Early Look at the Top 25 College Football Games of 2016

The Jim Harbaugh-Urban Meyer rivalry could reach a new level this fall

The Alabama Crimson Tide were just crowned the kings of college football and here is Nick Saban's team already claiming the top spot as we turn our attention to next season.


Related: A Very Early College Football Top 25 for 2016


As we bid adieu to the 2015 season, it’s time for an oh-so-early look at what games fall into the must-watch category for the upcoming season. After all, August will be here before you know it.


Some of these games could not only trip up the defending champion, but also give numerous other teams a chance to hold the College Football Playoff National Championship trophy high.


Here are the games you need to pin to the cork board and circle on your calendar to make sure you don’t miss:


  Game Date Location
1. Nov. 5 Baton Rouge, LA

Leonard Fournette looks to get revenge in Death Valley.

2. Nov. 5 Waco, TX

These games have only been a treat to watch since 2014. The trend continues.

3. TBA Tallahassee, FL

This is the only true roadblock between the Tigers and the ACC title on paper.

4. Nov. 26 Columbus, OH

They call it “The Game” for a good reason.

5. Nov. 26 Tuscaloosa, AL

Throw records out the window when it comes to the Iron Bowl.

6. Oct. 1 Fort Worth, TX

Two of the Big 12’s best meet to kick off the month.

7. Oct. 15 South Bend, IN

We should have a good idea how strong the “Christian McCaffrey for Heisman” bandwagon is by now.

8. Sept. 5 Orlando, FL

The Rebels could serve a large blow to the Seminoles’ title hopes right out of the gates.

9. Nov. 12 Norman, OK

Much like Oklahoma-TCU, this game should have plenty of drama.

10. Sept. 3 Auburn, AL

The College Football Playoff runners-up get to show if they have what it takes to get back in a hurry.

11. Sept. 17 Norman, OK

Two traditional powerhouses get an early test that could potentially define their seasons.

12. Nov. 26 Los Angeles, CA

The Trojans lose quite a bit, but they have home field advantage for the Irish’s visit.

13. Oct. 29 East Lansing, MI

The ending to last year’s game was heart-wrenching for Michigan. Sparty has to hold off revenge without Connor Cook.

14. Sept. 3 Houston, TX

Tom Herman’s team isn’t going to revert into a bunch of scrubs. Bob Stoops knows that all too well.

15. Sept. 10 Salt Lake City, UT

The Holy War is a classic game between two teams that just flat out hate each other.

16. Oct. 8 Fayetteville, AR

Bret Bielema made the Tide work for a home field win last year. Now is his chance to shock the world.

17. Sept. 17 South Bend, IN

Another opportunity for Sparty to show it doesn’t need Cook, traveling to South Bend won’t be easy.

18. Sept. 10 Bristol, TN

Time to see if Hokies' new head man Justin Fuente can back up all of the verbal accolades from peers.

19. Sept. 3 Green Bay, WI

Leonard Fournette likely makes Wisky’s defense look like Swiss cheese, but the Lambeau Field setting makes the game worth watching.

20. Nov. 25 Tucson, AZ

This is a game that always seems critical when it comes to eventually crowning the Pac-12 champion.

21. Sept. 3 Arlington, TX

Ah, the Crimson Tide Early September Non-Con Smash. We’ll see if USC can make it sporting.

22. Oct. 22 Baton Rouge, LA

If LSU can get past Alabama and Ole Miss, Leonard Fournette may be able to take them to the College Football Playoff.

23. Sept. 17 Lincoln, NE

The Ducks meet Mike Riley again, only in different colors. A win would cause Nebraska’s momentum to surge.

24. Oct. 29 Salt Lake City, UT

This could be a much-needed statement game later in the season.

25. Sept. 2 Palo Alto, CA

We all learned last year what happens when Stanford schedules purple-colored Wildcats at home.

Best of the Rest:


26. Auburn at Georgia (Nov. 3)

27. UCLA at Texas A&M (Sept. 3)

28. West Virginia at Oklahoma State (Oct. 29)

29. Louisville at Houston (Nov. 19)

30. Nebraska at Iowa (Nov. 25)

31. Oklahoma State at Oklahoma (Dec. 3)

32. Florida at Florida State (Nov. 26)

33. USC at Stanford Sept. 17)

34. South Carolina at Clemson (Nov. 26)

35. LSU at Florida (Oct. 8)

36. USC at UCLA (Nov. 19)

37. Minnesota at Wisconsin (Nov. 26)

38. Notre Dame at Texas (Sept. 3)

39. Arizona at Washington State (Nov. 5)

40. Florida vs. Georgia (Jacksonville, FL, Oct. 29)

41. Alabama at Ole Miss (Sept. 17)

42. UCLA at Arizona (Oct 15)

43. Nebraska at Wisconsin (Oct. 29

44. North Carolina vs. Georgia (Atlanta, Sept. 3)

45. BYU at Arizona (Glendale, AZ, Sept. 3)

46. UCLA at Arizona State (Oct. 8)

47. Washington at Washington State (Nov. 25)

48. Miami at. Notre Dame (Oct. 29)

49. Mississippi State at Ole Miss (Nov. 26)

50. Army vs. Navy (Baltimore, Dec. 10)


— Written by Brandon Cavanaugh, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network. Be sure to follow Brandon on Twitter @eightlaces and like his Facebook page.


(Top photo courtesy of Getty Images)

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