week 3 in Tucson. Altogether, North Dakota State is 9-3 against FBS opposition which is the highest win percentage (by far) amongst FCS schools, with the exception of Tarleton State’s misleading 1-0 records vs. FBS teams that resulted from their 2020 win over New Mexico State. The Titans from Tarleton will almost certainly drop 1-1 this year as they travel to Fort Worth to play TCU on September 10th.
3. UCLA will play an FCS opponent for the first time in school history in 2022– This is a random, yet strange, fact as it seems like every Power 5 team has made a living off scheduling their “free FCS win” every season. The Bruins should be commended for avoiding these cake walk games for as long as they have, but nevertheless, after their game against Alabama State on September 10th, there will only be two FBS programs that have never played an FCS team. They are Notre Dame and Southern California, and the Trojans of USC will ultimately be the last team standing in this competition, as the Irish will open their 2023 season with a home game against Tennessee State.
2. Alabama and Ohio State open the season # 1 and # 2 while also having the same number of wins all-time and exact same win all-time percentage– Bama and Ohio State are predicted to be the two teams battling it out for the national championship come January, but they will also likely be battling it out to determine who the all-time winningest program (by win percentage) is in college football. Both schools are tied at the top right now at .731 and are also tied for second most total wins (942) as both trailing Michigan by 34 games. Meanwhile, my Wake Forest Demon Deacons have had a firm grasp on the worst win percentage amongst power 5 schools for years, but they have a chance to finally make it out of the basement in 2022 as they trail Indiana by just two tenths of a percentage point (.419 vs. .421) and are expected to have a much more successful season than the Hoosiers this year.
1. UTEP has been playing Division 1 football since 1914 and has NEVER won a football game in the eastern time zone– I was skimming through Phil Steele’s annual preseason guide a few weeks ago, when I stumbled upon this draw dropping statistic. I thought there is no way it could be true but upon doing my own research, I confirmed that the Miners are 0-26-1 in all games they have played inside the eastern (U.S.) time zone. I understand that a vast majority of their games have been played in the central, mountain, and pacific time zones, but they have been in a conference with multiple eastern time zone teams ever since 2005. You think they would have won one of those crossover games at some point. Or better yet, you think they would sneak in a home and home non-conference series with a perennial doormat like UMass or UConn just to get the monkey off their back. Yet here we are,109 seasons after the Miners started playing football, and they are still trying to overcome the two hour time difference that eastern time zone games. UTEP may have its best shot in a while in 2022 as they play at Charlotte on October 1st. If that isn’t the game of the year in college football, I don’t know what is!