Every College Football Game You Need To See In 2013
By Joe Jenkins
Kickoff Countdown: Five Days
Editor's Note: This is the third in a seven-day series designed to sustain college football fans until North Carolina and South Carolina kick off the season Aug. 29 at 6 p.m. ET. We've looked at the best, underrated and worst states for producing FBS talent and reflected on our favorite tailgating memories. We'll also rank the FBS quarterbacks from 1 to 125 (Sunday), share with you our conference-by-conference bold predictions (Monday), pay tribute to the BCS (Tuesday) and provide a comprehensive food guide for every school (Wednesday).
We all lead busy lives. Some people have families to care for. Others like me have less traditional errands that tie up our time. Like staying off the radar of a Homeowner's Association that operates more like a clandestine intelligence agency.
The bottom line is, it doesn’t matter what keeps us busy. College football doesn’t care that you have things to do. Amazing moments are going to happen whether you're watching or not.
Every week there’s at least one game you know you should be watching, and at least one you didn’t hear about.
Here’s a week-by-week breakdown of games that require your attention. Now print this story, mark your calendars and tell your kid that “father-son time” will now take place in front of the TV until mid-January.
Most big-time teams like to start the season with a bit of a tune up. Not the Bulldogs. They travel to take on Tajh Boyd and the Tigers at Memorial Stadium. Boyd and Aaron Murray might be one of the best quarterback matchups this year.
The Rebels are coming off of their first bowl season since 2009 and expectations are high after bringing in a top-flight recruiting class. They’ll have to face a Commodores team that edged them in a 27-26 thriller last year.
You might need side-by-side TVs on the night of Aug. 31, because the Tigers and Horned Frogs kick off just an hour after Georgia and Clemson. TCU didn’t lose a game with Casey Pachall under center last year. He’ll get a real test right out of the blocks in 2013.
Game You Know About: No. 6 South Carolina at No. 5 Georgia (Sept. 7)
Georgia’s gauntlet of early-season games doesn’t let up. They jump right into the SEC fracas with an early-season matchup against Connor Shaw, Jadeveon Clowney and the rest of the Gamecocks between the hedges at Sanford Stadium.
Nobody thought much of this game last year. Then David Fales gave the Cardinal all they could handle. It took a fourth-quarter field goal for Stanford to eek out a 20-17 win.
Even casual fans of college football have been looking forward to this game since Johnny Manziel walked out of Tuscaloosa with a win last year. What a shame it will be if he’s serving a suspension due to compensation for some autographs.
Did you know that the Yellow Jackets and the Blue Devils both went to bowl games last year? It's crazy, I know. Conflicting offensive styles will go head-to-head as Georgia Tech’s run-heavy option takes on Duke’s passing attack that averaged almost 300 yards per game last year.
If it weren’t for Johnny Football last year, the breakout name would have been Brett Hundley. His balanced attack will go up against Taylor Martinez and the Cornhuskers in Nebraska. Should be a great way to warm up before the ‘Bama/Texas A&M tilt.
Game You Know About: Arizona State at No. 4 Stanford (Sept. 21)
ASU’s offense averaged more than 38 points a game in 2012. Stanford’s defense only surrendered 17.2. Something’s got to give.
This game could preview the Mountain West championship game. Winner gets inside track on home-field advantage for the game. Viewer (you) gets to figure out which way to bet the lines.
The Aggies have a good quarterback (Chuckie Keeton) and won the Western Athletic Conference last year. The Trojans aren’t sure who their quarterback is and didn’t win much of anything after being picked as the preseason No.1. Circle this game for a potential upset.
Game You Know About: No. 16 Oklahoma at No.14 Notre Dame (Sept. 28)
The Irish officially became “for real” last year when they beat the Sooners in Norman. One would think Oklahoma would like to exact a little revenge.
Game You Don’t: SMU at TCU (Sept. 28)
Who could say no to a little Southwest Conference reunion? Why not go all out and have the players drive in cars that boosters bought for them during introductions? Though they don’t play in the same conference anymore, the battle for the Iron Skillet should bring out the best in both teams.
Honorable Mention: No. 12 LSU at No. 5 Georgia (Sept. 28)
Georgia must have lost some kind of bet to get such a grueling schedule. LSU will be the Bulldogs’ third preseason Top 15 opponent in five weeks. If they make it through this undefeated, they become the favorites to win it all.
The Wildcats had one of their strongest teams in years last season, but the schedule never gave them a crack at the Buckeyes. They get their chance in prime time in 2013.
I’m vehemently opposed to the phrase “MACtion” that seems to be going around, but NIU and KSU played a double-overtime barn burner last year that was worth the price of admission. The Huskies edged the Golden Flashes, 44-37. A repeat performance would be most welcome.
These two teams combined for 74 points last season, with the Wildcats prevailing.
Both teams still are evaluating at quarterback right now. Let's hope they have their quarterback situations settled by then so they can do it again.
Game You Know About: No. 16 Oklahoma vs. No.15 Texas (Oct. 12)
It doesn’t matter where these two are ranked; the Red River Rivalry always is a big deal.
Game You Don’t: Boston College at No. 8 Clemson (Oct. 12)
Boston College won’t be nearly as bad as last season, and Clemson has a bit of a history of falling apart as the season wears on. This could be an interesting game for the Tigers.
Honorable Mention: No. 10 Florida at No. 12 LSU (Oct. 12)
By this time, we should know if Jeff Driskel is just a game manager for the Gators and if Zach Mettenberger learned how to cut down on his bonehead mistakes. Either way, the defenses will keep this game close.
Game You Know About: No. 11 Florida State at No. 8 Clemson (Oct.19)
Tajh Boyd is the current star of the ACC. Jameis Winston looks to be the future. Will Boyd pass the torch or force Winston to wait a little longer?
