No. 4 LSU @ No. 3 Oregon (Sept. 3)
What more could college football fans ask for than two powerhouses matching up on the first week of the season? This game pits two potential national title contenders against one another on a neutral site, in the vast confines of Cowboys Stadium. Oregon returns only nine starters, but the most important pieces to the number-one ranked offense of 2010 are back, including running back LaMichael James and quarterback Darron Thomas. LSU brings to the field one of the best and most athletic teams in the country with 15 starters returning from a team that lost only two close games the previous year. They fell to SEC BCS game participants Auburn and Arkansas by a combined 15 points. This LSU team is explosive on both sides of the ball and should provide a significant early challenge to Oregon’s title hopes. The Ducks should now be familiar with the size and speed of SEC defenses after falling to Auburn in the National title game, so expect fireworks on both sides of the ball from and a great game to really kick-off the college football season.
No. 1 Oklahoma @ No. 6 Florida State (Sep. 17th)
Fans on the Forty Acres might be shocked to see this game here and not the Red River Rivalry. But the fact of the matter is this is probably the toughest and most entertaining match on Oklahoma’s schedule. This game is another non-conference match-up of top-ten talent, and is a showdown between the ACC and Big 12 favorites. Oklahoma may have drummed the Seminoles the year before in Norman, but this year the game is in Tallahassee. Florida State is now in its second year under Jimbo Fisher and should be more familiar with his system and terminology. The Seminoles return 16 starters, and are now led by junior quarterback E.J. Manuel, a highly recruited player out of high school, who waited patiently and learned under his predecessor Christian Ponder. Manuel got his chance to play late last season due to an injury to Ponder, and was a bright spot in both the ACC championship game and the Chick-fil-a Bowl. Oklahoma comes into the game as the number one team in the land, with a potential Heisman winner at quarterback in Landry Jones. Alongside a team full of All-Big 12 players and top recruits, the Sooners expect to win to their second straight Big 12 title, and second national title under Bob Stoops.
No. 3 Oregon @ No. 7 Stanford (Nov. 12th)
Fans who are not as familiar as they should be with these two Pac-12 powerhouses will be after this season. These teams are two of the most explosive offensive teams in the country. When they meet it might seem as if defense is optional as the final score of last year’s contest was 52-31, but that’s only because of both team’s prolific scorers. The Heisman trophy could very well be decided in this game as well, with three potential finalists putting on the pads in this Pac 12 battle. Stanford quarterback Andrew Luck enters the season as the front-runner for the award, and will most likely be the number-one pick in next year’s draft. So with a field general like that at its helm Stanford is anticipating its football season with real title hopes for the first time since John Elway was leading the team. The Ducks have no shortage of big play makers themselves, with two potential Heisman finalists in their backfield, in running back LaMichel James and quarterback Darron Thomas. The game is between two early top ten teams so aside from probably deciding the Pac 12, the game could have huge title implications. So while most fans don’t know a ton about these West Coast powers, after this game they won’t have much of a choice.
Printed on Friday, August 26, 2011 as: Games to watch this season.