As we continue our march towards the kickoff of the ’08 college football season, which begins tomorrow night at historic Bobby Dodd Stadium at Grant Field, I am defying Joe Biden, and I am giving you more of the same. That’s right boys and girls, another Top 7 list. This time I give you the Top 7 games of the ’08 regular season in descending order:
7) Alabama v. Clemson, 8/30 at @ 8:00 P.M. in the Georgia Dome – I know you are asking, “how can a game on the first Saturday of the season be one of the biggest games of the season?” Well, there are a few reasons: 1) The neutral field concept between two historic powers with irrational and insane fans makes this a special game on its face; and more importantly 2) Look at Clemson’s schedule. If they can survive a Week 1 challenge and all the pressure that comes with the novelty of this game, they will be favored in all of their remaining 11 games. Now, if you read my preview earlier this week, you know that I have already picked Va. Tech to win the ACC and play in the national title game, but if Clemson wins Saturday and does what they SHOULD do the rest of the season, I may feel differently in early December. In other words, if Clemson wins this game, they may very well find themselves with a chance to play for the crystal ball. If, however, they fall this Saturday, those dreams go out the window before the season even really gets started.
6) West Virginia @ Auburn, 10/23 @ 7:30 P.M. - West Virginia should have challenges in the last two weeks of the season against Pitt and South Florida, but they should be undefeated when they take on the Tigers (I say “should” instead of “will” because they have a very interesting game on Sept. 18 at Colorado that could cause problems. If you don’t believe me, just ask Bob Stoops what can happen in Boulder). If, however, they can march into Auburn and knock off the likely western division champs of the mighty SEC, any questions arising from their strength of schedule will become a non-factor, and they will have built a strong case for inclusion in the title game if they run the table. In addition to the potential BCS Title ramifications, this is just a great inter-sectional game fairly late in the season, which is something I wish we would see more of.
5) Va. Tech @ Nebraska, 9/27 - You already know who I think is going to win this game, and you also know that Nebraska isn’t what they used to be, but with Bo Pellini running the ship, you can expect a Nebraska that will compete on defense and won’t make things easy for the Hokies. Again, this is just a tremendous inter-sectional game, and this will be the most hostile environment the Hokies have to survive. I expect this one to be close, and I also expect it to show us how good the Hokies are and how good the Huskers will soon be.
4) Texas Tech @ Oklahoma, 11/22 - The Red Raiders are the trendy “dark horse” pick to win the Big 12. Well, you don’t win the Big 12 without getting past the Sooners. OU will be undefeated, and if T. Tech is as good as the pundits think they will be, this game could end up being the game of the year. Combine with the potential conference and national title ramifications with the fact that Stoops is the man that gave Mike Leach his big break, and you have enough story lines to draw the nation’s attention to Norman.
3) Missouri @ Texas, 10/18 - With all do respect to Kansas and Nebraska, Missouri should only really fear two games on their schedule: 1) this Saturday in St. Louis against the Fighting Zookers; and 2) at Texas. A potential undefeated regular season and a chance for Chase Daniel to make his strongest case for the Hesiman against the home state team that didn’t want him…Do I really need to say any more?
2) UGA v. Florida, 11/1 in Jacksonville - Despite my prediction of three losses for UGA, there can be no question that this game will, in some way, impact the SEC Championship and National Championship races. Plus, after what UGA did after their first TD against the Gators last year, this game is going to reach a level of hatred never seen before. I don’t know who will win this game, but I do know three things about this game for a certainty: 1) the teams will fight; 2) dozens of grown men in the stands will engage in fist fights in front of their wives and children (SEC fans call it passion); and 3) this will be the greatest collection of athletic talent ever on the field at the same time in the long and storied history of this rivalry. If you are a college football fan, this is a game you simply cannot miss.
1) Ohio State @ USC, 9/13 - The team that wins this game will play for the national championship. It’s hard to top that.
With another Top 7 in the books, I will tell you to check in Friday morning for a brief recap of Paul Johnson’s debut on the Flats as well as this year’s first installment of “For Informational Purposes Only”, which, of course, will be nothing but winners….and losers.