2012 College Football: Breaking Down the 10 Most Likely Epic Games
In the 2011 football season, it seemed as if every time we turned around we had a thriller in overtime, a "Hail Mary" or some other seminal event changing the landscape.
It started in week one, with TCU and Baylor going down to the wire—in the game where Robert Griffin III burst on the scene. It continued with Michigan State pulling off the "Hail Mary" in October to shock Wisconsin and kept right on going with Matt Barkley and USC taking Stanford to triple overtime just weeks later.
Mixed in there near the beginning of the season was Michigan's stunning win over Notre Dame in the first night game at the "Big House" and Georgia's meltdown against South Carolina.
And let's not forget the "Game of the Century" in which Alabama's kickers were LSU's MVP's.
These moments were the ones that were indelibly etched in our memories and will be the defining moments of the 2011 season when we fondly remember the season that was.
The games listed here have the potential to be the moments we look back on after 2012 and replay over and over again as we long for the season to come.
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Washington vs. Oregon
Oklahoma vs. TCU
Wisconsin vs. Ohio State
Alabama vs. Arkansas
Clemson vs. Virginia Tech
Washington vs. LSU
Michigan State vs. Boise State
10. USC at Washington
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This game will feature two of the most prolific quarterbacks in the country next season—USC's Matt Barkley and Washington's Keith Price.
Price has the ability to put up massive amounts of yards and points—as he demonstrated in the Alamo Bowl when he scored seven times in a loss to Baylor.
Price is going to wind up as one of the best quarterbacks in the history of Husky football and will only get better in 2012.
USC does not seem to be a team that will go undefeated, too many questions, and Washington could be their one stumble of the season.
9. Michigan State at Michigan
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Mark Dantonio has been a great hire for the Spartans—proving his worth in the last two seasons and leading his team to finish at the top of the Big Ten.
Also, he has not lost to Michigan in four years.
At some point that's going to change, and the Wolverines will get revenge for losing by at least two touchdowns, in three of the last four seasons.
This one is at the "Big House," and Brady Hoke showed last season he knows what he is doing.
Sparty's ability to produce offensively will be key in this one.
8. Florida State at Virginia Tech
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Both of these teams had disappointing moments last season after some pretty high preseason expectations.
In 2012, with the issues Clemson has along both offensive and defensive lines, these two have the inside track to the ACC title.
Both are loaded with talent on offense and yet have some significant questions on offense.
This should be a close game in Lane Stadium as the Hokies edge the 'Noles.
7. Oklahoma at West Virignia
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Big 12 fans should not sleep on West Virginia.
These guys have the firepower to hang with any team in the conference, and if you think that's false, just ask Clemson how scary they are when the offense is clicking.
Geno Smith will make a run at the Heisman, and Dana Holgorsen knows a little bit about life in the Big 12.
Oklahoma will be the favorite to win the conference and should be in the driver's seat going into this game, but WVU has the potential to nab that seat with a solid performance in Morgantown.
6. Notre Dame at Oklahoma
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These are two of the most storied programs in the history of the game.
In recent seasons, Oklahoma has had far more success than the Irish, but the Golden Domers are set up for a measure of success this season—especially on the defensive side of the ball.
Landry Jones and the Oklahoma receivers are going to be a tough matchup for any defense—especially if Jones solves some of his inaccuracy issues.
The Irish have some quarterback issues but nothing a solid defense can't compensate for, and they certainly have that.
It's going to be a great opportunity to measure the progress of these two late in the 2012 season.
5. Alabama at LSU
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The two games these two played last year were split with a grand total of one touchdown between the two meetings.
Both teams are going to be solid once again on defense, and both will be in the running for the SEC title.
The key to this one will be which offense has made the most progress in the offseason.
The fact that LSU will be out for revenge at home makes me lean toward the Tigers as the winner, but it won't be by much.
Nick Saban has his work cut out for him.
4. Michigan vs. Alabama
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Cowboys Stadium, Arlington, Texas
What a way to start out the season with a "bang."
A marquee matchup of Big Ten vs. SEC, defense vs. offense and the championship winning coach vs. the newcomer.
On top of all that, this game is in one of the most beautiful facilities in the country.
The matchup is interesting—as the Alabama defense lost tons of key pieces, and Trent Richardson is not around.
Michigan's offense is talented, but it will be extremely entertaining to see whether Denard Robinson can be productive against a solid defense.
3. LSU at Arkansas
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November 23 or 24
The SEC West is going to be brutal this season with the emergence of Arkansas as a viable threat to knock off both LSU and Alabama and take the title.
They get to host both 'Bama and LSU, and outstanding running back Knile Davis will be back and healthy and coupled with a dangerous passing game. The potential is there for a special season in Fayetteville.
LSU has scads of talent again but could be offensively challenged at times—even if they are still undefeated by the time this game rolls around.
As long as nobody has an injury involving turkey overindulgence, this one is going to be a great game.
2. Georgia at South Carolina
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This is one of the most underrated rivalries in the game.
Last season, South Carolina pulled out the squeaker 45-42, in a game that featured three turnovers by the Dawgs that led to their demise.
These two squads have the inside track to the SEC East title and two very capable coaches leading them who make great adjustments.
South Carolina gets Marcus Lattimore back, while Georgia features quarterback Aaron Murray.
The reason the Gamecocks have the advantage is Georgia's offensive line.
It's a mess, and if they can't resolve the issues in time for Murray to make plays, they have no shot.
1. Oregon at USC
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This will be a preview of the Pac-12 title game.
These two teams are the clear-cut class of the conference, in spite of the attrition they suffered—especially the Ducks.
Last season, we got a close win by the Trojans, in which Matt Barkley shredded the Ducks' secondary at Autzen Stadium.
Meanwhile, the speed of Oregon's offense caused some problems for the Trojans' defense—as it does for everybody they face.
In the end, the Ducks just couldn't hang.
Expect more of the same, with a similar ending in the first meeting between these two in 2012.