College Football Game of the Week (Part 2)
Last weekend, BettingSports.com took a look through the early part of the College Football schedule and picked out the must-see game of the week for Weeks 1 through 8.
Amongst our choices of the best games on tap through Week 8 was a big SEC showdown between conference favorites the Alabama Crimson Tide and Texas A&M Aggies; the Red River Rivalry between the Texas Longhorns and Oklahoma Sooners; and a physical clash between last year’s runners up the Notre Dame Fighting Irish and the Michigan Wolverines.
This week we take a look at Week 9 through Week 15, at least the part of Week 15 that’s already in place. Obviously the conference championship games will be must see but for the time being let us focus on those games that are already scheduled.
Disclaimer: While picking out must-see games in the early part of the season is fairly straightforward, picking the best games in the later weeks is a tougher challenge. There will be teams that surprise us all with their challenge while others expected to compete will fall by the wayside. We’ve picked those games we think will still be important come the end of the year.
Now, let’s resume our list with a huge Big Ten rivalry matchup.
Week 9: Penn State at Ohio State
Sat, Oct. 26, 8:00 p.m. ET
After going undefeated last campaign, the Ohio State Buckeyes are understandably one of the preseason favorites heading into play this August. Urban Meyer’s side have had a tough start to this week though, with No. 1 running back Carlos Hyde being suspended from the team pending an investigation into his being named as a person of interest in an assault case, and three other Buckeyes being arrested on Sunday. The bookmakers now have OSU below both Alabama and the Oregon Ducks on the futures list. On the field the Buckeyes will have plenty of challenges too, including this rivalry game against the Penn State Nitany Lions, who turned their off-field troubles into a fairly productive season last year. Hopefully this one will be worth watching for what happens on the field, and not the revolving door of drama that has followed both schools in recent years.
Second choice: UCLA at Oregon
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Week 10: Michigan at Michigan State
Sat, Nov. 2, TBA
At 100/1 to win a national title, bookmakers don’t expect much of the Michigan State Spartans but this in-state rivalry will be worth watching even if the Spartans aren’t challenging for the Big Ten title when November rolls around. Michigan had a disappointing season last year and will be looking to make up for it, but with only 13 returning starters, including five on offense, the side could be in a transition period. The Spartans return 19 starters, including nine on offense. Perhaps it will be Mark Dantonio’s side challenging this season.
Second choice: Miami (FL) at Florida State
Week 11: Oregon at Stanford
Thu, Nov. 7, 9:00 p.m. ET
This was the fixture last season that effectively ended the Ducks’ hopes of a national championship. Few expected the Stanford Cardinal to thrive in the wake of Andrew Luck’s departure, but somehow David Shaw got his side working when it mattered and went on to win the Pac-12 title. With Mark Helfrich taking over the reins from Chip Kelly, it’s hard to predict whether Oregon remains a legit contender this season. At 13/2, the bookies certainly think so. Stanford also features in Bovada’s top 10, so expect this to be a game of huge importance.
Second choice: LSU at Alabama (while this game will be a sure-fire ratings hit, there’s a chance that LSU could be out of the SEC race by this stage, which is why we took the Pac-12 game over this monster clash).
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Week 12: Oklahoma State at Texas
Sat, Nov. 16, TBA
We mentioned last week that the Big 12 is a tough pick this year. At 25/1 to win the title, Texas is favored with the bookies but a recent survey of conference media had the Oklahoma State Cowboys at the top of the heap. The two meet in a Week 12 showdown that could be for all the marbles, a game that highlights one of the least interesting weeks in College Football this season.
Second choice: Michigan State at Nebraska
Week 13: Texas A&M at LSU
Sat, Nov. 23, TBA
If Alabama does runaway with the SEC this season, this late season clash may just be about finishing second in the West Division and improving Bowl stock. But if Alabama slips up, there could be huge importance attached to this Death Valley showdown. The LSU Tigers handed the Aggies a 24-19 victory at College Station last season, a victory that would have seen the school into the SEC championship game had Alabama slipped in the Iron Bowl.
Second choice: Boise State at San Diego State
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Week 14: Ohio State at Michigan
Sat, Nov. 30, TBA
Rivalry Week serves up such a cavalcade of must-see action that it’s almost impossible to pick out one game that stands out above the rest. This Big 12 clash has potential to influence the national title picture, but so does Alabama-Auburn, Notre Dame-Stanford, Oregon-Oregon State, Florida State-Florida and a bunch of others. This is going to be the week you want to catch more than one week. In fact, why not settle in for the weekend.
Second choice: Notre Dame at Stanford
Week 15: Oklahoma at Oklahoma State
Sat, Dec. 7, TBA
Of the non-championship games to be played in Week 15, the Bedlam Series could be the biggest. The Sooners and Cowboys are definite Big 12 contenders heading into the year, but whether they hold out to the end of the season and make this a huge game remains to be seen. If this game becomes just another fixture (if it could ever be considered such), the Keg of Nails rivalry clash between the Louisville Cardinals and Cincinnati Bearcats in the rebranded American Athletic Conference might have league championship implications.
Second choice: Louisville at Cincinnati
Now you’re primed on what games to watch, all that’s left is to do is wait the 31 days until the season kicks off for real.