College Football season is here! SEC Media Days 17 is kicking off, and with that so is THE Sports & Swag Report’s 60 DAYS OF FOOTBALL! We’re exactly 60 days away from Chiefs vs Patriots on Thursday September 7th. So, we’ll talk a lot of NFL up to that point, but today we start with the colleges and the 2017 College Football Playoff top 10 games of impact…
Every college football season gives us games that we never thought could determine the playoff participants or the national champion. However, its always fun to point out the must watch tv games before the season starts. The slate for college football’s opening weekend isn’t nearly as appealing as last season. But, there are a lot of good matchups spread throughout the season that will definitely determine who plays in this College Football Playoff.
So, without further ado, let’s take a look at the College Football Playoff top 10 impact games of the regular season…..
10. OKLAHOMA at OKLAHOMA STATE (Bedlam – 11/4/17)
Mike Gundy could finally have the Cowboys poised for a playoff run. However, tough road trips at Pittsburgh, Texas, and West Virginia could slow them down. Still, all three are winnable games. Even if the new-look Sooners lose at ‘The Shoe’ on September 9, they could still be in good shape for the playoff. Both teams likely won’t come in undefeated, but it’s very possible both teams could come in with one loss. That would be more than enough reason to make ‘Bedlam’ part of your must see tv list.
9. AUBURN at CLEMSON (9/9/17)
The hype on The Plains for ex-Baylor QB Jarrett Stidham is nearing Jeremy Johnson levels. Remember him? The next Cam Newton of a couple seasons back. Auburn’s next Heisman winner. If Stidham performs exactly the opposite of how Johnson performed, the Tigers could win 10 or 11 games. That makes this trip to Death Valley even more intriguing. Dabo’s boys are in a bit of a reload cycle without Deshaun Watson and others. So, things could get interesting. Remember, Auburn had Clemson where they wanted them in Auburn last season, but Gus Malzahn’s crazy QB rotations cost them a 19-13 decision. Think how that could have impacted last season’s title race.
8. MICHIGAN at PENN STATE (10/21/17)
The Nittany Lions were the darlings of college football in 2016. Especially, their offense that rocked and rolled with QB Trace McSorley and running back Saquon Barkley. Both are back, so Penn State should be tough to beat again. This game should be the set up for who ultimately challenges Ohio State in the Big Ten. Michigan’s losses are a bit deeper than Penn State’s, but Jim Harbaugh’s recruiting should soften the blow. The Wolverines schedule isn’t kind. The Penn State matchup could be one of four against top 10 teams. Three of those games away from The Big House.
7. FLORIDA STATE at FLORIDA (11/25/17)
You never know what can happen in this battle every season. The fact that it’s being played at The Swamp is enough to make it a possible upset. The Gators should be more capable on offense this time around. For once, there may be continuity at the QB position, and that includes Notre Dame transfer Malik Zaire. It’s not too difficult to see Florida as a 10-1 or 11-0 team coming into this game. Then again, this should be one of Jimbo Fisher’s best teams at FSU, and the Seminoles are still a little more talented.
6. OHIO STATE at MICHIGAN (11/25/17)
J.T. Barrett is back for what seems like his 12th year of action. He’s part of 15 starters coming back for the Buckeyes. Meanwhile, the Wolverines only return five players (4 offense, 1 defense). Of course, by the time this rivalry kicks off, all those youngsters should be grown up pretty good. Ohio State is going to be favored in every game they play. The schedule really works out for them. But, having the Maze and Blue in Ann Arbor be the final speed bump to an undefeated season will make this rivalry must see tv…….as it usually is.
5. OHIO STATE at PENN STATE (10/28/17)
It looked like a huge upset when the at the time un-ranked Nittany Lions beat Ohio State last season, 24-21. However, we quickly realized just how good Penn State really was (and still is). It took one of the most dramatic games we’ve seen in recent memory, for them to lose again. That 52-49 loss to USC will go down as easily one of the best Rose Bowls ever. So, can Saquon Barkley and that high-powered offense do it to Ohio State at ‘The Shoe’? Quite possible. The Lions return 15 players just like the Buckeyes. Should be an incredibly fun game!
