The college football offseason is long and arduous, but its end is almost in sight. We’re going to take a look at five games you have to look forward to for every weekend of the season. (This is also a handy guide to decide how to RSVP for any autumn weddings.)
All times are Eastern and all games are played on Saturday unless otherwise noted.
These games take place the weekend of September 7th.
Florida at Miami (12 p.m., ESPN) – As it currently stands, this is the last scheduled regular season match up between these two teams, who last met in 2008. That should add some extra drama to the proceedings, as Al Golden continues to mold what was an extremely young Hurricane team in 2012. Will Muschamp’s Gators were ahead of schedule last year with 11 wins, and while they have to replace big playmakers like Matt Elam and Sharrif Floyd on defense, they seem to have finally solved the post-Tebow quarterback conundrum with Jeff Driskell. The Miami offense could be elite this year, as they return all five starting linemen, senior quarterback Stephen Morris, most of their productive wide receivers and all-everything tailback Duke Johnson. There will be a lot of youth on the field, but a whooole bunch of talent, per Sunshine State requirements.
Additional note: Heaven help those who attend this game, as I can only imagine how awful it will be sitting in early September afternoon heat. Why isn’t this a night kickoff?!
South Carolina at Georgia (TBD) - You’ll notice this isn’t the easiest opening slate for the Bulldogs, who go from facing Clemson in week one to taking on the other South Cackalacky power in week two. The Gamecocks absolutely embarrassed the Dawgs last year, going up 35-0 before Georgia finally got on the board in the waning minutes of the game. This is the SEC opener for both teams, and neither can afford starting the conference gauntlet 0-1 or being on the wrong side of a head-to-head tiebreaker in the tightly contested the East Division. It will be extremely enjoyable to see Jadeveon Clowney going against Aaron Murray and the UGA offense, but much like Week 1, this game may come down to how well a young Bulldogs defense can slow down the Ol’ Ball Coach’s Connor Shaw and Mike Davis-led attack.
Texas at BYU (7 p.m., ESPN2) – BYU is fully embracing life as an independent, crafting a 2013 schedule that features games against Virginia, Georgia Tech, Boise State, Wisconsin, Notre Dame and the Longhorns. This is an opportunity to see one of the best defensive players in the nation, as Kyle Van Noy looks to replicate the success of his 2012 season without Ziggy Ansah (the fifth overall pick in the NFL draft) occupying blockers in front of him. Texas is not without star power in the front seven as end Jackson Jeffcoat and linebacker Jordan Hicks both have five-star pedigrees and productive seasons on their resume.
Notre Dame at Michigan (8 p.m.) – Similar to Florida/Miami, this is the last game in Ann Arbor scheduled between these two schools. (They will meet next year in South Bend to conclude the current series.) Their last four meetings have been decided by a total of 19 points, and the night atmosphere at the Big House ought to be reminiscent of the 2011 edition, a classic that saw the Wolverines rally to victory in the final seconds. Devin Gardner looked good in the bowl game against South Carolina, and he’ll need to be crisp facing one of the better defensive lines in the country, including All-American candidates Louis Nix and Stephon Tuitt. Nix added some fuel to this game’s fire last month when he responded via Twitter to Brady Hoke’s claim that the Irish were chickening out of the series.
San Jose State at Stanford (10:30 p.m., PAC-12 Network) – Each week I am going to attempt to find you a night cap to watch while you’re out at the bar or on the couch recovering from your favorite team’s loss earlier in the day. This is an easy one, as last season the Spartans pushed the Cardinal before falling 20-17. They return quarterback David Fales, a possible first-round pick in next year’s draft who threw for 41 touchdowns and 4,193 yards last year, all while completing 72.9 percent of his passes. Stanford also brings a quarterback they like into the game, as Kevin Hogan started and won the final five games of the season for David Shaw. San Jose State lost head coach Mike McIntyre to Colorado, but if Fales can stay upright – no small task against a Cardinal defense among the best in the nation at getting to the quarterback – they’ll have a chance to pull off the upset for new coach Ron Caragher.
Other games considered:
Syracuse at Northwestern (6 p.m., Big Ten Network) – All of your favorite sportswriters will have a vested interest in this clash because 80 percent of them attended one of the two schools.
West Virginia at Oklahoma (TBD) – This will be presumptive Sooner quarterback Blake Bell’s first real test of the season. But considering how the Mountaineer defense has played during the Dana Holgorsen era, this is like a quiz where someone gave you an answer key before you walked in the door.
Oregon at Virginia (3:30 p.m., ABC/ESPN2) – I used to work with a guy who had Virginia season tickets. The Monday morning after they played USC in 2008 (a 52-7 Trojan victory), he came into the office and said “Nobody told me we were playing the [bleeping] Redskins.” The Cavaliers are in a better place, but this could still get bloody.
College football video from Yahoo! Sports:
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