Supersized Showdowns: The Five Biggest Games of the 2010 College Football Season

Tim Bielik@bielik_timSenior Analyst IJuly 13, 2010

ATLANTA - DECEMBER 5:  Julio Jones #8 of the Alabama Crimson Tide runs for yards after the catch against Ahmad Black #35 of the Florida Gators during the SEC Championship game at Georgia Dome on December 5, 2009 in Atlanta, Georgia.  (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

With just a few weeks left until the new decade of college football finally kicks off, the future months look promising for those who love the big time matchups.

And although we know who our top three teams are in Alabama, Ohio State, and Boise State, parity is what makes this season so intriguing and mysterious.

A large exodus of talented players have left us with few big name players as of right now.

And though there will be more by the time 2010 is over, it is the mystery that makes the wait for the start of the year a killer to go through.

But what we do know is that there are plenty of games that will capture the attention of all of the country for three hours at a time.

Here are the five biggest games of the 2010 college football season:

5. Texas vs Oklahoma, October 2

While we aren't completely sure if and when the Red River Shootout will move to the new Cowboys Stadium from the nostalgic Cotton Bowl, one thing we do know is that Oklahoma will bounce back in 2010.

The Sooners suffered a rash of injuries in 2009, including Sam Bradford's shoulder and Jermaine Gresham's knee, which caused them to slip to 8-5 after winning three straight Big 12 titles.

On the other side, Texas has been to back-to-back BCS bowl games, but lost to Alabama 38-24 in the 2010 BCS National Championship Game.

They will also be indoctinating new starting QB Garrett Gilbert into his first-ever Red River Shootout.

Oklahoma starter Landry Jones filled in for Bradford in last year's installment, but a late turnover killed the Sooners' upset bid.

With youth from both QBs, the game could come down to defense and the running game, where Texas should have an advantage, especially in the secondary.

If Oklahoma has trouble establishing the run against a veteran Texas secondary, it could be a tough day for the Sooners.

4. Boise State vs Virginia Tech at FedEx Field, September 6

This game should be the final test for Boise State to prove that they belong with the elites of college football.

They have won two BCS games and shut down Oregon in Boise last year, but the Broncos have not had an opportunity like this to showcase themselves outside of the Pacific Northwest.

The last time they played a top team east of the Mississippi River was in 2005 where Georgia routed the Broncos 48-13.

Most feel that Boise State will not face a similar outcome, whether it be because of a bigger emphasis on defense or the perceived lack of explosive offense from Virginia Tech.

The Hokies do bring a deep pool of runners into FedEx Field, led by Tyrod Taylor and three very talented running backs in Ryan Williams, David Wilson, and Darren Evans, who suffered a torn ACL before the 2009 season started.

They will need to find more balance offensively for this game, as Boise State gave up just 31 rushing yards in their opener a year ago against Oregon.

With all but one starter returning in 2010, many feel that a win over Virginia Tech and some help could catapult Boise State into the national championship game.

The debate over whether or not that should be the case is a very divisive one. But in the end, their performance in this game, and the rest of the season, should speak for itself.

3. Ohio State at Iowa, November 20

These two teams met in Columbus last year for the de facto Big Ten Championship Game.

And in the matchup that could potentially decide the last Big Ten title before Nebraska joins and creates a real Big Ten Championship Game like in the SEC or ACC, hopefully it lives up to the great game from a year ago.

Many wrote off Iowa last year when QB Ricky Stanzi was out for the Hawkeyes' matchup against the Buckeyes.

But backup James Vandenberg turned in an outstanding performance, especially leading a 14-point comeback in the fourth quarter to force overtime. In the end, Iowa fell one field goal short.

This matchup could be very different if Stanzi plays and the Iowa offensive line can overcome the loss of Bryan Bulaga to the NFL.

The Hawkeyes also possess a talented and veteran-laden defense, talented on the defensive line and in the secondary.

