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The Top Non-Conference Games - No. 21 to 30
USF QB B.J. Daniels
USF QB B.J. Daniels
CollegeFootballNews.com
Posted Mar 7, 2011


The 20 Big Questions Going Into 2011 - No. 20, The 50 Top Non-Conference Games, Part 3 (No. 21 to 30)


2011 Spring Preview - No. 20

Top 50 Non-Conference Games

(No. 21-30)

2011 Spring Preview
- Top 50 Non-Conference Games (No. 1-10) 
- Top 50 Non-Conference Games (No. 11-20) 
- Top 50 Non-Conference Games (No. 21-30) 
- Top 50 Non-Conference Games (No. 31-40) 
- Top 50 Non-Conference Games (No. 41-50) 
2010 Spring Preview - Top 50 Non-Conference Games 
2009 Spring Preview - Top 50 Non-Conference Games 
2008 Spring Preview - Top 40 Non-Conference Games 

30. TCU at Baylor, Sept. 3

It’s put up or shut up time for a Baylor program that has made amazing strides over the last few years, but can’t make too much of a dent in its own state when it loses games like last year’s 45-10 thud against TCU. The Horned Frogs have won the last three in the series by a combined score of 89-17 with Baylor’s last win coming when the two programs were Southwest Conference brothers. This year, the Bears have smooth sailing after hosting TCU with Stephen F. Austin and Rice before starting Big 12 play. The Horned Frogs have to deal with the Mountain West opener a Air Force the following week, and then come home wins over ULM, Portland State, and SMU.

29. Tulsa at Boise State, Sept. 24

Boise State might have beaten Tulsa in 2009, but it lost the public relations war. The 28-21 victory wasn’t convincing enough to get anyone talking about a national title shot, but things are going to be different this year. Tulsa will be one of the Conference USA favorites with one of the nation’s top offenses and enough firepower to derail the Broncos before they can get rolling. Boise State finished second in the nation in total offense and scoring last season while Tulsa finished fifth in yards and sixth in scoring. It’ll be tempting for the Broncos to look ahead to the revenge game against Nevada, while Tulsa will be dealing with what should be a second straight fireworks game after playing Oklahoma State.

28. San Diego State at Michigan, Sept. 24

Oh, the ironies do get delicious. Brady Hoke will have a dangerous opener against a loaded Western Michigan to deal with and he’ll get to host Notre Dame in the September of his first season in Ann Arbor, and then comes the game against his old club. He’s the one who made San Diego State a factor, and he built a team just good enough to pull off the upset. New Aztec head coach Rocky Long is a strong enough defensive mind to give Denard Robinson fits, while RB Ronnie Hillman will be a big test for the veteran but still likely-maligned Wolverine D. Michigan kicks off Big Ten play the following week against Minnesota while San Diego State gets a little time off before the Mountain West opener against TCU.

27. Oregon State at Wisconsin, Sept. 10

This is really more about seeing how good Wisconsin is early on than it is about it being a strong game. Oregon State lost Jacquizz Rodgers early to the NFL and won’t have Stephen Paea clogging up the middle of the defensive line, but the offense is loaded with veterans and should be a great test for the Badgers. UW might be pushed the week after by Northern Illinois, likely the MAC’s best team, but this is the only non-conference game that will make any sort of a splash. Anything less than a dominant win for Bret Bielema’s club will be a black mark.

26. Arizona State at Illinois, Sept. 17

This might not seem like that big a deal, but the potential is there for this to be a must-win for both coaching staffs. Arizona State gets almost everyone back on offense and should be explosive, while the Illini should be strong enough to build off a good 2010 and be a factor in the Big Ten Leaders’ race. The Sun Devils have a statement game the week before against Missouri, and with USC to follow, a loss to the Illini could put Dennis Erickson on an even hotter seat. Ron Zook should be 2-0 after starting out the season against Arkansas State and South Dakota State, and he and his Illini should be off to a hot start with a relatively easy schedule. Any hiccup in the easy first half of the season could mean a rough second half.

25. Utah at BYU, Sept. 17

It used to be one of the Mountain West games of the year, and now it’s simply the Holy War with no real implications. If nothing else, it should be another heart-stopper considering five of the last six have been decided by a touchdown or less. This is far, far more important for BYU, not an independent, as it needs all the wins over BCS-league teams it can get. After opening the season at Ole Miss and at Texas, even a 1-1 start makes this do-or-die for the Cougars’ season. Utah, of course, will want to win the rivalry battle, but in reality this is nothing more than a sandwich game between the Pac 12 opener at USC and a home date against Washington.

24. Washington at Nebraska, Sept. 17

Nebraska doesn’t have Jake Locker to kick around anymore, but while the future NFL starter might have had a rough time in the two games against the Huskers last year, he came away with the win in the Holiday Bowl. Nebraska will certainly make this a circle game, but this isn’t going to be the same Husky team. Losing Locker isn’t a plus, but head coach Steve Sarkisian should have more talented players in place with more experience across the board to count on, especially on defense. Nebraska has a relatively easy September with this game being the one concern. Bo Pelini will have his team ready, but if Washington wins, it’ll be a huge, HUGE moment for the program before kicking off Pac 12 play against Cal.

23. Pitt at Iowa, Sept. 17

The Iowa State game is never without its charm, but if Iowa is able to rebuild quickly, there shouldn’t be any sort of a problem with the first two games of the season. This is the one statement the Hawkeyes can make in the non-conference schedule with ULM coming up the week after. For Pitt, this is the first real test for the Todd Graham era, and he’ll have two weeks to get everything in place with light scrimmages against Buffalo and Maine to start the season. If his offense can work like it did at Tulsa, and that’s a big if, the Panthers could be one of the big stories of the early season with the Notre Dame game to follow.

22. Colorado at Ohio State, Sept. 24

Under normal circumstances this might be nothing more than a relatively good-looking game between two name teams, but no one would’ve thought that Colorado could pull off the upset in Columbus. The Buffs will still be trying to find their way as a new member of the Pac 12 and with Jon Embree in his first year as the head coach, but they’ll be battle-tested. Starting off the season at Hawaii will be a baptism by fire for the defense, the conference opener against Cal will get the hype, and the rivalry date with Colorado State is always nasty. Colorado will have nothing to lose, while Ohio State will be coming off a trip to Miami and it’ll have two more games to go before Terrelle Pryor and the rest of the suspended players are back.

21. Miami at South Florida, Nov. 19

Miami lost to South Florida in a 23-20 overtime thriller on November 27th. Randy Shannon was fired on November 28th. USF is a relatively new program, but it has been around long enough to have its share of big wins; last year’s win over Miami was different. That was the huge in-state win for Skip Holtz that showed that the Bulls really were on par with the big boys, but a win this year could mean even more. After a run of four road games in five, USF closes out with three straight home games starting out with the date against the Canes. Miami has one of the nation’s roughest schedules, and it has week after week after week of statement games including a road trip to Florida State the week before going to Tampa.

2011 Spring Preview
- Top 50 Non-Conference Games (No. 1-10) 
- Top 50 Non-Conference Games (No. 11-20) 
- Top 50 Non-Conference Games (No. 21-30) 
- Top 50 Non-Conference Games (No. 31-40) 
- Top 50 Non-Conference Games (No. 41-50) 
2010 Spring Preview - Top 50 Non-Conference Games 
2009 Spring Preview - Top 50 Non-Conference Games 
2008 Spring Preview - Top 40 Non-Conference Games