The Cougars ranked third in the country in points allowed. Houston was one of the most prolific passing offenses with nearly 330 yards per game last year. Does a good defense really beat a good offense?
Honorable Mention: No. 24 USC at No. 14 Notre Dame (Oct. 19)
The Jeweled Shillelagh game could be the end of Lane Kiffin’s tenure at USC if he can’t pull off a win.
Game You Know About: No. 21 UCLA at No. 3 Oregon (Oct.26)
The Bruins’ Hundley and The Ducks’ Marcus Mariota are two of the best quarterbacks in the country and both run up-tempo offenses. This game is tailor made for fireworks.
Game You Don’t: Fresno State at San Diego State (Oct. 26)
Speaking of offense, last season, the Aztecs and the Bulldogs put up 92 total points in just four quarters with Fresno getting the edge in a 52-40 shootout. Both teams return most of the working parts of their offense.
Honorable Mention: No. 15 Texas at No. 20 TCU (Oct. 26)
Texas and TCU don’t have a rivalry that carries a name or any kind of trophy, but let’s be real here: It's football in Texas. It’s possible this game will have a big impact on who emerges from the Big 12 at the end of the season.
Game You Know About: No. 5 Georgia vs. No. 10 Florida (Nov. 2)
Whatever you do, don’t call it the “world’s largest outdoor cocktail party.” That would mean we’re associating college football with tailgating and consumption of alcohol. Instead, the Dawgs and Gators will play for the Okefenokee Oar, and possibly the inside track to the conference championship game.
Game You Don’t: North Carolina at North Carolina State (Nov. 2)
The two schools have been playing since 1894, so yes, there’s a bit of history in this game. It’s getting later in the year at this point, so if you haven’t taken a moment to enjoy the considerable talents of UNC’s Bryn Renner, now is a good time.
Honorable Mention: No. 22 Northwestern at No. 18 Nebraska
Most experts feel that the “Legends Division” (we only have one season left of these bad hockey names, folks) will come down to these two teams or Michigan. That’s what head-to-head matchups are good for: figuring these things out.
Game You Know About: No. 3 Oregon at No. 4 Stanford (Nov. 7)
If you need an excuse to get out with some friends and watch some football, this is the game to watch. It’s bound to be more entertaining than the NFL Thursday night game (Washington at Minnesota).
Even the Sun Belt gets a little love around here! Last year Arkansas State had the senior quarterback that led them to a 45-23 victory. This year, the shoe is on the other foot. Kolton Browning is coming off a 3,000 yard, 29-touchdown season and is hoping to return the favor.
Honorable Mention: No. 12 LSU at No. 1 Alabama (Nov. 9)
Only two things have been able to stop Nick Saban during the last few years: Johnny Manziel and an inspired Les Miles defense. Let’s hope this is a bit more entertaining than the field goal battle that took place in 2011.
Game You Know About: No. 10 Florida at No. 6 South Carolina (Nov. 16)
You’re probably getting sick of seeing all of these SEC games here, but until somebody can prove they aren’t the best teams in the country, it’s all you’re going to hear about. Can Will Muschamp beat Steve Spurrier with his old team?
With everybody talking about Teddy Bridgewater and Louisville in the American, Cincinnati has a great chance to sneak up and steal this conference. They’ll need to beat a feisty Rutgers team that’s moving on to the greener pastures of the Big 10 after this year.
Honorable Mention: No. 13 Oklahoma State at No. 15 Texas (Nov.16)
If you like fast-paced offenses and high scoring, forget about the pageantry of the SEC and catch this game: 100 points isn’t out of the question.
Game You Know About: No. 7 Texas A&M at No. 12 LSU (Nov.23)
What hasn’t been said already? Manziel is a treat to watch play football. The Mad Hatter is a little crazy and eats grass. And the SEC has a lot of really good football teams. This is going to be another entertaining game.
Game You Don’t: No. 19 Boise State at San Diego State (Nov. 23)
The Aztecs did something not many teams have done in the last 10 years: They beat the Broncos on the blue turf last year, 21-19. The loss, by most accounts, kept BSU from busting the BCS yet again, so they should have plenty of motivation.
Honorable Mention: BYU at No. 14 Notre Dame (Nov.23)
We were this close to not having to see Notre Dame get embarrassed by Alabama in the BCS Championship game. The Cougars were one of the teams that couldn’t finish the deal. They’ll look to make up for that as the season draws to a close.
Game You Know About: No. 2 Ohio State at No. 17 Michigan
Some rivalries don’t have names because they just aren’t big enough. Others don’t have names because they’re so big, you already know all about them. “The Game” between OSU and Michigan is the latter. The Wolverines may be the last thing standing between the Buckeyes and the BCS Championship Game.
Game You Don’t: Louisiana- Monroe at Louisiana- Lafayette
Week 14 is all about big-time rivalry games, but if you want to be the hipster football fan that shuns the mainstream games (if that’s even possible), the decent matchup that next to nobody will be watching will be ULM at ULL.
Honorable Mention: No.1 Alabama at Auburn
The winner of the Iron Bowl has gone on to win the BCS Championship the last four years. Not kidding. People poison trees over this rivalry then call into national radio shows to brag about it. Yeah. It’s a big deal.
Game You Know About: No. 16 Oklahoma at No. 13 Oklahoma State (Dec.7)
With both teams looking to run as many offensive plays as humanly possible, Bedlam might be the most accurate way to describe this game.
Game You Don’t: No. 9 Louisville at Cincinnati (Dec.5)
A prime time game on ESPN that could decide the winner of the AAC.
Forget about national implications. This game serves as a peek into our past, and a chance to recognize the men and women that volunteer their services to the nation.