Yes, we are already looking beyond the National Title Game between Georgia and Alabama in anticipation of the 2018 season and the potential for blood, sweat, and glory that it holds for all of the young men in college football.
Let’s look at a few of the games that have us chomping at the bit for the next few months to fly by with Mariota-like quickness and take us straight to September.
#1 – Auburn vs. Washington
No tune-up game for either team here. It’s been a while since the Huskies have scheduled a top-ranked team for their season opener and they will definitely have their hands full as the Auburn Tigers finished the 2017-18 season as the #5-ranked away team #8 on the predictive ratings overall. But this will be a big test for Auburn as well. The Huskies have climbed back to the top to sit as one of the elites in the Pac-12. The most notable thing Auburn should be aware of is the face that Washington has the #4 home rating in the country and finished #12 in the AP and #9 in the predictive power ratings.
This game will be all the more interesting if Browning and Stidham return. Browing was one of the best QBs of 2017, though do to multiple late games (10 pm or later ET) he didn’t get the same kind of public hype as others. Jarrett Stidham is another premier college Field Marshall and though neither team made the playoffs, both have potential to do so in 2018. September 1st will be a day that defines both of these teams’ seasons. It will be interesting to see how oddsmakers like Heritage Sports see this game and how close they set the point-spread.
#2 – Alabama vs. Louisville
Lamar Jackson is still uncertain about entering the NFL draft. Out of sheer selfishness and the sake of this game, I really hope he stays in school for his senior year. Beyond the fact that he showed some serious weaknesses in his passing fundamentals this season, it would be a thrilling to watch Jalen Hurts and Lamar Jackson trading breakout scramble runs and off-balance passes while in motion.
Louisville fell out of the AP top-25 due to a series of tough losses but remained #18 in the predictive power ratings. The Cardinals would have home-field advantage, though rated as the #23 home team and back at #58 for home advantage, they are definitely not secured a victory against the #1 overall power-ranked team which is also the #3 away team. I have to think that Alabama’s defense will wear the Cardinals down after a few quarters, securing at least a 10-point win, but the dynamic QB showdown will be a thing of beauty to watch.
#3 – USC vs. Texas
Two of the most storied programs in college football will collide on September 15th. There is some serious rivalry a-brewin’ here for a pair of teams that have only met five times in history. The Trojans hold a 4-1 advantage but are claiming it is a perfect 4-0 on the technicality that the NCAA voided their participation in the 2005 season –nullifying their 41-38 loss in the final seconds of the 2006 Rose Bowl, perhaps the most epic college football game ever played.
USC returned the 3-point loss in 2017 edging out the Longhorns by a field goal in double overtime! I would not be surprised to see another extremely close game, one that has the Longhorns taking revenge. The Longhorns are rebuilding and have recruited well. They top the recruiting charts at #3 on the Recruiting Composite Team Rankings. The Horns went fishing and hoisted one 5-Star, sixteen 4-Star, and three 3-Star athletes. USC grabbed two 5-Star, eleven 4-Star, and one 3-Star recruitment to come in at #11 in the recruiting race.
USC is already established, but Texas is on their way back. This game is going to be a fantastic battle. Texas has something to prove after taking that loss on September 16th and could very well have the tools for revenge in 2018.