August 25, 2010

Coming season features big games every week

"I wanna live/where it's always Saturday"

In 1989, the band Guadalcanal Diary sang "Always Saturday." Though the band was formed in Georgia and based for a while in Athens, the tune isn't about college football; rather, it's about an idyllic life in the suburbs.

But for this exercise, we surely can co-opt the "I wish it were Saturday" sentiment. Here's a preseason look at the best game each weekend this fall.


The games: Because it's the first weekend, we're picking three games -- Pittsburgh at Utah on Sept. 2, LSU-North Carolina in Atlanta on Sept. 4 and Boise State-Virginia Tech in Landover, Md., on Sept. 6.
The buzz: The first big TV game of the season is the Thursday night Pitt-Utah matchup, and you have to give the Panthers credit for being willing to play in Salt Lake City. Saturday's spotlight game will be in the Georgia Dome in Atlanta, where the first offense to reach 17 points and/or 250 total yards will be declared the winner. And the weekend winds up with a Labor Day night doozy. Boise State, basically, has a two-game schedule; the problem for Boise is that if it loses the first one on that schedule, the rest of the season doesn't matter.
Also of note: Cincinnati at Fresno State, Connecticut at Michigan, Oregon State vs. TCU in Arlington, Texas; Washington at BYU


The game: Miami at Ohio State, Sept. 11
The buzz: This will be the first meeting between the teams since the 2002 Fiesta Bowl, where the Buckeyes upset Miami to win the national title. The Buckeyes are prime title contenders this season, while this is a chance for the Hurricanes to show they're truly back among the elite.
Also of note: Penn State at Alabama, Michigan at Notre Dame, Florida State at Oklahoma


The game: Georgia Tech at North Carolina, Sept. 18
The buzz: The ACC Coastal Division race is going to be a monster, and this is the first meeting this season between teams with a chance to win the division. The winner takes a small step toward the crown, while the loser moves into quasi-desperation mode.
Also of note: BYU at Florida State, Arkansas at Georgia, Nebraska at Washington


The game: Oregon State at Boise State, Sept. 25
The buzz: There's a caveat with this one, as this moves to "interesting, but " if Boise loses its opener to Virginia Tech. If the Broncos win that one, then the Beavers are -- by and large -- the only object standing between the Broncos and a perfect regular season.
Also of note: Miami at Pittsburgh (Sept. 23), Alabama at Arkansas, Oklahoma at Cincinnati, Stanford at Notre Dame


The game: Florida at Alabama, Oct. 2
The buzz: The teams that met in each of the past two SEC championship games get together again, this time for the first regular-season meeting since 2006. It wouldn't be a surprise if this is the first of two meetings this season, with the other coming in the SEC title game in Atlanta on Dec. 4.
Also of note: Penn State at Iowa, Stanford at Oregon, Oklahoma-Texas in Dallas


The game: USC at Stanford, Oct. 9
The buzz: This will be the first road test of the season for the Trojans, who got run over by the Cardinal last season. Meanwhile, this comes on the heels of a trip to Oregon for the Cardinal. Stanford coach Jim Harbaugh seemed to relish getting under Pete Carroll's skin, and everybody knows Lane Kiffin loves to talk the talk. What does all that mean? There could be some mighty fine smack talk from the coaches before this one.
Also of note: Oregon State at Arizona, LSU at Florida, Florida State at Miami, Pittsburgh at Notre Dame


The game: Texas at Nebraska, Oct. 16
The buzz: Oooh, this will be nasty. Nebraska fans are known for their hospitality, but Lincoln won't be hospitable for the Longhorns, who have owned this series since the Big 12 was formed. Know this: No Nebraskan has forgotten the ending of last season's Big 12 championship game. This will be the last time these teams meet in the regular season as Big 12 members, which will add a little extra spice.
Also of note: Arkansas at Auburn, BYU at TCU, Ohio State at Wisconsin


The game: Wisconsin at Iowa, Oct. 23
The buzz: The second huge game in a row for the Badgers, who will have played host to Ohio State the previous week. Thus, the Badgers still will be in the Big Ten title hunt or will be out to play spoiler. Iowa has won six of the past eight meetings.
Also of note: LSU at Auburn, North Carolina at Miami, Oklahoma at Missouri, Navy vs. Notre Dame in East Rutherford, N.J.


The game: Oregon at USC, Oct. 30
The buzz: USC has laid the lumber to the Ducks in each of their past two visits to L.A., winning by a combined 59 points. And while USC is ineligible for the Pac-10 title, you can be sure the Trojans don't want to pass the mantle of "Best Program in the Pac-10" to the Ducks just yet.
Also of note: West Virginia at Connecticut (Oct. 29), Florida-Georgia in Jacksonville, Missouri at Nebraska, California at Oregon State


The game: Alabama at LSU, Nov. 6
The buzz: Nick Saban makes his second visit to Baton Rouge as an opposing coach. It will be a night-time kickoff. Add those two things together and, man, it's gonna be big fun on the bayou.
Also of note: Georgia Tech at Virginia Tech (No. 4), TCU at Utah


The game: Pittsburgh at Connecticut, Nov. 11
The buzz: This could be the most important Big East game this season. Don't expect a lot of finesse; this will be "I'm-going-to-line-up-and-run-the-ball-down-your-throat" football.
Also of note: All others on Nov. 13 -- Miami at Georgia Tech, Virginia Tech at North Carolina, Utah at Notre Dame, Penn State at Ohio State


The game: Ohio State at Iowa, Nov. 20
The buzz: If all the analysts are right, this will be the de facto Big Ten title game. The Buckeyes won in OT in Columbus last season -- with Iowa using a backup quarterback -- on the way to the Rose Bowl.
Also of note: Stanford at California, Virginia Tech at Miami, USC at Oregon State, Nebraska at Texas A&M


The buzz: This is rivalry week and, frankly, the game of the week is in the eye of the beholder. OF NOTE: Texas A&M at Texas (Nov. 25), Auburn at Alabama (Nov. 26), West Virginia at Pittsburgh (Nov. 26). All others on Nov. 27 -- LSU at Arkansas, Florida at Florida State, Michigan at Ohio State, Oregon State at Stanford, Notre Dame at USC, BYU at Utah


The game: SEC championship game in Atlanta
The buzz: The past four national titlists have emerged from this game, and the winner seems a good bet to again go to the championship game this season.
Also of note: ACC championship game, Big 12 championship game, Pittsburgh at Cincinnati, Oregon at Oregon State

Mike Huguenin is the college sports editor for He can be reached at

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