I know: The college football season hasn’t started yet (and won’t for about another 100 days), so predicting the ONE game each week that you should add to your calendar might be foolhardy.
Nevertheless, here we go:
Sept. 2: Alabama vs. Florida State: The Crimson Tide could end one season and begin the next with a loss to an ACC team. Or Florida State could prove that it’s not yet back to elite status.
Sept. 9: The only week in which I’m giving you an option. Do you prefer Auburn at Clemson, Stanford at USC or Oklahoma at Ohio State? Each game could expose a team (Auburn, USC and Oklahoma) that thinks it’s prepared to be in the national championship race.
Sept. 16: Clemson at Louisville: If the Tigers are going to lose a game in September, it had better not be to a fellow conference opponent with a quarterback who just might win the Heisman Trophy.
Sept. 23: Arkansas at Texas A&M: Say what? Two teams from the SEC’s west that have underachieved in recent seasons. The coach that loses this game might hear the “f'” word a lot in the days that follow. That’s “fired,” for those of you with dirty minds.
Sept. 30: Northwestern at Wisconsin: The Badgers are the best of the Big 10 West, but the Wildcats always find a way to win at least one game they shouldn’t. If it’s this one, Wisconsin is playing catch up for the rest of the season.
Oct. 6: LSU at Florida: If the Gators want to provide evidence that their recent demise is over, this would be the game in which to do it.
Oct. 13: Ohio State at Nebraska: The Cornhuskers might be unbeaten heading into this game, but they also could enter it having lost to Wisconsin the week before. If that’s the case, and if the Buckeyes steamroll the Cornhuskers, then Nebraska can fold up the tent.
Oct. 20: Louisville at Florida State: If both teams are unbeaten (and I doubt both will be), then this becomes a monumentally important game in the ACC race and, perhaps, for the national championship.
Oct. 27: Penn State at Ohio State: If you are a college football fan, then you know what happened in 2016: The conference champion also won this game but the other went to the national semifinals (where it was SHUTOUT). One team wants validation; the other wants revenge.
Nov. 4: Oklahoma at Oklahoma State: One could be a realistic contender for the national title. The other is one of the dreaded darkhorses. The winner might not necessarily be in the title chase, but the loser definitely won’t be.
Nov. 11: Washington at Stanford (Nov. 10); Florida State at Clemson (Nov. 11): With the two best teams from the Pac-12 North playing on a Friday and the two best teams from the ACC playing on a Saturday, you could be looking at division champions being determined.
Nov. 18: UCLA at USC: No, I didn’t pick this game because I graduated from one of these universities (and therefore loathe the other). Rather, I picked this game because it is one of the best rivalries in college football. It also could wrap up a division crown for the winner; and if his team does, it could be the ticket to the Heisman for the quarterback.
Nov. 25: Navy at Houston (Nov. 24); Alabama at Auburn (Nov. 25): The Friday game should determine an AAC division champion. Nothing more needs to be said about the Saturday game.
Dec. 2: The conference championship game with the largest bearing on the national championship race. My guess: Clemson/Florida State/Louisville vs North Carolina: I expect the Atlantic Division champion will have at least one loss, so a setback in this game could open the door for another conference to get two schools into the national semifinals.
Dec. 9: Army vs Navy: If you have to ask why, then you must not be from the United States.
Coming soon: My pre-season Top 25.