Nonconference College Football At Its Finest

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There were a couple of nonconference college football games played last weekend certainly worth viewing again if you’re able to do so. Both USC and Michigan rallied late, sending Ohio State and Notre Dame to defeat. I managed to tune in to the Wolverine-Irish tilt as the fourth quarter began and was impressed by Tate Forcier’s poise as he guided Michigan to victory. Not bad for a freshman quarterback!

college footballClearly, when it comes to college football, nonconference action between top notch schools is the best draw. ESPN reported that last week’s USC-Ohio State game was their most watched college football game ever, with more than ten million viewers tuning in. Yes, better than any other regular or bowl season game at that.

Which brings me to my point: are football fans really that interested when Rutgers plays Howard or when Charleston Southern visits Florida? Though they make for good tune up games for the bigger programs, winning by 35, 40 or 50 points or more doesn’t excite anyone beyond the rabid faithful. I much prefer nonconference action between regional stalwarts such as Oklahoma v. BYU or Miami v. Penn State then games where the outcome is a given.

While conference action is getting underway for the Big 12, SEC, ACC and others, this weekend will feature a number of nonconference games between top teams. Just like last weekend’s two big nonconference matches, these games could give people a preview of what the bowl season may look like, but more importantly provide bragging rights for the winners.

My top television viewing tips for this weekend include the following nonconference games:

Florida State at BYU – The ‘Noles may regret scheduling the Cougars, seeing how BYU knocked off the Sooners on the road. Both teams are talented, but the edge is with BYU whose defensive line has what it takes to shut down even the most potent offense.

California at Minnesota – The Golden Gophers are 2-0 after eking out wins over Syracuse and Air Force while Cal flew past Maryland and Eastern Washington to start their season. The Golden Bears are ranked No. 8 and could challenge USC for the Pac 10 title. Nobody expects Minnesota to win the Big Ten, but upsetting Cal at home would really shake things up.

Tulsa at Oklahoma – Despite their wipe out of Idaho State last weekend, the Sooners still must prove that they’re legitimate national title contenders. Opening their season losing by one point to BYU was devastating, but they dare not look past the high flying Golden Hurricanes who have a lot to prove, but nothing to lose.

Nebraska at Virginia Tech – The Hokies and Cornhuskers are both ranked which means that this game should prove to be one of the best of the weekend. This will be the first real test of the season for Nebraska.

Utah at Oregon – The Ducks are still smarting from their opening season loss to Boise State and need to prove themselves as they suit up against Utah. For their part, the Utes are seeking to validate that last season’s success is continuing.

Other Games Worth Watching

Most of the contests I mentioned may be difficult to pick up if your cable or satellite programming is limited. However, the following key nonconference games will be aired on ESPN:

Arizona at Iowa – Two conference sleepers who will be wide awake this weekend.

Navy at Pittsburgh – Pitt is very good, but Navy may give them all that they can handle.

West Virginia at Auburn – Big East v. SEC. This game will go a long way in determining just how strong these two teams are.

Let’s watch some good football!

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