We sit just a few short weeks away from the start of the 2013 college football season. This is the last year of the hated Bowl Championship Series as a new four-team playoff system will begin next season. By this time you might have already looked over your team’s schedule circled a game or two that you might be going to or already know who the Heisman hopefuls and National Championship contenders are. But, what are the best games in which week of the 2013 college football season?
WEEK 1: Georgia at Clemson
Both Georgia and Clemson return very talented starting quarterbacks in seniors Aaron Murray and Tajh Boyd. Georgia came a few yards shy of knocking Alabama off in the SEC Championship game last season. The Bulldogs had significant contributions from two freshmen running backs Todd Gurley and Keith Marshall and will rely heavily on those two this year as well. Gurley was named First Team All-SEC for his year. The Tigers lose their leading rusher from a year ago but do return talented receiver Sammy Watkins for Boyd to throw the ball to. Georgia will be working with some new pieces on defense as they lost their top four leading tacklers from last year. Winning this game is very important for both teams but Georgia desperately will need it as they have a brutal start to their schedule by facing South Carolina and LSU in their first two SEC games after taking on the Tigers.
WEEK 2: South Carolina at Georgia
Georgia will be fresh off of a tough match-up in Clemson when the road doesn’t get any easier for them as arguably the best player in college football Jadeveon Clowney and the Gamecocks come into town. The Gamecocks might have the best defensive line in the country lead of course by Clowney, who, in addition to his massive hit on Michigan Vincent Smith, had 13 sacks last season. This game might decide the SEC East as it includes two of the top three teams in the East.
WEEK 3: Alabama at Texas A&M
TUSCALOOSA, AL – NOVEMBER 10: Quarterback Johnny Manziel #2 of the Texas A&M Aggies is tackled by defensive back Vinny Sunseri #3 and defensive back Dee Milliner #28 of the Alabama Crimson Tide during the game at Bryant-Denny Stadium on November 10, 2012 in Tuscaloosa, Alabama. (Photo by Mike Zarrilli/Getty Images)
No doubt all eyes will be on College Station in this game. The Heisman Trophy winner Johnny Manziel will look to do the impossible and knock off Nick Saban and mighty Alabama for a second straight year. Manziel and Alabama senior quarterback A.J. McCarron has made this match-up even more intriguing with their journey at the Manning Passing Academy. But, no off-field drama will matter when these teams hit the field as Alabama looks to get revenge for its only loss last season. The Tide do have a bye week the week before facing the Aggies and giving Nick Saban time to prepare for any team is never a good thing if you’re facing Alabama. Many feel that Manziel won the Heisman trophy with his victory at Alabama last year. Talent will be aplenty when these two teams go at it.
WEEK 4: Boise State at Fresno State
Many people might have gone with Michigan St. and Notre Dame as being the best game in week four of the college football season. But, with Everett Golson leaving the Irish, the Broncos and Bulldogs could be the game that decides the Mountain West conference. Both teams return their starting quarterbacks in Derek Carr and Joe Southwick. Carr, the younger brother of former number one overall pick David, might be one of the top 10 quarterbacks in college football. Carr threw 37 touchdowns to just seven interceptions last year. While the Broncos lose their leading rusher D.J. Harper, they do return First Team Mountain West receiver Matt Miller.
WEEK 5: Wisconsin at Ohio State
The Buckeyes went undefeated last season, which sadly meant nothing for them as they were ineligible to play in a bowl game. This year Urban has renewed hope in Columbus and without them being ineligible many feel the Buckeyes might be a favorite to make it to the National Championship game. In looking at Ohio State’s schedule there are maybe three games in which they could lose. The two that are most likely are this game and their rivalry game with Michigan at the end of the year. If the Buckeyes can survive this game, they’ll be in prime position for another undefeated season, only this time it will matter.
WEEK 6: TCU at Oklahoma
Last year TCU quarterback Casey Pachall was kicked off the team before the start of the season. This year Pachall returns which is good news for the Horned Frogs who should be able to compete in the Big 12 next season. Oklahoma loses its starting quarterback in Landry Jones, but does return a guy who they used often like a Tim Tebow for Florida, in junior Blake Bell. Bell rushed for 11 touchdowns last season, which is more than the amount of completions he had. They’ll ask more of him then to come in on goal-line sets and bulldoze his way into the end-zone this year. All in all this should be one of the more entertaining match-ups in the Big 12 this year, if Pachall can help the Horned Frogs recover from a 7-6 record last year.
