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Mike Lopresti | | August 3, 2017

College football's early schedule full of intrigue

What was it Shakespeare said about the early days of the college football season -- they make strange bedfellows?

OK, maybe he wasn’t really talking about Washington at Rutgers. But the schedule does present some odd couples. Consider the first 10 days . . .

Hawai’i will travel 10,000 miles roundtrip to play at Massachusetts.

North Carolina Central will travel six miles roundtrip to play at Duke.

Buffalo will go to Minnesota to face new coach P.J. Fleck. Last season, Buffalo traveled to Western Michigan to face Fleck and lost 38-0.

Maryland will be at Texas. The Terrapins haven’t played in Austin since 1959.

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Western Michigan will be at USC for their first-ever meeting. The idea for that match was first suggested by Western Michigan alum Alec Gores, a businessman who lives in Beverley Hills and is worth $2.1 billion. Who says no to a guy with $2.1 billion?

Louisville will play Purdue in Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis. They haven’t met in 30 years, and that game ended in a tie. Though this one is in the capital city of Indiana, chances are good that Louisville will have a bigger crowd.

West Virginia and Virginia Tech are almost next door neighbors, but will be playing for the first time in 12 years. The winner gets the Black Diamond Trophy, in tribute to the region’s coal industry. The game is set in Landover, Md., where there’s not much coal mined.

Tennessee and Georgia Tech used to be in the same conference, but will be meeting for the first time in three decades.

Stanford and Rice played last season in Palo Alto. They’ll meet again this month 7,400 miles away in Australia.

Missouri and Missouri State share the same state, but this will be the first time they have shared a football field since 1923. Three years after women won the right to vote.

William & Mary goes to Virginia for the Thomas Jefferson Bowl. He was an alum of one, and founded the other.

Oregon State will be at Colorado State to help open the Rams’ new $220 million stadium. With a 12:30 p.m. MDT kickoff in Fort Collins, it is the first game of the season in all of college football, beating Portland State-BYU by a half-hour.

Texas A&M visits UCLA. The Aggies’ only four true road games this season will be played in the Rose Bowl, at Florida’s Swamp, the grove at Ole Miss and LSU’s Tiger Stadium. It’s like they’re on a tour of famous college football shrines.

Charlotte will play Eastern Michigan for the second consecutive year, though it is doubtful they will repeat what happened last season when they met for the first time. Charlotte had three deadball penalties after an Eastern Michigan touchdown, so the Eagles kicked off from the Charlotte 20. They tried on onside kick. It didn’t work, but they won 37-19 anyway.

South Florida will jet across the continent to play San Jose State, the Bulls' first game in California in 18 years.

Florida will play Michigan in Arlington, Tex. It’ll be the Gators’ first regular season non-conference game outside the state this century and the first opener not in Gainesville in 30 years.

Navy will be at Florida Atlantic, the future sailors playing the only FBS school named after an ocean. More notable, it’ll be Lane Kiffin’s first game at Florida Atlantic – his fourth head coaching job at the age of 42.

Finally, Indiana hasn’t opened the season with a Big Ten opponent since 1982 nor beaten Ohio State since 1988. The Hoosiers will certainly do the former with the Buckeyes, but maybe not the latter. Coach Tom Allen called it the biggest home opener in the history of Indiana football. Seems a pretty good way to spend the last night in August.

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