Saturday, June 20, 2009

Ranking Must-See Matchups — College Football 2009: Week One

Those of you who follow the blog regularly know that I often take a time-out from public relations, media and education-related posts to talk a little bit of football. In fact, one of the most-viewed and most-commented on posts recent on the site is my VT vs. Bama analysis. So I'm taking a break from my "What I Learned" series, which will return soon. For this post, I'd like to take a minute and get you even more excited about the upcoming college football season by reviewing some of the great matchups we have coming our way during the regular season's first week. The rankings beside each team come from Mark Schlabach's revised way-too-early 2009 top 25 rankings on ESPN.com. (For game dates, times and TV schedules, visit this page. Some games may still be TBA during the summer.) These games are in order of how awesome they are (with a ranking in parentheses), not in order of when the games take place during the weekend.

Week One

(1) #4 Alabama vs. #5 Virginia Tech — The Chik-fil-A College Kickoff game in Atlanta really isn't. However, it's still guaranteed to be a hard-hitting defensive battle with mostly unproven offenses going at it.

(2) #12 Oregon at #17 Boise State — Oregon's coaches are looking to unseat USC as the leader of the PAC-10, and beating a perennially tough Broncos team would be a good start.

(3) Miami at #23 Florida State — An in-state ACC battle between two teams who could find themselves in the conference championship race easily this season. FSU has to keep players out of trouble, and Miami has to get back to doing what it does best — win.

(4) Brigham Young vs. #2 Oklahoma — BYU probably will not be the powerhouse they were last season, but they'll be on the hunt to prove that they can still hang with the big boys. An upset here would have significant implications on the national championship race early on, and seeing how Texas and Florida play Louisiana-Monroe and Charleston Southern, respectively, this will be the only chance at a good upset you'll see in the first week. Texas and Florida should be ashamed at their cupcake-eating habits from year to year while about a dozen other teams have zero FCS schools on their schedule this season (our #1 matchup includes the Hokies, who are one of those teams, with the ESPN-analyst-rated #1 toughest nonconference schedule in the country).

(5) South Carolina at NC State — These might be unranked teams, but another chance to argue SEC vs. ACC is always worth watching. NC State is also expected to surprise some people this season and has the best quarterback in the ACC.

(6) Cincinnati at #25 Rutgers — This game will go a long way toward determining who will lead the Big East race this season. Big East teams playing other teams from conferences with automatic BCS bids might be like watching babies attempting to hunt T-Rexes, but every guy likes watching two girls pillow fight in their undies.

(7) Baylor at Wake Forest — Baylor is expected to be much-improved this year, and Riley Skinner and the Demon Deacons will look for a way to make an early statement that the ACC's best team is not Virginia Tech.

(8) Appalachian State at East Carolina — One of the country's best FCS teams visits arguably the best midmajor program in the country.

(9) Liberty at West Virginia — JUST KIDDING! Weaksauce, Mountaineers. You should be ashamed at scheduling the Falwells — uh — Flames.

(10) Take your pick. There are plenty of games that could fit in this slot. What is your recommendation? Do you agree with the list? Which game are you looking forward to the most? Leave it in the comments!

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