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The Jeff Falconio Blog

10 can't miss college football matchups in September

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The college football season kicks off on Thursday and September 1 will be the first full Saturday of the season.  Here are ten games to keep on your radar:

September 1: Alabama vs. Michigan The Cowboys Classic has become an early season tradition and this year's edition is one for the books.  Alabama, ranked number two, opens their national title defense against an eight-ranked Michigan team good enough not just for the Rose Bowl but perhaps the BCS championship as well.

September 3: Georgia Tech at Virginia Tech While much of the focus will be on Florida State and the Atlantic division this year in the ACC  the winner here gets the early jump on winning the Coastal division.  This particular matchup has been very competitive over the last four years with the average margin of victory at 6.5 points.

September 8: Washington at LSU The last time we saw LSU they couldn't drive into Alabama territory in the BCS title game.  While LSU is loaded again, questions remain about their offense.  So if LSU struggles against a Washington team that gave up 67 points to Baylor in the Alamo Bowl then we might have an answer.  Meanwhile the Huskies need to prove the can play with the big boys as Washington faces Stanford, Oregon and USC in consecutive weeks to open Pac 12 play.

September 15: Alabama at Arkansas The SEC West will again be the center of the college football universe and this early season tilt has national championship ramifications. Despite offseason turmoil don't overlook the Razorbacks who get both Alabama and LSU at home this year.

September 15: USC at Stanford The first big test for USC is big on so many levels.  First, all NFL eyes will be on USC quarterback Matt Barkley.  Second, with USC at number one in the wide open AP poll to start the season the Trojans need to bank on an early road win.  Third, this matchup has produced some memorable outcomes of late.  And of course, prime time showdowns in the Pac 12 are always wild.

September 22: Kansas State at Oklahoma Both teams should be unbeaten when they meet in Norman.  Last year Oklahoma's Landry Jones lit up the Wildcats on the road in a midseason top 10 matchup so revenge could come into play here.  This is also the first of several big games in the new look Big XII.

September 22: Clemson at Florida State With Florida State's return to the national spotlight the ACC becomes a factor in the national championship race.  Like the Georgia Tech-Virginia Tech game this matchup carries huge divisional implications.  A Clemson win throws the conference into chaos, a Florida State win puts the Seminoles on track to be unbeaten into November.

September 29: Oregon at Washington State If you like offense you'll want to get comfy for this one.  Even without LaMichael James the Oregon offense is as explosive as ever with Kenjon Barner and De'Anthony Thomas taking over at James's former position.  Meanwhile, Mike Leach brings his pass-happy philosophy to Washington State, a team that ranked ninth in passing yardage last year and will look for more this year.

September 29: Toledo at Western Michigan I know what you're thinking.  What the heck is this game doing on this list?  Well, here's a chance to view two of the best college quarterbacks you've never heard of.  On one side is Western Michigan's Alex Carder who threw for over 3,800 yards last season.  On the other side is Toledo's Terrance Owens who in split duty threw 18 touchdowns in only 230 attempts in 2011.  He also completed a mind-boggling 72% of his passes.

September 29: Wisconsin at Nebraska Last season the Cornhuskers were rudely welcomed to the Big 10 with a 48-17 thumping in Madison.  Both teams return this year to 2011 form so will it be payback time?  More importantly both teams are good enough to be thinking about more than just a conference championship and a late September win is the perfect way to jump state a national championship run.

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Upcoming games

Tuesday, September 1
Pirates at Brewers, 6:35 p.m.

Wednesday, September 2
Pirates at Brewers, 6:35 p.m.

Thursday, September 3
Saints at Packers, 4 p.m. on 620WTMJ
Pirates at Brewers, 5:45 p.m. on 94.5 KTI Country
Preps Live: Waukesha South at Mukwonago, 6:45 p.m.

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