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. Note: This is a strong weekend at the top, but then the pickings get slim.
These games are played the weekend of November 2.
Georgia vs. Florida in Jacksonville (TBD) – Depending on how South Carolina does against these teams, the World’s Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party could decide the winner of the SEC East. It did last year, when the Gators suffered their sole SEC loss in a turnover-ridden affair. The Gators have won 18 of the last 23, but the Dawgs have claimed the last two en route to consecutive SEC East titles. Aaron Murray was not great in UGA's 17-9 win last year (3 picks, although he did have a late touchdown pass) but freshman Todd Gurley did the dirty work, totaling 118 yards and a score on 27 carries against a vicious Gator front. This might not be pretty but it is always entertaining.
Miami (FL) at Florida State (TBD) – There aren’t many losable games on Florida State’s schedule. Yes, they can get very creative with their defeats - dropping road games to Wake Forest and NC State the last two years – but other than road trips to Clemson and Florida, the Seminoles have a pretty safe slate. This could be a little tricky for the hosts, as Miami is one of the few teams they won’t be able to simply out-athlete. This is also a potential preview of the ACC Championship Game, a match up we would have seen last December if Miami had been partaking in the postseason.
Northwestern at Nebraska (TBD) – Speaking of schedules it’s tough to find potential losses on, meet the Cornhuskers. They have trips to Michigan and Penn State and host UCLA, but this game and a visit from the Spartans are their toughest Big Ten match ups in Lincoln. (They miss both Wisconsin and Ohio State from the Leaders division.) The Huskers stole this one last year, as a the Wildcats led 28-16 with six minutes to go before succumbing to two late Taylor Martinez touchdown passes. Considering how tough their schedule is in comparison, Northwestern almost has to win this game if they want to get to the Big Ten Championship Game.
Michigan at Michigan State (TBD) – Speaking of must wins, two more Legends Division foes square off this weekend, as the intrastate rivalry heads back to East Lansing following last year’s drama. Sparty took a 10-9 lead late in the fourth, but the Wolverines won it with a 38-yard field goal with just seconds remaining. Michigan State had won four straight before the loss last year, tied for their longest string of victories in the series. Considering the skills of Mark Dantonio’s defense and the expected limitations of his offense, expect another rock fight.
Arizona State at Washington State (10:30 p.m., ESPN, Thursday) – A bit of a wild card, but hear me out: Mike Leach will have had a season and a half to get his system in place, and the Cougars bring back a bunch of players from a team that was bad but not irredeemable last year. In a weird bit of scheduling, Washington State has bye weeks on either side of this game. And, oh yeah, it’s a 7:30 p.m. local start that’s on national television that's also on Halloween night, so I’d be surprised if a single student made it to class. Great crowd, quality Sun Devil team, potentially improving Cougars squad, playing in Pullman, awesome costumes…could be really, really fun.
UPDATE: Washington State has already canceled classes for this game. I love college football.
Other games considered:
Clemson at Virginia (TBD) – Mike London is still stockpiling talent in Charlottesville, including incoming five-star tailback Taquan Mizzell, but it's still a young team looking for a quarterback. Clemson will be a sizable favorite, but they have another road game at Maryland before their trip here,
Ohio State at Purdue (TBD) - Purdue has won this game two of the last four years and took the Buckeyes to overtime last year. It makes no sense, but until Ohio State finds a way to remove the Boilermaker thorn from the side, we should pay attention.
Oklahoma State at Texas Tech (TBD) – Third tricky game in a row for the Cowboys, who play TCU and then at Iowa State in the weeks prior to their trip to Lubbock. Severe shootout potential here.
This post has been updated to note that Washington State has already canceled classes the day of the Arizona State game.
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