10. TCU at Boise State (Nov. 12) — This game could determine the 2011 BCS buster. The Mountain West Conference is going to make departing TCU earn its way to another conference championship and potential BCS berth, scheduling this game in Boise on the blue turf. TCU has had the No. 1 defense in the nation five of the past 11 years, which means that Gary Patterson is the common thread, dimming the effect of losing Andy Dalton. However, Boise State has Kellen Moore coming back, and if the Broncos can get through Georgia in Week 1, Chris Fowler and the boys may be headed to Boise the second week of November.
9. Wisconsin at Ohio State (Oct. 29) — Despite the suspensions and controversies surrounding the Buckeyes program, Ohio State is still expected to compete for the Big Ten Championship. Wisconsin will be looking to defend its conference title from 2010. Ohio State’s defense has always been the name of its game, so the loss of offensive stars like Terrelle Pryor, Dan Herron and DeVier Posey shouldn’t hurt the team too bad, but Wisconsin is as big up front as ever.
8. Boise State at Georgia (Sept. 3) — This game is one of the many early season stage setters in the 2011 season. Georgia is predicted by many to compete for the title in the relatively weaker SEC East, and Boise State needs to win this game right off the bat to keep its BCS national championship hopes alive. This game will be in Georgia’s backyard at the Georgia Dome in Atlanta, but this Boise State team is not the same one that went into Georgia and got whacked, 48-13, in the 2005 opener.
7. Utah at USC (Sept. 10) — Welcome to the Pac-12, Utah. Although this game doesn’t mean much for either team really, it could be a statement for Utah as it enters the BCS ranks. If the Utes win, they will announce their presence to the rest of the conference and set the stage for a potential run to the conference title game, sending a message to the BCS homers around the country who think that non-BCS teams can’t compete week in and week out. Meanwhile, if the Trojans thump Utah, it will serve as more than an abrupt wake-up call for the Utes.
6. Oregon at Stanford (Nov. 12) — Stanford went into Eugene last season and jumped all over the Ducks, leading 21-3 after one quarter, but couldn’t hold the lead, ultimately losing the game and a Rose Bowl berth. Both teams have most of their skill players coming back, which should lead to another entertaining offensive shootout. This game will also probably determine the winner of the Pac-12 North Division and probably another trip to Pasadena if not New Orleans.
5. Arkansas at Alabama (Sept. 24) — This will be one of the most anticipated X’s and O’s match-ups of the season. Alabama brings back 10 defensive starters from one of the best defenses in the nation last year, making many experts predict this year’s Tide defense will be one of the best in the history of college football. Meanwhile, Arkansas is expected to have one of the most high-powered offenses in the country, with possibly the best receiving corps in college football, a new gunslinging quarterback in Tyler Wilson and a head coach who loves to put points on the board. Something will have to give in this one.
4. Oklahoma at Oklahoma State (Nov. 26) — Bedlam will never be more so than it will on the last Saturday of November, if things go according to expectations for both teams. Oklahoma is favored by many to play in the BCS national championship game with the return of star quarterback and probable Heisman Trophy candidate Landry Jones. In Stillwater, the Cowboys have all the on-field stars back from last year’s prolific offense and look to derail Oklahoma’s potential title hopes. If it’s possible for a game to outdo last season’s enthralling fourth quarter shootout that included 40 fourth-quarter points and four touchdowns in 92 seconds, this year’s game would be it.
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