A Tailgater’s Guide to This Fall’s Biggest College Matchups
Entertainment Intrastate rivalries, setting the record straight on last season’s upset—whatever the storyline, this year’s college football schedule is ripe with must-watch matchups.
Week 1: Mississippi vs. Florida State
The final game of opening week pits Ole Miss against Florida State from the Citrus Bowl in Orlando. Yes, it’s a neutral site game, and, yes, it’s a Monday night game. But come on—is there a better way to celebrate Labor Day?
Week 2: South Carolina vs. Mississippi State
In one of the few intra-conference games of note during Week 2, South Carolina’s fiery new head coach Will Muschamp leads his squad into Starkville to face a good Mississippi State team in this SEC contest with the Gamecocks.
Week 3: Alabama vs. Ole Miss
The defending National Champions head east to take on the Rebels in the sanctified grounds of the Grove in Oxford, Mississippi. The Crimson Tide has lost two in a row to the Rebels, who have been on a high as of late. Besides, did we mention this is Alabama vs. Mississippi in the Grove?
Week 4: Penn State vs. Michigan
While today’s Penn State may not exactly be the Penn State of old, this week four Big 10 match-up is intriguing on many levels. Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh is creating a huge buzz in Wolverine Country and the setting in Ann Arbor couldn’t be more symbolic of why we love college football.
Week 5: Tennessee vs. Georgia
Sanford Stadium hosts a rematch of one of the wildest SEC games from a year ago, as the Volunteers erased a 21-point deficit to beat the Bulldogs 38-31.
Week 6: Washington vs. Oregon
The Ducks days of hovering in the top of the polls look to be over while the Huskie’s fortunes are on the rise. As of this writing, Washington is actually ranked higher in many preseason polls than their rivals to the south. This is a key game for Pac-12 North dominance.
Week 7: Stanford vs. Notre Dame
On paper, this looks like a great mid-season game and one heck of a reason to be in South Bend in mid-October. Stanford and Notre Dame are ranked No. 8 and No. 9 respectively in the ESPN pre-season ranking, meaning this game could have serious post-season ramifications.
Week 8: Texas A&M vs. Alabama
Johnny Football may be a lasting memory at A&M, but is there another must-see rivalry in the making? Could it even be better than the last? The Aggies-Crimson Tide contest always exceeds expectations—plus October in Tuscaloosa is College Football Mecca.
Week 9: Michigan vs. Michigan State
Anyone who doesn’t have this game circled should have his or her head examined. The Wolverines will look to avenge their 2015 loss to the Spartans, the wildest finish in a season that produced a fair share of fireworks. Big 10 dominance will be on the line here, as well.
Week 10: Oregon vs. USC
A Pac 12 inter-division contest, the Ducks-Trojans matchup ought to be an offense lover’s dream. Oregon got the better of this one in 2015, defeating USC 48-28 in Eugene. This one could resemble a basketball score when it’s all said and done.
Week 11: Baylor vs. Oklahoma
Who would have thought this game would be an important one on the Big 12 schedule? With both teams ranked in the top 10 in several preseason polls, the Bears-Sooners matchup may actually be more enticing than that Auburn-Georgia game the same weekend. How things change.
Week 12: Ohio State vs. Michigan State
An off-week for many top-tier programs, these Big 10 giants go at it in Lansing for a late-season barnburner.
Week 13: Auburn vs. Alabama
Rivalry weeks provides almost too many choices each year, but with Alabama coming off its fourth national championship in seven years, the Iron Bowl is in a class by itself in terms of history and intensity.
Week 14: Oklahoma State vs. Oklahoma
Another interesting, late-season rivalry, the Cowboys-Sooners matchup has a lot to offer. Both are highly ranked in preseason polls, won at least 10 games in 2015, and are returning plenty of starters from last season.
Week 15: Navy vs. Army
While neither service academy figure to be darlings of the Top 25, the annual Army-Navy rivalry is one of those games that defines college football.