Senior College Football Columnist

Games of the Year: Old and new rivalries and a BCS title rematch between 'Bama and LSU


Teleportation. Time travel. Wormholes. I'm not an astrophysicist, but I know what I like.

And right now I like to look ahead -- to Nov. 3. Can't wait to get there. It's time for Scotty to beam me up to that date. For the second season in a row, suspense has been removed from the season like it was simple out-patient surgery. Remember 2011's Game of the Century? Didn't mean a thing. It was like the game didn't count when 'Bama got a do over –- and a national championship –- in New Orleans.

But this year Alabama-LSU gets a doubleheader partner -- Oregon-USC also on Nov. 3. Two games of the year packaged into one day. Suspense take a bow and exit stage right. That day's winners meet for the 15th BCS title, right? One-stop shopping before Veterans Day.

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That's why I need teleportation, time travel, the Way Back Machine. Scotty, beam me there.

Hopefully, the remaining games of the year are enough to hold our interest ...

Thursday, Aug. 30

Opening night, perhaps the best night of the year for an upset. That said, this is no time for Steve Spurrier to get Cocky (South Carolina at Vanderbilt). This is an all-in game for the 'Dores. Another trap game, Texas A&M at Louisiana Tech , since it actually happened back in 1996. The Aggies lost at Louisiana-Lafayette 29-22 in the second week of the season. The embarrassment factor is ratcheted up because of this being A&M's first game as an SEC member.

Friday, August 31

Oh my, Tyler Bray (OK, it doesn't rhyme). Against that N.C. State defense in Atlanta? The Derek Dooley Watch (Tennessee-North Carolina State) begins with intense scrutiny which will turn into demands for his firing if the Vols lose ... The stakes are lower for Boise State this time traveling to Michigan State for another intersectional matchup that only Boise seems to play. At home, with that defense, Spartans should knock off the Broncos who start the season out of the AP top 10 for the first time in 46 weeks.

Saturday, Sept. 1

Before Michigan- Alabama , Usain Bolt and Denard Robinson stage a 40-yard match race. The winner gets the 'Bama front seven ... It will be Notre Dame vs. Navy vs. Guinness vs. stateside fans who travel to Dublin. This is why ND isn't joining a conference anytime soon. It can't play a conference schedule plus Michigan, plus Miami, plus Oklahoma, plus USC, plus Navy in a foreign country. Mids have been competitive lately winning three of the last five. If Brian Kelly loses, his status doesn't quite rise to Dooley Watch levels but ...

Monday, Sept. 3

I just want to see a year-older Logan Thomas for the Hokies in Georgia Tech at Virginia Tech . I'm not sure if he is a smarter Terrelle Pryor or bigger Tyrod Taylor. Maybe both.

Saturday, Sept. 8

Georgia at Missouri; Florida at Texas A&M. The SEC expansion newbies get huge challenges in their first new conference games. But so do Florida and Georgia. Think this day isn't a big deal? Mike Slive takes in this historic day-night doubleheader via private plane. The SEC's joy of seven (straight titles) awaits.

Saturday Sept. 15

The Petrino Bowl, a.k.a. Alabama at Arkansas . The question you've got to ask yourself is whether Bobby Petrino would have done any better? John L. Smith can go a long way to renewing that 10-month contract with a win. Don't want to say this is a breakthrough game for the Hogs, but it's a breakthrough game for the Hogs. Arkansas' five losses the last two seasons have come to No. 1 (twice), No. 3, No. 6 and No. 7. Two of those were to Alabama.

Saturday, Sept. 22

ACC, you're in the national spotlight with Clemson at Florida State . The winner has the early inside track in the Atlantic Division. It would be nice if the days of three- and four-loss ACC champions came to an end. So much offensive firepower, should end up like last season's 65-point thriller (Clemson won 35-30).

Michigan-Notre Dame can't be better than last year's game in Ann Arbor, can it? ND blew a 17-point lead in the fourth quarter and a three-point lead with 30 seconds left. Tommy Rees -- if you dress -- this one's on you.

Saturday, Sept. 29

For only the third time in 37 years, Nebraska lost its conference opener last year in a 31-point loss at Wisconsin . Once again Wisconsin is the conference opener for the Huskers. Once again Taylor Martinez and the Huskers are looking at a mismatch.

