The 20 Big Questions ... No.
20 (Part 1)
2009 Spring Questions - Top
Non-Conference Games (No. 1 to 10)
2009 Spring Questions -
Non-Conference Games (No. 11 to 20)
2009 Spring Questions -
Non-Conference Games (No. 21 to 30)
2009 Spring Questions -
Non-Conference Games (No. 31 to 40)
2009 Spring Questions -
Non-Conference Games (No. 41 to 50)
2008 Spring Questions - Top 40
With spring ball underway, it's time to start diving into the 2009
season ... no, it's not way too early. Here are the 20 Big Questions to
start off the offseason, beginning with the top non-conference games.
20. 50 non-conference games to get really, really excited about (No. 1
to 10) ...
10. BYU vs. Oklahoma (in Arlington), Sept. 5
It’s an interesting season opener to see
exactly where the two teams are at as they dive into promising seasons.
Oklahoma will likely be everyone’s preseason No. 3 (behind Florida and
Texas) or will at least be in the top five, while BYU will look to erase
memories of a rough end of 2008 with losses to Utah and Arizona. Can the
Sooners put up 60+ points on the board to get the ball rolling again
after the fun was interrupted by Florida? Can BYU’s high-octane offense
keep up the pace? There will be plenty to analyze.
at Georgia Tech, Nov. 28
Chan Gailey had a successful run as the head coach
of Georgia Tech, but he struggled against Georgia hastening his firing.
The Dawgs had won seven straight in the rivalry, and then came Paul
Johnson and his option attack. One thrilling 45-42 win later, it’s game
on. Now the Yellow Jackets should know what they’re doing on offense,
and now the Dawgs will have to work on preparing for it even though the
SEC season ends for them the week before against Kentucky. Georgia Tech
closes out its ACC regular season with a date at Duke, and then it gets
two weeks off to rest up and prepare for the showdown.
at Virginia Tech, Sept. 19
Last year’s battle between the two was a fun 35-30
Virginia Tech win that flew slightly under the radar. It was a bit of a
coming-of-age moment for Hokie QB Tyrod Taylor and it was a fantastic
road win in what turned out to be a strong non-conference showing for
the ACC. The Hokies start out the season against Alabama and kick off
the conference slate after the visit from the Huskers against Miami.
Nebraska is looking for the same type of big, impressive non-conference
road win in year two of the Bo Pelini era after closing out last season
with four straight wins including a thrilling Gator Bowl victory over
Clemson. This is the first test of the year after starting out against
Florida Atlantic and Arkansas State from the Sun Belt.
7. Oregon at
Boise State, Sept. 5
Did Boise State catch Oregon at just the right time, when the Ducks were
trying to find its footing after injury problems, or was the 37-32
Bronco win in Autzen Stadium really an indicator of how things are
changing? Before the bowl games, the Pac 10 took a hit in the PR
department because of losses like this, and now Oregon has to make
amends on the blue turf. It’s the season-opener for a Duck team that was
scorching-hot to close out 2008, but there’s plenty of turnover in key
areas. Boise State is loaded and is more than good enough to win this
game, and if it does, it’ll be a hit for the Pac 10, considering Oregon
is supposed to be the league’s second best team. On the flip side, Boise
State has the national respect at this point to make it a great road win
for the Ducks if they can pull if off. It’s the second meeting between
the two schools.
at Miami, Oct. 3
2007, Miami found out just how far it had to go to be among the elite
again after being embarrassed 51-13 in Norman. This year, “Da U” will
see this as its national breakout game, but it has a lot of work to do,
of work to do, beforehand with at
Florida State, Georgia Tech, and at Virginia Tech to open up the season.
Oklahoma has lost its last two games played in Miami, the national title
game against Florida last year and the 2005 Orange Bowl, the national
championship, against USC, but it was also the site of the national
championship win over Florida State in the 2001 Orange Bowl. The Sooners
will have to deal with BYU to start out the year, but games against
Idaho State and Tulsa should get them ready for the Canes.
