Week 2 of the 2022 college football season has arrived and so has our weekly look at Anxiety Games across the country. For those new here, we’re keeping tabs on games where the fans and/or coaching staffs of specific programs may feel a bit uneasy about the possibility of things going downhill with a loss.
With most of FBS set to be in action on Saturday, we’ll pick out a handful of Anxiety Games/Bowls for the slate.
Alabama at Texas, Noon ET, Fox
Alright, let’s get this one out of the way. Texas head coach Steve Sarkisian will face his former employer when Alabama visits Austin and friends, it’s not looking so good for the Longhorns. The Crimson Tide are a heavy 20.5-point favorite against their future SEC foe and even Sark himself has gently set the table for a UT loss this week.
If this game goes the way most think it’s going to go with a Tide blowout, Sarkisian will not be in any danger of losing his job. It’s Alabama and even the most rabid Texas boosters understand that. But think of this as a measuring stick game for the program. UT has aspirations of elevating itself into the very tier that Bama, Georgia, and Ohio State occupies and this game could potentially show just how far away they are from reaching that status. The question afterwards becomes if the powers that be in Austin will show enough patience and restraint to get there.
Memphis at Navy, 3:30 p.m. ET, CBS Sports Network
We have an early Anxiety Bowl in the AAC between two programs that have shown diminishing returns since their respective peaks three years ago.
Memphis got rocked by Mississippi State in a 49-23 rout and most of its points came during garbage time. The offense didn’t inspire much for optimism moving forward and it was a huge step down from when they took down the Bulldogs at the Liberty Bowl a year ago. Meanwhile, Navy lost to FCS Delaware in a 14-7 loss and unless another Malcolm Perry or Keenan Reynolds comes out of the stands to play, it’s going to be a long season for the Midshipmen.
A loss for Navy would create further questions if head coach Ken Niumatalolo’s time has passed while a loss for Memphis would place head coach Ryan Silverfield in some murky waters as the season unfolds.
Arizona State at Oklahoma State, 7:30 p.m. ET, ESPN2
I’m putting this matchup on the list because this is where things could start unraveling for the Sun Devils.
Head coach Herm Edwards has quietly been one of the bigger hot seat candidates heading into the season as a result of the NCAA investigation into the program hosting recruits during the COVID-19 dead period. Several Sun Devil assistant coaches were either “resigned” or were fired in the offseason, moves that were interpreted in the coaching world as Edwards throwing everyone else under the bus to save his own job. ASU was successful in its warmup opener against Northern Arizona last week but if they get smacked in front of a national audience in Stillwater, the calls for Herm’s job will grow louder.