4. ALABAMA at AUBURN (Iron Bowl – 11/25/17)
The Tide’s schedule breaks down a lot like Ohio State’s. Tough top-5 battle (FSU) early in the season, then likely favored in every game after that. Then, the huge rivalry game on the road to end the season. Bama’s had things go pretty well for them in Auburn recently……for the most part. That is, except for what may still be the most dramatic ending (the kick six) we’ve seen in college football history. Of course, this could be the most capable Auburn squad we’ve seen since 2013. When, yep……..you guessed it…………….’the kick six’ occurred. Much like Ohio State at Michigan, with Auburn possibly being the final speed bump to Bama winning the SEC and another playoff appearance, the stakes will be that much higher.
3. FLORIDA STATE at CLEMSON (11/11/17)
FSU will look to erase the bad taste of losing at Clemson last season, 37-34. The Noles look primed and ready for another run at the College Football Playoff. But, the Tigers have derailed their run the last two seasons. This time they battle it out beneath Howard’s Rock. The popular thought on Clemson is that they will take a step back this season. That’s quite possibly true, but Dabo Swinney has recruited well. So, instead of a rebuild, Clemson is in reload status. Plus, by the time this one kicks off, their young players should be acclimated. This shapes up to be undoubtedly one of the best matchups of the season.
2. OKLAHOMA at OHIO STATE (9/9/17)
This game is probably more important for the Sooners than the Buckeyes. That’s despite the fact this showdown will be played at the Horseshoe. Ohio State should have a few more top notch games left, just in case the Sooners come in and beat them. Oklahoma may not have that luxury. The Big 12 looks to be a bit down with Baylor not being the Baylor of recent, and Texas likely still not the Texas of old. This will also be new head coach Lincoln Riley’s first huge test. Should be a fantastic game. Hopefully, better than last season’s effort from Oklahoma anyway. The fact that both teams are willing to battle it out against each other home and home, kudos to them.
1. FLORIDA STATE vs ALABAMA (9/2/17)
Usually, games the first week of the season aren’t going to have a lot of impact on who wins the national title. Especially, in a game where the loser should still be able to recover and get back into the race. But, when it’s Bama and FSU, that makes a difference. Number one or two Alabama vs number one or two Florida State, however it shakes out, makes it that much more dramatic of a game. Also, the fact that these two will do battle in the brand spanking new Mercedes Benz Dome in Atlanta before the Super Bowl runner-up Falcons play a regular season game is even more remarkable. This game could be one for the ages. FSU’s Deondre Francois vs Bama’s Jalen Hurts. Two sophomore QB’s looking to make their mark. And, oh by the way, it just might be the first of two this season between these juggernauts……in the very same building!
The Next 5……..
Florida vs Michigan (9/2/17) Gators and Wolverines do battle at Cowboys Stadium. Florida wants revenge for losing 41-7 to Michigan in 2016 Capital One Bowl.
USC at Notre Dame (10/21/17) Trojans are legit national title contenders, but with Washington not on the schedule and the PAC-12 possibly down, it’s hard to find games USC could likely lose.
Clemson at Louisville (9/16/17) Great game last season. The wheels falling off for the Cardinals late last season is why this game isn’t higher on the list.
Wisconsin at Michigan (11/18/17) Don’t forget about the Badgers in the Big Ten. Wisconsin doesn’t play Penn State or Ohio State from the east, which means they’ll likely be back in the Big Ten title game.
Washington at Stanford (11/10/17) Don’t forget about the Huskies, either. They made the playoff last season, and could be undefeated heading to Palo Alto this season.
So, there you have it. 2017’s College Football Top 10 impact games. Take this with a grain of salt. ALL of these games will likely be huge, and any one of them could become the game of the year and produce our next national champion. Thanks for reading, and be on the look out for much more in THE Sports & Swag Report’s 60 Days of Football!
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