25 College Football Games to Look Forward to This October

All eyes will once again be on the Red River Rivalry showdown between Oklahoma and Texas in Dallas

The oppressive heat of summer is on the way out as crisp, cool days are starting to return to much of the country. Yes it's time to trade in those iced coffees for drinks of the pumpkin spice variety as the calendar has officially turned to October.

 

In college football that means both that we've got a fresh new sample size on teams and have the opportunity to really size up some of the more intriguing conference title races. Add in a mix of historic rivalries on the slate and games with College Football Playoff implications on the line and this is really when the sport captures the attention of fans far and wide.

 

What games are worth clearing the calendar for though? Here are 25 of the best on the October slate and why you should tune in:

 

1. Oklahoma vs. Texas (Oct. 12, Dallas)

There are few things better in the entire sport than the Red River Rivalry, both for its pageantry and because of the typical rankings of both teams. This year's edition could be a lot like last year's too: a preview of the Big 12 title game. Heisman favorite Jalen Hurts gets his first taste of the rivalry with the Longhorns but he's no stranger to the bad blood on both sides as a Texas native.

 

2. Wisconsin at Ohio State (Oct. 26)

A Big Ten Championship Game preview at the 'Shoe? This should also pit one of the Big Ten's best defenses against the Buckeyes' prolific offense, plus could serve as a Heisman Trophy elimination battle between Justin Fields and Johnathan Taylor.

 

3. Auburn at LSU (Oct. 26)

This might as well be a College Football Playoff elimination game, to say nothing of the first huge salvo in the race for the SEC West. Freshman Bo Nix has been terrific in running Gus Malzahn's offense but faces the unique test of going into Death Valley and trying to out-duel Joe Burrow. There should be plenty of hard hits, memorable plays and points in this one.

 

4. Michigan at Notre Dame (Oct. 26)

Can Jim Harbaugh turn around the Wolverines' season and finally deliver a huge win over a big name rival? The return of these two Midwest powers throwing punches should be a great one in an electric atmosphere up in South Bend.

 

5. Oregon at Washington (Oct. 19)

The Pac-12's playoff hopes may be dwindling but there's still a shot of impressing the committee for both the Huskies and Ducks as one of the most bitter rivalries once again embroils the Pacific Northwest. NFL scouts are bound to tune in for potential first-rounders Justin Herbert and Jacob Eason but don't discount the two very fast and physical defenses in a game that should determine a trip to the conference title game.

 

6. Florida at LSU (Oct. 12)

These two SEC rivals plain do not like each other's company and things have gotten even more heated in the past few years. Mix in what should be a battle between highly ranked teams and Baton Rouge should be electric to welcome in the Gators for a uniquely important conference clash.

 

7. Iowa at Michigan (Oct. 5)

The Hawkeyes have rolled early in the season and still have their eyes on the Big Ten West title and a trip to Indianapolis. The Wolverines are still licking their wounds from their first loss of the season and tons of negative press. The Big House is sure to be rocking as the home squad tries to turn their fortunes against Kirk Ferentz' talented bunch.

 

8. Auburn at Florida (Oct. 5)

This is the Tigers' first trip to the Swamp since 2007 and first meeting since '11 thanks to the unbalanced SEC schedule. While that alone would make things special, the fact that these two are in the top 10 and hoping to notch a big win to impress the playoff committee makes it even more so. Don't expect a ton of points though as both defenses are about as good as they come in the country.

 

9. USC at Notre Dame (Oct. 12)

The greatest intersectional rivalry in the country is always something special when the leaves turn and the cardinal and gold come to the home of the Golden Dome and Touchdown Jesus. The Irish have held the upper hand the past few years but USC and their embattled head coach have their backs against the wall in this one.

 

10. Michigan at Penn State (Oct. 19)

This series has had a few lopsided victories for the home team in recent years, something James Franklin wouldn't mind continuing as there are few peers he would like to beat more than Jim Harbaugh. This figures to be an elimination game for the loser in the Big Ten East race and carry some serious national implications as well.

