Just ask any college football coach and he’ll tell you, all games are big games. OK, we’ll concede that point. But some games are more intriguing than others. Here are this season’s must-see games in the landscape of college football.
1. Boise State vs. Virginia Tech at FedEx Field (Landover, Md.), Sept. 6
No early-season game has the potential to more profoundly affect the season. The Broncos, coming off an unbeaten season, will likely start the 2010 season right around the top five. Beating the highly-ranked Hokies on what can hardly be called a neutral field could make Boise State a serious threat to reach the BCS championship game.
2. Penn State at Alabama, Sept. 11
The task, beating the probable preseason No. 1 Tide in Tuscaloosa, would seem too tall for a team breaking in a new quarterback — even a pretty good Penn State team. But still, Joe Paterno coaching in Bear Bryant’s Stadium? That’s just cool.
3. Florida at Alabama, Oct. 2
The past two national champions play a rematch of the past two SEC title games. It wouldn’t be the slightest bit surprising if they meet again two months later at the Georgia Dome with another conference championship on the line, but that won’t make this game any less intense.
4. Texas at Nebraska, Oct. 16
It could be said that Nebraska’s general contempt for Texas and the power the Longhorns wield in the Big 12 nearly killed the conference. Before the Cornhuskers say goodbye to the Big 12 and head to the Big Ten, they have one more game against the Longhorns — at least — and the locals are already getting charged up. The teams could rematch in the Big 12 title game.
5. Tulsa at Houston, Nov. 13
If you think defense is boring and prefer your football games to have final scores similar to those of Big Ten basketball games, Conference USA is the place to be. QB Case Keenum and the high-scoring Cougars played some of the wildest and most entertaining games of last season, including a 46-45 victory against Tulsa on a last-second 51-yard field goal. Expect more of the same in 2010.
6. USC at UCLA, Dec. 4
The crosstown rivalry came awfully close to getting ugly last season, when former Trojans coach Pete Carroll and Bruins coach Rick Neuheisel got snippy with each other in a battle over endgame etiquette during USC’s 28-7 victory. Carroll’s gone, but new coach Lane Kiffin seems more than happy to pick up where his former boss left off.