The 12 Most Telling and Compelling Non-Conference Matchups of 2009
Out-of-conference games offer some of the most intriguing match-ups of the year.
They provide leading indicators for who will contend, telling exposure of those who may falter and a tangible barometer of overall conference strength.
Giving fans and pundits talking points for the rest of the year.
Here's a sneak peak of some of 2009's most exciting matchups.
12. TCU @ Clemson
The return of QB Andy Dalton and DE standout Jerry Hughes will help make TCU an early favorite to bust the BCS.
Following another September road game at Virgina, TCU may find Clemson to be their best chance to garner credibility from a BCS opponent.
11. Cincinatti @ Oregon St.
Quizz and Moevao are both back but recovering from injuries. When healthy, the duo can be unstoppable.
Cincy returns HC Brian Kelly and QB Pike but loses a lot on Defense.
10. FSU @ UF
QB Christian Ponder returns behind an experienced OL.
Eight defensive starters return from the Seminoles' stellar defense but will they be a match for the defending champs at the Swamp?
9. FSU @ BYU
Top tier ACC vs. top tier MWC.
QB Max Hall and RB Harvey Unga return along with most of BYU's defense. FSU returns QB Ponder, the entire OL, and most of its stellar defense.
8. Oklahoma @ Miami
Bradford and Gresham are back. Stoops and Co. will begin the season in the top 3. Miami figures to be one of their stingiest road games.
Can Jacory Harris bounce off three disappointing losses to end the 2008-09 season and bring the talented Hurricanes back to the national stage?
Nothing could answer that faster than an upset over the Sooners.
7. Oregon @ Boise St.
The Ducks will come into 2009 as an early favorite to challenge USC in the Pac-10.
QB Masoli coming off back-to-back impressive performances in the Civil War and the Holiday Bowl will be tested on the Smurf Turf.
One of the toughest places to visit in the country.
Sophomore QB Kellen Moore returns as the Broncos open the season against their biggest obstacle to the BCS.
6. Utah @ Oregon
Utah's bruising defense must make it out of Autzen for an encore to the BCS.
With early match-ups vs. Utah and Boise St., Oregon may be the BCS' best friend come September.
5. Oklahoma vs. BYU (Arlington, TX)
Heisman Trophy winner Sam Bradford tests a relatively new O-line against BYU in Arlington, TX.
BYU brings QB Max Hall, RB Harvey Unga and most of their defense.
A BYU win would do wonders for the program and for the MWC.
An OU win would be a strong start from a challenging OOC schedule that may give the Sooner's the edge in a Big 12 tie breaker, similar to the win over TCU last year.
4. Georgia @ Georgia Tech
A late November showdown between two in-state rivals. One of the ACC's best vs. a solid SEC team.
Georgia will be looking for revenge after last year's tough loss. This time they'll be without Stafford or Moreno to counter the Jackets' explosive scheme.
Paul Johnson's troops will be conversant with his complicated triple-option spread as just about the entire offense returns.
The same offense that confounded the '08 Bulldogs defense.
3. Georgia @ Oklahoma State
The SEC vs. The Big 12.
The Cowboys explosivity returns with Robinson, Hunter and Bryant all coming back.
Opening the season at home against an SEC power house could boost them into the top 10.
Georgia begins life without Stafford and Moreno as Joe Cox takes over the reigns at QB.
A.J. Green was probably licking his chops watching Oregon dismantle the Oklahoma State secondary.
2. USC @ Ohio State
Does USC own the Big-10?
The talent-laden Trojans travel to Columbus with a new QB and a new defense (mostly). Terrelle is back. Beanie Wells and James Laurinaitis are gone.
Title implications can be huge. If the Pac and the Big 10 are down again, the winner could have the inside track to the "other game" in Pasadena, the one played in the second week of January.
The Big 10 can use a big win.
1. Alabama vs. Virginia Tech (Atlanta, GA)
The Tide loses a lot of talent on the Offensive side of the ball but maintain freshman sensation WR Julio Jones and most of their dominating defense.
Without Gators or Bulldogs on their schedule the Hokies may be one of the Tide's biggest tests.
QB Taylor and TB Evans return from the FedEx Orange Bowl champions primed for another run at the ACC title.
A victory over the Tide would thrust VA Tech into the top five.