The final post on the most important games is upon us. And if history tells us anything, at least one of these weeks (other than the final one) should be an awesome one.
Georgia at Auburn – Make no mistake about it…Alabama is still the class of the SEC. Saying that, this match here could determine which team can make a run at the SEC’s spot in the CFP (assuming they only get one). And no…no Fire Mark Richt countdown this year. Part of that is UGA should be really good. Part of it is there are so many other coaches on the hot seat it isn’t even funny…OK it is a little bit. (6:30, specialty pack)
Oklahoma at Baylor – Hey, remember last year when The Fighting Art Briles kicked Boomer Sooner’s ass? Don’t expect that again, even if it’s at Baylor’s stunning new stadium on the Brazos. No way Big Game Bob takes this game lightly this year as this could very well be for the Big XII crown (unless TCU has something to say about it). (7:30, FOX)
Oregon at Stanford – Stanford was not your normal Stanford last season. They should be much improved. Also, I can’t see any way where the Ducks run roughshod through the Pac-12 now with Super Mariota gone. This, combined with OU-Baylor, makes for a good set of primetime games for the non-specialty pack people (also known as “The People Who Are Saving Money”). (8:00, ABC)
Arkansas at LSU – Another time where CBS has two games (this only happens two times a season). I guess a lot has to do with how good these two programs are doing this season. The worst pair gets the noon game and a Carter Blackburn special. I am giving the Tide and the Bulldogs the edge for now but it could easily flip-flop (although I could see Bama being steaming mad at being “relegated” to the noon game). (Noon, CBS)
Alabama at Mississippi State– The other half of the CBS doubleheader conundrum. I’m leaning towards Verne and Gary heading to Starkville for MORE COWBELL! and also some football mixed in. Plus it’s Evil Saban so he usually tries to get his way. (3:30, CBS)
Virginia Tech at Georgia Tech – Battle of the Techs on a weekday night! Beamer’s Boys (grandkids? Great-grandkids?) need to step it up big time. The last couple years have shown they have dropped down to the ACC mid-card and Paul Johnson’s Option Junkies have proven they are upper echelon (at least in the ACC). (Thursday, 7:30, TSN1)
Other candidates: Utah at Arizona (10:00, specialty pack), BYU at Missouri (Noon, TSN1), Maryland at Michigan State (7:15, specialty pack), Minnesota at Iowa (8:00, Big Ten Network)
Michigan State at Ohio State – In my opinion, this is the game of the year. So watch both teams have three losses by the time they get to this one and it screws up my entire schedule prediction. Anywho…I am almost positive one of these teams (at least) will be undefeated. If both are, then this is the only game you will hear about…on ESPN. (8:00, ABC)
USC at Oregon – I will ask again…will we see the so-called “real” USC this season or are we all going to be disappointed (with Trojan fans and alumni being VERY disappointed). This could be a tough one regardless since Autzen Stadium is one of the toughest stadiums to be a visiting team in (I would argue only Tiger Stadium in Baton Rouge is tougher). A chance for Sark to get his first statement game here. (3:30, ABC/TSN2)
TCU at Oklahoma – Remember what I said about the Baylor-Oklahoma game last week deciding the Big XII crown? Well it’s more of a round-robin between those two teams and TCU (as TCU hosts Baylor the following week). TCU stomped a hole in Oklahoma last season (as did Baylor) so the Stoops boys have to rebound yet again. There won’t be any calls for Bob Stoops’ job since he’s there until he retires or dies on the sideline. It just may get a bit tougher for him in Norman. (7:30, FOX)
LSU at Ole Miss – The first SEC game of the week ends up as the fourth most important game? Tells you how important this week is in college football (until we get to the next one). Last year, The Hat and his Tigers pulled off a close Magnolia Bowl victory in a game that, despite being close, wasn’t exactly exciting to watch. The scene shifts to Oxford for this one and I am sure Hugh Freeze will get his Rebs up for this one considering there is a chance that one of these teams will need a win here to keep any CFP or NYS hopes alive. (3:30, CBS)
Baylor at Oklahoma State – TRAP GAME! The Cowboys and their head man Mike Gundy (who’s a MAN!) have had quite a few of these games in the past. Games where they get to play spoiler. The Pokes could destroy the Big XII’s chances with a win here and Baylor will desperately need momentum going into their huge showdown in Fort Worth the next Friday. (3:30, FOX)
