While you’re enjoying the end of the bowl season (and rooting for your team if there’s still have a dog in the race), there are plenty of other fans who are already done with this season and thinking about 2015.
twenty-eight twenty-seven teams (sorry, UAB … forgot about that) will get ready for the chance to make it to either the Orange Bowl or Cotton Bowl (site of next year’s playoff semifinals) and dream about being in Glendale, Arizona next January 11th for the national championship game.
And while I still have rooting interest in this season (hopefully for the Rose Bowl and another game to follow), it’s never too early to look ahead at some of the marquee matchups when the 2015 season kicks off.
Key Non-Conference Matchups
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Notre Dame at Clemson: This season, it was the Irish coming to Tallahassee … it looks as if Notre Dame’s partnership with the ACC will make for at least one good game every season.
Louisville vs. Auburn (Atlanta): A huge chance for the ACC to start the season by letting everyone know they can hang with the big, bad SEC.
Nebraska at Miami: After getting beat down in 2014, the Hurricanes are going to be looking for payback in the county where they took two national championships away from the Huskers.
East Carolina at Florida: It will be a chance at payback for the loser of this year’s Birmingham Bowl … and yes, that was just hilarious to write.
South Florida at Florida State: Seminoles everywhere remember what happened in September 2009 … it’s time to remind USF they aren’t one of the big dogs in the state.
Oklahoma at Tennessee: The way the Vols are on the upswing and the Sooners ended 2014, I’m calling early upset.
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Texas at Notre Dame: Two of college football’s all-time powerhouses meet early in the year needing this game to define 2015.
Oregon at Michigan State: If Mariota and friends go pro, the Ducks could come back down to Earth with a thud after this trip to East Lansing.
Wisconsin vs. Alabama (Arlington, TX): Give Alabama credit … they at least schedule one good non-conference game each season … unlike some of their conference brethren.
Army vs. Navy (Philadelphia): It’s the Army-Navy game, for goodness sake. If I need to explain more, you don’t know college football the way you should.
Arizona State vs. Texas A&M (Houston): Two of the early favorites to be in the playoff hunt meet in Week One … better to get a loss out of the way early.
Key Conference Matchups
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Florida State at Clemson: Assuming the Seminoles win a second national championship, this would be the best chance for them to lose their first game since 2012.
Miami at Florida State: The Hurricanes came so close in 2014 that they want to get back out there for another chance. I still think FSU makes it six straight wins.
East Carolina at Central Florida: These are the two early favorites to crash the playoff party, or at the very least the playoff group of six bowl games.
Baylor at Texas Christian: Both teams will enter 2015 with a serious case of the “you mad, bro” thanks to getting left out of the 2014 playoff.
Oregon at Arizona State: If the Sun Devils get through Week One, this could be an upset that would catapult them into the final four.
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Tennessee at Florida: If the Vols can’t beat the Gators in 2015, I’m pretty sure they will never beat them again (I feel like I’ve been saying this for the last four years).
Alabama at Georgia: The same way the Ole Miss game was in 2014, this is the early test on the road for Alabama to see if they are championship worthy … even though we know the playoff system would call a defeat a “quality loss.”
LSU at Alabama: Every year, it seems to be the most important game in the SEC West (sorry, Auburn). If it isn’t broke, don’t fix it.
Michigan State at Ohio State: The schedule makers put this game right before the season finale between the Buckeyes and Michigan … now that’s a sense of humor.
Let’s take a trip back to 2014 for a moment
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Remember this past season when we heard about how the SEC, and in particular the SEC West, was the greatest thing ever in the history of college football? Remember how there was NO TEAM that could beat them (outside of intra-divisional games between the schools)?
I would personally like to thank the TCU Horned Frogs and Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets for helping to prove that the Southeastern Conference is, in a way, like the late Anna Nicole Smith … top heavy but pretty much overrated as a whole.
And One More Thing …
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The regular season isn’t just over in college football, as the NFL ended its first 17 weeks with a few surprises … and some of the same old names. Obviously, it’s a good thing I’m doing well with my college picks, since my Super Bowl prediction that included the New Orleans Saints went down the crapper pretty much three weeks in. But it’s a new year, so I’m going to act like those picks didn’t happened and redo my playoff predictions.
AFC Wild Card Round
Baltimore over Pittsburgh
Cincinnati over Indianapolis
AFC Divisional Round
New England over Baltimore
Denver over Cincinnati
AFC Championship Game
New England over Denver
NFC Wild Card Round
Dallas over Detroit
Arizona over Carolina
NFC Divisional Round
Green Bay over Dallas
Seattle over Arizona
NFC Championship Game
Seattle over Green Bay
Super Bowl XLI
Seattle over New England