With college football right around the corner, we are already looking ahead to the most exciting games of the 2017 season. We’ve compiled a list of what we believe to be the most likely to have impact on conference title games, and the college football playoffs. You may be thinking: “what qualifies as a high-stake game?” We thought you’d never ask. Think about a team with a long losing streak against their rival. Think about a new coach entering the season who’s looking to make an immediate impact (i.e. Tom Herman at Texas). Think about games that launch teams into particularly challenging portions of their schedule.
Before we start, check out the college football top 25 ranking:
Here’s our list of 10 College Football games you can’t miss!
10. Michigan vs. Florida, September 2nd (AT&T Stadium, Arlington, TX)
This will be a HUGE test for the young Michigan team, who’s lost pretty much their entire defense to the NFL draft (10 of the 11 starters are gone). The young Wolverines secondary caught a break because of the 1-game suspension given to the Gators star receiver, Antonio Callaway. This is a matchup that most are looking forward to; a young Wolverines offense against a tough SEC Gator defense.
9. Alabama at Auburn, November 25th
Alabama has beaten Auburn five out of the last six meetings. Depending on how the SEC west shakes out, this game could be the game that decides who makes it to the SEC Championship; which Auburn hasn’t been to in three years. Everybody has lost something in the SEC, especially at schools like Texas A&M, LSU and Tennessee, but there’s no reason to think the Crimson Tide won’t breeze through the conference in 2017. Plus, this game is at Auburn. It isn’t likely that Alabama will lose in SEC play. But if it happens, it would most likely be here.
8. Oklahoma at Texas, October 14th
The Red River Rivalry. It doesn’t matter what either team’s record is, both teams will be bringing their all. This will begin a new chapter for both teams; Over the course of the previous 18 years, either Mack Brown or Bob Stoops have been on the sideline. Not this year. Both teams have new head coaches; Tom Herman comes into Texas with the right attitude trying to bring the Longhorns back to relevance. Lincoln Riley, former offensive coordinator, has big shoes to fill stepping in for Big Game Bob.
7. Georgia at Notre Dame, September 9th
A win over the Bulldogs would be a great way to kick the season off for the Fighting Irish and Coach Brian Kelly. Rumors have been floating around all offseason that Coach Kelly is in the hot seat after going 4-8 in 2016. The Dawgs capped off an up-and-down first season under new Head Coach, Kirby Smart. Coach Kelly hired a new defensive coordinator, Mike Elko. Elko’s defense will have their hands full trying to defend finally healthy quarterback, Jacob Eason, and running back, Nick Chubb.
6. Ohio State at Michigan, November 25th
This matchup was hands down one of the best games in college football last season. Being the first overtime game in the 119-year history of the two teams. This game could decide who represents the east division in the Big Ten championship game. The Wolverines have a lot of holes to patch, while the Buckeyes do as well; however, Ohio’s holes don’t compare to Michigan’s. The 2017 matchup between the two won’t be as flashy as last years, but you can’t count out these two titans squaring off.
5. Stanford at USC, September 9th.
This will be Stanford’s first home game without former star, Christian McCaffery; Stanford opens the season against Rice in Australia. USC finished last season on a high note lead by Heisman hopeful, quarterback, Sam Darnold. Stanford won its last two games against the Trojans by a combined 36 point. The Trojans chances to get to the Pac-12 title game will heavily depend on beating Stanford early on in the season.
4. Penn State at Ohio State, October 28th
Yes we know, Penn state fans still feel cheated. This game last year was arguably the single most meaningful game of the entire college football season. It’s not a reach to say that this year’s game will carry similar importance. These two programs are the top dogs in the conference. With the decline of Michigan, the Buckeys and Nittany Lions could once again decide the division and conference titles. Who knows? It could also decide a playoff berth. This is also a revenge game for Ohio State (FYI, Urban Myer is 13-2 in revenge games) This is definitely going to be a good one. Check out last years highlights to get your blood boiling again:
3. Oklahoma at Ohio State, September 9th
The Buckeyes slapped the taste out of Oklahoma’s mouth last season in Norman. They put up 35 points in the first half and ended up winning 45-24. That game set the tone for the rest of the season for both teams in their respective conferences. Some say the win over Oklahoma got Ohio State into the college football playoffs. While the loss to Ohio State, was said to be the reason why Oklahoma didn’t make the playoffs. This game was one of the biggest nonconference games of the season, and we should all hope their are similar implications this year. Both teams will be major playoff contenders, and a win here will put them at the forefront of the playoff conversation.
2. Florida State at Clemson, November 11th
These teams have combined for two of the past four national championships, elevating the ACC into the conversation for top conference. This is an extremely pivotal game for Florida State. Don’t forget, Florida State plays Alabama to open the season. They are expected to lose that game but, a loss to Clemson can end the Seminoles title chase. The winner of this game has gone on to win the Coastal division the last eight seasons, and has gone on to win the ACC the last four. Although both teams play SEC schools early on, this is the game that has the most at stake. The last three winners of this contest went on to clinch an eventual playoff berth and two of the last four years it has produced the sport’s national champion. The Tigers are looking to prove that they’ll be fine without quarterback Deshaun Watson.
1. Alabama vs Florida State (Atlanta), September 2nd
This has potential to be the biggest game of the 2017 season. And it’s the first game. Oh, thank you NCAA god’s! This matchup pits Saban against former LSU assistant Jimbo Fisher; both of whom have won national titles in the last four years. This game will be held in the brand-new Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta. Expect running backs Bo Scarbrough, fresh off injury, and Damien Harris to take some pressure off of their quarterbacks. Jalen Hurts has the daunting task of trying to find a receiver in Florida Stats elite secondary. Defensive backs Derwin James and Tarvarus McFadden will be patrolling the backside waiting for a mistake. This neutral setting is a perfect way to start the college football season.
Is it September 2nd yet?