Mississippi State at Arkansas – Two years ago, if someone had told me that this would be one of the games of the week I would have laughed. Seriously. This should be an interesting one since I don’t know if a spot in the New Year’s Six would be on the line here or not. There is a remote possibility but it’s tough to say in the SEC West minefield. (Noon, TSN1)
Other candidates: Arizona at Arizona State (3:30, TSN3), Boston College vs. Notre Dame (in Boston) (7:30, NBC), East Carolina at UCF (Thursday, 7:30, TSN1), Toledo at Bowling Green (Tuesday, 8:00, specialty pack)
Baylor at TCU – And now we get to the best week in college football this season. And what better way to start it out on Black Friday (as far as I know) is with the final part of the round-robin merry-go-round roller coaster fun-time Big XII tournament of champions (with no guarantee of a College Football Playoff spot). My guess is once this game is over, we will have a very good idea if the Big XII will have a CFP representative or if they will be on the phone with the ADs at Cincinnati and BYU. (Friday, 7:30, specialty pack)
Alabama at Auburn – There is no possible way CBS is passing up the Iron Bowl this year. In retrospect, a pretty huge error that ESPN fully (and I mean fully) capitalized on. Not gonna happen. Wouldn’t it be just a bit ironic if the both the Tide and Tigers had at least two losses coming into this one? (3:30, CBS)
USC at UCLA – Victory Bell time! Or at least the California version of the Victory Bell since I think there’s about 9 different victory bell games. And hey, this one is very relevant (at least now in June it seems to be). There is a potential for the Pac-12 South title and a College Football Playoff berth to be on the line here. I can’t see ABC picking anything else here. (8:00, ABC/TSN2)
Georgia at Georgia Tech – A little Clean, Old-Fashioned Hate. Last year’s game was awesome and I expect this one to be no different. The Dawgs will not take the Ramblin’ Wreck lightly (not that they did last year). The only issue with non-conference games this late in the season is that has very little impact on bowl games (except the CFP or New Year’s Six). (Noon, TSN3)
Texas A&M at LSU – This game may be relegated to the SEC Network because of all the good games in the SEC this week. Saying that, I could see it switch spots with the Egg Bowl (which I have slated for evening on ESPN/TSN1) so I am not quite sure at this point whether you will need the specialty pack or not to see the John Chavis Bowl. (4:00, specialty pack)
Ohio State at Michigan– The Game. This HAS to be better than last year’s version. You remember right? It was a blowout from the opening whistle and J.T. Barrett was lost for the season (although it did end up giving us three games of Cardale goodness). With Captain Insano at the helm in Ann Arbor now, this should be a fun one to watch…even if it is just to watch his tirades and intensity. (Noon, ABC)
Other candidates: Ole Miss at Mississippi State (7:45, TSN1), Florida State at Florida (3:30, specialty pack), Clemson at South Carolina (3:30, TSN3), Wisconsin at Minnesota (3:30, ABC/TSN5)
The final week of the season obviously has the conference championship games. This season, we add the American conference to that family. If Navy somehow makes it into the American conference championship undefeated, it sets up a very interesting situation (and one that ESPN is probably salivating over). Win that and it will probably make the Army-Navy game the most watched in a LONG time. Texas faces off against Baylor although this may be a formality if Baylor has somehow come out of the TCU/Oklahoma gauntlet unscathed. The Sun Belt will also crown their champ and I know that soon enough (maybe next season) they will have their own conference championship since they know they are leaving money on the table by not having one. I still believe that if one of the ACC, Big Ten, or Pac-12 was smart, they would move their conference championship to Noon so they would be the lone Power Five conference championship at that time. Instead we have a logjam in the primetime slot. Good planning idiots.
So that ends the posts on the most important games this season. 67 days away from the first game of the season. Still feels way too far away for me. Next up will be the breakouts by network as I show the CBS, ABC, and FOX schedules as of this point. Then I will be “playing” the schedule out to see where my predictions will lie (obviously they will be somewhat shitty but I don’t care).