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The 10 Best Week 1 Games of the 2014 College Football Season

The 10 Best Week 1 Games of the 2014 College Football Season

Karlos Williams Florida State
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In the inaugural year of the College Football Playoff, scheduling will play a huge role in determining who will reach the four-team playoff. There will be several intriguing matchups to begin the 2014 regular season that can shape the playoff picture like Wisconsin vs. LSU and Florida State vs. Oklahoma State, but there are other intriguing matchups as well. Here are the 10 biggest Week 1 college football games, which will begin next Thursday.

10. Miami (FL) at Louisville

Bobby Petrino Louisville Press Conference
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10. Miami (FL) at Louisville

Bobby Petrino Louisville Press Conference
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When: Sept. 1

Where: Louisville, Ky.

How often do two teams play each other to end one season and then open the following season against each other? Not often, but that’s what we have here. Louisville dominated Miami the Russell Athletic Bowl in Orlando, winning 36-9. This season, the Cardinals will be making their ACC debut at home with a new coach in Bobby Petrino and without star quarterback Teddy Bridgewater.

9. Utah State at Tennessee

Chuckie Keeton Utah State
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9. Utah State at Tennessee

Chuckie Keeton Utah State
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When: Aug. 30

Where: Knoxville, Tenn.

When Chuckie Keeton was on the field last year he was one of the nation’s top players, but he tore his ACL and MCL last October. Utah State is already a good team that is capable of being a dark horse contender. With or without Keeton, the Aggies can beat Tennessee in Tennessee. Butch Jones and the Volunteers lost several good players to the NFL but have a very young and talented team.

8. Penn State vs. UCF (N)

James Franklin Penn State
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8. Penn State vs. UCF (N)

James Franklin Penn State
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When: Aug. 30

Where: Dublin, Ireland

When it was scheduled, it looked like a good coaching matchup between George O’Leary and Bill O’Brien. But O’Brien is gone to the NFL, and James Franklin will be coaching his first game at Penn State. UCF is coming off the best season in school history but will be without Blake Bortles, who was the No. 3 overall pick. The Nittany Lions have their own stud quarterback in sophomore Christian Hackenberg.

7. Boise State vs. Ole Miss (N)

Hugh Freeze Ole Miss
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7. Boise State vs. Ole Miss (N)

Hugh Freeze Ole Miss
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When: Aug. 30

Where: Atlanta, Ga.

For the first time since 2007, Boise State will be without Chris Petersen on the sidelines. First-year head coach Bryan Harsin takes over for the departed Petersen and has one of the nation's best running backs in Jay Ajayi. For Ole Miss, the Rebels are a rising SEC program led by a great defense that features former No. 1 overall recruit Robert Nkemdiche.

6. Alabama vs. West Virginia (N)

Amari Cooper Alabama
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6. Alabama vs. West Virginia (N)

Amari Cooper Alabama
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When: Aug. 30

Where: Atlanta, Ga.

Coming off last year's 4-8 campaign, the West Virginia Mountaineers and coach Dana Holgorsen will have their hands full against Nick Saban’s Alabama Crimson Tide. Alabama has been dominant in their previous two season openers, defeating Virginia Tech and Michigan at neutral sites. Alabama will be breaking in a new quarterback, which will give West Virginia some hope for an upset.

5. Ohio State vs. Navy (N)

Urban Meyer Ohio State
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5. Ohio State vs. Navy (N)

Urban Meyer Ohio State
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When: Aug. 30

Where: Baltimore, Md.

This was supposed to be a matchup between two top college quarterbacks in Ohio State's Braxton Miller and Navy's Keenan Reynolds, but Miller is out for the year and is replaced by J.T. Barrett. The last time these teams met, Navy nearly pulled an upset in Columbus in 2009. This will be a tougher test for Ohio State than most think as Navy's triple-option offense can drive defenses nuts.

4. Texas A&M at South Carolina

Kenny Hill Texas A&M
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4. Texas A&M at South Carolina

Kenny Hill Texas A&M
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When: Aug. 28

Where: Columbia, S.C.

This time last year, this matchup would be talked about as a potential SEC title game. Spurrier vs. Sumlin. Manziel vs. Clowney. The coaches both return, but their stars are gone. Instead, the stars for this game are Texas A&M quarterback Kenny Hill and South Carolina running back Mike Davis. The winner will be the early favorite to win the SEC East.

3. Clemson Tigers at Georgia Bulldogs

Todd Gurley Georgia
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3. Clemson Tigers at Georgia Bulldogs

Todd Gurley Georgia
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When: Aug. 30

Where: Athens, Ga.

The Tigers and Bulldogs kicked off the 2013 season and didn’t disappoint as Clemson won on their home field, 38-35. Many of the superstars are gone from this game like Georgia's Aaron Murray and Clemson's Tajh Boyd and Sammy Watkins, but there is plenty of firepower on the field. The Bulldogs are led by running backs Todd Gurley and Keith Marshall while Clemson boasts an elite pass rusher in Vic Beasley.

2. Wisconsin Badgers vs. LSU Tigers (N)

Melvin Gordon Wisconsin
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2. Wisconsin Badgers vs. LSU Tigers (N)

Melvin Gordon Wisconsin
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When: Aug. 30

Where: Houston, Texas

The NFL hit the Tigers hard. Zach Mettenberger, Odell Beckham Jr. and Jarvis Landry are all gone to the NFL. LSU coach Les Miles has a great defense and the nation’s top freshman running back in Leonard Fournette. For the Badgers, coach Gary Andersen will rely on Heisman candidate Melvin Gordon to carry the load. With a win, the Badgers can give the Big Ten some bragging rights against the SEC.

1. Florida State vs. Oklahoma State (N)

Florida State Seminoles
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1. Florida State vs. Oklahoma State (N)

Florida State Seminoles
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When: Aug. 30

Where: Arlington, Texas

If you’re concerned about how FSU will come out in Week 1 after losing so much talent to the NFL, look no further than 2013 when the Seminoles overcame the loss of 11 NFL picks to beat Pitt, 41-13, in the season opener. Jameis Winston was making his first start then and is a Heisman winner now. The Cowboys can win this game, however, as they have been close to playing for it all the past few years.

Brian Kalchik is a Detroit Lions writer for RantSports.com. He also adds to the site’s NBANCAA Football, Fantasy and NFL content. Follow him on Twitter, like him on Facebook and add him to your network on Google+.

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