5. Florida State at Florida,
won five straight in the series with blowouts in the last two, and
Florida State, at the end of the year, has to prove that the gap has
closed between the two programs. Considering the league the Gators play
in, the schedule isn’t all that bad with one brutal road date (LSU).
With Georgia rebuilding a bit and no Alabama or Ole Miss from the West
on the schedule, it’s all there for yet another run to the national
title, or at least the SEC title game. Florida State might have a hard
time screwing up the Gator BCS title hopes if everything is humming for
the defending champs, but it’ll be the key late November game that
everyone will be watching.
nothing else, this might be a key final argument for Tim Tebow in the
4. USC at Notre Dame, Oct. 17
Simply put, this game will all but define the
future of Notre Dame football. The schedule isn’t all that bad, even
with all the big names on it, so there’s no real reason the Irish can’t
be 4-1, or even 5-0 if they can get by Michigan State, before hosting the
mighty Trojans. USC will still be rebuilding a bit, so if Notre Dame
ever wanted to come up with the upset in the series, this would be the
time. Since the Bush Push game of 2005, USC has beaten Notre Dame by a
combined score of 120 to 27 in the last three meetings. The games
weren’t even that close, including the nightmare of last year’s 38-0 win
when the Irish couldn’t get a first down until midway through the second
half. USC will have a revenge game against Oregon State the week after.
3. Alabama vs. Virginia Tech (in
Atlanta), Sept. 5
year, Clemson came into Atlanta as the hot team of the preseason before
Alabama changed that around. This year, the Tide will be looking to
erase memories of the Sugar Bowl loss to Utah by beating up Virginia
Tech, the two-time defending ACC champion and Orange Bowl winner. The
Hokies have had some fantastic moments in the Frank Beamer era, but for
all the great things they done and for all the wins, they need to win
this game to show the world that the ACC really might be emerging in the
discussion of the best BCS conferences. Alabama will take the following
few weeks off with FIU and North Texas coming to town for the Sun Belt
Invitational, while this game starts off an interesting September for
the Hokies with home games against Marshall, Nebraska, and Miami to
2. Georgia at
Oklahoma State, Sept. 5
This is a BCS caliber game to kick off the year,
and it’ll be the type of game that fans of the two power conferences
will point to all season long. The bowls weren’t kind to the Big 12,
especially against the SEC, with Texas Tech losing to Ole Miss in the
Cotton Bowl and Oklahoma losing the national title to Florida. Oklahoma
State was stunned by Oregon in the Holiday Bowl in a game that got the
message board debates rolling. This is a big chance to make amends.
Oklahoma State gets almost everyone back from the nation’s No. 6
offense, while Georgia has to replace Matthew Stafford, Knowshon Moreno,
and just enough parts to be the underdog. If OSU really is a top ten
team, this is a game it has to win. If Georgia wins, get ready for the
SEC chest-thumping to be deafening.
1. USC at Ohio State, Sept. 12
It’s the Rose Bowl that still has yet to happen
in the Jim Tressel/Pete Carroll era. Last year, Beanie Wells was out
injured and the Ohio State coaches appeared to be the only people in
America who didn’t know that Terrelle Pryor was the better full-time
quarterback option as USC came up with a 35-3 pasting of the Buckeyes.
This year, USC is reloading on defense while Ohio State is a major
overhaul to deal with. Even so, the Buckeyes have to view this game as a
chance to redefine the program. Once the biggest bad boy on the block
when it came to the big games, now
Ohio State University has become
big dud when it comes to prime time (with
Oklahoma pushing hard for the honor). USC is the preeminent big game
team in college football, especially on the road, and a win in Columbus
would only strengthen the brilliant reputation.
Trojans kick off Pac 10 play the following week at Washington, while
OSU, or tOSU to its fans, get to play Toledo.