September 27th (Thursday)
Stanford Cardinal at Washington Huskies
The victor is an Oregon Ducks upset away from grabbing the Pac 12 North by the throat. If Steve Sarkisian is to move from potential mastermind to coveted leader, he needs to start winning games like this.
September 29th (Saturday)
Arizona State Sun Devils at California Golden Bears
Todd Graham, Jeff Tedford and some quarterback play that resembles the dulcet tones of fingernails on a chalkboard.
UCLA Bruins at Colorado Buffaloes
Intriguing college football matchup simply because the Bruins seem an ascending program and Jon Embree requires an early era-defining win. I’ll keep an eye on this one.
Florida State Seminoles at South Florida Bulls
Before Jim Leavitt began assaulting players, he led the Bulls to a 2009 upset of the Seminoles. In 2012, both schools are conference favorites with Florida State a fringe national title contender. South Florida quarterback B.J. Daniels sprung the shocker three years ago as a redshirt freshman. He’s now a senior that refuses to accept the real world transition.
Tennessee Volunteers at Georgia Bulldogs
Mark Richt might have shaved the facial hair but if he loses this game, a disguise is necessary in Athens. The Volunteers boast an explosive offense when Tyler Bray isn’t acting a fool and this being the Bulldogs, you can expect a rash of injuries to dismantle the defense.
Ohio State Buckeyes at Michigan State Spartans
The Spartans used defense and field position to suffocate the Buckeyes in 2011. Jim Tressel nods in silent admiration from an Akron office. Sparty still possesses a unit capable of slowing down Ohio State but they won’t keep Urban Meyer’s squad from scoring just seven points this year.
Duke Blue Devils at Wake Forest Demon Deacons
Does Jim Grobe ever regret not taking a bigger job? He was in the mix at Nebraska a while back. He earns around $2.9 million in total compensation at a school that will always consider him a legend for the ’06 ACC title. No itch to move up the ladder though? Welp, that’s enough words on the Demon Deacons.
Texas Longhorns at Oklahoma State Cowboys
Oklahoma State is out to prove, with a true freshman quarterback, that their 2011 Big 12 run wasn’t a fluke. Texas wants to crush the notion that the program stagnated. Vegas has the Cowboys as a curious, though small, home favorite.
Arkansas Razorbacks at Texas A&M Aggies
Last season, this matchup provided the first glimpse into A&M’s inability to perform in the second half. Moving from Cowboys Stadium to campuses for two years, the renewed SWC and now SEC West rivalry promises plenty of points. No shirts, no defense, no problem.
Louisiana Tech Bulldogs at Virginia Cavaliers
I included this simply because I expect Bulldogs head coach Sonny Dykes to be the hot rumor mill name in 2012. A victory over Mike London’s Cavaliers pads his non-conference resume and probably ups his price tag by a couple hundred thousand.
Oregon Ducks at Washington State Cougars
Mike Leach hosts Chip Kelly for dinner and it lasts seventeen seconds. Everything about this game will be quick. DeAnthony Thomas touchdowns, Cougar snaps and the length of time Washington State actually remains competitive.
Baylor Bears at West Virginia Mountaineers
Of the current makeup of Big 12 teams, the Mountaineers resemble the Bears more than any other. An offense infused with an up-tempo approach, head coaches who learned their trade in Lubbock and an “eh, we’ll think about it” approach to defense. Settle in for three-plus hours of reverses, Lache Seastrunk and Geno Smith Heisman moments.
TCU Horned Frogs at SMU Mustangs
June Jones’ Mustangs reclaimed the Iron Skillet in 2011 to the furious anger of the bespectacled Gary Patterson. Garrett Gilbert is under center at SMU….pause….*interception*….resume….and he’ll oppose a Horned Frogs unit that’s been bitten by the attrition bug. It’s not out of the realm of possibility for the Mustangs to prevail again.
Wisconsin Badgers at Nebraska Cornhuskers
With Ohio State banned from postseason play in 2012, the Badgers are the clear favorite in the Leaders Division. By the way, those names remain demonstrably stupid. The ‘Huskers didn’t compete in the Big Ten like many thought and knocking off the reigning conference champion might bump Bo Pelini from the ranks of “solid coach but stop losing 4 games.”
Louisville Cardinals at Southern Miss Golden Eagles
Make a drink. Find a late snack. You’ll miss these types of games in March.