Thursday, February 28, 2008

Top non-conference games from CFN

Pete Fiutak (over at CFN) highlights some of the top non-conference games coming up this year.

A few pique our interest:

41. SMU at Texas Tech, Sept. 13
Gear it up. June Jones and SMU will have a little bit of time to warm up the engines for a game that should be one of
the biggest displays of offensive fireworks this season. One thing to note: SMU was 116th in the nation in pass defense last year and gave up 473 passing yards and four touchdown passes in last year's 49-9 loss

31. USC at Virginia. Aug. 30
USC needs to use this as a tune-up before the showdown against Ohio State. In their last six road openers (Colorado in 2002, Auburn in 2003, Virginia Tech in 2004, Hawaii in 2005, Arkansas in 2006, and Nebraska in 2007), the Trojans are 6-0 against the highly-ranked teams by a combined score of 249 to 78 (41.5 to 13). This is the first meeting between the two programs.

Oklahoma at Washington, Sept. 13
Oklahoma's last venture into the Pacific Northwest didn't exactly go well, losing to Oregon 34-33 in one of the most controversial games in college football history. The week before the fiasco, the Sooners beat Washington in Norman.

27. Fresno State at UCLA, Aug. 30
For those of you desperate to see a sequel to the 2003 Silicon Valley Bowl, a scintillating 17-9 Bulldog win, your wish has come true. Fresno State has a good enough team to be a BCS at-large sleeper, while UCLA will be looking to come out roaring in Rick Neuheisel's opener.

19. Miami at Texas A&M, Sept. 20
Last year's showdown between the two big names was supposed to be among the biggest non-conference games of the season, but Texas A&M decided to blow off its running game in a strange 34-17 loss. Yeah, the Canes really got revenge for that 70-14 1944 loss.

12. Virginia Tech at Nebraska, Sept. 27
A rematch of the 1997 Orange Bowl, a 41-21 Husker win, it's also the first real test for Bo Pelini after starting out with
Western Michigan, San Jose State and New Mexico State. With Missouri and at Texas Tech to follow, the Huskers can't afford a loss. This is the second road trip for Tech in a nasty stretch of four road games in five dates.

Arkansas at Texas, Sept. 13
Bobby Petrino, welcome to the old Southwest Conference days and your first really, really big game since leaving Louisville. He'll get a chance to tune up against Western Illinois and UL Monroe, and then reality sets in against the Longhorns, Alabama, Florida, at Auburn and at Kentucky, making this almost a must-win to get a little momentum going. A win for Mack Brown and Texas would likely mean a 4-0 start before dealing with the Big 12 season.

9. Tennessee at UCLA, Sept. 6
If the hoops teams play in March, will the showdown on the football field take a back seat? Tennessee got blasted at Cal in last year's opener in the first road trip against a Pac 10 team since a 30-24 win over UCLA in 1997. The Vols get a tune-up against UAB while UCLA has to get by a nasty first game against Fresno State. Beating the Bulldogs will be better than it might appear, if Rick Neuheisel can pull it off, but a win over Tennessee would really get the Bruin crowd moving. These two used to play all the time in the mid-80s and early 90s, but this battle will have even more intrigue than some of those classics.

5. Alabama vs. Clemson (in Atlanta), Aug. 30
Every once in a while, a non-conference game is just plain interesting. If Clemson is the power team it's supposed to be, it keeps the Alabama four-game regular season losing streak going. If Nick Saban's Tide program is ready to turn a corner, this would be a nice time to do it. The fan base is already nuts after one of the nation's best recruiting classes, and a win over the Tigers would send expectations through the roof. The Tide won the last meeting between the two 56-0 in 1975 and has won the last 11.

3. Auburn at West Virginia, Oct. 13
One team has mastered the spread attack, and the other is just starting to figure it out. If Auburn had Pat White, where would it be ranked? As is, West Virginia head coach Bill Stewart gets a shot to come up with a big, big win that would prove his program is among the elite of the elite. This is Auburn's toughest road test by far until ending the year at Alabama.

Illinois vs. Missouri (in St. Louis), Aug. 30
Who could've ever guessed that last year's 40-34 Missouri win over the Illini, with Illinois coming up with a big late comeback to make it close, would've been a battle between two teams that would've combined for 21 wins? As strange as it still might seem for the long time basketball rivals, this football showdown is far, far bigger with BCS implications.

1. Ohio State at USC, Sept. 13
It's the epic matchup of superpowers you really wanted to see over the last few seasons, and it could've been the 2007 BCS Championship game if the Trojans hadn't gagged against UCLA. These two have played each other in a slew of recent Rose Bowls, right? The last game between the two was in 1990, with USC winning 35-26. The last Rose Bowl matchup was in 1985, and the last Buckeye win over the Trojans came in the 1974 Rose Bowl. The winner will likely be the nation's No. 1 team, or at least No. 2, with full control of its national title destiny.

All quotes from Fiutak

1 comment:

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