The Best Non-Conference College Football Games in 2018 (Part One)

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The 2018 season is set to begin on August 25th with Week 0 games and officially starting on August 31st.
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Believe it or not, we are about 60 days away from the most wonderful time of the year. And, no, I’m not talking about Christmas. Fall Camps get started in August and that means the smell of football is back in the air. Every season brings new excitement, interesting storylines, and riveting action that we simply cannot take our eyes off of. 2018 will be no different. Part of that early season intrigue is looking at the non-conference matchups. Stay with us as we break down the Best Non-Conference College Football Games in 2018 (Part One).

40. Rutgers at Kansas

When: Saturday, September 15th

Time: 11:00 AM CST

TV: Fox Sports Network

Where: Memorial Stadium, Lawrence, Kansas

Okay, I can sense the collective sigh coming from this selection. How can a game with two teams that have a total of eight wins in the last three seasons against FBS competition be intriguing? First, this might be the best chance Kansas has for an FBS victory this season. And, on the Rutgers side, they are building momentum under head coach Chris Ash. They are building depth and experience and a win in Lawrence could catapult Rutgers to a bowl bid in 2018.

39.  Air Force at Army

When: Saturday, November 3rd.

Time: 11:00 AM CST.

TV: CBS Sports Network.

Where: Michie Stadium, West Point, New York.

There’s something special about seeing the service academies battle it out on the gridiron. Air Force has won 10 out of the last 12 in the series. But, Army is coming off a 10-win season and blasted Air Force 21-0 a year ago. Army won the Commanders in Chief trophy a year ago for the first time since 1996. A victory over the Falcons would go a long way in allowing the Black Knights to repeat.

 

 

38. Colorado vs Colorado State

When: Friday, August 31st

Time: 8:30 PM CST

TV: CBS Sports Network

Where: Mile High Stadium, Denver, Colorado.

The Buffaloes have won this matchup for the last three years. In fact, Colorado State has only scored 10 points in the last two years in comfortable wins. How quickly the Rams can replace Nick Stevens will speak volumes for not only this season but the 2018 campaign.

37. Colorado at Nebraska

When: Saturday, September 8th

Time: 2:30 PM CST

TV: ABC

Where: Memorial Stadium, Lincoln, Nebraska

It’s nice to see an old Big 8/Big 12 conference rivalry renewed. The fanbase in Lincoln is about as loyal and optimistic as they come. Patience will be needed while Scott Frost installs his system and get his players in.

36. West Virginia vs Tennessee

When: Saturday, September 1st

Time: 2:30 PM CST

TV: CBS

Where: Bank of America Stadium, Charlotte, North Carolina

There could be an argument made that this one fell a little too low on the list. The Mountaineers will be a trendy pick to unseat Oklahoma in the Big 12 and a victory over Tennessee could be a table setter. Meanwhile, in Vol nation, Jeremy Pruitt will be making his head coaching debut against West Virginia. Tennessee has a murderous early conference schedule so getting a win here would be a big confidence boost.

35. Washington State at Wyoming

When: Saturday, September 1st

Time: 2:30 PM CST

TV: CBS Sports Network

Where: War Memorial Stadium, Laramie, Wyoming

Both of these teams will have the tough task of replacing arguably the best Quarterbacks in school history. Two things that you can plan on in Pullman is great quotes from Mike Leach and a successful passing attack. On the other side, Josh Allen carried the Cowboys over the last couple of seasons. This will be a big, early season test for both teams.

34. Boise State at Troy

When: Saturday, September 1st

Time: 5:00 PM CST

TV: ESPN News

Where: Veterans Memorial Stadium, Troy, Alabama

Boise State could be poised to make some noise in the College Football Playoff in 2018. However, a win here over a quality non-conference opponent will be a step in the right direction. Brett Rypien returns for the Broncos who ended strong in 2017. Troy could be in for a rebuilding year in losing four-year starter Brandon Silvers and running back Jordan Chunn.

33. Boston College at Purdue

When: Saturday, September 22nd

Time: 11:00 AM CST

TV: ABC or ESPN or ESPN2

Where: Ross-Ade Stadium, West Lafayette, Indiana

Boston College late-season success last year was a surprise to many. But, the Eagles will look to carry that momentum into 2018. The schedule is extremely tough so a road win in Big 10 country could do wonders.

32. Kentucky at Louisville

When: Saturday, November 24th

Time: TBD

TV: TBD

Where: Papa John’s Cardinal Stadium, Louisville, Kentucky

Both teams very well could be in for a rebuilding campaign in 2018. Both teams will feature new starters behind center, but with this game happening at the end of the season that position should be solidified by that point. A bowl bid could be at stake here.

31. Notre Dame vs Navy

When: Saturday, October 27th

Time: 7:00 PM CST

TV: CBS

Where: Qualcomm Stadium, San Diego, California

The Fighting Irish have dominated the series by a 75-13-1 clip. However, the Naval Academy won this game straight up in 2016 while Notre Dame escaped with a seven-point win a year ago.

