December 2, 2023

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The Hawaii Exemption and Week Zero

The 2022 college football schedule kicks off with Week Zero action on Saturday, Aug. 27. A total of 14 games are on the slate, which is up from seven games last season.

Week Zero is the unofficial name for the weekend of college football games that are played on the Saturday prior to Labor Day weekend.

Under NCAA Bylaw 17.11.4, Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS) and Football Championship Subdivision (FCS) teams cannot play their first contest until the Thursday preceding Labor Day, which is September 1 this season. Beginning in 2016, an exception to this rule was added (Bylaw that allows Hawaii and teams that play in Hawaii, plus their opponents, the option to play one week earlier on the Saturday before Labor Day weekend.

This season, the Hawaii Rainbow Warriors host the Vanderbilt Commodores in Week Zero at the Clarence T. Ching Complex in Honolulu, Hawaii. The game is set for 10:30pm ET and it will be televised by CBS Sports Network (CBSSN).

Six other matchups have been scheduled for Week Zero since seven of the involved teams — Nevada, New Mexico State, UNLV, Utah State, WKU, and Wyoming — play Hawaii this season. WKU plays host to Austin Peay, UNLV hosts Idaho State, Utah State hosts UConn, Wyoming travels to square off with Illinois, Duquesne plays at Florida State, and Nevada plays at New Mexico State.

A second exception, Bylaw, also provides FCS schools the opportunity to play in Week Zero. In order for FCS schools to qualify, they must play a non-conference matchup that is nationally televised (broadcast or cable; not Internet only).

For the 2022 season, three contests involving FCS teams meet that qualification and are scheduled for Week Zero — Stephen F. Austin vs. Jacksonville State (ESPN; in Montgomery, AL), Howard vs. Alabama State (ESPN; in Atlanta, GA), and Florida A&M at North Carolina (8:15pm, ACCN).

The Florida A&M-North Carolina matchup was originally scheduled for Sept. 17, but was moved to Week Zero “…in order to shine a spotlight on the proud history of HBCU schools and their football accomplishments.”

Several other matchups that are scheduled for Week Zero did not meet the qualifications, but the schools applied for and received an exemption from the NCAA. One matchup, the Aer Lingus College Football Classic featuring Nebraska vs. Northwestern, will be played at Aviva Stadium in Dublin, Ireland and will be televised by FOX at 12:30pm ET.

Other matchups include Morehead State at Mercer, Charlotte at Florida Atlantic, and North Texas at UTEP. The two Conference USA games were granted an exception due to the conference having to revise their 2022 schedule after losing three members to the Sun Belt Conference.

Another NCAA rule, commonly known as the Hawaii Exemption, allows Hawaii and teams that play in Hawaii the opportunity to schedule a 13th regular-season game. This helps those schools earn an extra guarantee payment, ticket revenue, etc., to offset the larger cost of traveling between the continental United States and the islands of Hawaii.

FBS teams can play a maximum of 12 regular-season games each year, per Bylaw However, Bylaw (g) permits any football games played in Alaska, Hawaii, and Puerto Rico to not count against the maximum number of contests.

For the 2022 college football season, only Hawaii and WKU will take advantage of the Hawaii Exemption. Below are the details:


The Hawaii Rainbow Warriors will play a 13-game regular-season schedule for the second consecutive season. Hawaii will play non-conference games at home against Vanderbilt, WKU, and Duquesne and will travel to face Michigan and New Mexico State.

In Mountain West action, Hawaii hosts Nevada, Wyoming, Utah State, and UNLV and travels to San Diego State, Colorado State, Fresno State, and San Jose State.


For the first time in their history, the WKU Hilltoppers will play 13 games during the regular-season. WKU opens the season at home against Austin Peay before traveling to face Hawaii. Other non-conference opponents include Troy at home and Indiana and Auburn on the road.

In Conference USA action, the Hilltoppers will host FIU, UAB, North Texas, and Rice and will play at UTSA, Middle Tennessee, Charlotte, and Florida Atlantic.

See also: 26 amazing facts about the 2022 college football schedule

2022 College Football Schedule | Week Zero

*All times Eastern.

Saturday, Aug. 27
Austin Peay at WKU – 12pm, CBSSN
Nebraska vs. Northwestern (in Ireland) – 12:30pm, FOX
Stephen F. Austin vs. JSU (in Montgomery, AL) – 3:30pm, ESPN
Idaho State at UNLV – 3:30pm, CBSSN
UConn at Utah State – 4pm, FS1
Wyoming at Illinois – 4pm, BTN
Duquesne at Florida State – 5pm, ACCN
Morehead State at Mercer – 7pm, ESPN+
Howard vs. Alabama State (in Atlanta, GA) – 7pm, ESPN
Charlotte at Florida Atlantic – 7pm, CBSSN
Florida A&M at North Carolina – 8:15pm, ACCN
North Texas at UTEP – 9pm, Stadium
Nevada at New Mexico State – 10pm, ESPN2
Vanderbilt at Hawaii – 10:30pm, CBSSN

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