With kickoff of the 2006 college football season just an hour away, I thought I'd put together a list of what I believe will be the top games of the season, starting with my Top 5.
Top 5 Games of the Year
- Ohio State at Texas (Sep. 9 – 8:00 PM ET – ABC)
#1 vs. #3 in the second week of the season. This one may very well determine who plays in Glendale on Jan. 8. We know Ohio State's offense will be terrific. But how will the Bucks deal with the departure of nine starters on defense? Gene Chizik will have the Longhorns defense ready to go, but how will UT's offense fair without Vince Young?
- Notre Dame at USC (Nov. 25 – 8:00 PM ET – ABC)
The 2006 version of this rivalry will have a hard time topping last year's epic battle. There may be 80+ points scored in this game under the lights in downtown Los Angeles. If they stay healthy, the Irish offense may be unstoppable with Brady Quinn, Jeff Samardzija, Rhema McKnight, and Darius Walker leading the way. But can the Irish defense improve this season after the Fiesta Bowl debacle? How will the Trojans replace replace Reggie Bush, Lendale White, and Matt Leinart? Will John David Booty follow in the footsteps of Carson Palmer and Leinart?
- LSU at Auburn (Sep. 16 – 3:30 PM ET – CBS)
This early season game should determine the SEC West champion. LSU's JaMarcus Russell should be fully recovered from last season's left shoulder injury and will be electrifying. Auburn's Kenny Irons may be the best running back in the nation this season.
- Ohio State at Iowa (Sep. 30 – 8:00 PM ET – TV TBA)
The second huge game for the Buckeyes in the month of September will again be in hostile territory. The Hawkeyes will be looking to avenge last season's 31-6 blowout loss to the Bucks. Drew Tate should be healthy this time around, and with a home crowd to rally behind, it'll be interesting to see if they can put up points against a defense less experienced than the one they faced in 2005. Of course, Iowa's defense will have its hands full, having to face Bucks RB Antonio Pittman, QB Troy Smith, and WR Tedd Ginn.
- West Virginia at Louisville (Nov. 2 – 7:30 PM ET – ESPN)
Without a doubt, this will determine the Big East championship and could possibly have national championship implications. It's entirely possible that both teams could be undefeated going into the first week of November. A Thursday night game on national television, all eyes will be watching this. Has Louisville QB Brian Brohm completely recovered from his ACL injury? If he's healthy, he and RB Michael Bush will be a tough duo to beat for the Mountaineers, who shocked Georgia in the Sugar Bowl last season.
Games to Watch Week-by-Week
- Week 1 — Florida State at Miami (Sep. 4)
Honorable Mention: California at Tennessee (Sep. 2)
- Week 2 — Ohio State at Texas (Sep. 9)
Honorable Mention: Penn State at Notre Dame (Sep. 9)
- Week 3 — Michigan at Notre Dame (Sep. 16)
Honorable Mention: Clemson at Florida State (Sep. 16)
- Week 4 — Penn State at Ohio State (Sep. 23)
Honorable Mention: USC at Arizona (Sep. 23)
- Week 5 — Ohio State at Iowa (Sep. 30)
Honorable Mention: Auburn at South Carolina (Sep. 28)
- Week 6 — LSU at Florida (Oct. 7)
Honorable Mention: Texas vs. Oklahoma (Oct. 7)
- Week 7 — Florida at Auburn (Oct. 14)
Honorable Mention: Michigan at Penn State (Oct. 14)
- Week 8 — Iowa at Michigan (Oct. 21)
Honorable Mention: Texas at Nebraska (Oct. 21)
- Week 9 — Florida vs. Georgia (Oct. 28)
Honorable Mention: Miami at Georgia Tech (Oct. 28)
- Week 10 — West Virginia at Louisville (Nov. 2)
Honorable Mention: Fresno State at Boise State (Nov. 1)
- Week 11 — Georgia at Auburn (Nov. 11)
Honorable Mention: California at Arizona (Nov. 11)
- Week 12 — Michigan at Ohio State (Nov. 18)
Honorable Mention: Auburn at Alabama (Nov. 18)
Honorable Mention: California at USC (Nov. 18)
- Week 13 — Notre Dame at USC (Nov. 25)
Honorable Mention: Florida at Florida State (Nov. 25)
- Week 14 — USC at UCLA (Dec. 2)
Honorable Mention: Army vs. Navy (Dec. 2)