A new college football season is finally upon us.
With teams trying to vie for a spot in the newly implemented four-team playoff, there’s an added emphasis and excitement entering the 2014 regular season as teams try to stockpile their resumes to appeal to the selection committee.
With that, here are the games to watch this season:
Aug. 30 -- Wisconsin vs. LSU: Week One kicks off with a classic Big Ten-Southeastern Conference showdown featuring household names from both conferences. The Badgers enter the season as Big Ten frontrunners alongside Ohio State, while the Tigers look to emerge out of the gauntlet that is the SEC West.
Sept. 6 -- Michigan State vs. Oregon: Normally this would stand out as a potential Rose Bowl matchup. However, it may just turn into a semifinal matchup in this year’s playoff. The Spartans are fresh off a Rose Bowl title and looking for more of the same in 2014, but Heisman Trophy candidate Marcus Mariota and the Ducks offense figure to be as explosive as usual.
Sept. 13 -- Georgia vs. South Carolina: There’s plenty of buzz surrounding Gamecocks coach Steve Spurrier’s squad this season as he enters his 10th season at the helm. We’ll get a better understanding of South Carolina’s national championship chances when they take on SEC East foe Georgia.Sept. 20 -- Clemson vs. Florida State: The defending national champion Seminoles welcome the Tigers to Tallahasse after Heisman Trophy winner Jameis Winston torched Clemson for 444 yards through the air and three touchdowns in a 51-19 rout at Memorial Stadium in last year’s meeting.
Sept. 27 -- Stanford vs. Washington: There’s a new sheriff on campus for the Huskies as Chris Peterson moved over from Boise State in the offseason. He’ll get his first taste of Pac-12 play when the Cardinal, looking to regain conference supremacy, roll into town.
Oct. 4 -- LSU vs. Auburn: Was there a more exciting story to follow than the Tigers last season? A pair of spectacular -- and historic -- endings found Auburn in the title game. It’ll kick off its brutal conference schedule when LSU comes to campus in an SEC West showdown.
Oct. 11 -- Texas vs. Oklahoma: New Longhorns coach Charlie Strong gets his first taste of the Red River Rivalry when Texas crosses the north border to take on a stout Sooners squad as Oklahoma looks to get back into the national title discussion.
Oct. 18 -- Texas A&M vs. Alabama: Last year’s meeting was one that made score keepers hands cramp, but this year’s matchup could look a bit different as both offenses welcome in new quarterbacks, replacing the likes of Johnny Manziel and A.J. McCarron.
Oct. 25 -- South Carolina vs. Auburn: A potential SEC championship matchup, the Tigers welcome in the Gamecocks to Jordan-Hare Stadium, with the result carrying significant weight in the debate over which team(s) from arguably the sport’s strongest conference will earn a spot in the four-team playoff.
Nov. 1 -- Stanford vs. Oregon: It’s hard to argue against these two programs being the cream of the crop in the Pac-12. The winner will likely find itself in the driver’s seat for a bid to the playoff.
Nov. 8 -- Michigan State vs. Ohio State: The Buckeyes get their shot at redemption after the Spartans spoiled its opportunity at a Big Ten championship, undefeated season and bid to the national championship game when Michigan State topped Ohio State, 34-24 in the conference championship game.
Nov. 15 -- Auburn vs. Georgia: The Tigers’ incredible run to the national title game in 2013 took a dramatic turn after Nick Marshall completed an improbable Hail Mary to Ricardo Louis on the final play from scrimmage against the Bulldogs to complete a miraculous, 43-38 comeback victory. We can only hope the encore brings as much excitement this time around.
Nov. 22 -- USC vs. UCLA: Could this be the year the Bruins break through? If so, they’ll need to prove it against an emerging Trojans squad with a potential Pac-12 title game appearance on the line.
Nov. 29 -- Auburn vs. Alabama: Is any explanation necessary? Last year’s Iron Bowl was one for the ages, with Chris Davis’ returning a failed Crimson Tide game-winning field goal attempt the length of the field as time expired to mark one of the most electrical plays in college football history. What could possibly top that?
Dec. 6 -- Oklahoma State vs. Oklahoma: With the regular season winding down, the Sooners could be eyeing a playoff appearance. The Cowboys could have something to say about that.
Dec. 13 -- Navy vs. Army: This is annually one of the must-see games of the college football season, as the Midshipmen and Black Knights meet for a 115th time. Will Navy extend its winning streak in the matchup to 13, or will Army finally break through and end the Midshipmen’s run of dominance?
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