Thursday, Oct. 4

Star Lotulelei against all those USC stars? USC-Utah has trap game written all over it for the Trojans. The winner has the early advantage in the Pac-12 South.

Saturday, Oct. 6

How did we live without Notre Dame-Miami (Fla.) ? OK, so neither team may even go bowling this year -- Miami because of the NCAA, N.D. because of N.D. -- but sometimes it's great to wake up the echoes. And the fists in the tunnel. A great rivalry is renewed at Soldier Field.

If Florida is going to be a factor in the SEC East, we'll find out when the Gators go to LSU . The Gators got bombed by 30 at home last year. Florida's next three games are at Vanderbilt, at home against South Carolina and the Cocktail Party against Georgia.

Only the SEC East is at stake when Georgia visits South Carolina . With these two defenses, don't expect another shootout. Marcus Lattimore ran for 176 yards against the last year.

Saturday, Oct. 13

Bob Stoops and Oklahoma own the top two offensive performances against Texas (65 points in 2003, 55 last year). The Longhorns haven't owned the Sooners since 2009. With West Virginia in the Big 12, the winner doesn't necessarily have the edge in the league.

Thursday, Oct. 18

"Pace" is the key word when Oregon visits Arizona State . Only Baylor and Houston averaged more yards per play than the Ducks last season. Sun Devils have dropped seven in a row in the series.

Saturday, Oct. 27

Two meetings, 149 total points. After all that, Wisconsin and Michigan State were separated by exactly three points last year. The Badgers won the first Big Ten title game in a 42-39 shootout. If Michigan State gets past Michigan the week before and Nebraska the week after, Sparty may be something special.

Speaking of special, Notre Dame hasn't been lately. The last time ND and Oklahoma played was 1999. Since then, the Irish have had six coaches.

Saturday, Nov. 3

If the transporter didn't scatter our molecules to the four winds, we're here -- Decision Day: Oregon-Southern California, Alabama-LSU Four of the top-five ranked teams in the preseason meet deep into the season to decide the kings of the West and South. And maybe the BCS title game matchup. Difference? 'Bama and LSU will struggle to reach double figures. (The Tigers didn't in two games last season.) Ducks-Trojans will be a shootout. The teams have combined for 301 points in the last four meetings.

Saturday, Nov. 17

A year ago at this point Landry Jones was in a second-half slump. At the same time, Geno Smith was thriving under Dana Holgorsen. That's why Oklahoma- West Virginia is so interesting. Who would have thought that a year ago, Morgantown, W.Va., would be hosting a Big 12 showdown?

Thanksgiving Week

Thanksgiving Night: (Nov. 22) TCU-Texas takes the place of Texas A&M-Texas. What makes this fascinating is that allowing TCU into the league ostensibly allows Gary Patterson better access to Texas recruits. Guess that was a better alternative than not having a Big 12 at all. Also fascinating, TCU has the better quarterback -- Casey Pachall.

Nov. 23: We know Arkansas isn't afraid of LSU . Last year in Baton Rouge, the Hogs led 14-0 and trailed only 24-17 going into the fourth quarter. The home team has won the past four meetings. Arkansas goes into the season with the league's best offense. That's a good place to start to possibly end LSU's championship run.

Nov. 24: Auburn-Alabama, do you have to be reminded? National championship discussion doesn't start until after the Iron Bowl. 'Bama has won three of the past four.

Championship Saturday, Dec. 1

While the conference title game participants are unknown, this much is: if the Big 12 champion is shut out of the BCS title game start the expansion discussion again. Last year, there is no doubt that Big 12 champion Oklahoma State would have jumped Alabama if the conference had a title game.

The Big 12 is set with 10 teams for now but watch Oklahoma-TCU on the last day of the season. The Sooners could be clinching an eighth Big 12 title. But by playing one less game than champions in the Big Ten, Pac-12, SEC and ACC, is the Big 12 at a disadvantage?

Just another reason to look ahead.

Anyone in need of a credential from all the BCS title games? Dennis Dodd has them. In three decades in the business, he's covered everything from the Olympics to Stanley Cup to conference realignment. Just get him on campus in a press box in the fall. His heart lies with college football.

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