Ranking the 9 Biggest Non Conference College Football Games for the 2017 Season
9) Nebraska at Oregon (Sept. 9)
This is a huge game for both programs. Nebraska seems on the verge of getting back to the days of national prominence. Oregon has dropped off of the map in big time college football over the last couple of years. They will try to turn that around with a new head coach at home against what should be a nationally ranked team. The danger is head coach Willie Taggart gets blown out in this first big test and everybody gets the feeling that nothing has really changed. No matter what happens, this is a game that could jump start either team to a big season.
8) Auburn at Clemson (Sept. 9)
Can Dabo Sweeney keep the Tigers at the top of college football without star QB Deshaun Watson? I think the answer is yes and this match-up against Auburn is the Tigers’ first chance to prove that they are here to stay on a national stage. For Auburn, a win here and they will put themselves in the National playoff conversation. A loss makes for what could be a very long year in Auburn.
7) Utah at BYU (Sept. 9)
Just a few years ago, this was one of the biggest rivalries in all of college football. Well, that all changed when Utah switched conferences. But look out, the rivalry starting last year has been renewed! This game features two nine-win teams from last year and both teams will be in the national conversation this year. If last years’ 20-19 Utah win is any indication, the rivalry is back and I look for it to only get better this year.
6) Texas A&M at UCLA (Sept. 3)
This game will be huge for coaches Kevin Sumlin and Jim Mora. The loser will be on the hot seat right away because both coaches are coming off tough seasons last year. The loser of this game could be in for a very unpleasant season.
5) Michigan vs. Florida (Sept. 2, AT&T Stadium, Dallas, TX)
Jim Harbaugh has started to bring back the glory days in Ann Arbor, with back to back ten win seasons. Now the question will be can the Wolverines overcome the loss of 18 starters from last year’s team? The Gators are a defensive team that doesn’t seem capable of developing on the offensive side of the ball. So this game is huge because we have two teams with huge question marks headed into this season.
4) Notre Dame at Stanford (Nov. 25)
Brian Kelly comes into this season already on the hot seat, so the big question here is just how hot that seat will be by the end of November. Stanford is coached by David Shaw and his job is safe. The intrigue to this game, at least for me, is Brian Kelly and if he survives this season at Notre Dame.
3) Texas at USC (Sept. 16)
Texas has a new coach so this game probably won’t be competitive, but I think USC will be a playoff contender all year. Sam Darnold and Ronald Jones will lead a Trojan attack that will score over 40 points a game this year.
2) Oklahoma at Ohio State (Sept. 9)
Last year the Buckeyes embarrassed the Sooners in Norman. This year, the Sooners will try to exact some revenge. That won’t be easy against a loaded Buckeye squad, but with Baker Mayfield at the helm, you can never count the Sooners out.
1) Florida State vs. Alabama (Sept. 2, Mercedes-Benz Stadium, Atlanta, GA)
This may be the biggest season opening game in college football history. These teams could enter the season ranked number one and number two. Add two of the best coaches in College Football in Saban and Fisher. It all adds up to the biggest non-conference game of the year.