My original title for this week-by-week rundown of the best games of the 2010 season was going to be “The Ultimate College Football Road Trip.”
Let’s get real, though. Joe Six-Pack is going to have a tough game making an ESPN GameDay-like junket around the nation every week. And, while the prospect of riding in that tour bus with the likes of Desmond Howard and Kirk Herbstreit for four months may sound cool, something tells me it’s not all that it’s cracked up to be.
(You’ve seen the promos with Lee Corso lounging around in his bath robe, right?)
However, for the low price of your favorite recliner, a bowl of RO*TEL dip and your cable provider’s college football package, you can catch the best games every week from the comfort of your own living room. I’ve even mapped out each week’s must-see game for you, along with a few good alternatives.
So kick back and set the DVR now.
Week 1: Boise State-Virginia Tech (Washington, DC)
Not much waiting on the non-conference game of the year, as the Broncos travel east for a de facto away game versus the Hokies. At first glance, 2010 looks like a one-game regular season for Boise. Win this one and the Broncos should be well on their way to Glendale.
Others Not to Miss: UNC-LSU (Atlanta), Oregon State-TCU (Dallas)
Week 2: Miami at Ohio State
It doesn’t get much better than this fall Saturday. Of all the marquee match-ups, the 2002 Fiesta Bowl rematch will generate the most buzz. Miami has tailed off since it was the talk of college football in the early 2000s. This game should make for a nice barometer of how close Randy Shannon’s Hurricanes are to getting back to the top of the mountain.
Others Not to Miss: Florida State at Oklahoma, Penn State at Alabama
Week 3: Iowa at Arizona
Could this be a possible Rose Bowl preview? The Wildcats seem to have as good of a shot as anyone at the wide-open Pac-10. Meanwhile, Iowa should challenge the Buckeyes for the Big Ten. How will the Hawkeyes handle the desert heat?
Others Not to Miss: Nebraska at Washington
Week 4: Alabama at Arkansas
With the defending national champs bringing back just two starters on defense, it could get wild in Pigsville. If Arkansas can somehow manage to turn this game into a shootout, that’s a bad sign for the Tide. Ryan Mallett and the Razorbacks offense should be raring to go.
Others Not to Miss: Miami at Pittsburgh, Oregon State at Boise State
Week 5: Oklahoma-Texas (Dallas)
Some great grudge matches this week, but the Red River Shootout is arguably college football’s fiercest rivalry. For the last decade, it has also been the sport’s most important annual match-up. Same old story in 2010: The winner will take a huge step towards the Big 12 South crown and a berth in the BCS title game.
Others Not to Miss: Florida at Alabama, Penn State at Iowa
Week 6: USC at Stanford
If only Pete Carroll hadn’t skipped town for Seattle, he might have found out what Jim Harbaugh’s deal is.
Given the state of play in Troy, Lane Kiffin has more to worry about than exacting revenge on Stanford. Anyway, he’s still got a score to settle with Al Davis, so first thing’s first.
Others Not to Miss: Florida State at Miami
Week 7: Texas at Nebraska
In case you’ve been living under a rock for the last month, all the conference expansion shenanigans exposed a raw nerve in the relationship between UT and NU. (And by “relationship” I mean mutual disdain.) That supposed grudge match between Urban Meyer and Lane Kiffin last season? This one will make that look like a tea party.
(And when earl grey and finger sandwiches are involved, the advantage goes to Mack Brown.)
Others Not to Miss: BYU at TCU
Week 8: North Carolina at Miami
The winner here gets a big leg up for the ACC Atlantic crown. Last year, cocksure Miami quarterback Jacory Harris melted down in Chapel Hill, throwing four picks in a 33-24 loss to the Tar Heels. A repeat performance by Harris likely means the end of The U’s BCS hopes for another year.
Others Not to Miss: None, kind of a lame week.
Week 9: Florida-Georgia (Jacksonville)
The Gators have lost so much since last year. If the Bulldogs want to try to turn the tide in this “rivalry,” now would be be a good time to bite back. For Mark Richt’s sake, I hope they do.
Others Not to Miss: West Virginia at UConn, Oregon at USC
Week 10: Alabama at LSU
The Bayou Bengals nearly pulled off the upset when the Tide visited in 2008 during Alabama’s undefeated regular season. Saban is still persona non grata in Baton Rouge — despite that whole “resurrecting the program” thing — so there’s nothing LSU would like more than to spoil a potentially undefeated season for the Tide.
Others Not to Miss: North Carolina at Florida State, Oklahoma at Texas A&M
Week 11: Virginia Tech at North Carolina
The Tar Heels had one of the more surprising wins of 2009 when they went to Blacksburg on a Thursday night and upset the Hokies. Expect plenty of bumps, bruises and broken bones when these two square off this year. Both will features top defenses.
Others Not to Miss: USC at Arizona, Clemson at Florida State
Week 12: Ohio State at Iowa
The preseason consensus seems to be that this match-up will determine the Big Ten title.
Playing without Ricky Stanzi last season, Iowa nearly won in Columbus. The Hawkeyes will be looking for payback.
Others Not to Miss: Virginia Tech at Miami
Week 13: Auburn at Alabama
The 2009 Iron Bowl will go down as an all-time classic in college football’s nastiest in-state rivalry. There could be even more on the line this year, as the improving Tigers are thought to be a dark horse for the national championship.
Others Not to Miss: Boise State at Nevada
Week 14: Oregon at Oregon State
The SEC and Big 12 championships will take precedence over the Civil War. However, of the non-title games, this blood feud should be the most compelling. With the profiles of both programs rising in recent years, the outcome has started to take on more importance in the Pac-10 race.
Week 15: Army-Navy (Philadelphia)
Only one game on the docket this weekend, but it’s a big one in terms of pride. Something just seems fitting about giving these two a Saturday to themselves.