30. Missouri at Purdue

When: Saturday, September 15th

Time: 6:30 PM CST

TV: Big Ten Network

Where: Ross-Ade Stadium, West Lafayette, Indiana

The Tigers will bring one of the best quarterbacks in the country into this contest in Drew Lock. Lock threw 42 touchdown passes a year ago in rallying the Tigers to a bowl bid. Purdue had a nice turnaround season in winning six games with three losses by a total of 10 points. This one might be a race to 40 points.

29. Iowa State at Iowa

When: Saturday, September 8th

Time: 4:00 PM CST

TV: FOX

Where: Kinnick Stadium, Iowa City, Iowa

The Cyclones had one of the best seasons in school history winning 8 games last year. Iowa also won eight games which was highlighted by a 31-point victory against Ohio State. We can hope this game lives up to the overtime thriller of a year ago.

28. West Virginia at NC State

When: Saturday, October 15th

Time: 2:30 PM CST

TV: ABC or ESPN Network

Where: Carter-Finley Stadium, Raleigh, North Carolina

The schedule is pretty brutal, especially early on for the Mountaineers as they open with Tennessee and travel to Raleigh to face the Wolfpack. Conversely, the schedule sets up quite nicely for North Carolina State. If they can get by West Virginia there is a good chance at a 6-0 start to the season.

27. San Diego State at Stanford

When: Friday, August 31st

Time: 8:00 PM CST

TV: FS1

Where: Stanford Stadium (The Farm), Stanford, California

This is a rematch of an early-season upset a year ago as the Aztecs were victorious over the Cardinal 20-17. Stanford will most likely come into the season as a top 15 pick with the pre-season Heisman favorite in Bryce Love. San Diego State will have to find the next great back as Rashaad Penny is gone.

26. Mississippi State at Kansas State

When: Saturday, September 8th

Time: 11:00 AM CST

TV: ESPN

Where: Bill Snyder Family Football Stadium, Manhattan, Kansas

Kansas State is notorious for having a soft non-conference schedule so it’s refreshing to see them playing such a good opponent early in the year. If Mississippi State is ranked in the top 25 to start the season it will be the first ranked non-conference opponent to visit Manhattan since 2014 when fifth ranked Auburn came to town. This will also be the first test for new head coach Joe Moorhead in Starkville.

25.Texas Tech vs Ole Miss

When: Saturday, September 1st

Time: 11:00 AM CST

TV: ESPN

Where: NRG Stadium, Houston, Texas

Kliff Kingsbury probably saved his job a year ago with a bowl bid. But, he may need to do it again this year to remain the head man in Lubbock. Defeating Ole Miss could be a very important step along that journey. The Rebels may be in for a rebuilding year on top of the NCAA violations, but a win in Matt Luke’s first game could get the program headed back in the right direction.

24. Memphis at Missouri

When: Saturday, October 20th

Time: TBD

TV: TBD

Where: Memorial Stadium (The Zou), Columbia, Missouri

Both teams will get a break from conference play as this game is in the middle of October. This game is probably a little more crucial for Missouri as they have tilts with Purdue and Wyoming as well as a tough SEC conference schedule. Whereas, this will be the toughest contest for Memphis this season who appears to be a favorite again in the American Athletic Conference.

23. App. State at Penn State

When: Saturday, September 1st

Time: 2:30 PM CST

TV: Big Ten Network

Where: Beaver Stadium, University Park, Pennsylvania

Appalachian State has joined North Dakota State as schools that nobody wants to see on their schedule. The Mountaineers will rely on their defense early as they look to replace some key members of the offensive line and starting quarterback. Penn State will be a preseason top 10 team this year despite the loss of Saquon Barkley. The Nittany Lions will need to be on upset alert early to prevent a game going into the fourth quarter.

22. Michigan State at Arizona State

When: Saturday, September 8th

Time: 9:45 PM CST

TV: ESPN

Where: Sun Devil Stadium, Tempe, Arizona

This is a very unorthodox matchup, to say the least. From a culture and a philosophy perspective, you might not see two programs more opposite of one another. The Spartans were one of the most improved teams in 2017 going 10-3 after a 3-9 2016 campaign as they look to challenge Ohio State, Michigan, and Penn State for a Big 10 championship. The Herm Edwards era has gotten off to an inauspicious start. With a tough PAC 12 schedule, a win against a top 15 team could catapult a bowl bid.

21. Georgia Tech at Georgia

When: Saturday, November 24th

Time: TBD

TV: TBD

Where: Sanford Stadium, Athens, Georgia

After upsetting the Bulldogs in 2016, Georgia dominated this matchup a year ago 38-7. Georgia Tech will need to greatly improve on the defensive side of the ball as that cost them leads late in games against Tennessee and Miami. Georgia had a great season coupled with an unbelievable recruiting class. With this being the last game of the season for both team a playoff bid and a bowl appearance may hang in the balance in this rivalry game.

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