It is never too early to look at the upcoming college football season, and today the focus is on what teams have the most strategically placed bye weeks in the country.
The bye week is a very important thing to look at when previewing the college football season.
This off week gives teams a break from the nonstop grind that is the college football season.
Teams use this week to game-plan for future opponents, get players healthier and it gives coaches and players a brief breath of fresh air during the season.
Coaches may also use this time to focus on the fundamentals of the game.
Bottom line: There are lots of things that you can do when you have the bye week, and at the end of the day the coaches will do what is best for the team.
In the SEC, both Florida and Georgia, and LSU and Alabama, have bye weeks before they play each other. Read on to see what other teams have the most strategically placed open dates.
Bye Week Date: *Technically not a bye week, but they play Montana State
Game After the Open Date: at USC
Overview: I could have picked multiple teams that fall into the category of scheduling a FCS school preceding a game against a very good opponent.
The fact is there are plenty of teams playing these garbage games, and I could have included many other teams.
I picked Utah because of the games following their bye week. They have a road game at USC—welcome to the Pac-12. Following that game, they will have to play rival BYU.
It is essentially a bye week. The starters will only play the first half and the second-and-third stringers will complete the game.
I, of course, say this with all due respect to Montana State and the other FCS schools that fall into this category.
Bye Week Date: Oct. 1 (Vanderbilt) and Oct. 8 (Ole Miss)
Game After the Open Date: Alabama
Overview: The Rebels and Commodores are two of the worst teams in the SEC, and both of their bye weeks come before they face one of the best teams in college football—the Alabama Crimson Tide.
Granted, I know they won't compete in this game. However, they will get a full two weeks to focus on Alabama.
It might be the two longest weeks of their respective seasons.
Bye Week Date: Sept. 10
Game After the Open Date: at Florida State
Overview: Landry Jones' Oklahoma Sooners are one of the favorites going into the 2011 season—and for good reason.
They will be tested in the third week of the season when they make the road trip to Tallahassee, Florida to face the Seminoles.
The nation will see exactly how good they are when they play Florida State.
The bye week in 2011 is early, but it comes at a good time—before one of their bigger games of the year.
Bye Week Date: Oct. 15
Game After the Open Date: USC
Overview: The Fighting Irish will have a bye week preceding their rivalry game with USC in South Bend in October.
It comes about midway through the season, and it will be a very good time for Brian Kelly and his football team.
The Fighting Irish's season could rest upon the results of the USC game, and the bye week preceding it certainly helps them out.
The Trojans have their bye week the week before and will have to play at California before their trip to South Bend.
Bye Week Date: Oct. 22
Game After the Open Date: Wisconsin
Overview: The Buckeyes will have their bye week following road games against Nebraska and Illinois.
The new-look Big Ten will now have a championship game, and both the Buckeyes and Badgers compete in the Leaders Division.
Ohio State and Wisconsin figure to be the two best teams in this division and the winner will have the upper hand in taking part in the first ever Big Ten championship game.
The bye week comes at an opportune time for the Buckeyes, but the Badgers don't have the same luck. They will have to play at Michigan State before the game in Columbus, Ohio.
Bye Week Date: Oct. 22
Game After the Open Date: Georgia versus Florida
Overview: Both the Bulldogs and the Gators have their bye week preceding the Georgia versus Florida Football Classic (World's Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party).
These two teams meet in Jacksonville in a game that the Gators have dominated in the last 20 years.
Locked into the 3:30 time slot on CBS, this game will receive national attention again this year and you would expect nothing different for a game like this.
Both teams will get a week off before this game, so neither team will truly have an edge. However, it is still an important off-week for both of these teams.
Bye Week Date: Oct. 29
Game After the Open Date: LSU at Alabama
Overview: The Tigers and Crimson Tide will meet in early November in a game that will most likely determine which team plays on the first Saturday in December in Atlanta.
For those of you outside the SEC, that means that this winner will most likely play in the SEC championship representing the SEC West.
Arkansas, Mississippi State and Auburn will all have a say in what teams end up playing, but the two favorites heading into the 2011 season meet in Tuscaloosa, Alabama on Nov. 5.
The bye week will give the teams more time to put together their game plans, as well as to get healthy following the brutal SEC schedule.
Bye Week Date: Nov. 5
Game After the Open Date: at Georgia
Overview: The Tigers won the national title this past year, but their schedule gives them absolutely no breaks at all.
Auburn will have to play on the road at Clemson, South Carolina, Arkansas, LSU and Georgia. They will also have to play at home against Mississippi State, Florida and Alabama.
The Tigers would most likely benefit from having an earlier bye week, but having one before Georgia certainly helps.
This game could go a long way in defining the season and the Georgia Bulldogs will certainly improve following their 6-7 season.
Even though Georgia doesn't technically have a bye week before it plays this game, they will play New Mexico State at home preceding the Deep South's oldest rivalry.
Both teams should come into this game relatively fresh, but Auburn has a true bye week.
Bye Week Date: Nov. 5
Game After the Open Date: Nebraska
Overview: The Nittany Lions will have their bye week preceding two of their biggest games of the year.
Penn State will know exactly how good they are following games against Nebraska and Ohio State. They will still be challenged beforehand, but these are two of their toughest games.
Although it is not the best thing that they are in back-to-back weeks, it is good that they have a bye week preceding these tests.
Bye Week Date: Nov. 12
Game After the Open Date: at Virginia Tech
Overview: The Hokies seem to be the favorite heading into the 2011 season to win the ACC Coastal Division.
Last year, the Hokies went undefeated in the ACC and the Tar Heels finished a couple games out.
This will be a very tough task for the Tar Heels, as they make the road trip to Blacksburg, Virginia. However, their bye week comes at the best possible time during the 2011 season