The entire defensive line from 2009, including Adrian Clayborn and Christian Ballard, is back intact, along with both starting safeties in Brett Greenwood and Tyler Sash.

They will have their work cut out for them against Terrelle Pryor and Ohio State's stable of running backs.

OSU's defense presents its own stars, especially on the front seven, led by potential All-American DL Cameron Heyward and LB Ross Homan.

And they will need to be stellar to help protect two new starting safeties.

If all goes as planned for both teams, we could see a matchup of undefeated teams in Iowa City, and another blockbuster showing for the last Big Ten title before the conference grows to 12.

2. Texas at Nebraska, October 16

Nebraska was one second away from pulling one of the biggest stunners in recent memory in the 2009 Big 12 Championship Game.

And after the drama of Nebraska leaving the Big 12 and their jealousy of Texas in the process, this matchup promises to be full of drama.

As mentioned, Texas will be breaking in Garrett Gilbert to replace Colt McCoy, and the youngster won't have much of a turnaround between the Red River Shootout and a matchup against the ferocious Huskers defense.

The Blackshirts will miss the presence of all-world DT Ndamukong Suh, but by no means are devoid of talent.

DT Jared Crick is capable enough to be a star up front, and DB Prince Amukamara may be one of the best and most physical corners in the country.

The difference for Nebraska will be if they can muster any offensive production which they had a hard time doing in last year's showdown.

But 10 starters from the Nebraska offense will be returning this season, including Roy Helu and Rex Burkhead, who will share most of the offensive burden in Bo Pelini's running game.

If Zac Lee can improve his passing game and give the offense balance, the Huskers should be in prime position to compete for the Big 12 title in their last season in the conference.

And they will need to have that balance if they want to continue to improve and to beat the elite teams in the country.

A win over Texas in October should announce to the world that Nebraska is back in the limelight of college football.

1. Florida at Alabama, October 2

This matchup pitting the last two national championships is the perfect nightcap to a tremendous college football doubleheader along with the Red River Shootout.

Alabama's 2010 schedule may be very treacherous because they face a staggering six teams coming off of a bye week this year.

But their toughest game of the season will not be such a circumstance, as Florida faces Kentucky the week before traveling to Tuscaloosa.

The biggest face missing from this matchup will be Tim Tebow who looked brilliant against Alabama in the 2008 SEC Championship Game.

But Tebow and the Gators had a forgetful night in the 2009 rematch, being dominated physically in a 32-13 loss that snapped a 22-game winning streak for the Gators.

Junior QB John Brantley will get his chance this season to exact revenge on behalf of Urban Meyer's Gators.

But what makes this matchup even more interesting is that both defenses lost most of their defensive starters from 2009.

The Gators lost six of their starters, including LB Brandon Spikes, DE Carlos Dunlap, and DB Joe Haden.

But the Tide lost eight starters on defense, including superstar LB Rolando McClain.

That doesn't necessarily mean that either defense will be devoid of talent.

Alabama maintains plenty of defensive studs in DE Marcell Dareus, LB Dont'a Hightower, who is returning from an ACL injury in 2009, and S Mark Barron.

Florida may not have many big names defensively, but they have one of the most stacked defensive recruiting classes we have ever seen coming in this season. And Urban Meyer has never been afraid to start freshmen.

But simply, this matchup is all about Alabama's physicality versus Florida's pure speed.

Some pundits believe Florida is the fastest team in the country, especially with probably the fastest players in the country in RB Jeff Demps.

But last year, Alabama neutralized Florida's speed with the powerful running of Heisman Trophy back Mark Ingram and backup RB Trent Richardson.

The duo helped pace Alabama to over 250 yards rushing in last year's matchup.

Expect more of the same formula from Alabama against a less experienced Gators' defense than a year ago.

If this matchup doesn't live up to its extremely high billing, it will be one of the bigger disappointments of the season.

This article can also be found on my blog Storm the Field .


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