 

11. Michigan State at Ohio State (Oct. 5)

Mark Dantonio has always proven to be a bit of a thorn in the side of the Buckeyes over the years and he has another stellar defensive unit that can do the same again this year. This will be by far Justin Fields and Ryan Day's biggest test on offense yet and it should be a fantastic one under the lights of the Horseshoe.

 

12. Penn State at Michigan State (Oct. 26)

A critical Big Ten East battle pits two stingy defenses against each other as the Land Grant Trophy is at stake in East Lansing. This has been quite the bitter and closely contested rivalry over the years and should be again given the caliber of both teams.

 

13. Texas at TCU (Oct. 26)

These two old rivals have a lengthy history together, including the fact that the Horned Frogs can in part thank the Longhorns for their Big 12 invitation several years ago. TCU has had the upper hand since joining the conference a few years ago, something Tom Herman would love to change in Fort Worth this year as he faces off against defensive wizard Gary Patterson once again.

 

14. Utah State at LSU (Oct. 5)

The Aggies have come close to knocking off a few of college football's big names before and get another shot at pulling a shocker when they head to Baton Rouge. The two quarterbacks in this one are both shooting up draft boards and among the best in the country in Jordan Love and Joe Burrow, so expect plenty of phenomenal throws and big-time plays.

 

15. Penn State at Iowa (Oct. 12)

Pay special attention to this one as it might just feature two of the best young pass rushers in the country between Yetur Gross-Matos and A.J. Epenesa. That might not be a comforting thought for the two quarterbacks involved but it will make for a fantastic Big Ten game at Kinnick, which has produced some gems before when the Nittany Lions roll into town.

 

16. Baylor at Oklahoma State (Oct. 19)

If anybody can break the strangle hold Oklahoma and Texas have on the Big 12, it just might be the winner of this one as few programs punch more above their weight than these two.

 

17. Michigan State at Wisconsin (Oct. 12)

If you want a throwback of a game to yesteryear on the 150th anniversary of college football, look no further than this one. Sparty's stingy run defense trying to stop Johnathan Taylor will be a particular highlight even if points are few and far between.

 

18. Hawaii at Boise State (Oct. 12)

Both of these teams have knocked off Power 5 opponents this season and this has quietly turned into one of the early Mountain West games of the year.

 

19. Arizona State at Utah (Oct. 19)

The Pac-12 South may very well be decided in Salt Lake City based on the result of this one as Herm Edwards and Kyle Whittingham clash once again.

 

20. Oklahoma at Kansas State (Oct. 26)

Chris Klieman won four national titles while at FCS North Dakota State but has a chance to deliver a truly special victory if he can pull off this upset of the Big 12 heavyweights and their star quarterback.

 

21. Alabama at Texas A&M (Oct. 12)

Nick Saban faces off against another one of his former assistants as there's plenty of Sunday talent involved in a looming SEC West matchup between the top dogs and the ones looking to get up to that level.

 

22. Florida State at Clemson (Oct. 12)

This used to be the marquee ACC meeting of the season on an annual basis. While that might not be the case in 2019, it will be a nice progress report for Willie Taggart against the defending champs.

 

23. Cal at Oregon (Oct. 5)

Justin Herbert might be the first quarterback taken in the NFL draft next spring if he can deliver a big-time performance against what might be the best secondary in the country.

 

24. Tulane at Navy (Oct. 26)

This might be a rare CFB game that is over in the blink of the eye as two contrasting styles of offense, both with true triple-option roots, face off in a huge AAC matchup.

 

25. Georgia Southern at Appalachian State (Oct. 31)

These two schools have been bitter rivals dating back to their FCS days and things have been just as tight since they joined the Sun Belt. The Eagles won last season in a rare blowout of the Mountaineers, so they'll be hunting for a little revenge as well as a leg up in the division title race.

 

— Written by Bryan Fischer, an award-winning college football columnist and member of the Athlon Contributor Network. You can follow him from coast-to-coast on Twitter, Instagram and Snapchat at @BryanDFischer.

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