Ohio State vs. Miami Leads Non-Conference College Football Games Slated For 2010
The first stage of grief is denial. No, college football doesn't end! It was on just yesterday!
Second, anger. The NBA? The NBA is the Celtics, the Lakers, and Lebron James! Why would I ever watch that?
The third stage is something called acceptance. Never heard of it.
Hey, let's just talk about the 10 great non-conference college football games slated for next fall, OK? I'm starting to think September doesn't come after January on the calendar.
UConn at Michigan, Sept. 4, 2010
God help Rich Rodriguez if he loses the opening game of 2010, which also happens to be the christening of the newly renovated Michigan Stadium.
After dismal back-to-back seasons, the Wolverines will have their hands full of Husky fur when UConn comes to Ann Arbor.
The Huskies return quarterback Zach Frazer and Jordan Todman, but lose rusher Andre Dixon. Both players rushed for over 1000 yards on the season behind a stellar, seasoned offensive line.
Tate Forcier's offense will again have to shield a defense that should be a liability. The Maize n' Blue lose their two best players—CB Donovan Warren and DE Brandon Graham—to the draft.
For us experts, it'd be a perfectly reasonable loss. But Michigan fans haven't proven themselves to be a very reasonable bunch, have they?
Oregon At Tennessee, September 11, 2010
The September non-conference game will likely be the Vols' first test without star Eric Berry, RB Montario Hardesty and QB Jonathon Crompton (their Sept. 4 date is yet to be filled, but with Oregon already inked in, they'll probably take a cupcake).
Things couldn't be much more different for Oregon. 2009's No. 6 rushing offense returns Jeremiah Masoli, LaMichael James, and the entire offensive line, and loses only Ed Dickson, the tight end.
Tennessee has dropped two straight to the Pac-10, both to UCLA, and will be fielding a new quarterback against the Ducks' better-than-average pass defense. By fall, Kiffin hopefully will have more plays to call against the Ducks than off-tackle runs on third and long.
Neyland Stadium will be rocking for more than this game—the Gators come to Knoxville the following week with similar questions on both sides of the ball.
Penn State At Alabama, September 11, 2010
Greg McElroy and Mark Ingram take on a revamped Penn State team in a rematch of two old lions that once sparred in one of the greatest Sugar Bowls of all time: a 1979, 14-7 victory for 'Bama with the Bear on the sidelines.
Both the Nittany Lions and the Tide lose a lot of key players on defense—including five starting linebackers between the two teams—so the better ground game should win the day.
Heisman winner Mark Ingram and Trent Richardson will ply their trade against seasoned vet Evan Royster and quick back Stephfon Green.
The Nittany Lions will crack the Top 25, but without All-Conference punter Jeremy Boone, how will they stand a chance?
Miami (FL) At Ohio State, September 11, 2010
If you align with my feelings on Terrelle Pryor, you'll agree that this is a legit opportunity for him and the Tressel Platoon to launch a national championship run.
After ending their disappointing nonconference performances the past three years with a win in the Rose Bowl, the Bucks will be favored over the young but talented Canes, who have a Heisman slinger of their own in Jacory Harris.
The Canes and Bucks lose similar players along their offensive and defensive lines, but I still favor the Bucks big because of their home-field advantage and the reincarnation of Pryor the White.
If its anything like the last time these two teams met, it'll be an awesome game.
Iowa at Arizona, September 18, 2010
Depending on how Iowa's Orange Bowl goes, this one could be great, or it could be a clunker.
The Arizona Wildcats, off of a great season, ran out of gas in the Holiday Bowl, gasping their way to barely 100 yards and no points while giving up 33 to one of the Big 12's worst offenses. They also lost defensive coordinator Mark Stoops to FSU and could lose their offensive coordinator to Texas Tech.
Still, QB Nick Foles returns to battle Iowa's Ricky Stanzi for gangliest quarterback in college football.
Iowa's defensive losses will be minimal, but if Arizona wants to blaze a trail to the Pac-10 championship next year, they can start gaining momentum in this game before heading into the conference schedule.
Oregon State v. TCU and Boise State, Sept. 4 and 25
No, it isn't some three-way tag team college football bedlam. Oregon State travels to take on TCU on the opening Saturday of the year and then heads to Boise three weeks later.
The Beavers provide a great skin for TCU and/or Boise State to put on their wall and continue their BCS gate-crashing ways; OSU is always lingering around the top 25 and could enter the season ranked.
But the reverse holds true, too. The Beavs have missed the Rose Bowl by one game for two straight seasons. They're right on the edge of breaking through, particularly now that they've released Sean Canfield back into the wild.
Beating TCU and/or Boise, particularly on the road, would give them a ton of motivation in what should be a wide-open Pac-10 race.
Nebraska at Washington, Sept. 18, 2010
A funky matchup on the surface, this could propel either team into their conference schedule with a head of steam.
Jake Locker returns for his senior season to help the Huskies climb into bowl and Pac-10 contention, while the Huskers will be learning to cope with losing space-eater and quarterback-slayer Ndamukong Suh.
Should be Locker's best nonconference test yet, and a chance for Big Red to feature some of the same offense that ran wild on Arizona in the Holiday Bowl.
UCLA at Texas, Sept. 25, 2010
National interception leader Rahim Moore will ply his trade against whomever the Longhorns plug in after the Colt McCoy experiment concludes. Likely, it will be Garrett Gilbert, but whoever it will be, will have only three starts under their belt.
The Bruins are putting together a good recruiting class that could have an immediate impact, including five-star RB Malcolm Jones. He'll be needed to crack Texas' run defense.
Can you believe the last time these two teams met, it was 1997, and the Bruins won, 66-3?
If Rick Neuheisel wants it to feel like old times, he can start by fielding a better quarterback than Kevin Prince.
Boise State v. Virginia Tech @ FedEx Field, Oct. 2, 2010
The question mark in the title is intentional—Boise and VT's ADs are currently trying to hammer down the date for this great nonconference matchup.
With Boise's big win over TCU in the Fiesta Bowl and Virginia Tech's bootstomp of Tennessee in the Chick-Fil-A, both of these teams could be preseason Top 10 or even top 5 teams.
And what's more, the numbers could be legit. Boise returns 21 of 22 starters, including lights-out QB Kellen Moore (though they lose NFL-caliber CB Kyle Wilson), while Tyrod Taylor and Ryan Williams lead VT's most seasoned and explosive offense since the days of Mike Vick.
I count three darkhorse Heisman contenders in that paragraph. Should be a great game, and after Boise showed they could hang defensively in the Fiesta Bowl, I give neither team the edge.
Notre Dame at USC, November 21, 2010
There will be a lot of ways to measure Brian Kelly's first season with Notre Dame (the Michigan, Purdue, Michigan State and Navy games, to name a few). But the most reliable will be how well the Irish play USC.
The always stalwart Trojans play the Irish very late in the season, but by that time, the Irish should have their quarterback settled, and if they're playing well, the stakes could be as high as a BCS bid.
Charlie Weis (can you believe he used to coach the Irish?) had about one-and-a-half good games against the Trojans in five years. Kelly has a chance to end his first season on the right foot.
Seeing this rivalry get the revival it's been due would be huge for the Irish fanbase.