WEEK 7: Florida at LSU
At the SEC Media Days a few weeks ago, LSU head coach Les Miles complained about having the imbalance in the schedule and how in the 6-1-1 format Alabama gets to play Tennessee while they have to face Florida. Well, Miles’ misfortune is our gain as Jeff Driskel and the Gators look to come into LSU and knock of the Tigers. Last year’s game was an ugly 14-6 defensive battle that the SEC is famous for. This year might look a little different that both teams only return four defensive starters a piece. Although, there is still plenty of talent to go around on the defensive side of the ball especially for the Tigers who bring back second leading tackler Lamin Barrow.
WEEK 8: Florida State at Clemson
While we may not know who is going to be the starting quarterback in Tallahassee yet, we do know that this game should decide the winner of the Atlantic division. The Seminoles return their leading tackler linebacker Christian Jones to a team that lost 11 draft picks this year including two first-round picks on the defensive side of the ball. Last year’s game was a high scoring affair with the Seminoles picking up a 49-37 victory in which the Tigers allowed 28 straight points to Florida St.
WEEK 9: UCLA at Oregon
Last season UCLA made it to the Pac-12 Championship game where they were handed a tough 27-24 loss to Stanford. With talented quarterback Brett Hundley returning, they’ll be in line to compete yet again. Oregon lost head coach Chip Kelly and got put on probation this year, but will still be bowl eligible and still have an offense worth watching. The Ducks were one loss away from playing Notre Dame in the National Championship game. After watching the way Alabama crushed the Irish, many felt Oregon should’ve gone in place of the Irish. The Ducks will be in contention again especially with their offense that put up scores which looked more like basketball scores.
WEEK 10: Georgia v Florida
Everybody loves rivalry games. But, when those rivalry games are important in determining the conference winner they’re even more fun to watch. That’s exactly what this game could be. There are three teams that can compete for the SEC East crown this year and with Georgia playing South Carolina second game of the season there’s a chance for the winner to be crowned in this game. Georgia got into the SEC Championship game last season by winning the head-to-head in this game with both teams finishing 7-1 in the conference.
WEEK 11: LSU at Alabama
Another week, another great SEC matchup. Last year’s game was a thriller that ended with Alabama stealing a victory on a T.J. Yeldon screen pass from A.J. McCarron for a touchdown. The last time LSU played at Alabama the Tigers came away with a 9-6 victory in which the Tide missed several field goals. Alabama came back and won the National Championship game against LSU 21-0 that same year. This has developed into quite a rivalry game with two teams that generally always rank in the top five in defense.
WEEK 12: Stanford at USC
The Cardinal will be fresh off their game against Oregon which should be a thriller, before coming into this game with the Trojans. The last three meetings have been decided by an average of 5.7 points per game. The 2011 game between these two teams was a three overtime thriller that ended in a 56-48 win for the Cardinal. USC is looking to rebound of off a tough year in which many fans felt they were going to be in the National Championship game at the start of the season with their star quarterback, Matt Barkley, coming back. Those dreams ended up as just that, as the Trojans barely finished above .500.
WEEK 13: Texas A&M at LSU
These two teams finished in a tie for second place in the SEC West last season. Texas A&M last season was a team that had a tendency to start fast and the game versus LSU was no different. Texas A&M lead 12-0 early on but five Aggies’ turnovers lead to an LSU 24-19 victory. Everybody in the conference this year will be far more prepared for Johnny Manziel when he comes to town. LSU, much like Alabama, has a bye the week before they play A&M which should allow them to get ready for Manziel. Although then again, Manziel is one of those players that no matter how much you prepare, it’s nothing like facing him in an actual game.
WEEK 14: Ohio State at Michigan
While it’s tough to choose from so many great rivalry games, this particular game could be the most intriguing this season. As mentioned earlier there are maybe three teams on Ohio St’s weak schedule that can beat them and Michigan is one of those teams. Michigan lost quarterback Denard Robinson this year but does return a guy who is very similar in his style of play in Devin Gardner. Gardner threw for more touchdowns than Robinson last season with 41 fewer pass attempts. The Buckeyes have a pretty good quarterback of their own, one many feel is a Heisman candidate. Braxton Miller was the team’s leading passer and the team’s leading rusher last year. He threw for just over 2000 yards and 15 touchdowns to just six interceptions. It’s very feasible that Ohio St. could be undefeated at this point in the season which will make this rivalry game even more important.
WEEK 15: Louisville at Cincinnati
Louisville has one of the weakest schedules in all of college football. That being said, it’s very feasible that they’ll be undefeated and looking to crash the BCS in its final year. They dismantled the Florida Gators in the Sugar Bowl 33-23 and bring back their stud quarterback Teddy Bridgewater. Some experts feel that Bridgewater might be the number one overall pick in next year’s NFL Draft. Luckily for the Cardinals they have a bye week to prepare before going into Cincinnati in what is arguably their hardest game of the season. Cincinnati is in its first year under new head coach Tommy Tuberville. In all likelihood the American Atlantic Conference’s first champion could be decided in this game.