College Football: 10 Games That Will Determine This Year's National Championship
Over the next two months, there are going to be some absolutely monumental games taking place in college football.
Some of these games could be talked about for years to come, not just because of how exciting they were, but because of how important they were.
Whether it’s a rivalry game or just a good ole match-up of undefeated teams, there are multiple games that have the potential of determining who is going to Glendale in 2011.
For a college football fan, there is nothing more exciting than a game with some major championship implications.
So, here are 10 games that should not only be excellent match-ups, but could also determine which teams are still in the running for the national title.
Saturday, Oct. 2: No. 21 Texas vs. No. 8 Oklahoma
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Although their crushing loss to UCLA ended any dreams of consecutive appearances in the national championship for Texas, they could still play spoiler to their biggest rival on Saturday.
Simply put, Garrett Gilbert and the Longhorns are not the same team as the Colt McCoy version of the last four years.
But, they are definitely capable of knocking off Landry Jones and the Sooners, who are hoping to make it back to the BCS—if not the national title—after stumbling somewhat last year.
The Red River Rivalry is always a great game and with national title hopes on the line for the Sooners, expect it to be as fun to watch as ever.
Saturday, Oct. 2: No. 9 Stanford at No. 4 Oregon
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When Stanford rolls into Eugene on Saturday night, fans could be in for one of the highest-scoring games of the year. Oregon is the No. 1 offense in the nation, scoring almost 58 points a game.
As for the Cardinal? Oh, they only score 48 a contest.
Oregon, behind the legs of LaMichael James, seems unstoppable at this point, while Andrew Luck and Stanford give off the same feeling. Well, something has to give.
At this point in the year, both teams could legitimately be considered national title contenders. But, that distinction will belong to only one team after this game.
Saturday, Oct. 2: No. 7 Florida at No. 1 Alabama
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The SEC’s flagship rivalry for the past two years, Alabama and Florida meet Saturday in a regular season showdown that will not only determine who is the class of the conference, but which team is no longer a national title contender.
With Mark Ingram and Trent Richardson running all over opposing defenses and the ‘Bama defense barely allowing any points, the Crimson Tide are giving all indications that they are the best team in the country.
But, Florida will bring everything they’ve got to Tuscaloosa. That, you can guarantee.
John Brantley seems to be finding his rhythm after starting out slowly and the Gator offense is hitting on all cylinders following a 48-14 shellacking of Kentucky. However, Alabama is not Kentucky.
This game will determine whether the Gators are actually deserving of the No. 7 ranking in the polls, that's for sure.
Either way, one of these teams will no longer be a national title contender after this game.
Saturday, Oct. 9: No. 1 Alabama at No. 20 South Carolina
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After a promising start, South Carolina’s momentum took a bit of a hit with their eight-point loss to Auburn last weekend. But regardless, the Gamecocks still seem quite capable of running away with a relatively weak SEC East.
In fact, because the game is in Columbia, South Carolina's match-up with Alabama could be the Tide’s toughest challenge before a potential SEC title game appearance.
No, the Gamecocks don't have the offense to keep up with ‘Bama. No, their defense may not be able to shut down the Tide.
But, a combination of good play from both sides of the ball and home-field advantage could end Alabama’s aspirations at consecutive national championships before they even get a chance to defend their title.
Saturday, Oct. 16: No. 2 Ohio State at No. 11 Wisconsin
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As a night game—within the confines of Camp Randall Stadium—the Ohio State-Wisconsin battle in mid-October has the potential to be the Big Ten game of the year.
Ohio State boasts a terrific offense led by Heisman contender Terrelle Pryor and a defense that creates turnovers and doesn’t make mistakes.
Wisconsin matches that with an offense that is equally or more explosive—led by running back John Clay and quarterback Scott Tolzien—and a defense that bends, but doesn't always break.
The Buckeyes were pretty much everyone’s pick to win the Big Ten to start the season, while Wisconsin was the dark horse that some predicted to win the conference, while others even believed they had national title qualities.
You really don't want to miss this one.
Saturday, Oct. 16: No. 21 Texas at No. 6 Nebraska
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After residing largely outside of the national limelight for the past decade, Nebraska football is back with a vengeance.
Behind the legs of freshman quarterback Taylor Martinez and the strength of a defense allowing only 13 points a game, the Cornhuskers could legitimately run the table in 2010.
Their biggest test before a potential Big 12 title game match-up is a home bout against Texas.
No, Texas may not even be ranked at this point if they end up falling to Oklahoma, but this will still be one of Nebraska’s most important games in years.
If the Cornhuskers can sneak by the Longhorns, there’s not much else in the way from an undefeated regular season.
Saturday, Nov. 6: No. 5 TCU at No. 13 Utah
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Although TCU is in a better position to compete for a national title than Utah at this point, this game could conceivably be for a shot at the BCS for both teams.
With a win here, TCU would all but clinch the Mountain West and could coast their way to a BCS bid. With help, the national title isn’t out of the question.
As far as the Utes, currently they are also undefeated (with a win over then-No.15 Pittsburgh) and if they run the table, they could be in position for a BCS bid as well.
Heck, if things fell their way, a shot at the national title is within the realm of possibility.
Either way, expect some fireworks in Salt Lake City come early November.
Saturday, Nov. 20: No. 2 Ohio State at No. 17 Iowa
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Despite their loss to Arizona two weeks ago, Iowa is still an incredibly dangerous team.
Behind quarterback Ricky Stanzi, the offense has been performing well, while the defense is still one of the best squads in the country.
Definitely capable of still reaching the Rose Bowl, at this point in the season, who knows? Iowa could be the Big Ten’s best team.
This match-up between the Hawkeyes and Buckeyes should determine who wins the Big Ten crown and, in Ohio State’s case, if they still have the opportunity of chasing another crystal ball.
Friday, Nov. 26: No. 3 Boise State at No. 25 Nevada
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Undoubtedly, one of the most surprising teams in college football so far is the Nevada Wolf Pack.
They’re sitting at 4-0, are ranked in the polls for the first time in over 60 years, and are coming off thrashings of both California and BYU.
Their offense is moving the ball virtually at will and, in general, the team seems like the real deal.
But, for them to win the WAC, they’ll need to upend Boise State, who could possibly be looking to not only clinch the conference, but snatch up a bid to the national championship game.
If Boise State is undefeated at this point—and can knock off the Wolf Pack—there’s a probably a pretty good shot they’ll get there.
Either way, expect a whole lot of offense in this one.
Friday, Nov. 26: No. 10 Auburn at No. 1 Alabama
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Although by this point in the season, it’s very possible that both ‘Bama and Auburn could have one, or even multiple losses, right now, it looks as though this match-up could not only be for the SEC West title, but for keeping alive each team’s national title hopes.
Auburn, although not quite as dynamic or flashy as Alabama, has been steady and solid so far. Cam Newton appears to be more than capable of leading the Tigers back to the BCS after a seven-year-long hiatus.
However, Newton will have to defeat the hated Crimson Tide for that to happen. Although the Iron Bowl is always special, the 2010 version could be one of the most important for both teams in a long time.