College football: Guide to the season's best games each week
Thursday marks 50 days until the college football season officially begins with California and Hawaii meeting in Australia. The game down under is just one example of terrific games the 2016 schedule has in store for fans this season.
Here is a look at the best games to mark on your calendar for every week in 2016.
Week 1- Alabama v. Southern California in Arlington, 8 p.m. ET, ABC
It is hard to recall a more packed opening week of college football. While Cal and Hawaii travel to Australia, Georgia Tech and Boston College meet in Ireland. There's plenty of coaching debuts such as Kirby Smart, Justin Fuente and Mark Richt. LSU and Wisconsin face off at Lambeau Field while Notre Dame travels to Texas for first time in 20 years. Not to mention Oklahoma-Houston, Auburn-Clemson...well, you get the picture.
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Week 2- Virginia Tech v. Tennessee, 8 p.m. ET in Bristol, ABC
College football adds a little NASCAR flavor with the Vols and Hokies set to meet at the famous Bristol Motor Speedway. It will be the first regular season meeting between the programs since 1937, despite the campuses just four hours apart.
Dubbed "The Battle at Bristol," Tennessee and Virginia Tech could set an attendance record for a college football game. The motor speedway can hold more than 160,000 people in its grandstands and on the backstretch. The previous record is 115,109 people at Michigan Stadium back in 2013 for the Notre Dame-Michigan game.
Week 3- Ohio State at Oklahoma, 7:30 p.m. ET, FOX
Week 3 has the same problem as the first week, given the high quality games on the calendar. Two of the bigger matchups include Michigan State-Notre Dame and Alabama-Ole Miss, which has given us plenty of drama recently. But Ohio State traveling to Oklahoma has to outrank those on Sept. 17.
This could be one of the best quarterback battles of the year with J.T. Barrett and Baker Mayfield leading the charge under center. Plus, are there any better coaching minds than Bob Stoops and Urban Meyer, who will meet for first time since 2009 BCS title? It's hard to argue that.
Week 4- Florida at Tennessee
There is no question the talent that Butch Jones has gathered in Knoxville. But the question "is this the year we beat Florida" is one Tennessee fans still ask every year. The Vols enter 2016 with an 11-game losing streak to the Gators, their last win coming back in 2004 on a last-second field goal. Tennessee has seen a fair mix of close calls and ugly games against Florida, including last year's collapse. But that could finally change for the program, which is why it's the top pick for Week 4.
Week 5- Wisconsin at Michigan
While Week 5 doesn't look as appealing as the first four weeks, there is still some quality football to look forward to, including Oklahoma at TCU and Stanford at Washington. But we'll give the edge to the Big Ten in Week 5 as Wisconsin travels to Ann Arbor to face Michigan. The programs have not met since the division split after the 2010 season so this will be the first meeting between Paul Chryst and Jim Harbaugh. Chryst was the Badgers offensive coordinator in the last meeting, which Wisconsin easily won 48-28.
Week 6- Florida State at Miami
Week 6 marks the first rivalry week of the year, including Mark Richt's first go against Florida State as the Hurricanes head coach. Richt played quarterback at Miami and FSU legend Bobby Bowden gave Richt his first coaching opportunity as a graduate assistant. So he is already well familiar with the importance of the game. Canes fans are hoping Richt can provide a spark to the rivalry, which they haven't won since 2009.
Week 7- Stanford at Notre Dame
Want some late-minute dramatics? Look no further than Stanford and Notre Dame in Week 7 as these programs know how to keep the game close. The past four games between the two have been decided by just one score, including a game-winning field goal by Stanford in 2015 and last-second touchdown by Notre Dame in 2014. The Cardinal have one of the tougher road schedules in the country and going up against the Irish is just the halfway point.
Week 8- BYU at Boise State
How could anyone forget the incredible comeback in last year's BYU-Boise State game, including another Hail Mary from Tanner Magnum? That play alone should be good enough reason to tune into the rematch in Week 8.
It's a new era for the Cougars with Kalani Sitake now at the helm of the BYU program and former NFL quarterback Ty Detmer in charge of offense. We could see yet another quarterback battle with either Mangum or Taysom Hill going up against Boise's Brett Rypien, who could have another stellar year for the Broncos.
Week 9- Michigan at Michigan State
Oct. 29 could be narrowed down to three key games from Florida-Georgia to Clemson-Florida State. But the rematch of Michigan and Michigan State takes the cake this week. The final moments from last year's game still replay in the dreams of Spartan fans and the nightmares of Wolverine fans.
Needless to say, Michigan is hoping to avenge the awful loss in East Lansing this year.
Week 10- Alabama at LSU
Although the Tide hold a five-game winning streak, Alabama and LSU, or fondly known as "The Saban Bowl," still remains the marquee game of the season. Almost every year this particular game has title implications, not just for the SEC, but for the national picture as well. LSU fans hope star running back Leonard Fournette can have a better game against Alabama's defense than he did last year.
Week 11- Stanford at Oregon
As it was mentioned earlier, Stanford's schedule looks brutal. Just a month after traveling to South Bend and two weeks after game against Arizona, the Cardinal have to face Oregon in Eugene this year. The impact of this meeting can't be undervalued, especially given recent history. Since the Pac-12 expanded and added title game in 2011, the winner has gone to win the North division and the Pac-12 title, although 2015 is the lone exception.
Week 12- Louisville at Houston
Tom Herman did wonders in his first year as the Houston head coach and it argubly started with his team's comeback against Louisville in Week 2. Greg Ward Jr. led the Cougars to a 34-31 comeback behind a pair of touchdowns in the fourth. His counterpart Lamar Jackson did struggle against the Houston secondary, but the quarterback showed flashes of potential as the season progressed. After the showdown the Cardinals and Cougars gave us last season, the rematch should definitely be on your calendars.
Week 13- Michigan at Ohio State
If fans can avoid it, they shouldn't make any plans for Nov. 26. From USC-Notre Dame and Florida-Florida State to the Egg and Iron Bowls, there is plenty of rivalry games to go around that Saturday. The biggest arguably could be Michigan at Ohio State.
Jim Harbaugh's first game as Michigan head coach in the rivalry did not go as well as fans had hoped. The Wolverines fell flat in the second half while the Buckeyes' offense could not be stopped as they cruised to a 42-13 win in Ann Arbor. The Buckeyes would love nothing more than defeating the "Team Up North" for the fifth-straight year.
Week 14- Oklahoma State at Oklahoma
While most conferences will host their championships, Week 14 still offers "the Battle of Bedlam" between Oklahoma State and Oklahoma. Last year's meeting in Stillwater did not bode well for the Cowboys, who were blowout 58-23 by the Sooners. Meanwhile the win for Oklahoma secured its spot in the College Football Playoff as the Big 12 champion. If the Big 12 race is as close as it was last year, this game could be one that settles it.
The only game in the final week is the only one that matters to the entire country: Army vs. Navy on Dec. 10 in Baltimore. Army-Navy Game is a tradition unlike any other and can pull all of the United States together for one week of the year. Army supporters would love to see the dreaded streak end Navy holds in 2016.