The college football season is upon us. Media days are under way, and the smell of fall practice is starting to tickle the nostrils. What better way to get ready than a list? There are so many games to watch that I broke it down to 10. I know. I know. There are probably 20 that jump off the schedule to the naked eye. These 10 are by far my favorite right now. So grab a brew. If you don’t know which one, check out the 2 Mugs Beer Draft. Now that you’re sufficiently prepared, enjoy, and feel free to add to the list.
10. Wisconsin at Michigan State Oct. 27. I know that some of the main characters from last year’s game have moved on. You know who hasn’t? Montee Ball. For the second year in a row, the Badgers will be led by the Heisman contender as well as an ACC QB transfer. Exit Russell Wilson. Enter Danny O’Brien. If he has the same type of impact that Wilson had, Wisconsin will be tough as nails. Plus, is there any doubt that Camp Randall will be jumping in anticipation of payback? After last year’s ending, I think not.
9. USC at Washington Oct. 13. Washington is a sneaky up and comer. If you don’t know about Keith Price. Here’s a quick primer: 67% comp, 3000+ yds, 33TD 11INT in his first year as a starter. The Husky faithful will be in full throat to welcome the PAC-12 favorite Trojans. Their motto is “unfinished business” and coming off that bowl ban, Barkley, Lee, Woods and Co. will be looking to not only win the conference, but also the national title. With the Sark/Kiffin dynamic, and the fact that USC rolled the Huskies in the Coliseum last year, this should be a fun one.
8. Michigan at Notre Dame Sept. 22. This was one of the best games of 2011 and the rematch shouldn’t disappoint. All-everything Denard Robinson looks to leave his mark on Touchdown Jesus. Last time he was in South Bend, he was doing his best Snoop impression by letting the country know what his name was. He had over 500 yards of total offense… ALONE. Manti Te’o and the notoriously high turf will do their best to slow Shoelace down, but if the last few years are any indication this will be a shootout to the finish.
7. Florida State at Virginia Tech Nov 8. These teams have only met once in the last 3 years, and that’s a damn shame. This matchup is well timed. Logan Thomas has a Heisman campaign that should be in full swing by this time of the season. He’ll have to prove his worth in this game against a Seminole defense that finished in the top 5 last year. There are few places better to watch a game than Lane Stadium on a Thursday Night. There’s sure to be an electric atmosphere both on the field and in the stands.
6. Alabama at Arkansas Sept 15. The SEC opener for both teams will be an interesting one. This used to be a meeting of two of the biggest chap-asses in college football. We still have Saban, but Petrino traded in the headset for some road rash. In his place will stand John L. Smith, more of a Les Miles wacky type of guy. His contract’s for less than a year, but he’s got a talented bunch of kids to roll with. Tyler Wilson back at the helm with Knile Davis back from injury. He’ll need them both at their best to matchup with the best defense in the country.
5. Notre Dame at Oklahoma Oct. 27. Check the top 10 winningest programs of all time. Notre Dame checks in 3rd and the Sooners are in 8th place. Having these two teams meet in the middle of the season is a treat, and something we may not see too much of once the playoffs kick in. Landry Jones to Kenny Stills is a connection made for big-time games. Unfortunately for Brian Kelly, a return to this list means the Irish schedule is not an easy one to navigate. This is the end of a 5 week stretch that includes Michigan, Miami, and Stanford.
4. Oklahoma at West Virginia Nov. 17. Speaking of nasty schedules, the Sooners head to Morgantown for a late season tussle that should determine the Big12 title as these two teams were picked 1-2 in the media’s preseason poll. I’ve already talked about the Sooners’ offensive weapons. West Virginia has it’s own combo: Geno Smith and Tavon Austin. Obviously, this isn’t the Big East they’re playing in anymore. But watch the film. Their talent is good enough to be effective anywhere in the country, especially in the offense that Dana Holgorsen runs. Smith is a darkhorse Heisman candidate and should be a top pick in the NFL Draft. Don’t blink, you might miss something in this one!
3. Virginia Tech at Clemson Oct. 20. This matchup gets bonus points because of two coaches who are Sickness favorites, Frank Beamer and Dabo Swinney. Dabo seems like the type of coach that players have dreamed of playing for. Judging by their last few recruiting classes, that isn’t far from the truth. These squads met twice last year. V-Tech was handled by the Tigers in the first matchup, and with the ACC Title on the line, Tahj Boyd and Sammy Watkins made sure there wasn’t going to be a different outcome. Gotta believe that this one is already circled on the wall of Beamer’s office.
2. Michigan at Alabama Sept 1. We clamor for big match-ups early in the season and the powers-that-be have given us just that. Tuscaloosa. Wolverines. Saban. Shoelace. Need I say more?
1. November 3rd, 2012. Cop-out? YES INDEED! Just check the TV listings. Oregon travels to South Central LA to take on the Trojans in what’s going to be a prelude to a ridiculous Pac-12 Championship game. The Big12 newcomers, TCU and WVU meet in the back hills of Morgantown; Talk about a contrast in styles. TCU likes to beat you down with a fast physical defense, while the Mountaineers are cool just flat out running you off the field. And down in Baton Rouge, the rematch of the BCS National Title game will take place. As they said in The Program, “Kill em all and let the paramedics sort it out!” To separate this date would’ve been too hard to do and I saw no reason to.
You’ll notice that none of the traditional rivalries are on this list. That’s because we’ll countdown the top 5 college football rivalries next. In the meantime, set the DVR cause we’re about to have some fun this year. But then again you know this…. because you have the SICKNESS!! GET YOUR HELMET ON!!!