The 2015 college football season is nearly upon us. Let’s celebrate the occasion by marking the biggest and brightest games each week of the season.
Week 1: Ohio State at Virginia Tech
Location: Lane Stadium/Worsham Field, Blacksburg, Virginia
When to watch: Mon., Sept. 7, 8 p.m. on ESPN
Opening weekend ends not with a thud, but a bang. The Buckeyes lost to Virginia Tech last September by 14 points in Columbus, then ripped through the rest of their schedule en route to a national championship. They’ve done nothing but improve since that stunner nearly a year ago and enter this season as overwhelming favorites to repeat. Know who else has improved since their last meeting? Virginia Tech. The Hokies should have one of the nation’s most dangerous defenses and an offense that actually has time to gel under returning quarterback Michael Brewer.
Week 2: Oregon at Michigan State
Location: Spartan Stadium, East Lansing, Michigan
When to watch: Sat., Sept. 12, 8 p.m. on ABC
Last year, Oregon used a win over the Spartans as a springboard to a Pac-12 championship, a Heisman Trophy win for quarterback Marcus Mariota and a national championship appearance. Could Michigan State turn the tables this year?
Week 3: Auburn at LSU
Location: Tiger Stadium, Baton Rouge, Louisiana
When to watch: Sat., Sept. 19, 3:30 p.m. on CBS
The first of many toss-up games in an SEC West race that could double as the latest installment of the Saw franchise sees the preseason favorite Auburn travel to Death Valley. LSU is 32-3 at home since 2010.
Week 4: USC at Arizona State
Location: Sun Devil Stadium, Frank Kush Field, Tempe, Arizona
When to watch: Sat., Sept. 26, TBD
Many people think this is the year Steve Sarkisian — who’s never won more than nine games in six seasons as a head coach — busts the mold and returns the Men of Troy to their mid-2000’s glory. Let’s see him prove it against the Sun Devils who have taken three of the last four matchups.
Week 5: Alabama at Georgia
Location: Sanford Stadium, Athens, Georgia
When to watch: Sat., Oct. 3, TBD
Alabama hasn’t visited Georgia during the regular season since 2008 and won’t again until 2026. Sanford Stadium will be rocking for what could easily be the first of two meetings between these SEC favorites. The Crimson Tide lead the all-time series, 37-25.
Week 6: Arkansas at Alabama
Location: Bryant–Denny Stadium, Tuscaloosa, Alabama
When to watch: Sat., Oct. 10, TBD
Arkansas Coach Bret Bielema is in Year 3 of his great Frankenstein experiment, turning his Hogs into a hulking bruiser just as everyone else gets sleeker and faster. He nearly beat the Tide last year, falling 14-13, and has a great chance to do it this year against what could be a tired Alabama team.
Week 7: USC at Notre Dame
Location: Sat., Oct. 17, 7:30 p.m. on NBC
When to watch: Notre Dame Stadium, Notre Dame, Indiana
Normally this game’s bark far exceeds its bite. But in a year where both teams start near the top 10, perhaps we could get another classic, like the 2005 Bush Push game that ultimately sent USC to the national title game while denying Notre Dame that same chance.
Week 8: Florida State at Georgia Tech
Location: Bobby Dodd Stadium at Historic Grant Field, Atlanta, Georgia
When to watch: Sat., Oct. 24, TBD
These squads staged an entertaining ACC Championship game in 2014. Each has designs on getting back, but there’s a good chance the loser will get knocked out of title contention.
Week 9: Oregon at Arizona State
Location: Sun Devil Stadium, Frank Kush Field, Tempe, Arizona
When to watch: Thurs., Oct. 29, 10:30 p.m. on ESPN
The SEC has a reputation for protecting its powerhouse teams. The Pac-12, though, sends its powerhouses on the road to play a Pac-12 South favorite on a raucous Thursday night. Long live the Pac-12.
Week 10: Florida State at Clemson
Location: Memorial Stadium, Clemson, South Carolina
When to watch: Sat., Nov. 7, TBD
Since 2011, the winner of FSU-Clemson has gone on to win the ACC, and the last three years Florida State has beaten Clemson on its way to an ACC title. With a rebuilding Florida State team on the road, Deshaun Watson and Clemson have a golden opportunity to reverse the trend and take back the rivalry — and thus, the ACC title.
Week 11: Oklahoma at Baylor
Location: McLane Stadium, Waco, Texas
When to watch: Sat., Nov. 14, TBD
Most people are down on Oklahoma after a lackluster 8-5 2014 campaign. Your humble columnist, though, likes this year’s Sooners team. However, there is the fact that Baylor has blown out Oklahoma in two straight seasons (combined score: Bears 89, Sooners 26). To get back to the top of the Big 12, Oklahoma must conquer Baylor first.
Week 12: Michigan State at Ohio State
Location: Ohio Stadium, Columbus, Ohio
When to watch: Sat., Nov. 21, TBD
Ohio State and Michigan State are among college football’s five best teams over their last 25 games with both going 22-3. Chances are they stay that way until their Nov. 21 meeting in Columbus, and chances are this game will be pretty darn fun.
Week 13: Baylor at TCU
Location: Amon G. Carter Stadium, Fort Worth, Texas
When to watch: Fri., Nov. 27, 7:30 p.m. on ESPN
Last year’s Baylor-TCU meeting was the game of the year in college football and managed to define Year 1 of the Playoff era. Quick recap: Baylor came from 21 down in the fourth quarter to top TCU 61-58, the teams eventually tied for the Big 12 title, and as such both got left out of the playoff in favor of eventual champion Ohio State. It was quite controversial. The Frogs and Bears enter 2015 ranked second and fourth, respectively. One of the four college football playoff spots that arguably belonged to them last year will likely be on the line this year in Fort Worth.
Week 14: SEC Championship Game
Location: Georgia Dome, Atlanta, Georgia
When to watch: Sat., Dec. 5, TBD
The SEC, Big Ten, Pac-12 and ACC will each decide their champions this weekend, along with various odds and ends in the Big 12. Some teams will look to play their way into the playoff, others will be looking to knock those teams out. But the best value for your entertainment dollar will be the SEC, where one if not both teams will be in search of a golden ticket to the Orange Bowl or Cotton Bowl.
Week 15: Army vs. Navy
Location: Lincoln Financial Field, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
When to watch: Sat., Dec. 12, 3 p.m. on CBS
There could be major bowl implications here depending on how Navy’s season plays out, but probably not. Regardless, Army-Navy is an American institution that every college football fan must watch annually and attend once in his or her lifetime. It’s what the Founding Fathers would want.