We’re starting a new series to offer a quick glimpse at some of the best college football games of the weekend that don’t include Penn State. There are a couple things to keep in mind- I will try to limit this list to just one Big Ten game, since we already will cover each in the Big Ten preview. Also, no games that kickoff at the same time as Penn State will be included- if you’re reading this, the Nittany Lions will almost certainly be your sole focus at that time. This is why the Washington-Auburn game does not appear, despite it being the biggest game of week one.
Florida Atlantic at (#7)Oklahoma
Saturday, Sept. 1, FOX
This is a sneaky-good noon game to welcome back full Saturdays of college football. Oklahoma is loaded with talent as always, but turn to a new page after replacing Baker Mayfield. Lane Kiffin has breathed some life into the Florida Atlantic program, winning 11 games in 2017- winning its last 10, including a 50-3 dismantling of Akron in the Boca Raton Bowl. Here’s hoping the Owls can hang in there to set up a thrilling ending to lead us to the start of the Penn State game.
Prediction: Oklahoma- 45, FAU- 34
(#14)Michigan at (#12)Notre Dame
Saturday, Sept. 1, 7:30 p.m., NBC
Even when both teams are having a down year, this game feels special. Seeing these two programs battle it out under the lights in two of college football’s most iconic uniforms is a wonderful way to kick off the season. There is plenty on the line, and has a feel of a “must-win” for both programs as they try to both prove they’re ready for a playoff push. Irish QB Brandon Wimbush is looking to prove he can be a complete quarterback, but will need to do so against what could be one of the nation’s best defenses. This will also be the first look at Shea Patterson at Michigan, who put up some big numbers at Ole Miss at-times, only to struggle against the better teams on the schedule.
Prediction: Michigan- 20, Notre Dame- 17
(#8)Miami vs. (#25)LSU
Sunday, Sept. 2, 7:30 p.m., ABC
Miami’s return to glory ended up being premature as the ‘Canes ended 2017 on a three-game skid, but they did what good teams do to and kept finding ways to win in a 10-0 start that had them as high as #2 in the nation. The ‘Canes will look to improve in year two under Mark Richt, and a win against LSU could lead to another playoff push thanks to a favorable schedule. LSU, on the other hand, wasn’t so lucky. This is the first of four match-ups with top 10 opponents this season, and a loss here could place Ed Orgeron on the hot seat if they begin to slide down the SEC pecking order.
Prediction: LSU- 27, Miami- 24
(#20)Virginia Tech at (#19)Florida State
Monday, Sept. 3, 8 p.m., ESPN
Florida State is looking to bounce back after last year’s 7-6 season, which was somewhat salvaged with a four-game winning streak to end the season after a disastrous 3-6 start. Then, they lost Jimbo Fisher to Texas A&M. They will begin the WIllie Taggert era with a difficult match-up against VIrginia Tech. The Hokies have been trying to creep back into the college football forefront under Justin Fuente, and a win here would proper them to a likely 5-0 start before a clash with Notre Dame on Oct. 6.
Prediction: Virginia Tech- 26, Florida State- 23