College Football: The 25 Most Intriguing 2008 Non-Conference Games

Kristofer GreenSenior Writer IAugust 4, 2008

This college football season has plenty of intriguing non-conference match-ups, several of which have BCS and National Championship implications.  But those are not the only factors that go into determining an interesting game.  Coaching match-ups, rivalries, conference match-ups, and many other factors go into making an intriguing match-up.  This is the list of the 25 games that are sure to get you excited about the 2008 non-conference season.
25.  Oregon State at Penn State
This will be the first ever meeting between these two schools.  In what will likely be a defensive battle, with the Penn State defense always playing tough and the Oregon State defense leading the nation in rushing defense and ranking eighth in total defense last season, Coach Mike Riley will have to find some offense in this game if the Beavers have any chance of winning.

24.  Colorado at Florida State
Even though last season’s meeting was a snoozer, it is still an interesting non-conference match-up.  Both teams were once college football powers who have recently fallen on harder time and are trying to pull themselves back up.  That alone makes this an interesting battle, but this season both teams are rebuilding their offensive lines and Florida State will have 10 players returning from suspension to play for the first time in this game.  It could get very interesting.
23.  Notre Dame at Boston College
The Eagles are on a five game winning streak in this heated rivalry which is the longest streak in the series.  The Irish do lead the series narrowly 9-8, but the game is at Alumni Stadium and the Eagles would like nothing more than to even up “The Holy War”.
22.  Miami (FL) at Florida
The ‘Canes get exactly one game to figure out their quarterback situation and then it’s the big time when they travel to Gainesville to take on the Gators who have their quarterback situation figured out.  It seems like these two teams play each other every season, but the last time they met was in the 2004 Peach Bowl and the Gators have not beaten the ’Canes since 1985.
21.  Oregon State at Utah
These teams met in last years season opener and Utah left Corvallis with not only a loss but an injured starting quarterback and running back who would miss the entire season.  This season the Utes are looking to make a statement (and keep their starters healthy) when the Beavers come to Salt Lake City.
20.  BYU at Washington
After two straight 11 win seasons, BYU is looking to prove that they belong in the BCS party at the end of the season and Washington is looking to prove that they are improved and ready to win.  This game may get lost in the early season shuffle, but it is an interesting match-up.  BYU has a high octane offense and the Huskies defense last season was abysmal giving up 31 points per game.  But the defense should be improved with the hiring of Ed Donatell as the new defensive coordinator.  The Washington offense should be better this season and quarterback Jake Locker should be hard to stop.
19.  Fresno State at UCLA
The last meeting between these two teams ended with a 17-9 victory for the Bulldogs.  UCLA will look to come out roaring under new coach Rick Neuheisel while Fresno State coach Pat Hill only wants to prove that his Bulldogs belong in the BCS at the end of the season.
18.  Oklahoma at Washington
A win in this match-up would do wonders for Ty Willingham and would crush Sooner fans who are hoping for a trip to the National Championship Game.  The Huskies should be improved, but Oklahoma is a long way ahead of them.  Do you think Bob Stoops has requested another conference’s officials for this game?
17.  Notre Dame at Michigan State
The last time the Fighting Irish visited East Lansing they trailed by 16 points at the start of the fourth quarter.  Then, in a stunning turnaround, the Irish capped a furious rally with an interception returned 27 yards for a touchdown to give them a 40-37 lead with 2:37 left to play.  The Spartans are looking to put an end to their streak of being in close games, but rarely winning them.
16.  West Virginia at Colorado
This is the first meeting between these two schools and Colorado coach Dan Hawkins is looking to make a statement as his Buffs kick off a brutal stretch of games against the Mountaineers, Florida State, Texas, and Kansas.  West Virginia’s new head coach Bill Stewart is looking to prove that his hiring was the right decision and that his monstrous win over Oklahoma in the Fiesta Bowl last season was no fluke.
15.  Oregon at Purdue
This game could easily turn into a shootout as these two high powered offenses meet in a classic Big Ten/Pac 10 showdown.  Oregon is looking to prove that they can reload and keep pace with a more experienced Boilermaker offense.  Both schools have underrated defenses that will be put to the test.  The Oregon secondary could be the difference.
14.  Virginia Tech at Nebraska
A battle of two defensive minded coaches and Bo Pelini’s first real test as head coach of Nebraska.  These two coaches met last season when Pelini was the defensive coordinator for LSU.  LSU had no trouble with the Hokies.  But Nebraska, although a once proud power, is no LSU and Frank Beamer will have the advantage of playing against the Pelini style just last season.
13.  Michigan State at California
