Happy New Year, G5 football fans!
The 2021 season has just about wrapped up, which means we’re already thinking about the 2022 season and the games to start building excitement about over the spring and summer. While we don’t know conference schedules just yet, we do know non-conference schedules for just about every FBS team, and that’s more than enough to start speculating.
Here are just a few of our favorite games to come in the new year, in no particular order, with explanations as to why we think they’ll be entertaining.
Coastal Carolina vs Virginia
In some ways, this may be one of the toughest games of Jamey Chadwell’s tenure with the Chanticleers. While Coastal Carolina has beaten Kansas three times since 2019, they have only two other games against P5 opponents under their belt. Those games were a loss to Arkansas in Fayetteville in 2017 and at South Carolina in 2018.
The chance to pick up a victory in Charlottesville on November 19 against a team that isn’t…well, Kansas… gives Grayson McCall a late opportunity to really cement his already impressive collegiate legacy.
Marshall vs Appalachian State
Each of the last two seasons, Marshall and App State have given us highly physical, close contests. Some might even call the rivalry between the Herd and the Mountaineers contentious.
App State fans berating Marshall players as they walk off the field. (NSFW language) pic.twitter.com/vKsuXWKBLT— Emily Van Buskirk (@Emilnem) September 24, 2021
Plain and simple, these teams don’t like each other…but that’s what makes this fun. Like a Mountain Man’s Player Haters’ Ball.
With Marshall soon moving to the Sun Belt, hopefully we get this matchup more often in future years.
Old Dominion vs Virginia Tech
Any time you play an in-state opponent, it should be something to look forward to. The last two times that Old Dominion and Virginia Tech played each other, we got highly entertaining contests. That included ODU’s first-ever win against a P5 opponent back in 2018 when the Hokies visited Norfolk.
With a Monarch squad that showed some impressive potential at the end of the 2021 season, Ricky Rahne welcomes the Hokies to Norfolk again on September 3.
UTSA vs Houston
In the Larry Coker era, UTSA played Houston twice. The Cougars ran away with it 59-28 in 2013 while UTSA won 27-7 in 2014. These two teams meet for the third time on September 3 of this year.
Obviously, both of these programs have grown and evolved significantly over the past eight years. This is a special time for college football in Eastern Texas.
Houston is poised to move to P5 shortly while UTSA’s growth has earned them an invite to the American Conference. It seems unlikely that Jeff Traylor or Dana Holgorsen are done building. On top of all of this, we’re going to continue to see these two schools compete for many of the same recruits for years to come.
San Diego State vs Utah
While games between the Utes and the Aztecs used to be a very frequent occasion, the two sides played each other for the first time since 2010 this past season. The Aztecs were victorious on their home field in a triple-overtime thriller back on September 18.
San Diego State is coming off of their fifth double-digit win season this century. Utah are coming off a Pac-12 title and a Rose Bowl berth. With both programs on the upswing, could we be in for yet another thriller on September 17?
Liberty vs Southern Miss
2021 did not go the way Will Hall and Southern Miss wanted it to. But at the risk of sounding cliche, they showed a tremendous amount of heart. Frank Gore Jr. is back to lead and offense that can hopefully stay healthy after being decimated by injuries and COVID the last two seasons.
Meanwhile, Liberty head coach Hugh Freeze returns to Mississippi, where he had a relatively successful run as the head coach of Ole Miss before resigning after misusing his work phone and we’ll leave it at that. Since, Freeze has gone 26-11 as the head coach of the Flames, including three straight bowl victories and a top-20 finish in 2020.
Bonus - UTSA vs Texas
We’re cheating a bit by including UTSA twice. But, given how the Longhorns seem to be finding new ways to embarrass themselves both on the field and off (something about an exotic dancer’s emotional support monkey), wouldn’t getting beat by Jeff Traylor’s upstart Roadrunners while UTSA fans show Austin tech bros how to really party be a chef’s kiss worthy moment for G5 fans?