It wouldn’t be Ohio State winning at USC, but a win for Michigan State here could go a long way to helping the Big Ten’s image.  Cal lost six of it’s last seven games after starting the season with five straight victories and climbing to No. 2 in the country.  This season Cal is facing a quarterback controversy and must replace several skill players from last season’s offense.
12.  Arkansas at Texas
Old Southwest Conference rivals meet again.  This will be Bobby Petrino’s first real test as Arkansas’s new coach and a win against the mighty Longhorn’s could go a long way to building some momentum before the reality of the SEC sets in.  Mack Brown is looking at building momentum for his Longhorns and a win here would likely mean a 4-0 start before the Big XII swings into action.
11.  Cincinnati at Oklahoma
Cincinnati is looking to make a splash onto the national scene with this game against the Sooners.  Oklahoma is looking to get the bitter taste of their fourth consecutive BCS bowl loss and shellacking at the hands of West Virginia out their mouths.  Brian Kelly’s team can play defense, but the Sooners will be on a mission this season and may prove to be too tough a test.
10.  Appalachian State at LSU
The reigning FCS National Champions will visit the reigning FBS National Champions.  This has to be the first time such a meeting has occurred.  The Mountaineers shocked the nation last season with their upset of then No. 5 ranked Michigan.  Can come into Baton Rouge and do the same this season?  If they do…they will turn college football on it’s head.
9.   Wisconsin @ Fresno State
This Bulldogs are looking to play BCS busters while Wisconsin is looking for a new quarterback.  Fresno State is loaded and Pat Hill’s team is not afraid of playing the big boys.  Wisconsin had better be ready for the Bulldogs, because if the Badgers get caught looking ahead to Michigan the next week they will find themselves playing catch-up.  And with an inexperienced quarterback they may not be able to.
8.   Kansas at South Florida
Kansas is playing a meaningful non-conference game!  This is a prove-it game for both schools.  Kansas wants to prove that they are the real deal after last season’s surprising campaign and South Florida wants to use the national spotlight to prove that they are a legit team that is ready to be considered one of the big boys. 
7.   Notre Dame at Washington
This game can be summed up with:  Ty Willingham vs. Charlie Weis.  Willingham will be taking on the school that spurned him and the coach that replaced him.  His Huskies are also looking to prove that they are ready to win.  We all know how much Charlie Weis hates to lose and the Irish did a lot of losing last season.  This game will be as interesting on the sidelines as it is on the field.
6.   Utah at Michigan
Utah is looking to prove that the belong in the BCS conversation, and if they win this game it could go a long way in helping that cause.  Meanwhile, Rich Rodriguez will be debuting his new look Michigan squad and I’m sure he wishes the first game wasn’t against such a worthy opponent.
5.   Alabama at Clemson (in Atlanta)
The last time these two teams met, Alabama left with a 56-0 victory.  But this is supposed to be the season that Clemson puts it all together.  If the Tigers are the power team they are supposed to be this will be the time prove it.  With the Tide fan base already nuts over one of the nation’s best recruiting classes a win against the Tigers would send already high expectations through the roof.
4.   Auburn at West Virginia
This game will be Bill Stewart’s chance to come up with a huge win to prove that his team is among the elite teams in the country.  Tommy Tuberville gets his toughest road test of the year by far until ending the season against Alabama.  This game will be an interesting blend of spread against spread and defense against defense.  Should be very entertaining.
3.   Illinois at Missouri (in St. Louis)
Who could have imagined that last season’s match-up between these two long time basketball rivals would have been a battle between to teams that won a combined 21 games?  Last season no one would have expected the game to have BCS implications, but everyone knows that this season, including Ron Zook and Gary Pinkel.
2.   Georgia at Arizona State
Alright Dawgs, if you really are a National Title contender, then this is the time to really prove it.  Georgia faces their first Pac 10 foe since the 1986 season and will be coming off a tough SEC opener against South Carolina.  The Sun Devils faced an SEC opponent just a few seasons ago when they played LSU in Tempe and will be coming off of three warm-up games.  Will the early test help the Dawgs and will not being tested hurt the Sun Devils?  One can only wait and see.  I personally can’t wait.
1.   Ohio State at USC
This will be the epic showdown many thought they were going to see in last season’s Rose Bowl.  That is until West Virginia and Missouri lost in their final games to give the Buckeyes their second consecutive trip to the National Championship Game.  This will be a match-up for ages pitting the nation’s two best defenses and arguably the nation’s top two coaches against each other.  These teams are so similar that this decade alone they are only separated by a half game.  Ohio State’s record this decade is 81-20 and USC’s record is 81-21.  The entire nation will be watching this game and the winner is likely on the fast track with full control over it’s National Championship destiny.